Monday, 28 March 2016

DDS Class Times 2016

Our website is currently undergoing an upgrade! Until then, here are the current classes and times as of March 2016:

NB At present we can only cater for over 18s


Study Groups 1930-2130
This is where we generate our HEMA! These aren't formal classes - don't expect to be taught, though we are often happy to fit in some drill and teaching by arrangement or for the hell of it. Usually we spend our time working out techniques from original sources and devising ways to teach them.

Freeplay-passed DDS members can just turn up, and can start their own study group subject to instructor approval. Other members are welcome to ask about joining in.

If you are a visitor or new member, please contact DDS before turning up on Monday. 

I.33 Sword and Buckler (On temporary hold.)
Please contact us to be notified of this class's resumption. 


This is our main night. We train, we fight, we go to the pub!

Meet in the downstairs hall for a shared warm up.

German Longsword 1930-2130
Authentic Medieval German longsword based on the Ringek/Von Danzig tradition. Beginners welcome!

Sidesword 1930-2130
Renaissance Sidesword (looks a bit like a rapier but more slashy). Beginners welcome!

WEDNESDAYS (no classes)

We no longer fence on a Wednesday.

Wednesday, 24 December 2014

[Movie Review] Heavenly Sword (2014)

Heavenly Sword is a movie adaptation of a video game franchise published by the Sony Playstation Network. It is an animated feature film released in 2014 and it features Anna Torv (from the Fringe TV show) as the voice of the main character Nariko.

The story is a classic sword and sorcery where an usurper king comes to claim a legendary sword that was once brought to instill peace in the land plagued by warfare. The sword is guarded by a clan chosen by the deity who first made the sword but it is cursed and it is prophesised that only the son of the clan chieftain, the chosen one, can wield it and defeat the King.

The story follows Nariko and Kai who travel in search of the brother they have never known to bestow the sword upon him so he may rid the land of evil, all the while fighting their own battles along the way.

[spoilers follow below]

Tuesday, 25 November 2014

Techniques from Sprechfenster (Speaking Window)

When the blades clash, that’s Krieg. It comes in two flavours, Sprechfenster and the Windings. This is about Sprechfenster, “Speaking Window”.

If you are standing in Lang Ort ("Long Point") with a regular grip on your sword, and you are in contact with your opponent’s sword (“in the bind”), then that’s Sprechfenster  or "Speaking Window".

The aim is either to close to Winding advantageously, or stay annoyingly in Speaking Window while sniping away at your opponent.

Your choice of technique depends on what the other swordsperson does.
  • Test the Bind” – When in doubt, force a reaction by trying to stab them.
  • Change Through” – Do this if they engage the tip. Dip the point and pull your sword back so their blade flies past, then stab them by extending your arms. Step as required.
  • Take Off” – Do this if they are strong on your blade, i.e. parry without threatening your face. Using a push-pull lever action, pull your blade back and hit them inside their blade. Either (a) stay in Speaking Window by stepping around, leading with the front foot, or (b) pivot in with the cut to Krieg so that you are in Right Lower Hanger, hands low and back as far as possible, as if you were orbiting your sword.
  • Twitch” – Do this if they are neutral and can’t be tempted into being strong. Same action as “Take Off” (b) but trace your sword around theirs and stab them while pivoting in.
Think: Weak against Strong, Strong against Weak.

Monday, 27 October 2014

Five reasons why DDS German Longsword Tuesday uses a lower Vom Tag

Ringeck early 1500s
There are, of course, several ways people did Vom Tag - Keith Farrel & Alex Bourdas have a whole section in their excellent book German Longsword Study Guide.

We, however do the lower one with the cross guard hovering just above or below the armpit, and the pommel -- on longer swords - round about the high medieval waistline.

We do this because our style comes from the Von Danzig family of texts and think the evidence points to this.

[Edited because I made Claire G sound too certain.] 

Monday, 22 September 2014

Longsword Class Notes: The Five Meisterhaus and how we do them at DDS

This is the first of a series of short posts setting out what we do in the DDS German Longsword Class. They're intended for people who already attend the DDS Longsword class. For this reason, we haven't bothered with illustrations, though these may come.

Since these are class notes, we haven't justified our interpretations or provided citations. However, each and every technique given here fits the Goliath and associated family of texts and has been rigorously tested. (Some sources here.)

Please note that we know we have done Bad Things when anglicizing the German terms.

Sunday, 27 April 2014

The Duel - An Essay

The Duel

by Jean-Loup Rebours-Smith

André and Zack had been training together for a few years now and though there were others they normally trained with in the salle, they more frequently ended up paired up doing drills and other exercises. You start to know someone after training with them for a while. You see their play change, evolve into something smoother, sharper and less predictable. Yet at the same time your own play follows a similar path. An awkward dance becomes a continuous flowing motion. The body starts to move almost by itself, reacting rather than responding.

That night André felt particularly clear headed. When the time came to stop exercising and to start duelling he was more ready than he had even been. There was a twinkle in Zack’s eyes too that suggested a similar readiness and somewhere, as if coming out of thin air, a pulsating rhythm started to play, like the drumming of a distant tribe in the jungle.

Their swords firmly gripped, thumb gently resting behind the ricasso, they entered the duelling arena holding their masks under their left arm. At the call of the judges, their swords clashed and swooshed in a determined and respectful salute as is traditional. Having paid their respects to the judges and everyone watching, they assumed an en-garde position, left hand on one hip and sword pointing forward both shielding and threatening at the same time.

When the call was given, André quickly opened his play with a cut to the head. A swift parry and riposte from Zack forced him to drop his guard low to protect his right flank. Just as quickly he riposted again but Zack blocked him and took a step backward. Openings are often used as a test to feel your opponent’s swiftness to respond and as such there is little point to keep the flow going for too long. When the stream train gets on its way it must first start at a slow pace before accelerating to full speed.

André attacked again, this time with a beat, but Zack knew better than to let his sword taken offline and he evaded the beat responding with an attempt to thrust directly at André’s chest. This was a clever and swift move but not one André was unfamiliar with. He dropped his blade to close the door to Zack’s thrust sending it offline. A good fencer never over-commits however and André’s returned cut was once again parried.

And then time started to slow down. As each cut and thrust was parried the riposte was sent to a precise opening only to land again on the other’s parrying blade. Again and again the blades clashed like a clock ticking inexorably setting into an unbreakable rhythm. Even as each of them looked for alternatives to their play, so swift was their response and so clear was their minds that there seemed to be no way to escape save through sheer exhaustion.

But exhaustion wasn’t an option, not when euphoria was driving their swords back and forth. Breaks were taken only to preserve energy and look for alternative strategies but with each return to guard another lock on rhythmic exchanges was the only possible result and it was hypnotic.

Nobody knows how long they spent fighting each other. It seemed like time was now determined by the clockwork of their clashing blades forming a bubble that isolated them from the outside world. The judges and the public were trapped inside the sphere, wondering who would come out victorious eventually.

Whilst dances are rehearsed, duels are drilled into the swordsman and the sword becomes both arms and armour. Victory isn’t about who hits most often but how easily you can slip into the duelling dance. That night, André and Zack knew they were now ready to take on anyone who would dare challenge them.

Tuesday, 3 September 2013

German Longsword Meisterhaus

Here's a summary of our current thinking on the Meisterhaus - the correct plural is Meisterhäue, but we tend to Anglicise our technical terms, if only to make Claire Graf shudder - based on several years of consulting the texts and experimenting. Please note that this is intended as a study aid and won't make much sense without attending the classes!