Sunday, March 25, 2012

One in a million

This is Bruce Deachman's interview with me. Some of the pics are a little dated, they were from a couple of years ago.

And this is Algonquin College's advertisment on Ottawa Kiosk.

Thursday, March 22, 2012


The samurai is making a backhanded strike to the leg. The european has blocked it, and then spins the samurai around with an elbow to the back of the samurai's arm.

There are dozens of variations on this theme.....This is the responce to the number four attack. (That is the back hand to the leg). It works just fine for a number two or even an overhead strike which you meet with a crosswise lift of the sword and a brisk step to the left.

Note if you will that Talhoffer wanted to just push the opponents arm around with the hand...we assume that if you have a shield, you may not be able to do that as easily. We like to bump into people with the backs of our hands if at all possible. In the pictures above, you can see that we place our hands on the opponent's shoulder, then drop our elbow to catch his arm under the tricep.

Practice this a few times. It is a very handy movement.

(fol 18r) Jung Ritter lere / got lip haben frawen io ere / So wechst dein ere / Uebe ritterschaft und lere / kunst dy dich zyret und in krigen sere hofiret
"Young knight, learn to love God and revere noble ladies, so that your honour grows. Practice knighthood and learn the art that dignifies you, and brings you honour in wars."

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Upcoming events

Fight classes are proceeding as normal at Algonquin College and also at the Plant Baths, on Preston Street at Gladstone, right in the heart of little Italy here in Ottawa.

Basic Course....Algonquin Woodruff Campus, the gym in the "P" building.
Course Code GEN0088. cost for this course is $160.57 incl HST This is a non-credit Algonquin General Interest course, and as such is payable entirely to Algonquin College. (On line or at the Registrar's desk just inside the doors at the Admin building.)
Wednesday evenings, 7 to 9:30, January 18th to February 29th 2012

Advanced Course .....Algonquin Woodruff Campus (16 hours Friday evenings 7 to 9:30 in the "P" building.

Course Code GEN 0105 Cost for this course is $160.57 incl HST
Courses are scheduled for Friday evenings, 4th of March to 15th of April. only two days after the basic course ends. We rescheduled it for Wednesday. We have 6 students...just enough to enjoy ourselves. You can come late to this class if you want. Instructor says its okay...grin!

Nice thing about the advanced course...its mostly just practicing and application of the stuff you learn in the basic course, so you can miss one or two classes without fear of falling behind.

Worshops. I can get pretty much any Friday evening in January or February for workshops in Algonquin, and then again Wednesday evenings in March and April. email me at and perhaps we can set up some workshops...anything from "armour repair" to "chain maille making" to who knows what....if you have an idea for a topic, let me know, and we can schedule something. Obviously if it involves complex Systema or Juitsu techniques, we will need the gym with the mats....but heck, even if all we have is a pub night...I think I can get behind that!

Algonquin College Registrar's Office is 1385 Woodruff Ave, Rm. C150, Ottawa Ont., K2G 1V8. tel 613-727-0002, or 1-800-565-4723, fax613-727-7754 email But if I am involved, have me do it....

Why go through the college? Now you have to remember, what you get out of the college is this. Algonquin is keeping the lights on, providing free (shoveled) parking and insurance, and providing us with gym, change room and locker space. They have to arrange this attractive gym space with the owners, the Police Services Department. If we don't get eleven or more sign ups, they will not do all the "behind the scenes stuff" which is required to get this course in place. And they need those sign ups a week in advance. If you delay and wait for the day of, they might well cancel the course on us. So don't procrastinate! Call ME if you have problems. 613-821-1846

European Chivalrous Handling Course...Level 1 Plante Baths (18 hours) Sunday mornings 10:30 to 12:30
Plante Recreation Centre, 730 Sommerset St. West (at Preston).... Phone to register at 613-232-3000

The basic course is needed to get started in sword handling and be able to do it safely, a good grounding. Not a lot of "dirty tricks", but you get all the basic moves required to aquit yourself as a competent swordsman on the field.

Chivalrous Sword Level 1 Sun @ 10:30 am – 12:30 pm Apr 15 – Jun 17 696949
$112.50 Preston
No class Sunday, May 20th

The courses at the plante bath are quite different from the courses at Algonquin. There is more chain maille, and none of the Japanese Katana work which we do at Algonquin College.

European Chivalrous Handling Course...Level 2 Plante Baths (taught concurrently with basic course above, a remarkable 18 hours!)
Plante Recreation Centre, 730 Sommerset St. West (at Preston) (Sunday afternoons, 01:30 to 03:30)

(thats a PDF file, and I am in "Adult, General Interest" on page 106) Sign up here.... or phone to register at 613-232-3000

Chivalrous Sword Level 2 Sun @ 1:30 – 3:30 pm Apr 15 – Jun 17 696959
$112.50 Preston
No class Sunday, May 20th

Friday, March 9, 2012

Fighting styles

One could argue for months about the value of one fighing style over another. My touchstone of validity is "does it work". Well, one could say that about most fight styles hmmm? There are always rules. Or perhaps conditions. Are we talking one on one, tournament, war, what? Remember, they also serve who serve the guns. And I remember a spirited discussion with one old infantry man who has blessedly passed away now who reminded me that they also serve who successfully serve breakfast. Good point. But, in our classes, we stick to single handed sword, hand and a half sword and double handed sword, with or without shields.

The Lichtenhaur school always said that there is only one style...the attack style. Applicable no matter what weapons you have. That being said, they always say in their descriptions "from the bind do this". I choose to interpret this debating point to meaning "after you have successfully blocked or put aside his attack then do this..." I have had many good swordsmen disagree with me on this interpretation, however, they only disagree in degree, not principle.

When Mr. Talhoffer was teaching his farm boys to become infantry men, he created a great change in how fighting of any kind was being done. Oh sure, there were professional armies stretching back into the bronze age, some quite spectacular. (Spartans come to mind, as do Temujin's Mongol hoardes I suppose.) But all the fighting was done by "citizen soldiers" or "aristocrats" of one form or another. The rank and file were there, of course. The peasantry whose labours provided hay, oats, and bacon for the "real" soldiers were always sort of tolerated, but not really part of the the army....sort of like camp followers, card sharps and head lice are an unwanted part of the army. The great ditches full of dead at Whisby were not professionals...they were the farmers and tanners and whatnot that met and slowed the army so that the town could prepare for the worst. This was repeated enough around Europe that the bourgoisse and peasantry realized that there might be a better way. Talhoffer and his crew actually taught the illiterate, the disposessed and the the upwardly mobile. The result was a new societetal class...a force to be reconned with. This was a class of trained soldiers, who were able to demand payment and bargain their services.

I guess that is why I like the art so much. Its not elitist, not scholarly. But it is very straightforward, and applicable to a lot of situations.

The South Tower Amouring Guild style is based on these principles. There are more, but this is a good start.

1. we are using swords. Not clubs.
2. there are no "target points".
3. when you are in guard you are invulnerable
4. attack from the guard.
5. you came here to fight, so get to it
6. let him start it.
7. practice
8. Its his turn next, so do unto others, etc etc.

I might add a couple of extra things commands in here....
1. Thou shalt look good.
2. Thou shalt be doing this to have fun, not to truly injure your opponent.
3. Thou shalt find participation superior to winning.
4. To lose a fight is preferable to losing a friend.

(fol 18r) Jung Ritter lere / got lip haben frawen io ere / So wechst dein ere / Uebe ritterschaft und lere / kunst dy dich zyret und in krigen sere hofiret
"Young knight, learn to love God and revere noble ladies, so that your honour grows. Practice knighthood and learn the art that dignifies you, and brings you honour in wars."

Thursday, March 8, 2012

William Marshal

Timewatch BBC. 49 minutes of the real story behind the greatest knight of all time! Dr. Saul David's documentary about William Marshal.

William Marshal's biography part 1
William Marshal's biography part 2
William Marshal's biography part 3

It took Marshal seven years to become a knight, even though he trained hard every single day.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Graduates Feb2012

This was the GEN 0088 class which ended in February of 2012. A most interesting class...with some very interesting people. I managed to hide my face behind my sword!!! So you can't see my big grin!

We are getting ready for the next class...GEN 0105. Its okay if you come into this class missing a day or consists of a large amount of review, and sword exercises. And sparring. We will be doing a lot of sparring. I personally believe that the best training for fighting is, well, fighting.

What are people's opinion on this group?