HEMA in the modern British Army

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HEMA in the modern British Army

Postby Mearcstapa » 04 Jul 2014 08:53

Hello all - I'm currently at Sandhurst, and I am looking for other HEMA fencers in the British Army. I have heard the odd apocryphal tale about military HEMAists, but have yet to find any.

The Army is pretty good at supporting obscure sports and weird hobbies, and given both the inexorable rise of HEMA and the Army's traditional link with certain elements of it (the Household Cavalry are still taught sword cuts, apparently) I am hopeful about resurrecting some degree of spathological interest amongst my fellow 'uncivil servants'.

If anyone is (or knows of) a soldier as well as a fencer, if you could get in touch I'd be keen to hear from you.

Cheers,

Alex
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Re: HEMA in the modern British Army

Postby janner » 04 Jul 2014 09:18

Hi Alex,

Firstly, many congrats on getting into RMAS. There used to be a 'traditional' fencing club there and there is also an Army Fencing Union, but I didn't come across any other HEMA practitioners in my time. The AFU used to include all four traditional disciplines - the fourth being the bayonet - but that was unfortunately dropped some time ago.

I've since left and now live in Denmark. So am probably not of much help, but as an aside, your MoD sponsored PAX personal accident policy will cover you whilst HEMA fencing.

Regards,

Stephen
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Re: HEMA in the modern British Army

Postby admin » 04 Jul 2014 12:38

I've had a few contacts from Army personel over the years and they have been interested in getting HEMA people in to teach one-offs, but I have never heard of any HEMA being practiced regularly. I might be doing some bayonet stuff with the Coldstream Guards in the next few months, but it's difficult to say how that will pan out at this point.
Alex, if you are able to get funding for some military sabre, cutlass or bayonet classes then I may be able to come and teach if it's something there is an appetite for. Sandhurst is not that far from me (in Guildford). Aldershot is just up the road for me.
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Re: HEMA in the modern British Army

Postby Phil C » 04 Jul 2014 13:01

There was at least one serving soldier at SWASH (assisting Mr Flute with his F-S knife class).

I know a bloke who does a lot of corporate/mess days for the Army based around Medieval skills for novelty but there's little interest in regular "dead weapon" classes. That's not to say it couldn't go anywhere- after all the RN had a revival of singlesticking in the 50/60s and had an active "Master of all Cudgels" title and the RHA have regular skill-at-arms training and even had a reenactment unit of active servicemen based around the 17th Lancers at one point.
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Re: HEMA in the modern British Army

Postby admin » 04 Jul 2014 17:09

It seems to me that due to recent service there is a slight increased interest in knife and bayonet use. Though I suspect that this will subside again, now that those theatres are closed.
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Re: HEMA in the modern British Army

Postby Phil C » 04 Jul 2014 17:20

Indeed- the Comtech guys round my way are making a tidy sum teaching combatives and big knife stuff to Marines in Arbroath and Infantry in Edinburgh, with a touch of modern tomahawk for novelty.
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Re: HEMA in the modern British Army

Postby Mearcstapa » 05 Jul 2014 19:12

All - much obliged.

Matt - the Sandhurst schedule is both manic and highly irregular so unfortunately I don't think there will be any scope even for doing a one-off HEMA session there (I have tried to get up to the School of the Sword who are just round the corner, but only managed to make it once). Do let me know if the Coldstream Guards business happens as I would be very interested.

I'm commissioning in August, and going from there to Larkhill (near Salisbury) for gunnery school. If all goes well I will then go into the RHA, but can't bet on that.

Stephen: How long ago did the AFU teach bayonet? Good news regarding PAX.

Does anyone know Bracewell's background? I know he had some military connection but not exactly sure what.
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Re: HEMA in the modern British Army

Postby knirirr » 05 Jul 2014 23:12

Mearcstapa wrote:
Does anyone know Bracewell's background? I know he had some military connection but not exactly sure what.



He told me that he learned singlestick from an army instructor in the 1960s, but I don't think he had a military background himself. I could sell be wrong, though, for he would perhaps have been old enough for national service.
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Re: HEMA in the modern British Army

Postby admin » 06 Jul 2014 16:59

Mearcstapa wrote:If all goes well I will then go into the RHA, but can't bet on that.


If you want a proper regulation (but old) RA/RHA sword let me know - the modern ones are horrible trash :).
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Re: HEMA in the modern British Army

Postby KeithFarrell » 06 Jul 2014 20:55

knirirr wrote:
Mearcstapa wrote:
Does anyone know Bracewell's background? I know he had some military connection but not exactly sure what.


He told me that he learned singlestick from an army instructor in the 1960s, but I don't think he had a military background himself. I could sell be wrong, though, for he would perhaps have been old enough for national service.


He went into the RAF for national service.
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Re: HEMA in the modern British Army

Postby janner » 12 Jul 2014 12:52

How long ago did the AFU teach bayonet? Good news regarding PAX.


Long ago enough that they sold the fencing rifles (with spring loaded round tipped, bayonets that went back into the barrels) on in the mid 1980s :(

I'm sure you'll find you have more time at Larkhill. I was down the road doing PCBC before it moved from Warminster, and we'd see the young gunner officers going out on the morning ride from the comfort of our patrol base on the plain :lol:

I wonder if equitation is still part of the YOs' course :idea:
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Re: HEMA in the modern British Army

Postby Dave B » 12 Jul 2014 20:20

Mearcstapa wrote:Hello all - I'm currently at Sandhurst, and I am looking for other HEMA fencers in the British Army. I have heard the odd apocryphal tale about military HEMAists, but have yet to find any.


It would be pretty cool if you could get people interested in studying Sabre, possibly from a source relevant to british army officers.
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Re: HEMA in the modern British Army

Postby Thearos » 12 Jul 2014 21:31

Download "Cold Steel", buy some "Easton" gym sabres, put on a fencing mask and off you go ?
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Re: HEMA in the modern British Army

Postby Dave B » 13 Jul 2014 20:20

Or better still Angelo, which I presume they taught at Sandhurst, or rather its predecessors, for 50 years or so.

http://www.fioredeiliberi.org/phpBB3/viewtopic.php?f=22&t=16098
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Re: HEMA in the modern British Army

Postby Mearcstapa » 20 Jul 2014 01:17

Keith - Thanks.

Matt - I agree. I foolishly went to the London Antique Arms fair some months ago and splurged on a Thurkle and a Pillin.

Janner - Absolutely! Compulsory equitation for all one-pip wonders. Bummer about the rifles. Wonder who acquired them?

Dave - I wish. If I was more competent I might stand a chance of exciting some interest, but as a very rusty amateur I will have to wait until I can get some more practice time in before trying to raise the HEMA profile. If I can get Army sponsorship at some point that would be epic.
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Re: HEMA in the modern British Army

Postby Lochinvar » 20 Jul 2014 17:04

Alex,
You may wish to phone 94261 ext 2700 on 'the' system and you get my outer office who can put you in touch with me. I'm in the rather large building at the other end of your grounds (near the main gate).
All the best!
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Re: HEMA in the modern British Army

Postby janner » 20 Jul 2014 19:56

Mearcstapa wrote:Janner - Absolutely! Compulsory equitation for all one-pip wonders. Bummer about the rifles. Wonder who acquired them?


A chap named Jim Shortt had them last time I'd heard.
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Re: HEMA in the modern British Army

Postby Mearcstapa » 20 Jul 2014 20:07

Part of a school, or a private collector?
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Re: HEMA in the modern British Army

Postby janner » 21 Jul 2014 11:51

Mearcstapa wrote:Part of a school, or a private collector?


Private hands I'm afraid :(
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Re: HEMA in the modern British Army

Postby admin » 21 Jul 2014 12:07

James Shortt runs close protection and CQB courses for the military and PMCs, I believe. He has a page on Facebook.
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