The British Federation for Historical Swordplay

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BFHS Position Regarding Scottish HEMA Controversy

The bellow is a message from the President of the BFHS, Martin Dougherty: BFHS Position Regarding Scottish HEMA Controversy  This matter was brought to my attention some time ago by some […]

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Autumn Exchange 2016

Autumn Exchange 2016 took place over the weekend of 19th-20th November, and was hosted by Wolfshead School of Western Martial Arts in Lincoln. Originally there had been two other plans […]

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I have been a fencer of one sort or another for all of my adult life, and have published books on the subject as well as many other historical topics.  I am respectful of the entire spectrum of historical martial arts; I prefer inclusivity and cooperation to subdivision.

I have a proven track record as an instructor of fencing and other martial arts, and a long history of giving my time to clubs and events. This includes teaching and running classes since 1989, and more recently serving as Chief Assessor to the BFHS as well as teaching at my home group, the Society for the Study of Swordsmanship. I will continue in the non-executive role of Chief Assessor if elected as President.

My Background

My career in martial arts began in the mid 1980s. Since that time I have gained Dan grades in four martial arts and am a Master Level instructor/Senior Assessor with the All-Styles Martial Arts Association. I was appointed Head of Coaching to this organisation in 2011. With ASMAA I have studied Oriental martial arts in addition to Western systems such as catch wrestling, Western kicking systems, combatives and modern street combat.

I started fencing in 1987. In 1989 I qualified as a Club Leader and in 1990 as a Club Coach. Between then and 2008 I coached the University of Sunderland team. After the University club closed down I remained active – though less so – in the regional sport-fencing arena. I retain links with this community.

Having eventually made the move to historical fencing, I gained an IL1 in 2012 and subsequently took on the role of Regional Assessor for North-East England and finally Chief Assessor. Since that time I have:

  • Cleared the backlog of outstanding IL1 certificates
  • Run IL1 assessments
  • Implemented a ‘letter of recognition’ for successful IL1 candidates
  • Created a draft IL2 and Il3 programme for evaluation
  • Begun running coach development seminars

In my professional capacity as an author, I have published or contributed to a significant number of books (around 80, depending on how you count) on various topics including military history, armed and unarmed combat, fencing and other topics as diverse as space exploration and mythology. This is my current occupation, along with forays into television as a researcher and weapons expert. I have previously worked in education and the defence sector.

My Role in the BFHS

The function of the BFHS is largely as an advisory and facilitating body. We are a federation of quite diverse groups with a wide range of interests and methods, creating an enormous talent pool. The BFHS exists, in my opinion, to facilitate the activities of these talented people, and the President is responsible for both promoting this endeavour and seeing that efforts are recognised.

Some want nothing more than insurance and an instructor qualification, and the BFHS must respect that. Others want or need advice or assistance, and the BFHS can provide it in most cases. It should be stated clearly that I believe the BFHS is its members. We are not a huge corporation with professional staff; we are a federation of like-minded groups who can help one another out. The BFHS’ officers might or might not be able to assist with a given problem or project, but by facilitating communication and sharing good practice we can encourage member groups to assist one another to the benefit of all.

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