Source: German school
Modern HEMA-culture tries to emphasize a high level of “realism” by setting standards for equipment for free fencing, especially in regard of tournaments. High quality protective gear is supposed to ensure a high level of safety and encourages a very quick and powerful fencing style that allows the fencers to act more or less without restraint and to take lots of risks.
When we look at the historical sources on the other hand we notice that especially in the civic “Fechtschulen” the use of protective gear was not common; in most cases not even gloves were worn.
So, have they all been complete bonkers? Most probably not. Even though there are sources for accidents in historical tournaments, their number stays way below the expectations. One, but not the only reason may be that certain techniques like a pommel strike or “Einlauffen” were forbidden by the rules. But my theory is that back then the contestants – at least in a peaceful, sportive context – were fencing much more carefully and that the historical “Fechtschul”-fencing differed considerably from modern HEMA-sparring.
But even today some HEMA-clubs hold the idea of free fencing with steel feders witout heavy protection (or no protection at all) high, and low- or no-gear-sparring is already raising a quite remarkable international fanbase!
For Torsten it is an integral part of his training and a valuable addition to his catalogue of free-fight exercises. Sparring with low or no protection gear enforces another way of fencing which enables the contestants to practice fencing techniques more consciously and deliberately. It teaches your all-round perception and enables reflected training, the style of fencing is becoming more technical and more prone to be “im Band”.
In this workshop Torsten is introducing you to this style of free fencing. He will explain the advantages and disadvantages, the opportunities and limits of this style and will show you useful exercises in order to approach this topic slowly and most important safely.
Skill level of Participants: Advanced fencers, 5-10
Needed Equipment: Longsword/Feder, mask, (light) gloves. Highly advanced fencers, no-gear-veterans and experienced trainers can use protective goggles instead of a mask and/or leave out the gloves at their own risk
About the trainer – Torsten Schneyer
Torsten Schneyer, 47, is a HEMA-Teacher of the “old guard” and active since the late nineties. He founded two of the biggest german clubs for historical fencing and ist director of STAHLAKADEMIE, a HEMA-School located in Leipzig/Germany, where he teaches serveral times a week and mastered different disciplines: from the indispensable longsword to wrestling, dagger, sword-and-buckler, messer, spear, staff, rapier, montante, bartitsu-stickfighting and whatever. furthermore he loves heavy metal and birds.