I've been doing some thinking since FA 2012. This ended up on another thread, but I thought it deserved its own thread so people would see it and could discuss.
I think the Purpleheart Armory Leather Dussack that most people have started using suck for reproducing what we see going on in the Fechtbucher. First, they are too short by about 4 inches. Second, they are not rigid enough to use many of the defenses that were historical. I was very frustrated in the Dussack tournament at FA. I doubled out in all three of my matches. I guess I can say no one really beat me, but then technically I died each time I fought! Part of it was because my timing and technique were likely off. I haven't had anyone to spar with for awhile now. But I think a bigger part was the weapon itself.
My strategy was to put the weapon out in front as a barrier (the typical "schnit" or "gerade versazaung") and use the standard absetzen to stop the opponent's blow, and then counter-strike around it with a sidestep. However, each time I put the weapon out and tried an Absetzen, the opponent's blow would just blast right through it and hit me as I was doing my counter-strike.....instant double kill. If you watch the people that were successful in the Dussack tournament, it was largely because they were good at playing the timing game....avoiding the opponent's strike and then counter-striking as he missed. It was more like a game of tag than what I picture from Meyer and Mair's Dussack descriptions. In hindsight, I could have adjusted things a bit to use some of the other parry methods and more deflective defenses. But if we are having to make major adjustments in what is historical technique and cannot use what was basic defensive technique in the Fechtbucher, then something is wrong with what we're doing. Frankly, and no offense is meant to the people involved in the tournament, but many of the tournament fighters wouldn't know the difference because right now they know so little of the actual historical dussack methods.
The obvious answer is to use a dussack that is longer and more rigid. Christian Darce had a new dussack prototype design for people to check out at FA. It was similar to his standard one, but had a solid plastic core and was longer. It fit the bill for being longer and more rigid. But it was heavier and hit harder than his original design. I think anything we do to try and simulate the historical dussack design is going to have some weight to it and is going to hit hard! So we either accept that, or look at something else. The one thing that is of the proper length and is rigid enough for historical technique but is light enough for good control....is a stick! But the historical dussack had a knuckle bow and a nagle to protect the hand. So we add a basket to our stick...and what do we have?....the classic singlestick! The singlestick has been used to simulate combat with everything from a cutlass to a broadsword to a saber. So why not a dussack? I'm liking this idea more and more. Imagine a bout where a dussack guy is facing a saber expert, both with singlesticks. Wouldn't that be cool!!??
Holding "dussack" tournaments with singlesticks would open it up to other people in HEMA and encourage them to attend the events. It would attract the guys interested in scottish broadsword and classical saber. This would also force the dussack guys to use better technique. I see it as a "win win" situation. Good singlesticks are available from Purpleheart Armory:http://www.woodenswords.com/WMA/singlest.htm
What do you guys think?
Keith P. Myers
Lifetime Member HEMA Alliance
Affiliate: Bartitsu Society & Cateran Society
Friend: Meyer Frei Fechter Guild