All Swords All The Time – Updates Tuesdays and Fridays

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HEMA Ratings Beta Released

by Meg Floyd


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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2014 HEMA Alliance Presidential Address from Ben Floyd

by Meg Floyd

It is with no small amount of pleasure I share the first presidential address from the HEMA Alliance‘s new President, Ben Floyd, who was elected this week, along with a new governing council. See below.

Presidential Address 2014

Greetings HEMA Alliance members and the rest of the historical martial arts community. The most recent election cycle has ended, and I have been elected President. We’ve just officially handed over the reins from last year’s crew during the GC’s meeting tonight, and all of your newly elected GC members were in attendance.

My plans for the future of the organization are simple and will improve our community. Our previous Tyrant, now deposed, and I shared the vision to improve the nuts and bolts of the organization. I’m happy to report we’ve made strides in that direction, though there is plenty more to still be done. This will be one of my primary drives moving forward.

The Governing Council this year has a lot of new blood in it. With fresh motivation and new ideas, this should be an exciting year for all of us. I’ll be tapping into this talent pool, and the community will reap the benefits. For the guys not returning this year, I’d like to thank you for your volunteerism. On volunteerism, the GC this year will be organizing into action groups according to the role they are fulfilling on the GC. The GC members will head these action groups towards goals associated with that committee. The committees are as follows: General Committee (Marsden), Membership (Do), Budget Committee (Cotter-Reily), Events (Harmston), Web (McKeehan), Public Relations (Myles). How does this affect you as someone in the Historical European Martial Arts community? Each committee head will be asking for volunteers, which means you, to help accomplish the goals of the HEMA Alliance. If you’ve wanted to get involved, this is your year.

We now have an operational Curriculum Council, and you guys are starting to get certified. This is a great development within our community. At our meeting tonight, the GC ratified our current CC director will continue to be El Tigre Mike Edelson. He’s looking to continue onwards by building a CC website, and we have a few more ideas in the works. So, be on the lookout!

Last, and most definitely not least, I have news from the IRS. As many of you may have heard previously, we lost our non-profit status through some paperwork drudgery last year. However, the IRS has given word, coincidentally on the downfall of the HEMA Alliance’s despotic leader and installment of its new council, we are officially a 501(c)3 non-profit organization as of August 1.

Swords or death,

Ben Floyd
HEMA Alliance President