Read a blow-by-blow account of my experience taking a course in Renaissance rapier and dagger in October/November 2004 at the Higgins Armory Museum. I wrote about each class as it happened. Click on "My Rapier and Dagger Blog" in the navigation bar on this page to read about it.
How I Took a Course in Historical Combat
I wanted to take a course that would give me a taste of what it's like to use a medieval sword. I finally happened across the Higgins Armory Museum.
It's one of only two museums in the United States dedicated to arms and armory. The museum is four floors of ancient weapons and suits of armor.When I discovered the museum, I signed up for a basic course that's a prerequisite for all other historical weapons courses offered.
By the second class, I was hooked. In an odd way, it's a lot like dance. Sometimes it reminds me of ballet. Other times it's like ballroom dancing. Every once in awhile it feels like hip hop. At the same time, it's like a sport, where the equipment you use (like a baseball bat or a tennis racquet) becomes an extension of your body.
I don't write about the specific techniques I learned in the novel, because the time periods are too far apart. However, there's a lot I learned in general that I did apply. I continued taking courses at the Higgins Armory Museum: an advanced course in German long sword, a day-long seminar in a variety of medieval weapons (including dagger, rapier and dagger, halberd, and sword and buckler), and a course in rapier and dagger (see the section below).
In the midst of the first course, I went to the Royal Armouries in Leeds, England for a weekend-long seminar in historical weaponsgiven by the European Historical Combat Guild (www.ehcg.net).