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John Waller


As you may have seen already it is with sadness that we have to announce that John Waller died after a short and unexpected time in hospital, late on the 20th April.

Until we can post a full remembrance of John of our own, the below was written by Mike Loades dads friend for over 45 years, Thanks to Mike.

Honour Above All

The Original piece on Mike Facebook page

I have a heavy heart and I am filled with deep sadness to report that John Waller has died. He was my staunch and beloved friend for 45 years. It is almost inconceivable that such a bright light shines no more, though I suppose that is the nature of extraordinary incandescence; it is so intense that it can fade before its time. He was a mere 77 years old. He was taken to hospital a week ago and in the end his heart gave out on him; a strange irony for a man whose sheer guts and drive and charisma and passion were powered by a mighty heart. His heraldry was a lion rampant and he was indeed a lion among men. Now that the lion’s roar has stilled, he leaves an aching void.

Many followers of this page will know John either in person or by reputation from his time as Head of Interpretation at The Royal Armouries in Leeds. His time there and the legacy he left was a crowning achievement. John changed things and he changed people; his was a radiant personality and all who encountered him felt its glow. He was that rarest of beings – an original thinker. He was also a pioneer. John created a unique approach to historical understanding – of working out how things worked ‘by doing’ and then corroborating that with diligent research, cross-referencing the text of treatises and chronicles with visual clues in art, with handling original objects, with empirical testing, and always, always questioning everything. He had an instinct for the past, a feel for it. He understood the innate beauty of movement, of objects and of indomitable spirit. He relished tales of brave deeds and spoke of long dead heroes from antiquity as if he knew them personally. He simultaneously inhabited the past and the modern world.

The entire global re-enactment movement, the Historical European Martial Arts movement, the dramatic fight community, the presentation and interpretation of objects in military museums all stem originally from John Waller. In most cases he was the first to do it; in other instances he changed it forever. When doing it first, he may not always have had the right equipment or access to all the research materials, but he did it first and he did it with an enquiring mind and integrity. Today there are extensive research resources online, today there is arms and armour of every culture and period available to buy on the shelf. Such are the luxuries of 2nd and 3rd generation followers; the pioneer has no such support. Among his many talents John was very adept at making things and I think he enjoyed this as much as anything, whether working with leather, wood or metal. If it didn’t exist and he needed it; he would make it. Back in the ‘70s and ‘80s when he lived in Sussex, a visit to his house always encountered a production line of all manner of things from saddles to quivers to lances to sword hilts and scabbards and, of course, arrows.

Archery was his most abiding passion, the spark that lit the fire. He was also enormously good at it, as he was with all physical things. John was a natural athlete; strong, vigorous, immensely capable and fearless. He had a distinctive, leonine grace when he moved that was both splendid to watch and always challenging when you were at swords point. He and I had a great many sword combats in those early years. John also had tremendous physical and mental courage. He was a brave man.

I first met him in early 1973. The previous year the BBC had aired Robert Hardy’s ‘The History of the Longbow’. John together with some other friends were in it, riding horses and shooting bows in historical action sequences. As far as I know it was the first time this device had been used in a documentary. Once again John Waller was a pioneer. I contacted the BBC who put me in touch with him. I was 22. John, at that time, was starting up a medieval centre in Sussex, with horses, falcons, swordfighting, archery etc. I had a place at law school that I was going to take later in the year but instead I bought a caravan and moved to Sussex to work with John. I learned a lot that summer and forged a lifelong friendship. By the end of the year we were both taken in a different direction by other opportunities, working together for a while at Pinewood Studios. We worked together closely for a great many years on various projects and even when we went on our separate paths, we always kept in close touch. I spoke to him just a couple of weeks ago and had no sense this tragedy was coming.

I’ve been going through some old photographs to find some from the early years. There’ll be images enough from later times. He had many roles and existences. Here I’m just sharing some early personal memories. Sadly because I have move house a great many times, my old photos are in boxes not always easy to find. However I share a few here of my time with a man who I will always remember with profound love and affection.

He was the best of men. He had a noble life, a worthwhile life, a life that made a difference, a life that has left a mark. He was a gentleman and he was my friend. Thank you old friend for all you gave me. My heart goes out to his wife Rosemary and his son Jonathan.

John as the Marshall for a Medieval Society tournament.
The Medieval Society was founded by John Waller in 1963 as a
close-knit group of enthusiasts dedicated to researching and
exploring the martial ways of the middle ages.

This is an especially sad photograph. On the right is John Asmus, another 
very dear friend who died a few years ago. Between him and I, is John Waller. 
To my right (left of picture) is Bob Dow, who I’m delighted to say is still 
going strong at 86. This is before I had my own armour and I am wearing
armour and heraldry belonging to and made by Ray Monery – another 
dear friend who we lost in recent years. The Cuisse both Johns are wearing 
were also made by Ray Monery

John and I rehearsing some fight sequence on a hot summer’s day, 
around 1981, before going on our first Chevauchee to Orthez.

1974! We were working on a film called Junior Robin Hood. Yes that is poor quality string 
mail. It is what they had  then; it is what was provided. It was a job. 
John and I died a dozen times each in that film – falling off horses, being shot with arrows,
and cut with swords. In one scene I jumped out of a tree to pull him from his horse. 
It was ultra-low budget and so every morning he and I would collect the eight horses for 
filming from the stables and ride them to the location, each having three in tow. 
It was mostly a pleasant 45 minute ride but we had to cross the A21, which is an 
extremely busy and fast dual carriageway road into London. We had limited visibility 
for a crossing point, so it was always a rather hair-raising adventure.
Before the days of Go-Pro it was difficult to get a POV shot of someone jousting. 
For this film John sat on
? ?
a chair strapped to the roof of a pick-up , so that the cameraman 
could stand behind him. I’m taking a
? ?
break sitting on the tailgate but for the shot I rode 
at him on a horse, while the vehicle drove towards
? ?
me. It was a dangerous stunt for John 
to do, perched up there, but he didn't hesitate for a moment.
John in the back row in the green jacket. He is on Redwood - a horse he loved and in front 
of Bodium
? ?
Castle a place that held a special significance for him.
An early one with John and I at the beach with a very young Jonathan Waller. Obviously 
mobile/cell? ?phones hadn’t been invented and I am in fact looking down at my cigarette, 
presumably thinking of? ?something profound to say. It all seems a very long time ago but 
I remember it. Rosemary?,? Johns? ?wife would have been taking the picture. 
This is Fairlight Glen Near Hastings


Petition to redisplay Arms and Armour

A petition has been set up to get the V&A here in London to open up it's large collection of European Arms and armour out for public display. 
I remember some of it being able to be viewed, but even then it was tucked away.

Follow the link below to sign




New exclusively HEMA supply website open!


Owned  Bryan Tunstall, Conwy Study Group Leader, and owner of The Knight Shop and Red Dragon Armoury. This new Website will deal exclusively in HEMA related products


Checks out the links section or Jump straight to the site, HERE


Open Training 22nd July Fort Paull, Hull


There will be an open training session taking place at Fort Paull on Sunday 22nd July 

Fort Paull, Battery Road, Hull, East Riding of Yorkshire, HU12 8FP. Tel -
01482 896236

Arrive any time from 10:30 and open to all KDF + EHCG chapters and members.
Event finishes around 16:30, but I'd suggest we'd be best training for a
couple of hours.

We can have as much space as we need and the venue is registered for our
insurance purposes,so could controlled sparring will be allowed (usual
rules apply).

If you can let me know ASAP if you are wanting to attend and if you'd be
able to help transport some weapons, that would be great.

Please spread the word to other chapters and if I've missed anyone of the
list above.


Dean Davidson - Chapter Master Leeds.
Mob: 07940179885


Welcome to 2012!

Farewell to 2011 and welcome to 2012.

The end of 2011 was busy, with a teaching visit to Mexico, the fourth time their teaching. Teaching included Longsword, sword and buckler, Rapier and rapier and dagger. It was good to see both old friends and new faces.


Plans are afoot to develop several events over the course of the year.

Keep checking in on the Guild sites for more information.


Guild Secretary


End of November update


Things have been quite on the main Guild front. Lots of regular teaching has kept me busy.

Off to Mexico for a mixed week long course, more foundational stuff in the morning and Teacher course in the afternoon.

The new year will bring news and activity.


Guild Secretary


Frriday15th October

The Guild blog has been updated with a piece on training methods as well as some other short pieces, visit the Guild Blog here


ACT Seminar Review

Read more...








7pm – 9pm

European Historical Combat Guild Training & Demonstrations

Wars of the Roses Weapons

Medieval Craft Displays

Guided Tour of St Mary’s Chapel

TBS Visitor Information Centre Open

Lance & Longbow Society Bookstall

TBS Gift Stall




Option for online forum, linked here as part of the main website.




We have an option of having a forum on this website. Would you like one or are you happy using our yahoogroups page.

Please complete the poll on the right hand side and let us know your thoughts.

Many thanks.

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Sweating amongst the Mohocks

Ethics in HEMA/Swordsmanship

Guy Windsor asked some questions in his blog asking for replies you can find my streamed answers below.
You may want to add your own replies to guys blog HERE
1) When is it ok to stab someone in the face with a sword?
When they are trying to stab you or someone in need of protection or assistance, in the face with their sword or other life threatening object.
2) What is the one thing you find most useful about swordsmanship training outside the salle?
Not sure I can qualify it down to one thing. Also I have in effect been doing this my whole life and without sounding too grand, I make no distinction of in or out of places where one is specifically training.. to me it's all degrees. The Principle or Principles that would be the most important, and to me they are flip sides of the same coin would be Awareness/Intent
3) How important is history to you in your practise of swordsmanship?
History is important for everything in my opinion , you can not truly know where you are unless you know from whence you came., whether as an individual, a society/culture or as a species. Given that the practice of historical martial skills is the resurrection of dead arts, without striving to make sense of the historical context that created them means that one is dealing with.... a zombie for lack of a better metaphor
4) Can a duel settle a matter of honour?
First define honour! wink emoticon The define the ways it can be attacked or diminished and then the ways that it would be ok to defend or regain those notions of honour. Perhaps If one can define what it is then it may be possible to deal with in the infringement of ones personal honour by someone else who shares that view point with a physical contest. From my feelings of honour, and in the modern world we live in I find it hard to reconcile a notion of honour with a physical contest, of a duel, which is a Monkey Dance (see Rory Miller) with cultural trappings layered on in am attempt to make it more acceptable. In the Historical context I can understand the aspects that drove people to duel, as notions of self defence , or the defence of self then encompassed both he notion of defending ones physical self and well being and the self by which you identified yourself and held your position in society. To quote from El Cid, "Can a man (person) live without honour?" Perhaps and perhaps not but then the question is At what point can anyone other than yourself be held responsible for it or harming it. It is my thesis that when people talk about matters of honour it s not to do with personal honour but rather social reputation. One then also needs to consider the social aspect that produces the notion of reputation/honour
5) Can violence be beautiful?
Define Violence and define beauty, then define the context within which those aspects are taking place. The violence of nature, a storm, raging seas or rivers can have a beauty when viewed from the outside. The appreciation of the beauty can soon disappear once inside it or on the receiving end of it. But then we have to consider how one is accustomed to the nature fo the violence were discussing. I would put forward that aspects of the physicality of violent actions etc can have a beauty of efficiency and effect in the notion of how it neutralises the danger, threat or situation. But if we are discussing the violence in the sense of what it actually does to other living beings, and leaving then broken maimed or dead, and ourselves and our surrounding covered in the gore a bodily fluids.... if we find that beautiful.... well what does that make us
6) To what extent is the practice of swordsmanship the cultivation of virtue?
First define virtue or rather virtues. The practice of any skill, especially one that involves person risk will or should cultivate discipline and awareness, and a clarification of Intent amongst other things, if only in the field being studied. Whether that bleeds over and affects the individual outside of the field will depend on the individual.
7) Is the study of ethics necessary for martial artists?
The consideration of ethics is something we as humans should all do. As people developing the skills and mindsets for harming, crippling and killing people then it is of even more importance, for if we don't then we are just playing at it like fantasists playing make believe. There is the argument put forward that not all the arts we study were intended with such serious goals, but even then if we do not consider the actuality of the game that were are playing then we are just as bad.

William Cavendish transcription available

Thanks to Dave Rawlings of London Longsword Academy for transcribing and making available Cavendish's work for, I believe, the first time


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