Sunday, January 8, 2012

Why Do I Research?


Anybody who knows me at all will know that I tend to get into my research projects heavily. I tend to find big projects which are disguised as little ones and then feel that I have to complete them in order to feel that I have done the job properly. I don't tend to do things small and tend to research things to death, of course as would be expected there is a cause behind this. The reasons for this can be found in my own history and interests.

I have had a long-term interest in things historical and in order to understand where this comes from I need to explain a little of my own history. I suppose my first interest in history is a result of the influence of my parents, especially my father who is quite well-read and who have encouraged me to follow my interests in the field. My first real inspiration for history can be found in my first trip abroad.

In 1981, my parents took me and my sister over to the United Kingdom we explored England, Scotland and Ireland. We saw great and popular sites such as the Tower of London, Windsor Castle and the British Museum. What an eye-opener. The trip to Ireland was more of a personal trip and we spent some time in a graveyard scrubbing grave stones looking for ancestors. Now, sounds pretty boring, I can tell you it was quite the opposite, nothing like finding your roots to inspire a deeper love of history. So, this sewed the seeds of my interest, and it was only to be increased as I grew older.

My sixth year of primary school was also a turning point for me as I had a teacher who encouraged my interest in history so I went with it, investing time and energy in my assignments on various topics. Most male kids at this age wanted to be astronauts, policemen or in the army. Me, I decided at that point in time that history would be my thing and I decided that I wanted to become a historian. It would give me an excuse to research periods of history and have some sort of tangible result as a purpose, needless to say the following years would just increase this desire.

From my this point in time I would attempt to tailor all of my education with an historical bend to it. I took History in grade 10, and would follow this up with both Ancient and Modern History in grade 11 and 12. The other subjects were merely means to an end, to allow me to pursue my love of history even better. This was only to be advanced when I found a social group interested in medieval history.

I joined the SCA (Society for Creative Anachronism) in grade 12. This group is focused on the years 500 to 1600AD or thereabouts so suited me down to the ground. Now not only could I study history but I could go about putting some of my research into practice. Talk about finding a niche. I am still in this group and am really enjoying it, the practical aspects of the research really adds something to it.

Needless to say my venture into higher education would result in me studying a Bachelor of Arts (BA), with majors in History and Anthropology. More chances to put my zeal into subjects that I enjoyed and further myself to my goal of becoming a historian. It also allowed even more research into areas of interest and allowed me to gain even more tools with which to do so. It would also result in the reason that I tend to research things to death as my training in research would tend to a bend where it was to be done properly. Eventually after graduating with my BA I would eventually get to pursue Honours in History and attain my goal of becoming a historian. No actual paid work at this point in time, due to various medical and other factors, but the research that I do I think fills in this. So with this foundation I can really get down to the reasons for my research.

The primary reason for my research is expanding knowledge in various areas of history. This interest in historical subjects primarily comes from my unabated interest in history which I think will accompany me for the rest of my life. There are so many things to research and to find out about. I am hoping to fill in gaps in knowledge, primarily my own but also hopefully others as well. Meaning that I tend to look at stuff which has been either overlooked, or things which I think will expand my own understanding of subjects which I have already looked at.

With regard to the particular subjects chosen at a particular time, they come from interest or inspiration depending on the particular subject. I have done some research into terrorism for my own purposes as that has been a big topic over the past decade, and I wanted to understand this phenomenon more in order to understand things happening in world history in the current era. However, for the most part my research tends to be a of a medieval or Renaissance flavour as this is my prime area of interest. At the moment I am focusing more on the sixteenth century as it fills in some information which I have become especially interested, mainly due to my association with the SCA and martial endeavours with the civilian weapons of the period. My two blogs, this one and my more personal one are a direct result of wanting to get my research into various fields out into the public field for others to read and gain from.

In the end I hope that there is some practical application to my research a perfect example of this is my two current projects that I have been working on one which is my "Gentleman's Manual", the discussion version of which is accessible ( to the public for people's perusal. This focusses on the idea of turning the fencer into a gentleman, in the Renaissance idea of this. I will be working on a more lesson-based version in the not too distant future.

The other project is what I have called my "Period Manual" of which I have spoken about previously in this blog. It is writing a fencing manual in period form and then presenting a Modern English and Early Modern English version side-by-side in order that people are more able to access Early Modern English and thus more of the period manuals which are available. Once completed I will be placing this manual in the public domain, once again in order that as many people as possible are able to access it.

So, why do I research? Primarily to increase my own knowledge, but also in the hope that others can gain something from the research in which I have endeavoured. It is my hope that my readers will gain some insight into some of the topics which have been presented and thus be able to wipe away some of the dust and cobwebs of misunderstanding from these topics. It is also my hope that maybe something which I present may inspire someone else to do their own research in order that they can improve their own understanding of a topic which they may be interested in.



Monday, January 2, 2012

The Other Project: A Gentleman's Handbook


For those who are used to my more formal manner of writing, they will have to excuse me for this particular edition as this is a discussion of a more personal nature. I have mentioned previously about my project to create a fencing manual in the style of the Elizabethan period, and made some discussion of it. It is still proceeding and as I get further along I will give another update. At the same time I have been working on a second project and it is this one which I will be discussing here.

Before I go any further, I will apologise to my female readership as this project is aimed at the male fencer rather than the female fencer. This does not imply or suggest that the female is not suited to fencing, or cannot learn something from what is contained within this project, simply that it is aimed more at the male fencer. This is simply due to my own knowledge on the subject, the data which has been collected along with my own proximity to the subject being of the male gender. Once again I apologise for any offence taken in any form as it is totally unintended.

The project is what I originally called "supplementary education" and is designed to fill in those parts of the education of the fencer which are not usually filled in the usual aspects of fencing instruction. Since this time it has changed its name to "A Gentleman's Handbook" which more suits its contents, being aimed at the male fencer. With the simple aim of changing the fencer into a gentleman. In order to understand this particular project some information will have to be filled in. This will present an approach and reasons for the project.

I have had an interest in those aspects of fencing which occur both on and off the field for sometime. These are not the simple interactions of two fencers crossing blades with one another but the more social aspects of this encounter. I have already put some of my thoughts into words in an article that I wrote on fencing etiquette a while ago. If you are interested this can be found here: The writing of this particular article got me thinking about the less martial aspects of the art which is practiced and what the difference between a gentleman and a fencer is.

Before I can explain the thought processes some terms need to be explained. A fencer is someone who is interested and learns how to use a sword and then crosses swords with other like-minded individuals. Hopefully this individual is taught some respect for what he does and the others he does it with. When the gentleman is thought of in the modern conception he is polite and does nice things for people and is an example of good etiquette. This pales in comparison to the character that my project is attempting to inspire the reader to become. The goal in order for this achievement is to bring up the image of the fencer in general and also as a result fencing in general.

For my readers who are of a more sport or classical fencing bend this approach can still apply to you, but it is more aimed at my Renaissance fencing colleagues. This is not in order that a person can become more of their persona, though it will help with this, it is more so that they can more understand the type of individual who wielded a rapier in the Renaissance period, and who they emulate in the process of doing this themselves. It is the finer points of the gentleman of the period and the etiquette associated which gives the sword arts of the period their flavour, and also provides one of the reasons why we engage in combats on a "level playing field" and with courtesy.

There will be two versions for this particular project, one which is a discussion paper presenting theories and points of view in a more formal manner. This is the intellectual discussion of the material presented in the manual. This version of the handbook is singular and succinct and can be found for your perusal, should you be interested, here: This will form the basis for the second version of the handbook which will be more practical in nature.

The second version of the handbook will see the chapters and discussions presented in the discussion version turned into lessons allowing for more practical application of what is presented in them. This will hopefully allow the reader to take the knowledge presented and then be able to apply the knowledge in appropriate situation and as a process be able to grow as a fencer, hopefully toward the ideal which is presented in the handbook. This version of the book will have a more evolutionary nature in that there will no doubt be supplementary lessons which will be added on to it as time goes along. This is in order to enhance the reader of the handbook and increase his abilities to perform at his best furthering him along the path to the true gentleman. I had thought that I may have to create a website or another blog for the dissimulation of the lessons as they are created, an appropriate method will be found in order to do this. Any thoughts my readers my have about this would be greatly appreciated.

While this has been named the "other" project, I actually find that both projects are important as one another while they serve different purposes. In one way the information from one can be used to enhance the other and vice versa