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Dussacks, and Zornhaus, and Mittels...oh Meyer!

Hail Warriors!

I hope that all of you are enjoying this beautiful winter weather and are cozied up with somewhere away from the frigid January winds. Wait…what’s that you say? It’s springtime?! April?! Surely you jest. I haven’t even pulled out my favorite pair of shorts yet. What is this cruel trick that the Appalachians are pulling on us? Oh well, maybe we’ll get to those warm sunny days and pool parties and barbecues sometime by June. Such is life in the mountains.

We were at least treated to a warm welcome by our friends at Sword Carolina in Greenville, SC this month. Those merry marauders invited warriors from all over the Carolinas to an afternoon of dueling, and they really did it up right. Their land and training arena is absolutely gorgeous. It’s always great to see our brothers and sisters down there. Through my own HEMA journey I’ve found that you’ll only ever be as good as those who are willing to defeat you in battle and strike their own knowledge and experience across your face. That’s how you grow in this sport–get beat by someone better than you. Not only are Sword Carolina great teachers in that sense, but they’re also top-notch humans that are always fun to be around. Cheers, fellow warriors, I owe y’all a few bruises.

The Sword Carolina tournament brought a very particular challenge: you had to spin a wheel to determine what weapon you were using in your next battle. I think it took all of us out of our comfort zones and made for some epic fights, including what must have been the best knife fight since the Beat It video for the championship. Both fighters were rolling, jumping, plunging, diving, spinning, and tumbling trying to gain the upper hand. It was one for the ages–a duel between two talented and battle-hardened fighters. But in the end, our very own Lochlan Koularis was able to roll his way to victory and bring home the gold. Congratulations, Loch! (And for anyone who’s counting, that’s two first place finishes the Warriors of Ash have brought home so far this season.) Booyah!

In preparation for Sword Carolina, I worked a lot to brush up on my single-sword skills so that I wouldn’t get embarrassed too hard. Luckily, Warriors of Ash offers a class on Jaochim Meyer that helped me a lot, and it’s quickly become one of my favorite classes that are taught in WoA. Not a lot is known about Meyer himself, other than he was a cutler and master fencer who wrote about all he had learned about swordplay. Arguably his most famous manuscript is Gründtliche Beschreibung der Kunst des Fechtens ("A Thorough Description of the Art of Combat") in 1570, in which he instructs in the use of the dussack that our class focuses on. The dussack itself is a single-edged blade in the sabre or cutlass family, but Meyer uses it as a wooden practice weapon to teach the fundamentals of using any single-handed sword.

Apart from the two-handed longsword that is a big part of WoA instruction, the dussack has been quite an awakening for me. Anybody who is interested in learning the art of single-handed swordplay would do well to start with Meyer’s manuscripts. His theories on cutting lines, footwork, and deception are the absolute building blocks that you learn to become a master fencer yourself. Unfortunately, publishing his books also put Meyer massively in debt and he died a penniless, if not legendary, swordsman. But that’s why we’re here. The Warriors of Ash can teach you all about Meyer’s dussack techniques, so you can continue working a regular job without devoting your entire life to figuring out swordplay. Visit our website to learn how you too can learn more about Meyer’s dussack. You’d be right in time for actual spring, not the fake spring we’ve had so far.

Until next time, warriors…Skøl!

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