Monday 14 October 2019

Local swordsmen get to grips with ancient combat methods

Competitors in the Longsword Fencing Tournament. Pic: Goats Head / Filipa Ramalho
Competitors in the Longsword Fencing Tournament. Pic: Goats Head / Filipa Ramalho

Some nifty wrist work was on display when Goats Head Historical Fencing hosted their third annual Horned Crown sword fighting tournament in the Dun Mhuire Theatre.

The competition drew longsword fencers from as far away as Belfast and Cork; there is currently six Irish Historical European Martial Arts (HEMA) clubs.

Competitors fought using techniques from German and Italian medieval fencing manuals. The men and women who took part in this competition are dedicated to recreating the lost skills.

According to Jack Gassmann, one of the coaches with Goats Head and the winner of the tournament, there is a growing interest in HEMA clubs in Ireland which, he said, is indicative of the Irish returning to an ancient heritage.

He added: 'Ireland actually has one of the oldest swords in Europe in the Dublin National Museum.'

Jack won technical and first prizes in the tournament, saying: 'Last year I got run through the hand because of a glove failure. This year I won a beautiful feder, so a much happier result.'

A feder is a type of longsword and was an especially coveted prize at this year's tournament.

Local man Paul Reck founded the Goats Head Historical Fencing club in 2012.

Paul, who used to work for the National Heritage Park, is offering beginner sword classes at the Park. Practice swords and gear will be provided for all wanting to learn the fighting techniques of the old sword masters. Contact the park for more information.

The club also meets to train on Thursday evenings at 7:30 p.m. at Coolcotts Community Centre.

Second prize in the tournament was won by Samuel Gassmann, brother of Jack. Both men are from Barntown.

The bronze medal was won by Brian Moloney of the Cork Blademasters HEMA club.

After the competition there was a demonstration of Rossfechten, medieval mounted sword fighting, by Jack and Sam Gassmann on their Spanish Mustangs, horses they believe are closest to the horses that would have been used in combat in the Middle Ages.

Wexford People