Keith Farrell visits TLA

If you’re reading this little article, it cannot have escaped your notice that the Taunton Longsword Association (TLA) has undergone a period of rapid growth over the last couple of years (thank you for your support). This growth has been part of a strategy of planned growth and improvement of the club with various members travelling to seminars and even competition(s).

However, with growth comes challenges, and one of these is easing the burden on existing instructors needing some other members to step up to the task of running weekly sessions and preparing training material. With this goal in mind, TLA made contact with internationally famed, highly respected weapons supremo and all-round bloody nice chap Keith Farrell, Director of the Academy of Historical Martial Arts (AHA) of which TLA is affiliated.

Keith is a professional trainer, instructor, coach, author, expert HEMA-ist, competition practitioner and a stalwart of technical precision in the world of Historical European Martial Arts (HEMA).

Over the weekend of July 18th and 19th 2016 TLA engaged Keith to run two separate workshops in Taunton to improve and grow the abilities of its members.


Saturday was scheduled for an intense seminar on how to instruct, with insightful use of various models of learning theory to allow the complexities of martial arts (with multiple moves in a single ‘time’) to be distilled down to a level of comprehension, practice and memory.

If you are familiar with teaching theory then some models, such as Millers “Magic Number 7 +/-2”, will give you a flavour of the content. As the day progressed so us students were given a brain workout not dissimilar to the physical workout we were to recieve on the Sunday (see below). Finishing off with a new model that Keith has developed, the “HEMA Yggdrasil“, brought a massive amount of information full circle.

TLA also welcomed Jake, James, and Zak from Virtus Sword School (Bath and Forrest of Deane chapters). TLA is keen to reach out to other regional clubs so please do get in contact.

Keith’s “instructing the instructor” course demonstrates an impressively deep understanding of training theory that is itself evident in the seminar. This invaluable course is a must for growing clubs who are serious about delivering the best value training experience to their students. Complicated? Yes. Intense? Yes. Yet the delivery was concise, easy to understand, and with frequent reinforcement at every stage.

Kieran Neale (Secretary, TLA)


After an slap up curry and a few local beverages on Saturday night; Sunday rolled around with the excitement of anticipation that a 5-year-old greets Christmas eve. Hyperbole aside, the Sunday was open to all TLA members for instruction in Liechtenauer’s longsword. Taking things back to basics and presenting the extremely good “5 Words” session as seen at the London Longsword Academy “2-Days of the blade” event in London earlier in the month (read about the event here).

It would be a sad day if any HEMA practitioner decided that they were ‘too good’ to bother with taking things back to the basics – and in the case of TLA, Keith’s superb technical ability highlighted several basics that had become corrupted over the years by bad habits! The day unfolded with the “5-Words” (Vor, Nach, Weak, Strong, Indes) being dealt with in turn and put into context alongside Fuhlen (feeling), various haws (cuts), and an examination of the Wards (guards) in the German Tradition System.

Finally, an opportunity for some friendly sparring between members saw everyone don kit to reinforce what had just been learnt! Keith very magnanimously put his kit on and offered to face-off against all comers. Naturally, there was an ulterior motive and a 5-session combat was merely a cover for ascertaining what needed improvement when the calm of practice is replaced with the stress of combat. Various videos can be found on the TLA YouTube channel here.

Keith’s longsword training took the Liechtenauer system back to basics which all members of the club, regardless of experience and ability, found immeasurably valuable in correcting bad habits, gaining a greater understanding of the heart of the system, and how to use the individual components together for competitive advantage. 5***** recommended!

Kieran Neale (Secretary, TLA)

AHA Affiliation Information: HERE

About Taunton Longsword Association

Longsword/HENA club, Taunton, Somerset. Not for profit.
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