More than just prancing around in fancy clothes...

A beginneers view to medieval fight training

Reenactment is more than dressing up and hanging around campfires. It is a way to experiance life in another period. In doing so, we can experiment with techniques and theories that lead to a greater understanding of some remarkably sensible and clever things that are now completely alien to our 21st century minds. One of those things that we take for grantend, mainly due to Hollywood is sword fighting, which appears like mindless bashing, however was it really like this? How does it feel to be up close and personal with your opponent? Is it anything akin to what Hollywood portrays. These and many other questions cannot be understood simply by watching or holding real weapons. It has to be done and experianced to get any understanding of what it may have been like. So with this personal goal set, I was looking for a good instructure for my first venture into 15th Century personal combat. I happened to run into Arne Koats, a guy who not only knows how to wield a sword, but is also a highly respected jouster. The proved to be easy. I am an athletics coach, and my athletes are always looking for a challenge.

After a few months of waiting the time arranged had finally arrived.. We are destined for a intensive full weekend of authentic 15th Century fighting. Swords, daggers, poleaxe, and even unarmed combat. The weapons were lighter than I expected, and this makes technique crucial. Strength alone will not help, if you are technically superior you can easy pass the point of the blade into a crusial organ before a respond can be forumlated. So off we went practicing, footwork, positions, strikes, and combinatations, everything based from 15th century sources. So we practised till our brains went into overload, and then we chatted about knights, swords, and horses. Then we picked up ourselves and our blades and started again. Everything move we did had countermoves, and counter-couter moves, there are many ways, and combinations with these swords, every move designed to retain or gain the attack, no sure thing a defence only move, everything is designed to end with the demise of your opponent. This made me feel I was getting into the mindset of the warriors of those days.

End of the afternoon, and time for a barbecue, and reflection. Most of it when by with swapping stories between a professional jouster and a high level amateur athletes. But we also reflected on the warrior mind of the medieval knight. A mind very foreign to our modern 21st century mind. A very technical and dedicated thought process aimed with survival via high amounts of agression, way beyond the scope of even high level sprinters who know how to focus and go all out of the blocks,  we have limits of modern society that prevent us from wanting to hurt one another. Finally we acheived everything we were aiming for, an introduction to experiancing a different age, and getting an understanding of what it may have been like, getting a little bit closer to understanding history, and the mindset of the age when placed under the pressure of combat. 

 

By Michael Snijders