Updated: Dec 13, 2020
What followed after those words was a cacophony of clanging metal, a scuffling of feet and the occasional utterance of profanity. Such is the way of swordfighting and so it was just this way at the most recent monthly in house tournament at Austin Historical Weapons Guild. Every month we of the AHWG (Austin Historical Weapons Guild), a local HEMA school, host our own tournament to give students an opportunity to experience a competition setting, hone their sparring skills, and practice good sportsmanship.
Every month focuses on different weapons and this month the winner was…
...waaaaaaait for it…
Take a gander at some of the fancy moves exhibited at this meeting of swords
While we have our own rules designed by our benevolent rulers, aka instructors, the rule set employed this particular eve was based on an upcoming tournament called The Baton Rouge Open (BRO) which will be hosted by Ordo Procinctus at the end of May. By utilizing HEMA scorecard, sword fighters are able to prepare for different rule sets for upcoming competitions with ease.
The evening started out by dividing the fighters into two pools and gearing up. This usually involves some good natured griping about sweat drenched gambesons or the curious smells that can be found on the inside of shared gear.
In addition to getting an opportunity to fight, students are able to fill the roles of judges and referees which gives value experience as well as a deeper understanding as to how the fights work. We are stationed around the ring and encouraged to move about so as to more easily spy successful cuts, thrusts, or pommels to the face. What this really looks like is one person watching the action while three more people run in mad circles around two people swinging giant, swords at each other. It’s all rather comical, but loads of fun.
The action is fast paced as matches are rapid fire style with action happening in the blink of an eye. With so many fights happening in a short time, it really lets one note differences in style, technique, and approach. Not only is it interesting, but it gives fighters perspective on their own styles as well as noting areas dogeared for improvement.
During these tournaments all levels of fighters compete, including instructors. It gives valuable experience for future competitions as well as simply serving to improve sparring. A highlight of the event was seeing Andy Polito, a fresh graduate of the beginner’s program, step into the ring for the first time and swing a longsword with confidence. For six weeks, Andy studied a general weapons introduction course that covered, among other weapons, longsword. The last day of that session saw students sparring in minimal gear with one another and dussacks (leather training single swords). It was a proud moment for Austin Historical Weapons Guild to see a new student jump into the deep end of the pool even facing off against instructors.
All of the participants fought valiantly and hopefully walked away with a better understanding of sparring, judging and general tournament procedures. We will once again be gearing up, dispensing pre/post fight hugs, and getting more experience at our next in house tournament at the end of April where there will undoubtedly be loud metal clanging...and probably swearing.
HEMA on, Wayne. HEMA on, Garth.
- The Fearless Nymph