Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Musashi's rules

Fluidity is the way to life.

The person who runs away from the thrust has already lost

Be aware of your opponent's sword

Borrow the battlefield. 

Be careful even in small matters.

Fix the vision.

Never more than three times.

Push multiple opponents into line like fishes.

When I fight I have only my sword.

The teacher is the needle and the deciple is the thread.

Use your surroundings.

You will know your man when you know his sword.

Try not to blink.

The journey of a thousand miles is made one step at a time.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Armour making schedules

Formal armour making classes.

So many people have asked me for them.  As I observe the people who make armour in my shop on Saturdays, I am struck by a couple of things...mostly that though the spirit is always willing

(and boy is it ever willing!), the knowledge base of how to make a good looking armour is simply not there.  Drill bits spin in their chucks, and rivets rattle. Breastplates are lumpy and

mis-shapen and sharp edges abrade skin.   Making armour is a skill, like typing or learning to drive, and what one person can do another person can learn how to do as well.

    I have never felt that by training people, I would be training my competition.  Far from it.  I would be training my collegues, and those who will be taking over from me, taking this art

to the next level and on to the next generation.  To this end, I have decided to schedule some formal classes. They are not cheap, nothing important ever is.  Yet they are not out of reach


 I have built up a curriculum based on two day blocks, and I always add on an optional practice day on the end of it for you to finish off whatever project you started.  So you can expect two

hours of lecture to start each day, then its all On-Job-Training "hands on" after that.  The courses will be held in my shop in Metcalfe.  I am not on a bus route, so if there is need for a

shuttle bus, let me know. I don't mind the drive to Tim Horton's at Findley Creek in the morning.   Courses start at 9o'clock sharp, and go for a pretty solid day which ends at around five. 

Depending on the heat levels, I may start it much earlier.     

The first block assumes you know NOTHING about metalworking of any kind, and will cover steel gauge sizes,  how to change tool bits and blades, the tools involved in armour making, and how

they are used. That being said, to avoid wasting all of our precious time,

You should already know:
        how to use a file, a hacksaw, a jig saw, a hand held power drill, a drill press, bench grinder and a bench vise.
        the metric system, the awg system, the sae system, and standard fastening systems.
        the use of safety equipment...eye, ear, fire fighting
        the names of various armour pieces

    At the end of the two days, you will know all the parts of the armour, anvil and what hammer to use, and when and on what.   You will become very knowledgable about safety equipment.   

You will know how to roll an edge, an introduction to the English wheel, and how to make a simple breastplate.  You will become familiar with shears, drills, and leathering of armour.  You

will be able to mount buckles on belts, and learn how to tie a ring buckle.  The third day is a practice day, in which you get to finish the projects embarked upon.  Since this last is only a

practice day, you can safely skip it, and do your practicing at home.  You will go home with a breastplate which is made to fit you.  Perhaps a back plate as well.

    The first block is required to go on to the second and third blocks. Some folks have an existing shop knowledge, and don't really need that basic course.  You can challenge my eqivalancy

exam if you like. email me at and I will send you the list of questions. You either breeze through them, or you gulp and realize (as I did!) that there is a huge body

ofhuge gap of knowledge you didn't even know you don't know.

The second block is also two days, and will deal with more complicated tasks such as articulating joints, finishing of metal, and hinge riveting.  You will learn tuck pointing, shrinking,

finishing with a surface plate, raising and dishing.  You will go home with a pair of knee cops.  You will learn how to colour leather, and mount different styles of buckles, and learn how to

make them. Eyeletting of both steel and leather are demonstrated. The basic armour making class is required, or equivalent.

The third block is the tool making block, where we will introduce you to multi metals such as brass, aluminum and stainless steel. Some work will be done with different leathers and furs. 

There will be an introduction to repousse, and a segment on how to make tools with which you can push the metal out.  Tool preparation, polishing and modification is explained succintly.

Polishing of brass and hardend steel tools is explained, with particular emphasis on how to make your own polishing station.   Colouring of metals, and texturing the surface is covered.  The

basic armour making class is required, or equivalent. You will go home with a pair of vambraces with your coat of arms embossed upon them.

2012 block 1  Thursday and Friday  May 31 and  June 1
     block 2  Thursday and Friday  June 14 and June 15
     block 3  Thursday and Friday  June 21 and June 22
     block 1  Monday, Tuesday 25,26 June.  (An optional date if there is considerable demand)
     block 1  Thursday and Friday  June 28 and June 29
     block 2  Thursday and Friday  July 12 and July 13
     block 3  Thursday and Friday  July 19 and July 20

Monday and Tuesday middle of June are available for block 1 (basic armouring) if there is demand.
Book your time slot now.  email, or
I accept VISA, Mastercard, and American Express.

Cost for the basic two day block is $220.80
($80.00 ($10.00/hr) + $10.40hst + $20.00 (materials) per day)

I will also accept TradeBank dollars, One World Barter Dollars, Canadian Tire Money and South Tower Dollars
A paid reservation is a confirmed reservation.
I limit attendance to three minimum, six maximum
Crash space is available if needed. 
Safety boots are required...likely your own safety glasses will be more comfortable than my old beat up ones.
Phone 613-821-1846, or fax 613-821-9947

Sunday, May 6, 2012

George and Tony Silver

Struggle through will be worth your time to get the flavor of the authentic life of bravos and sword fighters back in the day.  George Silver was a sword fighting instructor in England back in 1599, and he didn't like the new fangled long skinny swords handled by long skinny Italians with attitudes.    However, he DID have a sort of grudging respect for talent when he saw it.  These few pages from his book are his evaluation of the rival Italian sword fighting schools coming up in London, and his thoughts upon their masters. 

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

New class starts at Algonquin College and Talhoffer plate 2

We have 14 people starting the Algonquin College Basic level Chivalrous Swordhandling course tonight.  Very impressive.  I will be surveying the attendees and finding out how they heard about it and see if the new advertising the College is using may actually be working.
     Jeff Greenwood will be my assistant, but he is leaving right in the middle of the course for an overseas visit, and Shayne Dark shall be the middle section.  We are very lucky to have Shayne...he is a very busy person and VERY knowledgable on the subject of Japanese Sword techniques.

    Originally, we had an advanced course scheduled for Friday, but only one person signed up for it.  So they cancelled it, and will run it later June.  Suits me....I rather like the idea of Friday evenings off. 

The above picture is Talhoffer's fighting style, which we are emulating.  Observe the fellow on the right has stepped to his left, off the line of attack.  The rising strike is the second part of what I call the "X files".  It will rise up, glancing off the ward the left hand man would have to put into place, go high, and then come down in a smooth, gravity assisted draw cut onto his right shoulder.  If the man on the left keeps his guard in place, the sword will be deflected over head, and slide down towards his left.  Fun stuff.