I was kindly invited by Anouk Post to teach a class on Highland Broadsword & Targe at SWOOSH: The Military Fencing Gathering in Utrecht, Netherlands. Being a first timer this event was planned for only one day, but it was absolutely worth the trip to the Netherlands. Together with my assistant instructor Peter we were heading to Utrecht on Saturday morning. On our way to Utrecht we passed through Arnhem shortly after the border and went to see the Bronbeek Museum there.
This museum is dedicated to the colonial military history of the Netherlands and the KNIL (Koninklijk Nederlandsch-Indisch Leger). Since the 17th Century the Dutch with their East India Company were establishing colonies, especially in what became later known as the Dutch-Indies, todays Indonesia. The Museum covers this history from the early period until the Second World War and beyond with the focus on the military conflicts and colonial forces. The collection provided a lot of interesting informations and also lot of different uniforms and weapons of both, the Dutch and their opponents in these wars. Very interesting was the colonial wars were described from both perspectives, the dutch colonial and the indigenous side too.
From Arnhem we headed to Utrecht and our hotel and after a break we were going to the beautifull center of Utrecht to meet with other participants and instructors for some very good indonesean food. It was an excellent meal, we had various dishes available for everyone to taste and I can say everything was really good, inclueding the „Bacon-Cake“ and Indonesian beer. Also we could exchange with Anouk, Martin, Colin and others who joined a lot already about the dutch colonial history, historical fencing and more.
The next day after breakfast we went to the hall and met with the other instructors and participants. The crowd came from all over the Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, UK, Czech Republic and more. Swoosh was really well organized and an excellent event. There were always two classes at the same time and the range was covering lot of topics from basic military sabre to more specialized things.
First I joined the class of Peter Frank (Freifecher Cologne), who was showing the Bayonet fencing of the KNIL with Rifle and Carbine. This material is basing on manuals from the 1930s, so a very late date, but the material was battle proven, straight forward, effective and great fun. Peter did a great job showing us all the thrusts, parrys and dangerous butt-strikes. Anouk Post was giving her class on basic Military Sabre at the same time, which was especially great for the Sabre newbies joining Swoosh.
After this class I joined Martin De Jong´s workshop on the use of the Klewang. The Klewang is a short hanger or cutlass, which was used by the KNIL for close-quarter combat in jungle warfare next to rifle and carbine. I already read about this weapon, when I started with HEMA and had a private lesson with Reinier van Noort at the second ISS in Hamburg. Being a Cutlass-enthusiast, was amazed to learn more about it and Martin is not only a very nice guy and good teacher, but he also has tons of informations on the colonial warfare and KNIL. It is also part of his heritage and family history, so you could really feel his deep connection with the material he was teaching. So what makes it really special is that the Carbine is held back with the free hand on the left side, while the Klewang is used for solid parrys and powerfull strikes. So the soldiers were having their firearm ready or safe from being taken away, while they used cold steel to fight in this kind of Guerilla attacks, when they were ambushed. Only in case of an emergency the carbine would be used for parrys, which surprised me first, but totally makes sense, when one knows the context of this fighting style. At the same time my mate Colin Fieldhouse (Schola Gladiatora, UK) was teaching his class on Thomas Mathewson.
After a lunch break my mate Colin Fieldhouse from UK was teaching his class on Thomas Mathewso I was giving my class on Highland Broadsword and Targe and I was amazed how many participants joined. Especially the fact that enough Targes were provided from different sources, that every single participant had his own Targe was awesome. I showed the attendants basic techniques and principles as well as advanced drills basing on and inspired by Donald McBane (1728), Thomas Page (1746), the Penicuik-Sketches and our practical experiences. It seems that the crowd liked it and this resulted in the planning of a Broadsword & Targe seminar in the Netherlands in summer. At the same time my friend Oliver Janseps (Mispeldorn Aachen) was giving his workshop on Christmann´s military baton.
The rest of the day was open for exchange, free-play, having a look at the antiques collection of weapons and taking a professional photo with the photographer, who was joining the event. I had the chance to do several sparrings, crossing blades with old friends and new ones. Especially the exchange with Peter Frank Broadsword & Targe versus Musket & Bayonet was a great experience and inspiration for future work on the topic.
At the same time Martin was setting up an obstacle course for a tournament. Participants had to run through this parcour, using a Klewang to cut and thrust different obstacles (like they learned in Martin´s class if they attended it), then get into the safe haven of their „fortress“ and use their Carbine to shoot at this range (of course shooting was not part of the course,). Points for the strikes were awarded and together with the time the participants needed counted into the final results. After a draw the final round for the first place was won by Oliver Janseps, the price was a Black Fencer Klewang trainer.
In the evening we had to drive back to Germany after a great day. We will for sure come back next day and due to the success Swoosh will be for sure two days then 🙂 Thanks again to Anouk for organizing this awesome day, thanks to all instructors and participants, it was a great weekend.
Here you go with all the videos of the event in our channel: Swoosh 2019 Playlist