There are many types of period helmets/head protection that one can invest in for Medieval/Renaissance/Historical European Martial Arts. In our martial arts organization you still typically see steel armour helmets. Soon enough there will be more and more heavy fencing H.E.M.A. masks involved in our training sessions, but we like the weight and sensory limitations that a period helm places a fighter under to give us a feel for what out forefathers in these martial arts experienced. The helmet we will be looking at is the get Dressed for Battle, Crusader Spangen Helmet.
I’ve recently decided to try out this helmet as a replacement for my great helm that I have been wearing for around eight years, and I’ve decided to write a review on the helmet after having some freestyle matches utilizing it. Firstly, the helmet is comfortable to wear and mounts very well on the head. There is room for an arming cap and coif, and you will need that for this helmet. The helmet have wonderful visibility and the breathability inside of this helmet is also great. That said, the oculars on the helmet’s face mask (it is not a hinged visor helm) are larger enough that I highly recommend wearing protective eye hardware inside of the helmet. I use hard plastic eye protection made for doing yard/garden work (mowing and edging). It is not a guarantee against injury, but an added element to help keep the wearer safer in sparring with rebated swords, etc… Continue reading “Review: Crusader Spangen Helm by Get Dressed for Battle”
By: Jefferson P. Webb
While it is very appealing and actually quite practical when attempting to attract new members into your martial arts school or club to have a nice indoor training facility, there is much to be said for conducting the bulk of your training outdoors.
For years now my adult students and I have conducted our entire training schedules outdoors and in the elements. The importance of such training was once again brought to mind at last weekend’s Saturday training session when the wind chill factor for us was 7 degrees Fahrenheit. To some of you perhaps that is not terribly cold, but in Texas that’s on the cold side. Your body is naturally effected in various ways depending on the temperature of the environment in which you find yourself. In a dedicated martial arts school where we train to defend ourselves and those we love, we know that we need to be familiar with as many different environmental conditions as possible in which we may be faced with a threat to our safety. Here is where we call to mind the old saying, “Train like you fight, fight like you train.”
There are many people of whom have been involved in a physical threat situation within the confines of their home, office, or another indoors, controlled environment where the temperature is a nice 70 degrees Fahrenheit. But many times people have also been assaulted and faced with the threat of assault in outdoor scenarios. By training outdoors in our drills an in freestyle sparing, we have experienced what ice and snow does to the traction for our feet/footwork. We have experienced what mud and roughly ankle-deep water does to our footing. We know what the rain does to our grip, or what the frigid temperatures does to our grip because of a loss of dexterity in our fingers. We have trained in the three-digit temperatures of Texas in July and August and have become very familiar in what it is like to face a threat in very hot and dry conditions. All of this is done with one on one, and multiple opponents verses one person scenarios. Being experienced in multiple threat situations is another vital part of training like you fight, so that if you do find yourself faced with a multiple attacker situation, you do not find yourself mentally overwhelmed, thus leading to being swiftly physically overwhelmed. You will know much better what to do. You will fight much in the way that you have trained.
Not only do we teach adults, but we also have children’s classes. We do train them indoors because of their age. Exposure to the elements can be much more harmful to them and like any responsible martial arts school that cares about its students and instructors, safety come before anything else. And without a doubt, I can say that I am sure that if my adult classes were held indoors in a comfortable 70-75 degree training hall with padded mat floors we would have many more students than what we do in our adult classes. But, the adults that we have in our adult classes are well versed in a variant of environmental situations in which they may have to defend themselves, and each one of them will tell you that they are better off for having trained the way that they have trained.
Do not limit yourselves as martial artists. Experience everything that you can possibly experience in your training and do it as near as can possibly be done to the various situations in which you may find yourself faced with a threat. Train like you fight, and you will fight like you have trained.
At many of the training sessions for officers and sergeants of New Ulster Steel Fighting, we enjoy taking time to deal with some of the many questions posed by famed French knight, Sir Geffroi De Charny (c.1306-1356) pertaining to tournaments, jousts and war. We believe these questions are extremely vital to our growth as learners and practitioners of Historical European Martial Arts. To take the time to re-ask De Charny’s questions and contemplate, debate, and explore the possible answers together brings about some very critical thinking, and thus often deep discussion. What’s more, we find that some of the answer possibilities can apply to matters of integrity, and the exercise of good character in everyday life, and not just when undertaking martial activities. Continue reading “Questions from the Grave”
By Jefferson P Webb
Although the names of heroes throughout history have been recorded in both the written traditions of literate cultures, and oral tales of illiterate cultures, there is one hero whose name remains lost to us. His brief mention in the primary sources of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicles and the Saga of Harald Hardrada speak of his courage and of his incredible martial skill, but his name is unknown to us. What we do know is that according to the Anglo-Saxon Chronicles, this warrior was a Viking of Norwegian origin who fought at the Battle of Stamford Bridge on 25 September 1066.1 He fought in the Viking army of King Harald Hardrada against the Saxon army of King Harold Godwinson. After the death of Hardrada of Norway, the Viking army was in flight in what was described as a disorganized, perhaps even panicked retreat. In the midst of the Vikings’ retreat, one Viking warrior held his position on a small bridge that has been called Stamford Bridge in what has been speculated to have been a move to buy time for the other Vikings to regroup and reform a new battle line to face the advancing Saxon assault. Another explanation for his actions could be one of religious belief and a desire to die courageously rather than die on the run in retreat of an enemy. Whichever the case may be, the warrior commonly referred to as “The Viking of Stamford Bridge” made the incredibly brave decision to fight the Saxons alone as the Saxons moved to cross the small “bottle-neck” the bridge created in the movement of the Saxon army. Continue reading “The Unknown Hero”
By: Jefferson P. Webb
Although there is a segment of the HEMA (Historical European Martial Arts) community that does not approve of nor are they interested in modern HEMA/Medieval Martial Arts tournaments, utilizing martial skill in tournament fighting (sport-fighting) is in no way a new concept. What reasons do some of the modern HEMA practitioners give for not engaging in competitions and what did fighting for sport mean to the medieval knights as seen through the eyes of one of chivalry’s most celebrated Medieval knights?
One thing that the author of this posting has noticed in researching other blogs, message and review boards, articles and other martial arts sites online is that there is a certain level of hesitation or lack of desire on the part of some (not all) HEMA schools, clubs, and organizations to engage in freestyle combat tournaments. And, when some of them do engage in such events, they are closed events within their own organizations. Naturally there are a number of HEMA schools that do indeed compete in open tournaments, but what is the mindset or philosophy behind others not doing so? There appears to be two main reasons that continue to recur the most as to why some HEMA groups will not engage in the tournament. Continue reading “Interesting Perspectives on the Modern Tournament”