~Samantha Swords

New Zealand/Aussie artist, writer, and sword-fighter, works in the film industry as cast and crew. Outgoing, adventurous and in love with life!

To my queer friends struggling with a big decision today, share your truth at the *right* time, not just because there’s a national day for it. Be smart- you’re already honest and brave.  For those who are happily out and about, today’s a good excuse for a shindig!
(Here’s a handy infographic in case you’d forgotten how to laugh ;)

To my queer friends struggling with a big decision today, share your truth at the *right* time, not just because there’s a national day for it. Be smart- you’re already honest and brave.

For those who are happily out and about, today’s a good excuse for a shindig!

(Here’s a handy infographic in case you’d forgotten how to laugh ;)

Latest in MMA news: Historical European Martial Arts is a thing.

I’m totally delighted that Historical European martial arts are being appreciated by the rest of the fighting community! I recently had the honour of being interviewed for MMA news website Life of a Fighter.

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Above: photography by Herb De’Waal

IGX- Iron Gate Exhibition

This weekend I had the honour of being invited to Iron Gate Exhibition (IGX), a major event in the Historical European Martial Arts world. As well as meeting many wonderful scholars and fighters, I was asked to take part in a panel about women in HEMA that took place during the Competition Finals. Afterwards, I was asked about my film work with Weta Workshop, and the historical combat community in "far, far, far, far, far, far-away lands…"

There was a great turn-out of women to IGX, as evidenced by this photo taken at the end of the weekend- after at least a third of us had left!

('Sphinxes', or 'Esfinges' is the name of an international group supporting female practitioners of historical European and Western martial arts)

nion-vox said: How do you get into doing stunt fighting? I'm in Vancouver if that helps! I know of Academie Duello but they're a bit out of my price range. :<

Hey D!
If you want to do stunt fighting, look for any opportunities to practice movement or combat. If price is an obstacle, find other ways until you can pay for training, but remember that training is just teaching the mind to think- there is a lot that you can learn outside of a structured environment. Also, try to connect with anyone who wants to practice (in a safe way). If you are passionate about something, don’t let anything stop you for long! :)
Best wishes,
~S

Swords in New York

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It was awesome to be visiting Sword Class New York this Monday when the NY Times published their awesome coverage on competitive Historical European Martial Arts, featuring the very people I was training with!

(Below: The NY Times bring their cameras to Longpoint, one of the major HEMA competitions in North America)

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thingsthatliveinmybrain said: You're probably asked this a lot and I understand if you can't give a direct answer. I know you've said your chest armor was made by a friend at WETA, but what about the rest of your fencing gear? The sword in your photo is also particularly good looking.

That’s a good question! I have a collection of gear from lots of places, a lot of it was made by blacksmiths in the medieval reenactment community, or from suppliers like Revival Clothing. The sword that I fought the Harcourt Park tournaments with was made of surgical steel and borrowed from a friend, as my weapon at the time wasn’t as good. :)
I made my own shoes and parts of my armour, and jointly built my gauntlets with the creator of the green breastplate. I also modified and built a lot of my own medieval helmet, which isn’t seen in the photo. I hope that helps. My apologies for the late reply!
Cheers,
~S

cantankerous-hack said: What have you written and where can it be read?

Hey C-K,
I’ve worked as a ghostwriter and editor for all kinds of things (such as internet articles), have submitted a lot of political letters and -if I feel it is important enough- take part in the occassional online debate. I recently wrote a guide to Combat With Historical Realism in Roleplay (aimed at tabletop players) which I intend to publish later this year.

Years ago I equaled 2nd place in a national poetry competition in Australia, and I did really well in an LA-based scriptwriting competition for an original TV pilot.
I’ve been actively writing novels, children’s stories and a graphic novel series for the last 8 years, and have been doing world design for much longer than that. I also have developed scripts that have been used for short films and theatre shows.

Most of my writing is for myself or to help out friends. All of my creative work is yet unpublished, so I don’t tend to talk about it. Thanks for asking though!

Regards,
~S

The International Film Fest, some medieval combat, an invitation to Pinewood Studios…. Toronto, you know how to show a girl a good time!
If you’d like to clink a cold glass of something with me this Friday night, I’ll be downtown at the Hair of the Dog (on Church), from 8.
:)
~S

A Swordsmaster for Summer

At last, I have been able to do a proper write up about my outstandingly fun summer!

I’ve always wanted to be part of an ‘American Summer Camp’ experience. Coming from the distant South Pacific, where holidays are a few weeks long at most, the idea of months of endless fun in a camp setting was a real draw for me.
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Then I was invited to take part in Guard Up’s Wizards and Warriors summer camps, which are live action role play adventures themed as an apocalyptic zombie war (with Nerf blasters and water pistols) followed by two medieval-fantasy sessions. Each camp is unique, with a continuous and completely dynamic storyline that adapts to the decisions young Heroes make within the world.


Run by a team of multi-skilled actor/counsellor/educators, the fantasy world is populated by monsters and NPCs, and filled with quests that build up to an overall story.
(For more on Zombie Camp, check out my previous post or see the camp video)

Above: My character seeks aid from the greater spirit Coyote, a master trickster who is only engaged when he is entertained. To achieve this, she burst into spontaneous singing and dancing for his (and the Heroes’) amusement.

Below: One does not simply waste summer…
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There is a strong educational component (cunningly disguised as ways to upskill a character) and young heroes have the ability to solve problems together that lead to solutions within the game. The camps are set in the world of Sidleterra, a place that has the power to summon beings from mythology or literature, and Heroes to fight for the good of the land. This year was a combined Doctor Who and Norse theme, and my character was revealed to be really be Muninn, one of the Ravens of Odin.

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Above: Charging into battle with fellow Heroes.


Roleplaying a character every hour of the day for weeks on end was wonderful fun. Samwyn Silverheart was a shapeshifting warrior who was fierce, decisive and brave. She had a deep moral code, was quick to act against enemies, and could be ridiculously silly in the company of friends. Having spent thousands of years changing into raven form she had some very birdlike mannerisms, was very proud and sometimes easily offended, especially when other characters joked about birds. She could also be overwhelmed by masses of Heroes running at her, and definitely did not like dogs.


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Samwyn was initially a virtuous paladin-style character but I adapted her into a mysterious figure throughout the course of the story. I did this to work with the young heroes who were making questionable choices in their role play, to show the complexity of still being a hero even when faced with dark decisions and surrounded by monsters. As a counsellor, I crafted a character that could relate to those whom I felt needed guidance the most.

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Above: Despite walking in the shadows, Samwyn/Muninn was very pious, especially in the presence of the Norse gods or greater spirits of Sidleterra.


Another aspect of my role with the camps was to work with the Rangers, the older campers who were ready to expand themselves and become leaders to others. The Rangers spent a lot of time together on special quests or doing personal development like warrior meditation, stealth exercises, and honing their fighting skills. It was a wonderful rewarding experience to work with these young people in a story setting, but seeing them develop real-world values and abilities.


Below: Instructing a young fighter in the use of swords. Even though the weapons were made of foam and latex, many of the physics from real combat still apply.


My overall role was Swordsmaster to all of the heroes of Sidleterra, so I worked with the fighters guild teaching skills that could be adapted within the foam sword game system. Spatial awareness, blade dynamics and self control were useful for heroes of all ages, but with the older fighters I was able to teach more complex skills that related to their chosen weapon.
It was a constant challenge to adapt real combat skills into a safe gameplay system of latex and foam, but the sheer level of fun that drove the camp and everyone that was a part of it made the experience a joy at all times.


For more, check out the great news story on Guard Up’s YouTube channel or check out Wizards and Warriors Summer Camps.


Below: The wonderful team of counsellors bonded over an intense week of training- this included mandatory foam sword wars and water fights.

Far bottom: The camp directors gave all the staff personalised Lego figures of our characters- hand painted with love over several long nights.

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Camp photographs courtesy of Guard Up! Inc.
Australian Raven photograph by Julian Robinson

Specialty green armour provided by Shari Finn, New Zealand.

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If you are excited about the revival of medieval fighting arts, check out this Kickstarter by Cédric Hauteville. It’s a beautifully-shot introduction to Historical European Martial Arts, and it’s only the promo.

Note- it focuses on historical swordplay, but if the project achieves its stretch goals it can explore more of the rich martial heritage of the Western world.

For anyone who wants to see a great documentary about real sword arts and their practitioners, this is the project to back!

Manuscript image: From Paul Mair’s “Greatest Work on the Athletic Arts” ca1550