The New York Historical Fencing Association is a school of Historical European Martial Arts (HEMA). Our studies are based on the teachings of the 14th century German fencing master Johannes Liechtenauer. Although we focus primarily on the longsword, our curriculum includes wrestling, dagger, sword and buckler, spear and poleaxe. NYHFA is a member of the HEMA Alliance.

New Location!

NYHFA Longsword Curriculum is now being offered in Manhattan, through Sword Class NYC, taught by NYHFA Instructor Tristan Zukowski. Please visit for all information pertaining to class schedule, class fees, etc.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Do your part

Sang Kim senis wrote a post on doing your part that you all should read.

Extra Training

Especially now that NYHFA NYC is on hiatus. It is not the time to slack off and wait, it is the time to step up your game and train as hard as you can on your own. Get together with fellow students and fight, drill, etc. When we get back into it, I want to see people who are better than when I left them, not rustier.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Fluidity at the pell

Because I have a pell in my backyard, every once in a while I'll come up with a new idea on how to practice with it. The other night, I was whacking away but it was hot, I was tired after work, blah blah blah. Short story: I did want to get some practice in, but not completely exhaust myself physically with rapid-fire work or mentally with approach/non-telegraph-attack work. So I just stood in front of the thing and cut at it, half-speed or slower. Yes, this is a drill born out of relative laziness but as I continued doing it, I realize that there was more than enough to work on. Here's what I was doing, specifically:

- Stand at striking distance from the pell.
- Strike a 1-2 combination of Oberhau and/or Unterhau.* For example, Oberhau from right then Unterhau from left ; or Unterhau from left then Unterhau from right; or Oberhau from left then Unterhau from left. You get the point. Pick a pair and repeat, repeat, repeat for a while before you pick another pair.
- Focus on fluidity of movement, connection between sword and hips.
- Focus on efficiency of movement, i.e. not letting the sword go on unnecessarily large arcs; but be honest with yourself—you probably can't effect a "real" cut with just a flick of the wrists (I know I can't).
- Focus on the entirety of your upper body: are you turning so much that your shoulder is exposed? is your elbow sticking out? are you cutting to your center? etc.

* Yes, I know there are other cuts to be practiced too. Zwerch and Krump I left out specifically because I didn't feel like adding any footwork into the mix. Also consider the fact that you can do combinations of 3, 4, or no combination but a 'random' assault. But by restricting and focusing on less, it's actually easier to pay better attention to the nitty-gritty details.

Also, since Mike hasn't said it himself in a while: "Slow is smooth; smooth is fast."

EDIT: Another thing to think about is grip (looser until point of impact); this however is a bit artificial, since you have to release sooner (because the sword is not passing through the pell). Test-cutting is obviously a better method of refining this, but it still bears keeping in mind.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Sang Kim's Philosophy on building technique

It's a short blurb, so I'm just going to cut-and-paste from the original blog post. Annotated a bit for the HEMA ppl:

There are 4 steps to building technique which is commonly shared in kendo.

1st one is Dai or big. Learn how to do all the waza
[techniques] big. Whether it's a cutting techinque, a swing, or kata [form, solo drill, etc.]. Learn how to do everything big first.

2nd is Kyo or strong. Learn how to have weight behind the movements. The power that you learn how to generate in doing things big, you should cement on how that is achieved.

3rd is Soku or speed. As you realize what aspects make the technique work and strengthen it, you chip away at all the excess motions. This builds speed.

4th is Kei or smoothness. As you chip away parts to build speed, you must work on making things smooth.