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  • <p>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.</p>
<p><em>(Gratuitous self-promotion: I make dussacks that seem to work well in sparring. Email me for details.)</em></p>
<p>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  […]</p>

    A Little Dussack Lovin’

    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 […]

  • <p>An simple but surprisingly effective set of rapier bouting rules spontaneously emerged from training last week. While it seems to owe a lot of the Belgian Guild Tournament Rules for longsword, nothing was further from our minds when we came up with them. I’ll outline the rules before describing their creation – which I find just as interesting.</p>
<blockquote><p>The ABC Rapier Bout Rules cover what is essentially a game of tag with swords. Start with two players in an arena of some kind (we use a section of a basketball court). The rest of the players and any spectators stand </p></blockquote> […]

    ABC Rapier Bout Rules

    An simple but surprisingly effective set of rapier bouting rules spontaneously emerged from training last week. While it seems to owe a lot of the Belgian Guild Tournament Rules for longsword, nothing was further from our minds when we came up with them. I’ll outline the rules before describing their creation – which I find just as interesting.

    The ABC Rapier Bout Rules cover what is essentially a game of tag with swords. Start with two players in an arena of some kind (we use a section of a basketball court). The rest of the players and any spectators stand

    […]
  • This post picks up where last fortnight's post left off. Last time, I outlined using The Chinese elements of earth, wood, fire, water and metal to create a varied bunch of roleplaying (convention) characters. This post will dive even more deeply into the well of wankiness to show how to create a group dynamic. The Chinese elements are different to the familiar scheme of the four Greek elements of fire, earth, air and water. Whereas the Greek elements are used solely to categories the natural world, the Chinese elements are used to show natural processes. We can hijack the traditional interactions between the elements to create a webs of tension and alliances within the roleplaying group.

    Chinese Elements for RPG Characters (2/2)

    This post picks up where last fortnight's post left off. Last time, I outlined using The Chinese elements of earth, wood, fire, water and metal to create a varied bunch of roleplaying (convention) characters. This post will dive even more deeply into the well of wankiness to show how to create a group dynamic. The Chinese elements are different to the familiar scheme of the four Greek elements of fire, earth, air and water. Whereas the Greek elements are used solely to categories the natural world, the Chinese elements are used to show natural processes. We can hijack the traditional interactions between the elements to create a webs of tension and alliances within the roleplaying group.
  • Swordplay 2012 is Australia's national gathering for period fencing and historical swordsmanship. The key events are Puck Curtis jetting in from the United States to teach a workshop on Spanish Destreza fencing and the Skill-At-Arms tournament. I've struggled long and hard with my conscience and finally taken the decision that I must do something dramatic to even the playing field at the tournament. So, here is the secret teachings of the Australian College of Arms. Use this knowledge wisely in your preparations for the event.

    Fencing Advice for Swordplay 2012

    Swordplay 2012 is Australia's national gathering for period fencing and historical swordsmanship. The key events are Puck Curtis jetting in from the United States to teach a workshop on Spanish Destreza fencing and the Skill-At-Arms tournament. I've struggled long and hard with my conscience and finally taken the decision that I must do something dramatic to even the playing field at the tournament. So, here is the secret teachings of the Australian College of Arms. Use this knowledge wisely in your preparations for the event.
  • <p>This post is the first of two which looks at hijacking the five elements of the Chinese philosophical tradition for this purpose. Today I’ll simply outline the “personalities” of each element. Next time (probably in a fortnight), I’ll look at the tradition and fixed interactions between the elements and how to use these to develop a fun set of characters.</p>
<p>Perhaps it’s a function of the Sydney/Melbourne/Canberra roleplaying scene of the late 1980s and 1990s but I think that the five character party works best for convention gaming. There’s no chance of the two-two deadlock when four characters are used  […]</p>

    Chinese Elements for RPG Characters (1/2)

    This post is the first of two which looks at hijacking the five elements of the Chinese philosophical tradition for this purpose. Today I’ll simply outline the “personalities” of each element. Next time (probably in a fortnight), I’ll look at the tradition and fixed interactions between the elements and how to use these to develop a fun set of characters.

    Perhaps it’s a function of the Sydney/Melbourne/Canberra roleplaying scene of the late 1980s and 1990s but I think that the five character party works best for convention gaming. There’s no chance of the two-two deadlock when four characters are used […]

  • This book fills me with nerd rage. It's such an arrogant and ill-informed Victorian age view of the history of fencing. The author is so thoroughly caught up with the nineteenth century idea of progress that he cannot see anything beyond what he wants to see. Sadly, the book is still the best history of fencing from the Middle Ages to the present day. Here's a sample:

    Review: Schools and Masters of Fencing

    This book fills me with nerd rage. It's such an arrogant and ill-informed Victorian age view of the history of fencing. The author is so thoroughly caught up with the nineteenth century idea of progress that he cannot see anything beyond what he wants to see. Sadly, the book is still the best history of fencing from the Middle Ages to the present day. Here's a sample:
  • <p>Henri de Sainct Didier outlines three basic postures: high, medium and low. This last has two variants. The high and medium postures seems to be untenable in any form of actual bout, be it sporting or deadly in intent. I believe that Sainct Didier intends them as defensive stances but cannot prove this from the text. These two postures are the outcomes of drawing one’s sword and stepping back with the right foot (see the <strong>Trois Desgainements</strong> below).</p>
<p>The only actions that I can make work from these postures (other than initiating the Six Strikes sequences) are defensive: parrying with  […]</p>

    Henri de Sainct Didier – Guards and Draws

    Henri de Sainct Didier outlines three basic postures: high, medium and low. This last has two variants. The high and medium postures seems to be untenable in any form of actual bout, be it sporting or deadly in intent. I believe that Sainct Didier intends them as defensive stances but cannot prove this from the text. These two postures are the outcomes of drawing one’s sword and stepping back with the right foot (see the Trois Desgainements below).

    The only actions that I can make work from these postures (other than initiating the Six Strikes sequences) are defensive: parrying with […]

  • Flat Earth: The History of an Infamous Idea by Christine Garwood is at once incredibly interesting and hopelessly broken. It is seriously let down by its misleading subtitle and back cover blurb as well as by meandering aimlessly through its subject matter. Nevertheless, it's a fascinating look at the development of science and the persistence of belief in the cold hard light of fact.

    Review: Flat Earth

    Flat Earth: The History of an Infamous Idea by Christine Garwood is at once incredibly interesting and hopelessly broken. It is seriously let down by its misleading subtitle and back cover blurb as well as by meandering aimlessly through its subject matter. Nevertheless, it's a fascinating look at the development of science and the persistence of belief in the cold hard light of fact.
  • <p>Unlike Joachim Meyer, Henri de Sainct Didier says little about his concept of the fight and how to approach or conduct it. There is rarely anything that appears to be explicit tactical advice in his text. However, there are several oblique references from which we can deduce something of the fight he envisioned.</p>
<p>Swordplay is compared to sport. In Sainct Didier’s view, a good <em>jeu de paulme</em> (the handball forerunner of tennis) player has the physicality necessary and general concept of movement (fore-hand and back-hand) to make a decent fencer. Is this only a comment on the degree of athleticism  […]</p>

    Henri de Sainct Didier – Fencing and Tennis

    Unlike Joachim Meyer, Henri de Sainct Didier says little about his concept of the fight and how to approach or conduct it. There is rarely anything that appears to be explicit tactical advice in his text. However, there are several oblique references from which we can deduce something of the fight he envisioned.

    Swordplay is compared to sport. In Sainct Didier’s view, a good jeu de paulme (the handball forerunner of tennis) player has the physicality necessary and general concept of movement (fore-hand and back-hand) to make a decent fencer. Is this only a comment on the degree of athleticism […]

  • <p>I was reading today Sigmund Ringeck’s Fechtbuch on the longsword (both the Lindholm and the Tobler translations) and found that his definitions of <em>vor</em> (the before) and <em>nach</em> (the after) are quite different to what I’ve been taught. These terms refer to much more than just plain owning the initiative of the fight. They’re about breaking the opponent’s guard and single-time defences.</p>
<blockquote><p>“Before means pre-empting your opponent with a strike or thrust to an opening. Then he must defend or parry. Be flexible in your defence and aim your sword against one opening after another so that he cannot get </p></blockquote> […]

    German Longsword: Vor and Nach

    I was reading today Sigmund Ringeck’s Fechtbuch on the longsword (both the Lindholm and the Tobler translations) and found that his definitions of vor (the before) and nach (the after) are quite different to what I’ve been taught. These terms refer to much more than just plain owning the initiative of the fight. They’re about breaking the opponent’s guard and single-time defences.

    “Before means pre-empting your opponent with a strike or thrust to an opening. Then he must defend or parry. Be flexible in your defence and aim your sword against one opening after another so that he cannot get

    […]
  • <p><strong>Henri de Sainct Didier</strong> presents two footwork exercises in his text, Traicte Contentant Les Secrets de Premier Livre d’Espee Seule. Today, I’m going to examine briefly his triangle and square stepping exercises.</p>
<p>A right-handed fencer is assumed throughout.</p>
<p>The first he calls triangle step which concentrates on simply stepping off-line as both a defensive measure and a means of gaining a mechanical advantage in the attack. Triangle stepping appears to apply to both the attacker and the defender.</p>
<p><strong>Triangle</strong>: A triangle with the vertex pointing left (1) and the baseline facing the opponent. The lower point is labelled (2)  […]</p>

    Henri de Sainct Didier – Triangle and Square

    Henri de Sainct Didier presents two footwork exercises in his text, Traicte Contentant Les Secrets de Premier Livre d’Espee Seule. Today, I’m going to examine briefly his triangle and square stepping exercises.

    A right-handed fencer is assumed throughout.

    The first he calls triangle step which concentrates on simply stepping off-line as both a defensive measure and a means of gaining a mechanical advantage in the attack. Triangle stepping appears to apply to both the attacker and the defender.

    Triangle: A triangle with the vertex pointing left (1) and the baseline facing the opponent. The lower point is labelled (2) […]

  • <p>I’m sitting out the back of my house in the autumnal sun thinking about just how bloody good life is at the moment. The world is slowly but surely going all the hell but right now I don’t care. I’ve been playing with my one year old boy all morning and he’s just gone down for a nap.</p>
<p>We’ve got a new game. We start by playing hide-and-seek around one of the outdoor chairs with him behind it and me in front. We try to anticipate over which side of the chair – left, right, over or under – the  […]</p>

    Blissful Reflections With A Warning

    I’m sitting out the back of my house in the autumnal sun thinking about just how bloody good life is at the moment. The world is slowly but surely going all the hell but right now I don’t care. I’ve been playing with my one year old boy all morning and he’s just gone down for a nap.

    We’ve got a new game. We start by playing hide-and-seek around one of the outdoor chairs with him behind it and me in front. We try to anticipate over which side of the chair – left, right, over or under – the […]

  • The Six Strikes of Henri de Sainct Didier are a simple set of exercises which teach more than just how to cut and thrust at an opponent. Also encoded within the sequences are a range of parrying techniques; some simple, some more complex. One aspect which puzzles is how he suggests the Lieutenant change safely from attacking from the right to attack from the left and vice versa. Here's our interpretation.

    Sainct Didier’s Transitions

    The Six Strikes of Henri de Sainct Didier are a simple set of exercises which teach more than just how to cut and thrust at an opponent. Also encoded within the sequences are a range of parrying techniques; some simple, some more complex. One aspect which puzzles is how he suggests the Lieutenant change safely from attacking from the right to attack from the left and vice versa. Here's our interpretation.
  • <p>A good GM can tie the dread secrets of the player charcters’ background into the very structure of the narrative so that these past events must be dealt with in order to advance the story. I’m not one of those GMs. I have neither the time anymore nor the smarts to work out these complexities. So, here’s a bunch of tricks you can use to fake it in your roleplaying sessions.</p>
<p>First, the secrets. These can be of two general types, although I generally would not mix the two in a single player group. It just doesn’t seem to work.  […]</p>

    Using Player Character Secrets

    A good GM can tie the dread secrets of the player charcters’ background into the very structure of the narrative so that these past events must be dealt with in order to advance the story. I’m not one of those GMs. I have neither the time anymore nor the smarts to work out these complexities. So, here’s a bunch of tricks you can use to fake it in your roleplaying sessions.

    First, the secrets. These can be of two general types, although I generally would not mix the two in a single player group. It just doesn’t seem to work. […]

  • Agrippa's Treatise on the Science of Arms (1553) doesn't quite make the cut for Club 1570 (my personal interest in later sixteenth century sidesword) but he remains an important factor in the understanding of the world and mindset of fencers of the period. An civil engineer by trade, Agrippa broke with the so-called medieval traditions of fencing still extant in his life. He de-constructed the art of the sword and rebuilt it as a science on firm geometric principles. Some believe that his work may be the inspiration for the geometry of the Spanish sword art known as La Verdadera Destreza. I need to revisit Agrippa's work at some point. I've learned a lot since I wrote these posts and I can see there's plenty more to learn within the text.

    Camillo Agrippa – Redux

    Agrippa's Treatise on the Science of Arms (1553) doesn't quite make the cut for Club 1570 (my personal interest in later sixteenth century sidesword) but he remains an important factor in the understanding of the world and mindset of fencers of the period. An civil engineer by trade, Agrippa broke with the so-called medieval traditions of fencing still extant in his life. He de-constructed the art of the sword and rebuilt it as a science on firm geometric principles. Some believe that his work may be the inspiration for the geometry of the Spanish sword art known as La Verdadera Destreza. I need to revisit Agrippa's work at some point. I've learned a lot since I wrote these posts and I can see there's plenty more to learn within the text.