Coming from the UK, it is easy to forget the high level of instruction available to practitioners of HEMA in Europe. Every year, the quality of European instructors steadily improves as they study and work to enhance their knowledge in earnest, both historically and practically.

(Sports training facilities are both affordable and plentiful on the mainland)

I was particularly proud therefore to be invited to teach at the 20th anniversary of the Dreynevent, a gathering of some of Europes best researchers and instructors, comparable only to Dijon in its eminence.

As a major event, Dreynevent also draws international talent. I will be the first to admit that I know nothing about the quality of HEMA in the US, having never instructed or competed out there. When I see names on American event listings, I genuinely have no way of telling a knowledgable teacher from the usual array of ‘Instagram instructors’ (people great at self-promotion, but very little else). One name I do recognise however is Jake Norwood, who was offering a lecture on cutting mechanics in contrast to scoring competitive touches.

(Jake Norwood. Yes… ‘that’ guy)

Unfortunately, flight cancellations forced me to spend half of the event at an airport hotel, and I missed many of the workshops and lectures I had so anxiously been looking forward to (including Jake). But I did manage to get to several!

Alexander Kiermayer’s workshop: “Speak Softly and Carry a Big Stick!

I always look forward to Alexander’s workshops. His understanding of body mechanics is tremendous, and I always learn new ways of moving and adapting. As an instructor, his workshops give me new training tools and games that I can integrate into my own students classes. Sadly we didn’t find the time to sit down and chat this event, but I appreciate every minute I can observe him in action.

Elias Flatscher’s workshop: “Wrestling in Bauman’s Fechtbuch

Although I only managed to pop my head around the doorframe a number of times while trying to catch up on other commitments, this was one workshop I had a particular interest in. Elias is a competitive wrestler in the traditional sense, and the difference in technical proficiency between him as a professional and the amateur HEMA community is monumental. After the class, I completely failed to correctly formulate a question I had in mind, but somehow still got the right answer!

Bert Obernosterer’s Lecture: “Weekend Warriors

Bert’s lecture on competitive readiness and coaching was enlightening; encapsulating and confirming long and short term training methodologies. It clarified in no uncertain terms the difference between ‘professional’ and ‘amateur’ training, and the mental and physical durability required to even begin on such a journey (hint: if you practice HEMA competitively, you are at the amateur level).

Arne Koets Lecture: “How Mounted Fencing Changed my Perspective

It will come as no surprise to anyone that Arne focused his lecture around horses. Conversely, it may be startling to some the way he laid out his theory that many of the techniques we train actually developed from horseback combat. Through a series of in-depth analysis of the posture and movement of the horse in different gaits, and the way it will reflect in the riders angulation, reach, tempo and momentum, we can draw the relation to the postures and footwork of many of the medieval European systems of combat on foot.

(Who could have known that halberds would be so popular in this part of the world…?)

It was quite startling how popular my workshop on the use of the Ronca (Italian Billhook) ended up being. We ran out of weapons ‘and’ space, and had to turn people away at the door! I am glad I didn’t carry all of those axe heads through customs in my luggage for nothing ?

You can find the organisers website here: www.dreynschlag.at