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Why do you study WMA/HEMA?
I feel it connects me to the past more directly.
37%
 37%  [ 16 ]
It's a good workout/keeps me in shape.
0%
 0%  [ 0 ]
It broadens my martial/self-defense skills.
18%
 18%  [ 8 ]
I'm a collector, and it supplements my collection and its quality.
9%
 9%  [ 4 ]
I'm an academic/scholar/researcher and it is in my field of study.
4%
 4%  [ 2 ]
I'm a re-enactor/performer/actor and it enhances my hobby or profession.
9%
 9%  [ 4 ]
Some other reason (please specify).
18%
 18%  [ 8 ]
I don't know...
2%
 2%  [ 1 ]
Total Votes : 43

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Eric Meulemans
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Location: Southern Wisconsin
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PostPosted: Sat 28 Apr, 2007 6:35 am    Post subject: Why the interest in WMA/HEMA?         Reply with quote

Just ideas for the moment, principally rhetorical to explain the purpose of this poll, but all comments welcome:

A long while ago I posted regarding potential thesis topics for my MA in History. Time has passed, and time has come to finally submit a proposal for said thesis. While the particulars are still unclear, at this point I've no doubt I'm settling on some examination of the revival of study into Western Martial Arts. As I mentioned then, the idea of "slaughter as sport" may be a focus, as I am interested to examine what it is that drives the revival in WMA today and how it compares to previous revivals through history. What creates and maintains our interest in an "archaic" and "obsolete" tradition, how does it differ from its purposes in the past, and what benefit may it have for us today?

In asking the question "Why?" I found it interesting that I myself could not satisfactorially answer the question: Why the interest? Why study the sword, or other "outmoded" weapons, and their use? It's something I've had an interest in all my life, and I feel passionate about, but why? There are many reasons of course, and after all, why does anyone study anything - astronomy, geology, biology, etc. - but simply put, I was curious to see what others felt their principal reasons were and how they benefit from it.

I have started the poll with a few options and will add more (if I can) as they come up. I know that for most, if not all of us, our reasons are multiple, but I'm asking that you please choose the one most strongly relevant behind your interest in WMA. I look forward to hearing from you all.
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Vincent Le Chevalier




Location: Paris, France
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PostPosted: Sat 28 Apr, 2007 9:05 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I selected "It broadens my martial/self-defense skills", but it's more that it brings a greater variety and plenty of different points of view into my martial arts studies, which for now are "officially" only Japanese Sword Arts...

I particularly enjoy the variety of weapons and tactics, but also the high level of scholarship involved in HEMA. The study of ancient manuals is of particular interest to me, and something uncommon in Eastern arts. The various debates over specific points, as exemplified in this very site, are enlightening as well. I like the fact that there is no big hierarchy imposing its view, but rather various practitionners trying to explain what they do, and why they do so.

So I guess my exact number one reason is "It broadens my martial/self-defense knowledge", skills being hopefully a consequence Happy

Regards

--
Vincent
Ensis Sub Caelo
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Craig Peters




PostPosted: Sat 28 Apr, 2007 9:08 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

In my case, I like HEMA because I like sparring. It's really as close as we can come to the ultimate contest between individuals, and I like the fact that it's not restricted by a bunch of artificial rules constraining what we can and cannot do. It's way more dynamic than anything you can find in a PC or console game, its better for you because you're actually getting exercise, and you get to fight with the weapons that knights and men-at-arms used in past eras. How cool is that?
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Joe Fults




Location: Midwest
Joined: 02 Sep 2003

Posts: 3,439

PostPosted: Sat 28 Apr, 2007 9:11 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Since you didn't give a "I sometimes like to hit people and things" catagory, I went with the collector answer. This is all really just hobby for me, nothing hugely important and life defining, so the answer fits.
"Our life is what our thoughts make it"
-Marcus Aurelius

"Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable."
-John F. Kennedy
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Greg Coffman




Location: Lubbock, TX
Joined: 24 Aug 2006
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PostPosted: Sat 28 Apr, 2007 9:14 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

My some other reason: I love to sword fight. It's fun. For some reason, I feel a strong drive to do this. Other martial arts traditions and other cultures swords are nice too, but I first and foremost love European swords and learning how to fight with them.
For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.
-Hebrews 4:12
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Matthew K. Shea




Location: Toronto, Canada
Joined: 15 Jan 2006
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PostPosted: Sat 28 Apr, 2007 9:23 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I selected "Some Other Reason". I've always been fascinated with castles, knights, and Medieval weapons and armour, most especially the sword. To me, there is no greater way to appreciate them and indulge myself more than to learn how they were actually used and to fight with them myself.

The physical activity involved and learning self-defence were also factors, but they are most definitely secondary reasons. They're more like perks, actually Laughing Out Loud

Proud member of the Academy Of European Medieval Martial Arts.

"Those who live by the sword live a good, long time!"
~Minsc, in Baldur's Gate II
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Bill Grandy
myArmoury Team


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PostPosted: Sat 28 Apr, 2007 9:40 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I didn't select one because, for me, there's a huge combination of the things you have listed up there, plus more. (and the "other" selection implied a singular reason) So I'll just explain, instead.

I love the connection to history. I love the scholarship of it. I love pouring over historical texts. I love that, unlike many modern martial arts, HEMA is focused on making sure we understand the arts in their proper historical context, and we have to keep each other in check based on research, not on modern ideas. I love the having to put myself in the mindset of our historical forebears and trying to view the world in their shoes instead of ours. I love the physical activity of it. I love the work-out I get from free-fencing. I love the mental excercise of playing "physical chess". I love the collecting the historical weapons themselves, and I love trying to get a stronger understanding of these weapons' historical martial usage. I love the kinesthetic feel of martial movement, and learning to perform the graceful and efficient techniques developed by people who actually used them at one point in time. I love the way it teaches a sense of honor and respect.

And possibly most of all, I love the wonderful people and friends I've met through the whole endeaver over the years, which have only strengthened my love of all of the above. Happy

Virginia Academy of Fencing Historical Swordsmanship
--German Longsword & Italian Rapier in the DC Area--


"A despondent heart will always be defeated regardless of skill."
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Martin Wilkinson





Joined: 05 Mar 2006

Posts: 155

PostPosted: Sat 28 Apr, 2007 9:47 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Bill Grandy wrote:
I didn't select one because, for me, there's a huge combination of the things you have listed up there, plus more. (and the "other" selection implied a singular reason) So I'll just explain, instead.

I love the connection to history. I love the scholarship of it. I love pouring over historical texts. I love that, unlike many modern martial arts, HEMA is focused on making sure we understand the arts in their proper historical context, and we have to keep each other in check based on research, not on modern ideas. I love the having to put myself in the mindset of our historical forebears and trying to view the world in their shoes instead of ours. I love the physical activity of it. I love the work-out I get from free-fencing. I love the mental excercise of playing "physical chess". I love the collecting the historical weapons themselves, and I love trying to get a stronger understanding of these weapons' historical martial usage. I love the kinesthetic feel of martial movement, and learning to perform the graceful and efficient techniques developed by people who actually used them at one point in time. I love the way it teaches a sense of honor and respect.

And possibly most of all, I love the wonderful people and friends I've met through the whole endeaver over the years, which have only strengthened my love of all of the above. Happy


I think Bill summed it up perfectly.

"A bullet you see may go anywhere, but steel's, almost bound to go somewhere."

Schola Gladiatoria
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Eric Meulemans
Industry Professional



Location: Southern Wisconsin
Joined: 30 Nov 2003
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PostPosted: Sat 28 Apr, 2007 9:51 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thank you all for the responses received already!

I'm seeing some support for my suspicion that there is this intangible quality we simply cannot define easily that attracts us. I know this is something I myself experience, but I wonder if this is a persistent historical phenomenon, and one which I can write upon successfully in a historic context. I think looking at it from the "boys love stick/swords" or "I love to fight/hit things/people" would be difficult to hold together in an academic paper even though for many of us, it is quite true.

A model for the sort of premise I'm looking at in our case can be found in the book American Flintknappers: Stone Age Art in the Age of Computers. by John C. Whittaker. In summary, he writes about how:

"Making arrowheads, blades, and other stone tools was once a survival skill and is still a craft practiced by thousands of flintknappers around the world. In the United States, knappers gather at regional "knap-ins" to socialize, exchange ideas and material, buy and sell both equipment and knapped art, and make stone tools in the company of others. In between these gatherings, the knapping community stays connected through newsletters and the Internet.

He explores why stone tools attract modern people and what making them means to those who pursue this art. He describes how new members are incorporated into the knapping community, how novices learn the techniques of knapping and find their roles within the group, how the community is structured, and how ethics, rules, and beliefs about knapping are developed and transmitted. He also explains how the practice of knapping relates to professional archaeology, the trade in modern replicas of stone tools, and the forgery of artifacts."

Sound familiar at all? Stone tools instead of steel ones, but otherwise essentially an outline for my intent.
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Allen Andrews




Location: Maine USA
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PostPosted: Sat 28 Apr, 2007 12:03 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I also chose "Some other reason". I have to admit, my reason is similar to what others have written above. I have always loved the history of chivalry, and also loved the fantasy of such writers as JRR Tolkien. I have studied eastern martial arts for many years, and now I realize there is a whole way of fighting that allows me to connect with my western roots, explore the wonder of the myths and tales of the middle ages, and expand my mind with new skills and techniques. As some of the students where I work might say; "it's all good"
" I would not snare even an orc with a falsehood. "

Faramir son of Denethor

Words to live by. (Yes, I know he's not a real person)
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Jared Smith




Location: Tennessee
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PostPosted: Sat 28 Apr, 2007 12:26 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I chose the Collector option. I suspect that I am not the only one who, at the point in life where I can afford the luxury of higher end replicas, does not have the time to train daily or typically not even time to get together for sparring weekly.

Being familiar with the martial techniques is a bonus when showing collection pieces to others. I have water jugs stashed for test cutting, and wasters to show them how the swords were used per German Longsword style. Those who are genuinely interested and demonstrate that they can act responsibly with the wasters, are typically slicing through their first milk jug within 15 to 30 minutes.

Absence of evidence is not necessarily evidence of absence!
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Micha Hofmann




Location: Bonn, Germany
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PostPosted: Sat 28 Apr, 2007 1:18 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I have chosen the "other" option, because, while many of the specific reasons apply to me , the main reason I do this is that I really, really like fighting with swords. ( in a friendly manner, of course ).

Sometimes can be very physical and will-based, like full contact unarmed fighting.
Sometimes it's about skill and wits, like very quick chess with a piece of steel in your hand.
Most of the time it's both, and a lot of fun.

The collector-. martial arts-- , fitness- , history- and connection to the past-aspects are in there too, as well as my fascination with fantasy and pen & paper roleplaying.

When I found out years ago that there is something like historical, european martials sword fighting, it was like several of my interests and hobbies were suddenly fitting together like puzzle pieces and I just knew where I was going to stay... Happy

Overall I think, this is a very interesting thread. Thanks for bringing this up, Eric!
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Gavin Kisebach




Location: Lacey, Wa US
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PostPosted: Sat 28 Apr, 2007 1:51 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I chose Other. It's really a combination of 1-4
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Brian Hook





Joined: 12 Jan 2006

Posts: 114

PostPosted: Sat 28 Apr, 2007 9:27 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

You are lacking an "all of the above" option.
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Lafayette C Curtis




Location: Indonesia
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PostPosted: Sun 29 Apr, 2007 3:51 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I agree with Brian--there should be an "all of the above" option, since that's the most accurate way of describing the nature of my interest.
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Eric Meulemans
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Location: Southern Wisconsin
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PostPosted: Sun 29 Apr, 2007 7:34 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thanks for the suggestion! Since votes have already been cast, I cannot edit the poll at this time, but I will count those who post "all of the above" as such. I had originally avoided a multiple choice answer because I wanted to know the primary reason for the interest and practice, so only if you feel that each is equally important to you would I suggest answering with "all of the above".
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Lafayette C Curtis




Location: Indonesia
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PostPosted: Sun 29 Apr, 2007 6:52 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

BTW, options #1 and #5 are pretty much saying the same thing. Especially for somebody who's both an amateur historian and an amateur archaeologist.
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