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Lecture from Longpoint: Reinier Van Noort’s “From Fabris to Pascha”

by Meg Floyd

Today I want to share a great lecture I attended at Longpoint this year–Reinier Van Noort’s Lecture exploring the German lineage of Salvator Fabris, author of the famed 1606 work Lo Schermo, Overo Scienza D’Arme, one of the most influential works on rapier in the 17th century. In his lecture Van Noort discusses the current extant manuscripts we have of Fabris and those who mention him, as well as postulating relationships between them based on historical evidence. It’s fascinating stuff, so check it out.

 

 


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Running Successful Small & Medium Sized Events

by Meg Floyd

 lprap5

 

Below is a basic outline to running a small to medium sized HEMA event, the second part of a lecture I gave this year at Longpoint 2017. Enjoy.

Stage 1: Choosing your venue

This is the toughest part. Figure out how big a space you’ll have, and if there are hourly restrictions (ie do you get it for the day, what time do they close, do they charge by the hours, etc?) Figure out what you can afford to put up for the venue.

Things to look for in a venue for a long day of fighting are — easy access to bathrooms, easy access to food/water, places to store gear, high ceilings, ample parking, and hopefully a nice floor to fight on. Fairground barns, event centers, and rec center gyms are all places I’ve looked at. Indoor soccer fields seem the best combo for bad weather and very large events.

 

Stage 2: Scheduling/size of the tournament

First question — are there hourly restrictions at your venue (i.e. must you be out by a certain time?) If not, great. If yes, here’s some tournament math to tell you how many pool matches you can easily pull off.

The basic equation is (total number of matches)*(match length)*2.5=total amount of time to run your matches.

First, decide your match length for pools. Say it’s 90 seconds.

Then total up the total number of matches that will be fought in that pool. In a round robin of 5, there’s 10 total matches.

Multiplying it out, 10 matches*90 seconds*2.5=2250 seconds, which divided by 60 is 37.5 minutes.

Assuming you’ll be using the same refs/staff all day, you want to give them a small break between pools. I usually round up a pool of 5 to an hour to allow this.

So now you know you can run 1 pool of 5 per 1 ring in an hour. Calculate how many hours you can or want to devote to pool fights and how many rings you have. One ring and three hours? Three pools and 15 fighters. Two rings and three hours? Six pools and 30 fighters. Restrict your registration to this size, with possible allowances for extra at your discretion, depending on venue restriction.

This is how I came up with the schedule for RMK last year and this year, as well as the size: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1NnOHiL1AfsBmpe35O_feat6d2tuEnuBo_TzMhSflZ_w/edit#gid=0

I have time and room to run 12 longsword pools in 2 rings over 6 hours, therefore I have room for 60 longsword slots. Apply as needed to other events.

 

Stage 3:  Registering people and setting a pricepoint

This is definitely an art and not a science.

Remember to check out https://www.hemaalliance.com/eventssupport and fulfill any requirements you need for event support if you’re going to be applying for it (like providing a discount to HEMA Alliance members).

Take a look at similarly sized events in your region and around the country. A one day event probably can’t charge $100. The big events cost $200+ out the gate. Mid-sized events run $120-180. Make sure you price your registration so you can pay for the venue. This was the biggest mistake I made at RMK last year, and the club lost about a grand over it, because our venue is really expensive. Keep in mind you’re going to lose 4% to banking charges if you go through Paypal.

Once you’ve decided your price point, you need people to register. It can be a pain in the ass to get people to both fill out a registration form AND pay. You want them to do both at one go or you end up with a bunch of people registered who don’t pay until the last minute, or don’t show, making it difficult to tell who’s actually coming and actually being able to pay your venue rental fee.

I’ve searched through a lot of ticketing platforms. Eventbrite is murderously expensive because it charges 5~% per ticket, which is annoying if you want to break tickets down into different tournaments to register people into each event.

Eventbee (http://www.eventbee.com) allows you to set the fee as low as $1 per ticket, or $0 if it’s a free ticket (like I set for the included tournament for base registration, and is free to register your event for. That’s why I chose it over the others. Pretty bare bones in terms of set up, but that’s fine if you’re not looking for especially fancy registration stuff.

More importantly, you can build your registration form into checkout. This means people don’t register without paying, and they don’t pay without registering.

Another reason to always use a third party payment service like Paypal is because they have the encryption to keep credit card info safe. There was a mixup at a tournament on the east coast one year where they had people enter a credit card number into a google form which was then leaked. This is bad, bad, bad. That’s why we should never see CC info and it’s worth the banking fees to have a third party payment service like Paypal handle it.

 

Stage 4: What questions to ask people

Basic info to ask people is listed below:

Name

Email

DOB (If the tournament is age restricted)

Club

Emergency contact info

Their experience level in each weapon to try to set up diverse pools

Willingness to judge/experience level judging

A photo release (which is included in the HEMAA waiver anyway, but it’s better to call it out)

If they ordered an event T-shirt, what size they are

If possible in the form, and it usually is, make these answers required so they have to answer before clicking to the next screen.

 

Stage 5: Getting Prizes

Reach out to vendors. Tell them the size of your tournament and ask if they’d like to sponsor with a prize. Ask neighboring events if they’ll sponsor a prize of a pass. Offer to sponsor passes back.

Getting custom insert medals can be done for $5~ per medal at http://www.trophykits.comand http://www.expressmedals.com. Medals really dress up an event and are a minimum if you’re not going to be offering prizes but want to run a bigger event, IMO.

Other possible prizes include growlers of beer, something neat and local to your region, etc.

 

Stage 6: Scheduling staff 

A spreadsheet is the best thing ever for this. Print it out and hang it up so people will know where they will be. Remember to build in lunchtime, judge warmup time, and breaks.

This was RMK’s last year, as an example: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1cNHP1B8kxhOW1DAA0ZdlpwaPxms_Ru6wGq7A-PSgmp0/edit#gid=0

 

Stage 7: Thank your judges and/or staff
Either with a registration coupon (what I did), a cool patch (what Longpoint did last year), or maybe just calling them out and having everyone give them applause. Judging and reffing are difficult and tiring work and everyone’s a volunteer, so a gesture of appreciation goes a long way.

 

Stage 8: Train your judges beforehand in club with your ruleset during class sparring time. This will really make a difference in judging quality. We start training ours in January, as well as refs. We do this during regular sparring time.

 

Stage 9: Try to publish and distribute your ruleset early, especially if it’s novel. Especially distribute it to the coaches of the other clubs you know are coming who may be judging at your event, so they don’t jump in blindly.

 

Stage 10: The after party: If you plan an after party, it really only needs 3 things: to be after finals, to have alcohol, and to have a lot of food you can get easily. RMK was tough because of how late we get out of the venue on Saturday. I’ve been to some event dinners that were great, and some that were awful because of slow/bad service. Buffets are a good way to go, often.


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HEMA Ratings Beta Released

by Meg Floyd

hemaratings

Petter Brodin and Markus Koivisto have finally released a much-anticipated beta of their HEMA Rankings system, which ranks fighters globally according to the submitted statistics of several events, dating all the way back to Swordfish 2011.

Fighters are ranked by weapon and tournament. Currently the system has data for the following weapons: steel longsword (open and women’s), rapier and dagger, saber, sword and buckler, and sidesword. If some of the ratings seem a bit off for American fencers, keep in mind the data for Longpoint 2016 and Longpoint South are missing, which will likely bump everyone around some.

Fighters are ranked using a number generated by a Glicko-2 algorithm, a math algorithm for ranking players’ strengths in games of skill, which you can read about in detail here. It’s also used notably for chess rankings and online game servers.

How does it work? The About page says, “The key assumptions here are at work are the following:

The performance of each player in each match is a normally distributed random variable. Although a player might perform significantly better or worse from one game to the next, we assume that the mean value of the performances of any given player changes only slowly over time.

Performance can only be inferred from wins, draws and losses. Therefore, if a player wins a game, he is assumed to have performed at a higher level than his opponent for that game. Conversely if he loses, he is assumed to have performed at a lower level. If the game is a draw, the two players are assumed to have performed at nearly the same level.

Suppose two players, both rated 1700, played a tournament game with the first player defeating the second. Suppose that the first player had just returned to tournament play after many years, while the second player plays every weekend. In this situation, the first player’s rating of 1700 is not a very reliable measure of his strength, while the second player’s rating of 1700 is much more trustworthy. Our intuition tells us that that

– (1) the first player’s rating should increase by a large amount (more than 16 points) because his rating of 1700 is not believable in the first place, and that defeating a player with a fairly precise rating of 1700 is reasonable evidence that his strength is probably much higher than 1700, and

– (2) the second player’s rating should decrease by a small amount because his rating is already precisely measured to be near 1700, and that he loses to a player whose rating cannot be trusted, so that very little information about his own playing strength has been learned.”

Brodin said in a recent Facebook post that there’s plans to add search functionality, as well as profile pages for each fighter, etc.

If you’re a tournament organizer and would like to submit your event, please use the Contact Page. For a full list of events used in the data set, see the Events Page.


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Leon Paul Titan Pro Jacket: Becoming a Tank

by Peter Smallridge

h360

These professional looking shots are by LP. Amateur looking ones are by me. Semi-professional are from bystanders at tournaments.

Review Methodology

I was given this jacket in exchange for writing a series of HEMA-related articles for Leon Paul. The Titan Pro is their latest HEMA jacket. It’s 800N tested, and it looks like the mutant lovechild of a bomb disposal suit and a sports fencing coach’s jacket.

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How does it feel in use?

 Construction

Form

This jacket has a back zip, and a cuissard (“diaper strap”) to minimize the risks of a thrust getting inside the jacket. The collar is not just a turned-over blade catcher but has an insert running inside, protecting the Adam’s apple and acting as something of an in-built gorget. The upper fastening, where a velcro patch secures the collar over the top of the zipper, is highly secure. No fear of the zip slipping down.h360-2.jpg

 Base Material

I’m no expert on fabrics, but this is a heavy jacket. My first thought on picking it up was “I wonder if this could stop bullets.”

Inserts

Without the inserts, it feels like a heavier coach’s jacket. The distinctive feature, though, is 10 removable HDF (that’s blue foam to you) inserts around the torso, collar and upper arms. They’re held in internal pockets, and sit securely when you move – no shifting or opening of velcro.

It does not have in built elbow or forearm protectors, but does have a loop to help attach external elbow guards.h360-3.jpg

I rapidly decided that since I had a throat guard that covered the traps and collar bone, I’d remove the collar and shoulder pieces. The rest go in or out depending on the contact level I’m fencing at.

Performance

Putting the Jacket On

It took me a stupidly long time to get used to a back zip. I can put it on myself, courtesy of the zip strap, but it feels awkward and can be a test of mobility and coordination during a long tournament or hard training session. However, it’s comfortable once on. This jacket was custom fit, and it feels it. The only limitation on mobility was raising both arms vertically while the shoulder pieces were in*, and bending the torso forwards against the front panel insert. That’s it – and neither of these is common in fencing.

Fencing in this Ferrari Armoured Fighting Vehicle

The downside of the thickness is heat and sweat. The fabric doesn’t absorb sweat anything near as well as my old SPES AP jacket, and I feel distinctly hotter and damper when fencing in it.

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Testing shoulder mobility in the St Petersberg FechtTerra tournament

On the other hand, mortal weapons cannot hurt me now. I’ve had sideswords bent to right angles on the thrust to my belly and NOT NOTICED. I’ve had Russian Battle of the Nations-trained fighters club me with SPES solid dussacks and picked myself off the floor without bruises.

On the other hand, I discovered that the seams on the arms, where the insert pouches are on the outside rather than inside of the jacket (to avoid having to invert the sleeves to access them) catch blades. No harm done, since there’s still a full layer underneath the top pocket one, but the stitching tore on a thrust to the bicep that spun me around.

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Sizing

 Custom-sized, it was perfect. I haven’t needed to use the adjustment straps.

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Price

As mentioned, this was payment for some writing I did for LP. The RRP is £280 inc. tax, less than the SPES Hussar and equal to the Garjadoni 800N jacket. Subject to the whims of exchange rates, of course…

 Conclusion

If you’re in need of a really solid jacket, this is the one for you. If your group doesn’t fence hard, it may well be overkill.

*Editor’s note: If you’re tall like the reviewer. If you’re short like the editor, perhaps buyers beware. **

**Author’s note: It’s custom fit. It’s not really a tall/short thing, just the inevitable fabric bunching above shoulders (even with this good cut of seam) plus semi-rigid insert. Removing the inserts made handstands much more comfortable.