HEMA Tournaments: My Feelings & Thoughts About Them in 2018

HEMA Tournaments: My Feelings & Thoughts About Them in 2018. Some ramblings thoughts about how I view tournaments in HEMA and where my place is with them now.

45 thoughts on “HEMA Tournaments: My Feelings & Thoughts About Them in 2018

  1. Gregor Suchentrunk says:

    I think there are two sports now, HEMA based on historcal sources, and I will call it "modern sword fencing" MSF that´s fencing with federsword using tecniques that work in tournamentes with specific rulesets and specific equipment.

  2. Academy of Historical Fencing says:

    I largely agree, though veer slightly more towards the 'not so interested in tournaments' approach. Did them for years, now bored. But I think its a valuable experience for people to go through.
    About your point towards the end, not needing tournaments to fight lots of varied opponents. This is the part that interests me the most. The reason I have given up on events lately is simply because I got bored of days packed full of lessons and tournaments. Even when there are sparring areas, so many event participants are busy with those lessons and tournaments. I'd love to see more emphasis on that sparring with varied opponents. Really it needs events more dedicated to that free time for people to fight as they please.

  3. T4nkc0mm4nd3r says:

    Agree with you 100%. I prefer not competing in official matches (for anything) bot because I don't usually win, but because it turns into this official ranking, when in reality, there's lots of factors that influence any given outcome, and even the best can get upstaged on a bad day. I'd rather secure a greater than 50% win/loss in numerous private matches versus people I consider top in their field, rather than a single competition match.

    But I do love the initial challenge of figuring out a new opponent in a do-or-die scenario. That's the big downside to competing with the same people over and over – you lose that as you memorize each other.

  4. Michael Gellar says:

    Tournaments are an important part of HEMA. They teach skills like being able to read opponents, stress testing your techniques and working under pressure. However, ultimately they are combat sports and rules vary across tournaments. I've seen great fencing as well as poor fencing win the day with poor technique but speed that allows them to win by tagging vs solid cuts/thrusts.

  5. Illoney says:

    I love the point you made about fighting different fencers, which is the very reason I love going to events and fight completely new people from completely new clubs, it's always a great experience.

    Edit: Also, Kristoffer Stansson is a monster with a rapier.

  6. Absinthevideo says:

    Tournaments are probably fine things but for me they suck. They cost a lot of money, bring out the worst of my fencing, and pile on to you with the stress of attending, being in time, having equipment etc etc. Having to take so many precautions and time off or have to prepare to be part of a tournament, if the only thing you get is a cheap medal and a pat on the back, is beyond me.

  7. XhileX123456789 says:

    I think wining against a very good opponent is one of the most satisfactory feelings in life and it is kinda addictive.So you should keep on entering tournaments and stay competitive unless you are 100% sure that you will get your ass kicked bad . Get over that mid age crisis ! XD

  8. Daniel Pope says:

    Hey! 41 isn't so old to be competing – #3 longsword fencer based on HEMA ratings is mid 40s, and a few of the rest of us in the top 20 last year were in our 40s too. 🙂

  9. Poll Mak says:

    Fencing in a tournament: It is a real mind game that really can make or break your performance and can definitely either make you win or lose, especially with fenceres that are all competent.

  10. Olli Foxbow says:

    I know it's not HEMA, but some of the best archers I have met yet are middle aged.

    Also: Performance anxiety is weird thing. How the pressure pushes the adrenaline and how it blocks your body and breathing control.

  11. odinn62 says:

    why bother pursue your interests in the intellectual aspects on the weapons and styles .the idea is not only based on tournaments .those are for the young and dumb and leave out many other aspects of the sport

  12. Laurie says:

    I have to admit that the sheer difference between combative sword usage and olympic fencing completely puts me off of fencing, largely because of how minimal the impacts are that count as hits and how quickly the fights end because of that. Most people are not going to give up in a life or death situation simply because you sort of hurt their shoulder a bit. I just can't suspend my disbelief enough to see it as anything other than interpretative stick poking.

    I'm a tad naive about competition HEMA but if they have solved that problem and only score points on things that would genuinely harm or cease a person's ability to fight then it might be less dumb and more interesting to watch. Maybe include Barfight HEMA as a side category?

  13. Laurie Campbell says:

    just a thought, I am a shotgun and field bow enthusiast, both instinctual aim. I have noticed when I try too hard it does not flow. Do you think a zen approach to just doing your thing, which I am sure you are practiced at with, " no thought ", I have pondered over our reactions in certain situations ie competition?

  14. Lucas Vaughn says:

    I would love to get involved in HEMA but unfortunately their is just nothing around my area and even if I could gather a group of like minded individuals none of us would be experienced enough to really get started on our own.

  15. Borislav Krustev says:

    Good points. But quoting Fiore like that is a bit confusing. What he says is that he had to defend his life 5 times away from home or friends against people who were envious of him with jackets and leather gloves. That doesn't really mean these were his only uses of the art "for real". For example, he further says that he would prefer fighting in armour a handfull of times instead of once out of armour, which implies he has experience with both.

  16. Grégory Fleury says:

    I always saw competition as a learning tool, not a hubris flasher.

    Of course some people do (in every kind of practices) but at the end, you compete following your own reasons, nothing else.

  17. Johannes Sjolte says:

    Do you think the self-control you need to compete in a tournament can be compared to the self-control you would have needed in a real historical duel – or do you think it is a completely different kind of skill you would need to keep yourself cool ect.?

  18. Fossil Fishy says:

    I learned foil from an Olympics bronze medal winner. He was long past his competition days but man, did I learn a lot. Didn't matter that he wasn't competing. And I'll say that I never beat him.

    The one time I came even slightly close I got up three to none on him. At that point he looked at me with an intent expression I hadn't seen before and said "You're really going for it today."

    It was like he shifted not just gears, but shifted personality entirely. It was all over after that. Didn't even come close to another touch, and here's the thing: he was left handed but was fencing right-handed with a French grip. He often did this, partly to make it more interesting for himself I think. He switched his right-handed foil to the left and if the the wrong grip bothered him I can't imagine what it would have been like with a proper one.

  19. plasmathunderdx says:

    If you don't know someone's tactics and skills it is much harder to fight them. I used to play some soul calibur online and I fought someone with a 98% win and I gave him one of his losses.(over 2000 matches) I'm guessing he just hasn't seen the tactics I used before but he adapted really fast. If i fought him again i'm sure I would lose because those tactics don't work on my brother. (because he has seen them dozens of times)

  20. Rob Wilson says:

    I would love to see commentary/analysis on fencing, similar to esports. (traditional sports casting is fairly dry and lacking in analysis in my experience).

  21. Homo eructus says:

    My club is hosting a tournament, one of the biggest in Spain (which isn't saying that much, there aren't many), and I'm looking forward to take part, we don't get many chances of fencing with different people. I missed it last year (when a different club was hosting it) so this will be my first tournament. some people are coming from Belgiun, if you came too, we could call it a proper International Tournament!

  22. M Kennedy says:

    I don't do HEMA, no time. But I do think in any sport (i do rowing and weightlifting) youve to set challenges for yourself. I don't know how you do that in a martial art without competing. My advice is it's very healthy to keep competing in your middle age (I'm 45). Maybe still compete, but train hard for one competition a year. Anyway, just my little nugget, good luck, keep going – it never ends

  23. Intus Facultas says:

    I think the most important part you hit on is that a coach does not necessarily need to be competitively active in order to be a coach. While it is important to establish a good background and authority on the subject you intend to coach in, eventually, skeptical students have to analyze for themselves whether what you're saying makes sense, and if it does, it really doesn't matter when the last time you competed was.

  24. Gallowglass says:

    I don't know about HEMA but in modern fencing we have people in their 60's who still fence against opponents in their 20's and they do quite well. Their styles has changed usually relying on blade work over footwork and fencing overall smarter not harder. One of them who is in their 50's and is still rated in all 3 weapons has this philosophy,

    1. Don't get hurt
    2. Have Fun
    3. Get the next touch.

    I think if you go to competitions just for the fun of it then its less stressful. Also being the head of their schools if your students do well then you still look good too.

  25. Mara999 says:

    The closest comparable experience I've had was when I briefly used to play American Football on a student team. We had a lot of fun bashing each other and we took comfort in that the gear would protect us, so we could go all out when tackling each other. It meant that we became so comfortable with being rough with our friends, that it became much easier to confront people from other teams.

  26. Steve Wainwright says:

    Interesting. Does competition in HEMA inevitably produce those that 'game the system' – so ultra aggressive with good technique, and not technically outstanding fluid martial ARTISTS? The same is of Piano competitions and modern conservatoires – almost all students play to win; rather than playing to develop themselves as true Artists. Too much M, not enough A? Too much 'winning ugly'? Not enough beauty? Not enough soul?

  27. Nick Dzink says:

    How about a tournament of survival? Every contestant get's a set number of HP which are a reversed form of scores for the entire tournament. A hit to the head/body substracts 2 hp, a hit in the arm substracts 1 hp. The rounds last 40-60 seconds, if by the end of the round no one lands a hit, both players lose 1 hp. The number of rounds is optional.

    The catch here is to make people care about strategical objective ie survival. The goal is to hit the enemy but not get hit in return a 4 score double hit won't put you ahead of you opponent if you lose 2 hitpoints yourself and will have a worse position against the next guy.

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