domingo, 30 de outubro de 2016

Historical fencing, German longsword & Jogo do Pau

In 2006 I met the Western Martial Arts community (by teaching at the Lewisville, TX event), and in 2008 the Historical European Martial Arts community (HEMA), upon teaching at the 2008 Dijon HEMA gathering.

Several HEMA events later, I closed out this cycle of my life by teaching a 3rd & final time at the Dijon 2015 gathering. Along the way, I learned a lot about HEMA, while teaching others about Jogo do Pau. 

Why connect with WMA / HEMA?

I was motivated to pursue this connection because, firstly, most trainees and instructors I met were really nice. 

Adding to this: Context! 

I believe the field of Historical European Martial Arts includes both lost martial traditions and living ones, and the latter are able to offer guiding info to those valiantly trying to revitalize lost martial traditions.  


Help in interpreting HEMA sources

At this point, it is customary to hear the all too frequent: 

"What does a staff system have to do with the sword?" 

For starters, elements like time and distance are unequivocally present in all fighting systems. As Terence Hill famously stated:  

"Fighting is fighting".

Secondly, I saw, not dead people, but many similarities regarding movement patterns (technique)

To illustrate how a living tradition can help in the interpretation of lost European martial traditions, take note of the following comparison between Eastern and Western styles by Mark Gerardi. 

Humans share the same body all over the world, having the same degrees of freedom for performing movement. Hence, why should it be strange that movement patterns (and tactical applications) are so similar, that different systems can learn from one another?    

Historical fencing and Japanese sword

Though the Eastern sword depicted here also has a hand-guard, it is a circular one. Such hand-guard protects against strikes that slide upon performing a parry, and not against direct strikes that land directly on the hand (missing the parry in placement or timing). 

Such swords are, thus, a hybrid between crossguard baring & no handguard baring weapons. Hence, fencing skill with varying weapons does have more similarities than what sometimes meets the eye.

Jogo do Pau beyond Portugal's borders

As stated here, Jogo do Pau is closely related to France's Jeux du Baton, adding support to Jogo do Pau being a living tradition of HEMA. 

Benefiting from practicing a living tradition, I'm fortunate to be aware of how Jogo do Pau's skill-set evolved: from fighting multiple opponents, to fighting a single opponent in a duel type context. 

A guiding blueprint for HEMA and German longsword

Thanks to the invaluable assistance of German longsword and Jogo do Pau instructor Patrick Scheler, we managed to put together a DVD that includes both:

  • The historical evolution of Jogo do Pau's skill-set
  • How these lessons from a living tradition help in the interpretation of how German longsword tactics can be effectively used in sparring. 


"The material covered includes multiple opponents, guard choice, footwork, parries, counterattacks (ripostes) and one-handed staff use. There is also a section on how the study of jogo do pau can be related to the use of the German long sword. All in all, highly recommended." 

Peter Smallridge, HEMA Instructor

"The pros and cons of stances and attacks are clearly demonstrated and in addendum illustrated in relation to the German school of the longsword.
If we didn’t already know it: here’s a living history we can profit from." 

Alwin Goethals, SWARTA lead instructor

"It is a very well organized and well directed and clear pedagogic work. It covers important aspects of the personal setting and strategies in a combat/duel, such as" how to "read your opponent" in the guard, timing, footwork. Strategies for counter attacks and striking options. I find the methods incorporating all the core principles of fencing, translated into two handed sticks." 

Marco Quarta, WMA Instructor


In celebration of this week's magnificent Swordfish event (where I was also fortunate to teach on 3 different occasions), this DVD available will be available at 40% off until the upcoming Monday (the 7th)

Order here, using the discount code: UCP7UT8K

Join me again on Thursday, for a look at the evolution of Jogo do Pau's defensive footwork (case in point, its use of side stepping).     

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