Since our first major announcement for Longpoint 2019, we have been tracking the frequently asked questions and discussions. We hope that this post will address some of them. Much of this is still preliminary, and this simply represents the information we are willing to commit to so far.
Why is Longpoint switching fully to meta events?
A major tenet of the Longpoint philosophy has always been that competition pushes people to improve. Focusing competition on a single discipline, such as Longsword sparring, has pushed performance in that discipline, with fighters like Ties Kool and Sergei Kultaev reaching fantastic heights of speed, strength, and technical ability. While I doubt we’re even close to reaching what is possible, we have pushed this particular discipline as far as we’re interested in taking it in isolation.
We’re slowly beginning to see a similar trend in cutting, as a small group of elite cutters starts to push that particular competition format about as far as it needs to go at this particular point in our collective history.
This is why the Longpoint Triathlon has been the true “main event” since we began the practice in 2012. But despite its official position as the main event, all eyes continue to be on individual events—particularly longsword fencing. Such a myopic view of skill does a grand disservice to the rich martial tradition(s) we’re attempting to rebuild.
Longpoint wants to encourage the development of well-rounded historical European martial artists. Competition is a great tool for encouraging such development, but only in as far as we’re competing in the thing we want to see most improve. That’s why the only “score” that will matter in Longpoint 2019 is your demonstration of your capabilities across one of many configurations of a “well-rounded” historical European martial artist.
Because “well rounded” can mean many things, and because there are many approaches to the Kunst Des Fechtens, we will recognize each of the triathlons/pentathlons at Longpoint 2019 equally. And while we’re interested to see who the best longsword fencer, or cutter, or grappler is, the prizes will only go to those historical European martial artists who perform well in multiple categories.
Doesn’t This Increase the Cost to Get into HEMA?
There’s a lot to tackle here. Yes, HEMA is already expensive, although significantly less so than most “adult” equipment-based hobbies (e.g., surfing, bicycling, golf, or even re-enactment or Bohurt-style medieval combat groups). Yes, buying your own sharp can be a costly investment (though it needn’t be). Yes, training in three or more disciplines to prepare for an event means more time spent on an already time-intensive hobby.
So yeah, participating in HEMA costs money for equipment and time for competency. The deeper you go—particularly into the competitive scene—or more events you participate in, the more money and time it costs.
So, looking at Longpoint 2019, where are the additional financial costs if you’re “just a longsword fencer” who will now be competing in 2-4 more events?
Cutting can be practiced in the air with your feder or blunt, and under a good teacher (or with a good book) that’s all you need, so at the most basic levels there’s no additional costs. If you want to cut some tatami to validate your practice you’re looking at about $8 a roll, and many of the best cutters go through fewer than 5 rolls a year outside competition. If you can’t or aren’t willing to borrow an adequate sharp, you can buy a serviceable cutting sword for around $200, provided you’ve sharpened it well. A $1300 sharp is a great investment if you can swing it, but it’s hardly necessary.
Finally, Longpoint 2019 is working on a plan to provide event-sponsored loaner sharps for the cutting competitions (longswords and a messer/arming sword), though that’s not yet locked in.
Grappling costs nothing extra outside of your training conditions/environment, and while fancy jackets and padded training halls are ideal, the guy writing this article learned to grapple in a US Army blouse (yes, they’re called blouses) on gravel.
Messer Fencing uses all the same gear as Longsword Fencing, plus a messer trainer like Comfort Fencing’s ~$200 model, if you can’t borrow one.
Paired Technique costs nothing but time.
Horsemanship Skill at Arms is easily the most costly event for a dedicated practitioner, and becoming such would require a lifestyle change for those that aren’t already in it. While we sincerely hope that a handful of dedicated Rossfechters come to show us all how its done, the Longpoint 2019 Horsemanship Skill at Arms competition is absolutely aimed a novice/casual practitioners with a minimal amount of training. Such training will be available a Fechtschule New York 2018 and Longpoint 2019 (before the competition) or at reasonably-priced workshops such as those held by Broken Plow every few months in Pittsburgh.
The Passage at Arms (Harnischfechten or Armored Combat) is the only event that really will cost a lot more to participate in (unless you can borrow a full harness that happens to fit you). Getting outfitted in low-end but acceptable kit will run at least $3000 and can easily work its way up to $15,000-$20,000 for the hard-core. Time is also a factor, as getting cheap kit can be accomplished in a few months but the expensive custom-made stuff will take a year or longer to produce. For this reason we anticipate a fairly small turnout for this event at Longpoint 2019, roughly on par with the 6-8 contestants we’ve seen at the last three Longpoint Passages at Arms. We hope that this catches on and grows over the next few years.
In other words, Longpoint 2019 shouldn’t cost you much more to prepare for or compete in than Longpoint 2017 did, particularly if you’ve always competed in multiple events, and provided you don’t decide that this is your year to jump into a custom-made gothic harness.
One final note on this topic—Longpoint is an expensive event to run and, when compared to something like a regional or league tournament, expensive to attend when one takes into account registration, airfare, food, and hotels. We assume a certain level of commitment in all our attendees and we hope that our limited competitive slots (less than 200 total this year) are filled with people who love this stuff as much as we do and who look at this new approach as the answer to their dreams, no matter what their current level of competency in any single discipline. You don’t have to win every event you sign up for, but we hope you love your experience in each of them all the same.
Why are we limiting people to one meta event? What if I want to do one extra thing?
The limitations are primarily logistical. Feedback and experience from past Longpoints is that people get more excited when we host more events, but are happier in execution when we host fewer. Previous years and Longpoint's exponential growth have meant that staffing crews run more and more ragged while attendees feel stretched thinner and thinner. A big part of this year’s experiment is focus. Pick the triathlon or pentathlon that best captures your imagination or best reflects your training this year, and pick another for 2020. Thanks to a significantly more focused (and less intense) schedule this year, you’ll have much, much more time to spar, play, attend classes, and enjoy those other disciplines that you won’t get to compete in in 2019.
How are you handling the Longsword Blossfechten event? Will there be tiers? What about Women’s?
We have a lot of work to do to flesh out and test this idea, but our current plan for the Blossfechten events is a modified Swiss Pairs tournament that is initially seeded based on some combination of height and weight. In your starting pool, you will find yourself against people of a relatively similar build. If you perform well, you will be grouped with a mix of greater and greater heights and weights through the rounds. If you do not perform well, you will remain within your general class.
Due to the lower number of competition slots this coming year, and because we have to fit events into the Meta Event structure, it is unlikely we will run Tiers.
We believe that, if testing goes well, our plan above resolves a subset of the desires for a Women’s event. That said, it does not resolve all of them. If enough women register for the competitions and desire a Women’s event, we will look into hosting one as we have historically done. A Women’s triathlon would simply be Women’s Longsword Blossfechten and mixed Paired Technique / Cutting, as the latter two events do not involve competing directly against men and the scores would count directly towards the Women’s meta event.
How the heck are the horses going to work?
We will be bringing horses in from Pittsburgh. These are the horses that Broken Plow has been using for seminars over the last year. Although we can look into accommodating personal horses brought to the event, we do not expect anyone to bring one.
This event is aimed at novices, but will require some experience on a horse for safety reasons. This experience can be gained at one of a few HEMA seminars over the next year hosted by Broken Plow in Pittsburgh or at events around the east coast, other similar seminars, or from personal riding lessons. A significant portion of swinging a sword from a horse is horsemanship, not swordsmanship.
The competition elements will revolve around riding obstacles and striking targets. There will not be any direct fencing against other riders. We are aiming to create a scoring rubric that focuses on accuracy while using speed for some granularity, similar to how our Cutting competition functions.
It does not look like I can compete in Longsword and Ringen without opting in for Armored or Horsemanship. What can you do?
We are going to look into resolving this issue, as we want to continue to push Ringen to grow. We are considering either adding another Triathlon meta event that includes Longsword and Ringen, or allowing people to replace one of the events, Cutting or PT, in the main Longsword triathlon with Ringen.
How are the Meta Events scored?
The Longsword Triathlon has always worked on a scoring rubric that awards a set number of points based on placement in an event. 10 points for 1st, 9 for 2nd, 8 for 3rd, 7 for 4th, 4 for 5th - 8th, 2 for 9th - 16th, and 1 for 16th-32nd. Your total number of points across the three events gave us your Triathlon score, and the highest score won. The new events will follow a similar model, although the specific scoring may change.
Individual events are going to be made up of people who are participating in different Triathlons or Pentathlons. Points will be awarded based on your placement as a part of the whole, not as a part of your meta event. For instance, if Meta Event 1 Participant gets 1st place in Longsword Blossfechten, and Meta Event 2 Participant gets 2nd place in Longsword Blossfechten, Meta Event 2 Participant will receive the points allocated for 2nd place, not 1st, even though they are the highest scoring person within their meta event.
You said this event is KDF specific?
Mostly. Our announcement post specified that we are moving towards a KDF oriented event. It also mentioned that Longpoint’s main organizers are all Early KDF practitioners. This does not mean that the event, however, is moving towards an Early KDF focus… just KDF. Meyer counts.
We are considering including a few classes from other traditions.