Author Archive

Miscellaneous Lessons   3 comments

It’s been a while since I last posted here. Among my distractions has been the spearheading of a local, non-SCA Italian Rapier HEMA program. Leading this effort has been enormously gratifying and enlightening, and will doubtless feature in much of my future content. In the spirit of warming up to regular posting, here are a […]

Posted July 11, 2015 by Ruairc in Musings

King’s Assessment, 2014   35 comments

Ibrahim, Gaiwn, and myself squeezed into Gawin’s hatchback and drove out to rural Virginia. At one point we stalled out on a gravel mountain road and had to push. It was that kind of day. The Site Chantilly Festival Farm only opened a little over a year ago, and the place is beautiful – 90 […]

Posted July 8, 2014 by Ruairc in Events, Melee

A New Book of Four Things   Leave a comment

Sir Corby, veteran of the armored field, holds that two opposed melee lines can do essentially four things to one another. In order of difficulty, they are: 1. Charge 2. Run right 3. Run left 4. Engage lightly/Die slow So, the line can move forward, right, left, or nowhere. (I think he’s missing one direction. […]

Posted July 1, 2014 by Ruairc in Melee

Practice Log, 6/23   7 comments

There’s nothing that energizes me so much as the moment of epiphany, of rediscovering some shred of lost knowledge or some new pedagogical tool that can aid in the completeness or quickness of our reconstruction. This is rare. Most of my progression involves learning that I’ve been doing something wrong – possibly for years, possibly […]

Posted June 24, 2014 by Ruairc in Journal

Destroying a Line   2 comments

Fencers do not form lines on a mere whim. The line formation, as I’ve said before, derives great strength from its easily maintained cohesion. These strengths do not exist on the line’s flanks, which is why we usually direct our attacks there, and why we usually put our strongest fencers on our flanks. However, it […]

Posted June 21, 2014 by Ruairc in Melee

Practice Log, 6/17   15 comments

Let’s get to it … Thursday We’ve recently introduced our students to the concepts of measure, tempo, and line. Naturally they’ve already had some exposure through osmosis. Thursday’s drill was based on the idea that we can only safely attack an opponent who has given us a tempo. So: to start, agente finds, patiente performs […]

Posted June 18, 2014 by Ruairc in Journal

Practice Log, 6/9   16 comments

After a month of demos, meetings, and events eating up my Sundays, Elvegast practice resumed yesterday. As usual, most of my time was dedicated to teaching. This is fine; I’m learning enough on my own time. What’s Good Enough? First, a question for all the other longtime teachers out there: at what point do you […]

Posted June 9, 2014 by Ruairc in Journal

Practicing Principles   Leave a comment

A lot of our pre-melee discussion, in Atlantia and elsewhere, seems to center on assigning people to various roles. Where do we put the junior fighters? Where do we put the senior fighters? Who’s in command? Everyone together? Specialized units? I think Windmasters’ Hill has it right: everyone should be capable everywhere. We shouldn’t ask […]

Posted May 27, 2014 by Ruairc in Melee, Musings

Applied Principles: Awareness, comma, Situational   Leave a comment

This is the last of the core skillsets for melee fighters within my framework. There’s plenty more to melee, of course, but as with tournament fencing, a lot of it is simply refining these basics. This section is also on the shakiest ground, as I’ve mostly moved beyond the hard truths contained in measure, tempo, […]

Posted May 27, 2014 by Ruairc in Melee

Applied Principles: Maneuver and Cohesion   Leave a comment

We’re starting to push up against the limits of these simplified principles, but we can go a little further. In a melee, units form into lines precisely because it is a very safe formation (at least, at first glance). It’s hard for anyone, on either side, to attack effectively, so everyone is pretty safe. Cohesion […]

Posted May 21, 2014 by Ruairc in Melee