The Barebones Company is a study group for Historical European Swordsmanship, based upon remote learning and solo practice, drawing a learning plan directly from the resources openly available through printed material and videos provided by study groups.
The basic question of whether it is even possible to learn to fight with the longsword using remote learning and solo practice is debatable, because at some point any theory or training will inevitably have to prove itself by the act of tournament, sparring or competition. However the majority of practice of any art will also be dependent upon personal commitment, self assessment, self awareness and the perfection of solo drills.
Although I would commend every practitioner to seek out a study group to attend, or failing that to start a study group of like minded individuals, sometimes even that may not be possible. The remote and solo practitioner may still succeed over time where those who wait for the perfect place or group to train would fail, up to a point of course.
The danger in learning any skill without expert supervision or tutelage is that bad habits may form or inefficient practice may yield poor results. There will also be a limit to this kind of unfettered learning where the skills you need to develop are dependent upon a partner for drills, for sparring, for slow and measured physical feedback.
There are documents written by European sword masters dating back to the 14th Century which will form the core material upon which any study may be based. These are available for direct learning and can be found in various forms online or in libraries. There are also translations and interpretations written by both modern and contemporary students of the art which will aid us in bringing that knowledge into the context of a practical Martial Art. There are a variety of organisations, books, ebooks and online resources that may aid anyone seeking to learn the longsword.
All of this knowledge forms the central source of information and allows us to learn, in keeping with the principles already developed by such groups as The British Federation for Historical Swordplay (BFHS) and the Historical European Martial Arts Coalition (HEMAC).
The answer, therefore, may not be whether it is possible train remotely, but how far one’s training may go.
The Barebones Company is a virtual group, it does not exist, but if you are learning the longsword via all available technological and printed resources available then you may be part of the Barebones Company.
- To use resources available in print, digital or as video to learn the art of the longsword.
- To set out that path of study so that any individual without a group may benefit their own studies.
- To find technological solutions to aid that form of study.
- To document this process.
- To create a resource for other solo and remote practitioners.
- Ultimately to prove and confirm this training through assessment by an expert or by tournament.
- The Barebones Company is open to all who are following a plan of study for the sword, who do not belong to an existing sword school, study or training group.
- The Barebones Company will not belong to or exclusively follow any organised sword school or training group but welcomes input from all who currently do so.
- Members of the Barebones Company must document their learning process and make that available for others to learn from or critique.