Hello, my name is Phil, and I’m a swordoholic. I’ve been fencing in the SCA since the late ’90s and actively teaching on and off for many years. Nonetheless, I always felt there was something missing from the strange mutt fencing I learned and saw all around me. But all of that changed in 2012, shortly after I came back to the SCA after a few years away.
In 2012, I discovered the deeper world of research-based historical European martial arts, and it totally redefined my relationship with fencing. In fact, that’s when I decided to set aside everything I thought I knew about fencing and started over. At first, the only thing I felt was disappointment. I started with German longsword and messer, but my research and studies only took me so far. As eager as I was to learn, no one I knew was the least bit interested it authenticity. I was so frustrated that I nearly walked away.
The SCA was my home, and I didn’t want to leave. Besides, the closes HEMA group was miles away, and their focus was far too narrow for my taste. On a whim, I decided to travel to Chicago to attend the 2012 Known World Academy of Rapier (KWAR), where I met an entire subculture within the SCA dedicated to historical fencing—I’d found my tribe!
I’d later learn that this subculture, at least in the Midwest, was largely comprised of a group of people who called themselves the Company of Saint Jude. For anyone familiar with the crusade of bringing historical fencing into the SCA, the name is pretty appropriate. I insinuated myself into the group, where my sheer eagerness to learn made me welcome. That eagerness was met by a firehose of knowledge by some of the best fencers I’ve ever met. These guys didn’t just know about historical fencing, they made it work!
I soaked it all up, expanding my focus from German longsword and messer, to Spanish sidesword, Italian rapier, and beyond. Benefitting from my background as a professional martial arts instructor, I found myself quickly internalizing this newfound knowledge and putting it into practice. The more I learned, the hungrier I became for more. I swiftly progressed over the next few years, and have continued to study, practice, and pass on what knowledge I have.
While I continue to enjoy dabbling in a variety of arts, my practice today is fairly focused. As the SCA is primarily dedicated to rapier fencing, I’ve chosen to commit myself to the late-period Italian traditions. I primarily reference and teach from Nicoletto Giganti’s 1606 masterpiece, though I have a healthy respect for Salvator Fabris as well.
My deepest studies have been into the deeply misunderstood Ms. I.33 or “Walpurgis Fechtbuch” (c. 1310). In fact, I’ve devoted myself to spreading this unique sword-and-buckler art. Finally, my love for Joachim Meyer’s 1570 Kunst des Fechtens has been the primary influence on my approach to the sidesword, and art that’s second to none in my heart.
Here at Sword Geek (a name taken from one of my favorite techniques in Ms I.33), you’ll find many of my musings across all of these subjects. I’ll also share how-to guides on the gear I make and modify, as well as reflections and essays on teaching and other resources. I hope you find these articles interesting and useful.