Just read a great chapter on the landsknechte
Been slowly reading through Mike Loades' Swords and Swordsmen. Had no idea there were real mercenarry armies wielding 5 foot-long swords with wavy blades (flamberge?). I recommend the book for sure. Do WMA folks attempt to recreate the fine art of hacking away with these bad boys?
Depends on what you mean by "attempt to recreate the fine art of hacking away with these bad boys."
There are certainly a large number of HEMA groups working on Medieval and Renaissance swordsmanship. The ones I know of are all working from some sort of period documentation for technique and tactics. I don't know if there is any specific usage documentation for the sword you're referring to but I can assure you that if there is, some HEMA group/researcher is working on it. :)
Peace favor your sword,
I wish there were a HEMA group in my area. The stuff is so interesting. History in motion.
Academie Duello, where I train (well, on financially motivated hiatus right now), is producing a video curriculum based on the regular class curriculum. So far it looks pretty good; you can check out some free videos here. Note that although some videos are available only to paying subscribers, membership is free (not very obvious from the site -- this is feedback I've [just] given them). I think the idea is that free members can access current videos week by week, but only paid subscribers can access the backlog.
Obviously it can't compare to instruction under a real instructor, but if you have the urge, a similarly-minded friend, and a couple of decent sword simulators, you could at least have a taste. You can also find some historical manuals online, such as Ridolfo Capo Ferro's Gran Simulacro on rapier.
There are some HEMA schools in Virginia (see e.g. the Chivalric Fighting Arts Association's list), but I've no idea if they are near you.
Looks like they're mostly in the DC area. Thanks for the great info though. I just downloaded the manual. Are there big differences in style between different historical fencing masters like capoferra v fiore. Or is it more classified by country (Ive heard reference to the French school vs the Italian school etc). Sorry for the noobish questions. I'm a man of great curiosity.
Capoferro and Fiore were both Italian masters, and differ in time period: Fiore was earlier, and taught wrestling, dagger, longsword, and perhaps sword and shield; Capoferro was later, and taught single rapier and rapier and dagger.
As for the differences between contemporary masters, I know from personal experience that people from the Spanish school of fencing (Destreza) fight very differently from students of Capoferro. Consider the following, with a Capoferro stylist in grey jacket and brown boots, and a Destreza stylist in black:
You'll notice the upright stance associated with Destreza, and the Capoferro emphasis on a wide stance and sideways lean of the torso.
In terms of earlier weapons -- German longsword vs. the Italian longsword of Fiore, or respective sword-and-shield styles -- I lack personal experience; I've done a bit of the Italian stuff but have no experience of the German schools. I've been told that the German style is a bit less embellished and more straight to the point (as it were); I've also been told that by and large the German Fechtbücher contain pretty much the same material as Fiore's Flos Duellatorium though presented in a different curriculum -- make of that what you will; I don't know what to make of it.
Are there tournaments/competitions for this? I have to say (and I hope I don't offend anyone too badly) that this is far more fun to watch than olympic fencing. I don't know if the costumes and attitudes of the participants have anything to do with it, or if it's just cool to see these diverse styles recreated.
As you're all coming to realize that I'm somewhat of a bibliophile, my next question might be pretty predictable: can you recommend a good book on historical fencing (not a manual but a history or narrative)?
Probably the biggest HEMA-related group is the Society for Creative Anachronism, SCA. They do the whole period costume and more-or-less LARP thing, but their events also have tournaments. (Every tournament has its own rules, of course; SCA's tend to differ from those used by other groups. Some aspects look rather odd to me, but vice versa may well be true as well.) Apart from that, I'm not aware of any very "standard" tournaments, though various groups have their own local things going on. Academie Duello has a few annual tournaments; in Sweden there's the Swordfish tournament (and do check out YouTube, they put on some very good fights); and I'm sure other groups have similar things…but I'm not aware of anything on a very large scale. Of course, I think HEMA is undergoing something of a revival right now, so it could well be that there will be bigger, more recogniseable tournaments in five or ten years from now.
Ah, wait -- there is of course Battle of the Nations. Search YouTube and you'll find some fights. Search Bullshido and you'll find someone who signed up.
I'm not personally aware of any books on historical fencing such as you want (really, all I know about historical swordplay comes from practicing at Academie Duello and reading the WMA section of Bullshido), but search the forum and you may find some mentions.
I think it would be great fun to see how my FMA would fare in such a tournament. Are the contestants mostly people who train regularly, or do they just show up more for the dress up and sword swinging and buxom lasses? Or maybe I just created a false dichotomy there.
The contestants where, is the question? At my local school, Academie Duello, there are lots of people who are into the SCA and LARP and such, and lots of people who just approach swordplay as a martial art. (I admit to growing up with tabletop RPGs and have only fond memories, but LARP? Never.) SCA tournaments are, well, they're SCA run, so expect lots of costumes, buxom wenches, LARPy conversation, and (I gather) lots of booze and sex. (Not during the tournament itself, mind you, just at SCA events more generally: You pitch a tent and invite someone in, or something. I dunno. I've never been.) Other tournaments? I guess it depends on who runs them and where.
Of course, any tournament that includes heavy weapons (sidesword, longsword, polearms) is going to have armour requirements that necessitate some amount of "costume" for the safety of participants.