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The dusack is a remarkable weapon. It’s traditionally made of wood or leather (although some metal examples are known) and was used as a training weapon the the German schools of swordsmanship and the town guard in Eastern Europe to quell hordes of drunken revelers. The dusack fighting system outlined in Joachim Meyer’s Art of Combat (1570, tr. J. Forgeng) is bone-breakingly fast.
My question has always been where on earth did such an unusally shaped weapon come from? Then I stumbled across this.
Dusacks in Pennsylvania? Gangs of militant Amish keeping the law with quaintly decorated wooden swords?
I saw a great French coming-of-age movie called MaRock over the weekend. It’s the story of a teenage Moroccan Arab girl who falls deeply in love with a Jewish boy and although it was billed as a Romeo and Juliet story it really isn’t.
It has plenty to recommend it as a version of the classic star-crossed lovers: Jews versus Arabs, street car racing through Casablanca instead of public duelling, a radicalised Muslim brother who would make a very good Tybalt, nightclubs, a guy whose homosexuality is an open secret who makes a perfect Friar Lawrence and post-sundown family feasting […]
This post marks the end of my investigations into A Tract on the Single Sword of Henri de Sainct Didier (1573), another member of Club 1570. I’m presenting here my notes on his sidesword technique (PDF) for public appraisal. Any and all feedback is gratefully appreciated.
- Summary of Henri de Sainct Didier’s Sidesword Lessons (PDF)
My initial thoughts were pretty much correct. The text is a series of lesson plans rather than a coherent sword combat system. Sainct Didier is all about training young courtiers rather than warriors.
There’s little in the way of description of the stages of […]
In C. L. Wrenn‘s wonderful book The English Language (1949), I found this amazingly anthropocentric quotation. “The theory of the evolution of man as known to scientists, then, must find a place for the emergence of man as a possessor of language as distinct from the so-called ‘highest’ species of anthropoid apes whose varied cries are not language (which implies thought) but only very fully developed conditioned reflexes. The gap between the highest anthropoid ape and the most ‘primitive’ man has not yet been bridged from this point of view of the emergence of language in what may be called ‘homo loquens,’ which is really the same thing as the familiar ‘homo sapiens.’ The hypothesis of some kind of creative act, therefore, may still be tenable in default of a better considering the origin of language.” – Wrenn, p.6 There’s an instructive piece of circular logic here.
I’m well known for my support of bouting and tournaments within the historical fencing community. If you are unwilling to test your skill at arms in a competitive environment, you need to find another hobby or, at least, drop the pretense of studying a martial art. However, for all the fantastic effort being put into making tournaments work at the moment, there’s a number of factors which I believe have not been considered or not properly thought through.
In the German longsword schools, this is known as the zufechten. The fault can almost certainly be laid at […]
The Odyssey of Homer is fascinating in a number of aspects. The plot is remarkably modern in outline, pacing and development and the insight into the domestic life of (pre-) Dark Age Greece cannot be underestimated. Yet for all this I didn’t like the book and was glad to be finished and rid of it. Where the Iliad is grand in scope and deals with characters struggling with ethical and social conflicts, the Odyssey forces heroic characters to wallow in the tedious and the mundane.
I guess we need a couple of paragraphs to get my reaction to the story […]
Title: The Trial of the Templars
Author: Malcolm Barber
Paperback: 408 pages
Publisher: Cambridge University Press, 1978 (Second edition 2006)
Although the Trial of the Templars is now more than thirty years old, it is still the best study of the period written in English. This is a period, a long with the Crusade against the Cathars, which is well known and studied in French but for which very little English material of any quality exists.
In this book, Barber has presented documentary and other first hand evidence of the arrest, trial and […]
There’s a lot of talk about at the moment about whether what we do is a martial art, martial sport, historical reconstruction or something else. To my mind, all of these missing the point and fail to address the most basic question – why use swords at all? There are three answers that I can see.
Modern schools of historical swordsmanship grew out of the thirty year old movement to reconstruct lost aspects of the western martial heritage and this remains the foundation of the practice. There’s still a huge amount of debate about what various masters meant by what […]
Scott McDonald, principal of the Australia College of Arms and convenor of Swordplay 12, dropped this on the Queensland Living History Federation‘s facebook page. I was planning on posting about this but he beat me to the punch.
Puck Curtis, one of the world’s most respected historic swordplay researchers, will as part of Swordplay’ 12 present for the first time in public never before seen in English instructions on Spanish Sword and Dagger combat. His formal workshop scheduled for Friday 7th September will cover this material over 6 hours.
Puck will be available on Saturday and Sunday to run impromptu
Title: The Hound of the Baskervilles
Author: Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
Hardcover: 240 pages
Publisher: Penguin Classics (2010)
Language: The finest English
A great novel or the Greatest Novel?
So far this year, I’ve read the book again, listened to an audio dramatisation and watched a couple of versions on video. This book hits all my buttons. It’s got a murder, hints of the supernatural, the relentless march of scientific logic and is possibly the best Scooby Doo mystery ever.
Here is a quick list of the aspects of it which tickle my fancy. Below […]
While I haven’t finished with Henri de Sainct Didier yet, I’ve started reading the dussack chapter of Joachim Meyer’s Art of Combat. It starts with a brilliant series of exercises which can be applied to any single-handed cutting sword technique. These are my notes on the drills with all the original terms retained. If you can, get a copy of the text and practice this stuff.Drill 1: One Line – Half and Full Cuts
Version A: Half cut into Longpoint while stepping forward with right foot. Gather left foot while transitioning through hanging guard to cut again. Do […]
We’ve all read The Iliad, right? If you haven’t, you should. It’s the first piece of western literature and sets the shape and style of pretty much everything which has been written since. At a little under 3,000 years old, this is something of an achievement. I’ve just re-read it as part of the Literature of Western Myth reading list I posted a couple of weeks ago.
Here’s a brief guide on how to read The Iliad, keeping the essentials of the story and cutting out lots of the waffle. While I love the book, it’s long (waaaay to long) […]
The Australian College of Arms (ACA) runs an annual gathering in September of historical and period swordsmanship which brings together competitors and participants from all over this wide brown land. Swordplay 2012 is destined to be the biggest and best.
This year Swordplay 2012 features the return of Puck Curtis from the Destreza Translation and Research Project to run a workshop in Spanish rapier fencing.
There’s Skill-at-Arms tourneys in three weapons systems this year: longsword, rapier and sidesword.
As always, there’s plenty of opportunities to meet other who share your passion for swords, fencing and history.
If you’re not at […]
I’m really beginning to like the dussack and reckon that Joachim Meyer has got it right when he says that it’s the basis of all single-handed sword styles. It’s an unforgiving weapon which is blade-heavy, unweildy yet strangely elegant. If you can make this thing work, you can master any cutting weapon.
(Gratuitous self-promotion: I make dussacks that seem to work well in sparring. Email me for details.)
The one thing the dussack does is to teach you how to move with the weapon. Being so unbalanced, it is impossible to control in a nice manner. You need to step […]