The Year 2000 in Medieval & Renaissance Martial Arts
Looking back at an incredible twelve months
 

This past year has been a monumental one for historical fencing. It would probably be no exaggeration to say it has been the most important year for the subject in the entire 20th century (i.e., 1901 – 2000). It was also a great year for the Historical Armed Combat Association - HACA (ARMA's original name).  We have witnessed something of a recognition that a legitimate community of serious enthusiasts and practitioners pursuing Medieval and Renaissance fighting arts and swordplay has fully emerged. During 2000 we saw interest in the accurate study of historical fencing expand all across the globe.

 

In 2000, Medieval and Renaissance fighting arts took on an unprecedented level of excitement and significance as important events and happenings occurred through the year. We also experienced a sense of camaraderie and community as well constructive discourse take place among a diverse range of students and instructors. We were exposed to previews of even more exciting things to look forward to in the coming year, including new commercial training equipment, the availability of new historical texts, upcoming special fencing events, further gatherings of enthusiasts, and expected publication of several new books on swordplay.

 

Throughout much of 2000 the HACA was at the forefront of all this, freely offering new articles and essays, editorials, advice, training tips, transcribed historical manuals, and newly found manuals, as well as holding numerous special seminars and workshops. The influence of the HACA Study-Approach and methodology could be found in much that took place throughout the historical fencing community. HACA itself saw expansive growth this year with the long awaited adoption of its new Membership Structure, featuring a variety of privileges and special advantages, as well as the introduction of our new Training Program for students across North America to take part in learning our methodology. The HACA Training Program is designed to let students experience HACA’s curriculum of established drills, exercises, and practice routines for the goal of Certification in the HACA Ranking System. HACA also saw the founding of no less than 11 new Study Groups around the globe and the formal awarding of a prized Free-Scholar ranking to one deserving member. HACA also began helping evaluate and develop commercial prototypes of several types of historical fencing equipment, and we adopted several types of new wasters and sparring equipment as well as tested several replica sword blades.

 

Among the many significant things that occurred within the historical fencing community in the past year were: the release of Dr. Sydney Anglo’s phenomenal book, The Martial Arts of Renaissance Europe; the release of a new modern English translation of Hans Talhoffer’s famous 15th century Fechtbuch; and a major new text on historical replica armoring. HACA itself was proud to be able to help bring 5 new Medieval fencing manuals to the historical fencing community and to acquire leads on obtaining several others. In March, HACA hosted a special workshop with Keith Ducklin of the Royal Armouries on their method. In May, HACA was proud to have hosted the inaugural meeting of the unprecedented convention, Swordplay Symposium International (SSI), without a doubt the most important historical fencing event of 2000. This year HACA also held seminars in Calgary, Canada and Training Program workshops in Houston. HACA was also twice featured in the French re-enactment magazine Histoire’ Medieval, and featured in a segment of The History Channel’s program on combat training as well being profiled as in two newspaper articles. The website received on average of 500 individual readers a week and the HACA Forums reached an average of 8 new messages a day. There were also many, many additions to our Historical Artwork section and our online Training Guide.

 

This year HACA was againprivileged  to travel to Europe to conduct research and give two very special and highly successful long-sword seminars, this time in Krakow, Poland (the first of its kind in Eastern Europe) and Munich Germany. In September, HACA was also proud to attend as special guests, the Sword 2000 event in upstate NY, a unique gathering of swordsmiths and sword collectors. This year, HACA founder Hank Reinhardt finally left as consultant for Museum Replicas’ Limited, to begin working in January with CAS Iberia on a new line of affordable but historically accurate replica weapons. Several welcome organizations also came into existence during 2000 to join the historical fencing community, including the new European Historical Fencing Guild founded by John Waller, Head of Fight Interpretation at the Royal Armouries in England. In 2000, there were Renaissance grappling and dagger fighting workshops in Oxford and elsewhere; an enormous historical reenactment held in England on the anniversary of the Battle of Hastings; and a first-ever historical swordplay competition day even held in Moscow. The Wallace Collection museum in London also held in their new pavilion their first-ever Armor Day and Sword Day, featuring presentations of both antiques and authorities.

 

Among the other happenings in 2000 were a rapier tournament in New York, sword days at the Higgins Armory in Massachusetts, historical armored-combat demonstrations in Calgary, and a major Western martial arts events in Toronto, Canada and Lansing, Michigan. There were downsides as well to the year 2000 –injuries to colleagues, petty inter-group rivalries and personality conflicts, continued disappointments with sword-makers, delays in publications and frustrations in the release of historical manuals (and of course, more of the usual stunningly bad swordplay in TV and Hollywood films). But, there was a noticeable toning down of earlier bitterness among disagreeing enthusiasts, the continued success of sword-related websites, and the recognition among book publishers of the value of historical fencers as a real market. With such a year behind us, HACA now looks forward to an equally exciting 2001 and a range of special projects we are readying, including our Medieval and Renaissance Martial Arts Expo, continued seminars and Training Program workshops, introduction of new training equipment, and addition of many upcoming essays and video clips.

 

Our site will feature numerous special articles as well as some very special exclusives for general readers as well as Associate Members and much more. Availability of period fighting texts will also continue in the coming year, and we will feature them along with new translations of current manuals. HACA will continue to be the leading source of Medieval and Renaissance fencing, promoting earnest study of this subject as legitimate martial art, advancing our teaching curriculum, and continuing our role as a leading force. For all of us pursuing this subject, we are on the verge of a golden age in our craft; we have only just barely begun to study. It is an exciting time to be involved.

Have a safe and happy 2001,

John Clements
HACA Director

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Armored training

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Staff practice


Rapier free-play

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Rapier fencing with
new sparring helms


Demonstrating techniques at the SSI event


A panel of experts at SSI


Hank R. attacks a helm with a sharp at SSI


John C. at his seminar in Calgary


Jeff Basham & John C. at the
Sword 2000 event


A presentation on blades by bladesmith Dan Maragni at
Sword 2000


At the seminar in Poland


At the seminar in Germany

 
 

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