All Swords All The Time – Updates Tuesdays and Fridays

Advice From Five Inspirational HEMA Fencers For 2014


by Meg Floyd

Happy New Year’s, HEMA! 2013 was an epic year of tournaments, teaching, and advances in our martial art, and 2014’s looking very bright. I asked five of the most inspirational fencers from HEMA in 2013 for their advice to fencers for the New Year. Here’s what they had to say.


Photo by Cédric Hauteville

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4 thoughts on “Advice From Five Inspirational HEMA Fencers For 2014

  1. A medieval child learns to spar from the day he can pick up a stick. He needs no instructor or manual to learn how his body works.

    If I’ve learned anything in the last decade it is that one can’t learn footwork from scripted drills. You have to get out their and move your body around.

    I used to have problems with footwork because I tried to follow all of the rules taught in drills like “never cross your feet” or “always point your toe at your enemy”. Once I stopped listening to my instructors and started listening to my body all my problems evaporated.

    And then, only then, did I start seeing the footwork in the manuals. They do cross their feet, they do point their toes this way and that. Footwork is all about being comfortable in your body, not trying to force your body into proscribed positions. And you can’t do that if you don’t get out there and just move. If you haven’t broken a sweat in the first ten minutes of practice you might as well go sit on a couch.

    • Than you were probably unlucky and you had a bad instructor.

      • I’ve had many instructors over the years, some of which I still respect in all other aspects. For them all to bad instructors would take a remarkable string of misfortune.

        There was one outlier who spent less than five minutes teaching footwork. He basically said, “Walk normally. Push off with your back foot just like you are walking down the street.” And then he had us do that. We just walked around until we broke ourselves of the idea of moving the foot first and then shifting the weight over it. Instead we took normal steps where the body moves with the foot.

        And it worked. Our voids for the dagger play we were learning went from miserable to easy almost immediately. Trying it out with other plays in other systems I also saw a remarkable improvement. I’ve done hundreds of hours of footwork drills and that one instructor wiped it all out by just telling us to walk normally.

        That tells me that there is something fundamentally wrong with how footwork is taught in my area. Maybe not all over the world, but definitely around here. And it wouldn’t be the first time either. I still remember the year all of the Italian Rapier clubs suddenly switched from walking on their heels to walking one the balls of the feet. We used to think rapier footwork was so different from other forms, then it was like all at once everyone realized that no, not’s not different.

  2. I would like to send las advice to my instructors as they don’t give a damn about basick or about nothing at all they just show a technique once and you should do your best to make it right…

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