Kult of Athena


Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Schola St. George: Chivalry: Alive and Well


The two combatants come together with a echoing report. Solid, sharp, it tells of the strength and purpose in each swing.


The swords hit home against head and torso, arm and shoulder. Neither opponent slows, but circles the other with precise steps. Recalling practiced movements, each searches for an opening, searches for that one strike that could give them the edge.



The battle is ended. The two separate with a salute.

This trial of arms does not take place on the ancient sands of the arena, nor across the smooth stones of a temple's training grounds. The swords are not weapons of death. The arena is a gymnasium in the heart of Watertown, Massachusetts. The two-handed synthetic practice swords are capped with red rubber. This is the combat of the students of the Boston Chapter of the Schola St. George.

This Boston branch of the Schola St. George is school of medieval mixed martial arts and artists who use the teachings of the 14th Century Italian Grand Battle Master Fiore Liberi and his manuscript (the third oldest medieval fighting manuscript in existence) "The Flower of Battle," to train in the ways of the L'Arte di Armizare (Western fighting arts).

"Fiore's work really shows an entire system, from unarmed grappling up through mounted combat, complete with cross-references," said Charles Deily, Instructor at the SSG Boston. "As a teacher, I'm amazed by the pedagogy of his works, and shocked by the efficiency, though I shouldn't be. I've played with other systems (German, Japanese, modern fencing) but L'Arte d'Armizare really seems to speak to me."

In 2006, Deily sought out other members of the European martial arts community over the Internet. He came upon the home page of the Schola St. George and found their training style and their interpretation of Western Martial Arts to be the right fit. Convincing a few of his colleagues to “play with him,” SSG Boston was born.

Under the tutelage of Deily and others, the students of SSG Boston focus on a very specific curriculum from “The Flower of Battle:”

Studying these arts students attain the skills they need to rise in the rankings of the school.

  • Compagni (Beginner)
  • Scolaro (Student)
  • Magistro or Instruttore (Teacher or Master)

But like any martial art, the journey to Magistro (Master) take takes years of practice and perseverance. The tests are difficult and sometimes dangerous, as Deily has reported occasional wrenched arms and a hairline fractures, but what students get in return is not only a mastery of a deadly martial art but also the mastery of themselves.

“I've learned a lot about myself doing this,” said Deily. “It’s not just how bodies move and attack, but how lines of strength and lines of weakness relate, how to train calmly to deal with stress, how minor adjustments can make the difference between something failing and succeeding, and how to just be a better person.”

As students transform themselves into warriors through Western Martial Arts, they attribute their improvements to the essence of what is known as the chivalric code. In ancient days of the medieval knights of Europe, the chivalric code was a set of moral standards that a warrior would live by while he developed his dexterity in arms. Chivalry embodied the ability to steer dangerous people toward a social good through ideals such as courtesy, generosity, and valor. The SSG Boston encourages its students to develop their own code of combat through fair fighting, control of their weapons, and diligent study of not only the form and movements, but the language of Fiore as well.

But not everything at the SSG Boston is grueling martial training and tests, semi-hazardous swordplay, and knightly lessons. The members of the SSG Boston know how to have a great time both in and out of the gym. They spend nights out with one another, become friends, and form bonds that can often only fighters-in-training can know.

“Fiore uses the word "Compagno" (companion) for your training partner, which is literally someone you'd share bread with, and we try to think of our partners positively,” said Deily. “We do hang out together, often over dinner, or an evening resting and rehydrating our tired bones. I usually feel at home with people from other Schola groups as they are like-minded people, in less than five minutes. But having successfully tested with someone else just increases that bond.”

The SSG Boston invites everyone, men and women, to come be a part of the experience. Lessons cost $10.00 per session, $35.00 annual dues, with loaner equipment available for the first few lessons. Meetings are held every Thursday night from 7:00pm to 9:45pm at 57 Stanley Avenue, Watertown, MA, 02472 and at various times on Saturday mornings at Robbins Farm on 53 Eastern Avenue, Arlington MA.

Next time someone says chivalry is dead, tell them “No, it’s living in Watertown at the Schola St. George.”

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Higgins Armory Museum: Ale and Mail

On September 25, 2010, a wonderful thing happened to me that I never could have imagined. No, it wasn't winning any lottery, nor some promotion at work, nor getting to jam out on stage with the boys from Aerosmith (yes, they are STILL touring). No, it was something more magnificent. The Higgins Armory Museum in Worcester, MA had their 10th Annual Festival of Ale!

As soon as I heard of this glorious event, I purchased a ticket. No friends asked to go, no checking on other plans, no thoughts of how much the tickets cost, just "thank you for your purchase." I was in. Alone, with someone else, I was in. Sweet.

So you all don't think I am some kind of lush or some LARP kid who has to talk up his killer alternate persona

I'm going to shed a little light on what the Higgins Armory means to me. When I was a sprout of about 5 years old, I picked up my first toy swords and went into my back yard to play. Oh what times I had. This naturally evolved into my obsession with action figures, when I learned you could exchange money for useless pieces of plastic, and had them ALL. My favorites were small toy metallic knights that could ONLY be purchased at rare times in very rare places. Higgins Armory was one of those spots (the other was the Keller House in NH).

So, as most good fathers will do, mine took me to Higgins bi-monthly to spend his hard earned cash on things I could potentially swallow and end my own life with.

Thanks pop!

My love for the sword, warriors, and all things martial grew exponentially every time and I knew Higgins would always be one of the most righteous places I could go to celebrate my nerd-dom without fear of reprisal. So yeah, I'm Old School.

When we arrived, my friend Brendan, a right and honorable gentleman with a taste for ale and adventure,

and myself, it was everything I had hoped. All 4 floors of this magnificent homage to steel were open to the public. The Great Hall was filled with beer (and weapon) connoisseurs and all the great breweries from Massachusetts and beyond were present.

Some of the All Stars included:

And many, many more.

Now, at this point in the story, I must give a word of advice. Whether it be purchasing swords, drinking at heavenly ale festivals, or anything that you enjoy, do it in moderation. This isn't the pulpit. This isn't my electronic soapbox. I'm saying that I have learned that moderation can be a great thing. No one gets too nuts. No one loses thousands. No one gets kicked out the Higgins Armory Ale Fest for trying to ride the fake horses or pull down the very real weapons on the walls or wear the real, and very expensive armor.

They make unforgettable memories:

Now, after all this, if you're still like, "Wow, these kids are huge dorks" (which is super cool of you for accepting people's diverse tastes), remember this thing was sold out, served beer all night, as much as we wanted, AND we were enjoying the event amongst fine people like our lady friend here.

What were you doing?

See you at Higgins in 2011!

Friday, September 10, 2010

Sword Schools in Boston

In 1630, a Puritanical preacher by the name of John Winthrop called Massachusetts, and more specifically Boston, a City on Hill. In his sermon he called for the city, and the state, and New England in general, to be a beacon for justice and serving God and all of the fun things that Puritans did.

What better way to be a beacon for justice and freedom than to train your citizenry to be jaw-dropping, saber-swinging death machines with a fanatical love for the city and a short fuse when someone mentions anything from New York.

Ah yes, my fellow Bostonians, this city is becoming a beacon. A beacon for the SWORD!!

Recently, I have done some digging on the web to find out what type of training I could find in the Bay State for the art of the sword. The results were scant at first but with a little patience, some quick prayers to whatever sack-whacking vikings landed here before here was here, and some reserved space in the Google archives, I am now proud to present Massachusetts, the State of the Sword!

For those of you who live on the South Shore...(ok nevermind, beyond the Gas Tanks might as well be the gulag from Mad Max)..for those of you who live near to 93 or route 3 south, your training will be aided by masters from the Far East. There are 2 schools that have come to prominence that will teach you the sacred and ancient art of Wielding a Tree Branch/Golf Club/Wiffle Ball Bat Against Frat Brothers because your G/F Couldn't Keep Her Trap Shut About Leaning During Beer Pong.

These two schools of martial arts training draw on the ancient sword techniques of the Far East and educate their students on the discipline, strength, and honor that is found not only in the study of the sword but also in the spirit.

Sword Master Martial Arts is located at 582 Washington Street in Quincy and costs about $75.00 a month. You can learn sword fighting techniques that were developed in China thousands of years ago such as the beautiful, the deadly Jian Tai Chi Sword Fighting.

Knowing this sword technique in ancient China was to know harmony (and to know you have a shotgun in a pillow fight). It was to be able to move fluidly through the world around you in order to defend your home, your family, and your honor with great skill. Chinese sword techniques were passed down from generation to generation, from master to student, and the greatest masters trained royalty such as the emperors and their sons. That same prowess can be yours.

Boston Shufukai Kendo is even further east and while I am not going to say which sword style is better, because this is America and everyone gets a medal, I will tell you, as I have before in blog posts, that the study of Kendo, the Samurai, and Bushido makes we want to curl up under the bed weeping in fright with my hands covering my ears.

Located at the Boston Higashi School Gym at 800 North Main Street in Randolph, MA, this Samurai training school is going to set you back just a bit more with a annual federation fee $60, annual insurance fee $50, and a monthly dojo fee of $15 (for cleaning up all of the salty tears and pungent trails of urine your enemies leave behind). They will teach you the art of Kendo, or Japanese fencing; divulging the secrets of one of the deadliest martial arts known to man.

"But Mike," you say "I am a hipster and cant leave Boston. I have way too much going on, what with all those PBR Tall Boys chilling in my fridge and my friend's obscure band playing for free tonight in Cambridge!"

Alright, keep your quasi-ironic t-shirt on. There's hope for you too. A Korean master, not quite from China, not as far east as Japan, just right, is coming to Boston to learn your undeserving Western A the art of the sword. Shim Gum Do Sword Training , a mixture of deadly sword techniques and deep Zen meditative studies, is setting up shop in a temple in Brighton. Your master is none other than the inventor of the "Mind Sword Path" Chang Sik Kim, a 60-year-old Korean Zen master who made his name in the 1960's and 70's slicing up evil ninja's, saving poor peasants from oni demons, and slapping around blondes whilst flicking his epic moustachio

Under his tutelage you will learn sword techniques with what are called Bokken. These practice swords are made of wood so you don't slice Aunt B in half at your first exhibition. You will learn the basics of the sword, open hand fighting, deep meditative techniques to help you find your hidden dragon, and finally needlepoint.


In the final formative training sessions from your Zen Master, you will be bestowed with the honor of fighting with a handmade Korean steel blade similar to a Japanese katana.

Upon completion of this stage, and your training, you can drive around openly proclaiming your love for Justin Bieber and Kesha with the windows down and the music blaring. Go get em tiger.

The Shim Gum Do Sword Training will take place at 203 Chestnut Hill Avenue in Brighton, MA and will cost approximately $110.00 a month. A small price to pay for the smiting of one's enemies.

For those of you living in Boston looking to "Get Medieval on someone's ass" there is the Schola St. George, a school dedicated to the learning of Western Medieval Sword Techniques, hand-to-hand fighting, and microwave cookery. Sadly, their website is having some kind of Internet mental breakdown and refuses to come out of it's room. We will leave some cookies by the door and go turn on Gladiator until they are ready to talk about it.

Schola St. George

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Kalman Csoka

Girlfriend is gone to Newport, RI for the evening. I have the whole place, more importantly the TV, to myself. I didnt even mean to watch it. I saw it on the guide, it looked like it would be alright before sleep, and I am THRILLED I did.

From Alpharetta, GA in the US, his name is Kalman Csoka.

He is two-time champion in his specialty, the adult classic weapons routine. Tonight, he grabbed his third title and, man, he earned it.

But, enough talk about how insanely amazing my new 25-year old idol is with twin swords; doing ridiculous tricks. Let's take a look:

You know what, that's only one sword. No big deal, right? We want the big tricks. We want savage cats like Miyamoto Musashi who handles the twin tigers; slashing lesser martial fodder to tiny chunks of little samurai.

Seek and ye shall find brothers and sisters. Take a look at the champ in action:

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Armored Ninjas

Samurai. The word means "to serve." In any function, in any scenario, in any way the Emperor or the lord of their daimyo, their clan, asked them too, these noble and savage swordsman, these elite warriors of feudal Japan, would obey. Their one life's purpose was the dedication to perfection. Their training was disciplined and precise. Their focus, unwavering. These men, would train their minds, bodies, even their very souls in Bushido, the way of the warrior. Solemn, dignified, noble, and very deadly, the Samurai were at the right hands of every ruler of the island of Japan until it's modernization, and eventual outlawing of the wearing of swords and the Samurai code, in the late 1870's. Theirs is a rich and vibrant history of savage warfare and unyielding honor.

To this day, many modern and major businesses in Japan still utilize the teachings of Bushido and the Samurai to ens till a fearlessness, honor, calm, and at times even ruthlessness, in their executives. But what is the code of the Samurai? To what personal goals do they aspire? The seven main virtues of the code of Bushido, which every Samurai, every true Samurai, not Ronin (masterless Samurais and outcasts) thieves calling themselves true Samurai, would adopt are:

  • Justice

  • Courage

  • Benevolence

  • Respect

  • Honesty

  • Honor

  • Loyalty

The Samurai based everyday of their lives on these principles, but coupled with their incredible fearlessness and fighting prowess. There is a translated text, "Bushido: The Way of the Samurai, that is written by Minoru Tanaka.

This book is a translation of the "Hagakure" or "Hidden Behind the Leaves (the secret thoughts)" of Tsunetomo Yamamoto, a legendary Samurai from the 1700's. Within its pages, you will find not only the explanation of Bushido, but the Samurai perspective on all aspects of life from death ("Always choose death, every morning. Die anew everyday and that way you can free your mind of the troubles of life and serve your master and lord"), to "Yes Men," ("They, obedient "yes men," will always fall behind their colleagues. A man should be strong and full of vitality in his choices."), dreams ("Dreams are the expression of your inner most person."), victory in battle ("Cut down the gods if they stand with your enemy"), even how to stop from yawning ("Stroke your forehead to prevent from yawning. If not that, then lap the inside of your lips with your tongue.If you yawn in someones face it will look silly and foolish.")

This book, like the Samurai themselves, takes careful measure of many of the major social and physical aspects of daily life and produces expert ways in which to overcome them and live by their code.

But aside from the great philosophies of wizened Samurai like Yamamoto, the Samurai's daily life consisted of some of the most rigorous and intricate martial training known to man. These were the upper caste warrior elite of Japan; charged with the protection of the life of their lord. Failure through weak training was not an option. If they brought any dishonor to either themselves or their names, they would KILL themselves on the spot using a process they called Harakiri or Sepuku.

The Samurai were masters of Kendo, "The Way of the Sword," Judo, Aikido, Kung Fu, Karate, and Tae Kwon Do. They were as deadly with their hands as with their razor sharp swords and trained thoroughly everyday in order that they may hone their fighting skills and reflexes to perfect precision.

(As a student and lover of the sword and the martial arts, I have located a Kendo Club here in Massachusetts in which to learn the marvelous art: South Shore Kendo and Swordmaster Martial Arts at 582 Washington Street in Quincy, MA)

Now, aside from the fierce fighting discipline of the Samurai in hand to hand combat, one of the greatest, if not the greatest legacy of the Samurai are their fabulous swords. These works of the highest magnitude of craftsmanship were the Samurai's most prized possession. It was the extension of his arm's fighting ability and the essence of his very soul. A Samurai's sword was brought to the birthing chamber for his first draw of air and laid to rest with him at the moment of his last. Swords were passed down from father to son as heirlooms of strength and power and a symbol of the nobility, divine inspiration, and an ultimate weapon to uphold the Samurai Code.

The finest examples of these weapons that I have had the privilege to witness was an exhibition at the British Museum when I was a lad of 20 summers. A girlfriend at the time and I had just ended our tenure as a couple in London; leaving me to view these amazing treasures in my own time. Awwww!

Stop that! Be like a Samurai and do not weep for my pain. She hated the sword (God forbid!) and would not have gone in either case. But, I went and what I saw was no less than epic.

There were three major styles of the sword in Japan: Koto (Old Swords)(794-1185)

, Shinto (New Swords)(Approximately 1600),

and Shinshinto (New-new Swords)(1750-1852)

I wanted to kneel. I wanted to stay there forever marveling at the way man had used his hands to create something so graceful, so light, and yet so sharp and deadly. When you consider the forging techniques of each one of these harbingers of death, you cannot help but feel awe. Japanese swordsmiths, though some slight aesthetic elements have changed, as have the strength of the metals and alloys used in the forging process, have been adopting the same methods for forging as their ancestors did in ancient days.

It's Discovery and They Have British Accents So You Know It's Super Educational. I'll Let The Video Speak For The Forging Process

The pieces of the sword are then constructed to form the whole of the sword,

and the Samurai would be ready for battle

The Japanese Katana is one of the world's strongest and most elegant weapons. But, it pales in comparison to two of the deadliest Samurai (and human) weapons of all: the Samurai's mind and the hand that wields the sword. Nowhere is this more evident than in the legend of Japan's most renowned swordsman, Miyamoto Musashi. As the story goes, Musashi, who is now known as the "Sword Saint" in Japan, lived under the rule of Tokugawa Ieyasu. He was an unmatched fighter and by the time he was 28 years old, he had defeated and killed over 60 Samurai in one-on-one combat and fought in war 6 times. His sword was so deadly that Ronin, as well as feudal lords, would seek him out to make their names great by his death. None ever succeeded.

On one such occasion the great Samurai swordsman Sasaki Kojiro challenged Musashi to a duel on a deserted island. But, when the time for the duel came, 8:00am, Musashi was not there. An emissary was sent to find Musashi, and the man stumbled upon the Samurai happily snoring away in his room. Wakened by the nervous attendant, Musashi got up, without washing, and went to the boat that would take him to his duel. Along the way, he fashioned a bokken, or wooden sword, from an extra oar and gave no more heed to his opponent.

Infuriated at the young upstart for being late, and for coming unwashed and seemingly unprepared, Kojiro angrily threw his scabbard into the water that surrounded the island.

"You see," said Musashi "I have already won. No man who thinks he will win would dare to throw away his scabbard, the resting place for his weapon." Kojiro, overcome by his rage at this point flew at Musashi with a vicious overhead chop. His enemy, blinded by this brilliant psychological tactic, Musashi blocked the descending blade and sidestepped the warrior easily. Musashi then raised his bokken oar and smashed Kojiro hard in the head.

Kojiro's blood stained the peaceful waters. Musashi bowed to the stunned onlookers and then rowed slowly away in his boat.

The cunning of Musashi, his reluctance to stand on ceremony to gain the advantage, and his deadly skill with his hands, no matter what they were holding, won him the day. The true Samurai spirit lives in the man, and the sword becomes a living extension of that skill.

In modern Japan, and worldwide, the spirit of the Japanese Samurai lives on through the martial training and self discipline of dedicated students. The living steel, forged by masters taught in the ancient traditions, lives on through collectors and devoted students of the blade. The prices for such weapons can range from $60.00 to approximately $14,000.00, depending on the craftsmanship of the weapon.

There are a multitude of US and Japanese vendors, all located and well priced at your favorite vendor and mine, Kult of Athena. But more than that, there are men who embody the heart and soul of the Katana. Men like Kiyochika Kanehama. Kanehama is the real Hattori Hanzo (played by Sonny Chiba in the Kill Bill movies).

(It is a common misconception that Hattori Hanzo was or is a real swordsmith on the island of Okinawa. In reality, Hanzo (Chiba) is one of two things: Pure Hollywood or the fictional embodyment of the character of Hattori "Devil" Hanzo, a Japanese Samurai in the late 1500's.Whatever the case, Chiba's role was superb in Hollywood, and Kanehama fills it perfectly in the real world.)

Whether on film or on the islands of Okinawa, whether made of wood or of the finest hammer-folded steel, whether in the hands of a young boy from Fukushima city in the Tohoku region of Japan (where original Katana, Ko-Katana, Wakizashi, and Tanto blades are created), or a young boy from Illinois receiving an amazing Christmas gift, the spirit of the Samurai and the Samurai sword lives on. The pride and valor of these noble warriors echoes through the ages and beckons us to stand and face evil and injustice with a steady heart and strong shining steel.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Red Cliff

John Woo, one of the most famous directors of some of the best action films in the industry such as Face Off and Mission Impossible II, has completed his masterpiece. He has created his sword swinging, hard fighting, en masse theatre of death opus. "Red Cliff" is one of the most sohpisticated, well written, well produced films I have ever seen. Some have equated it as the Chinese Lord of the Rings, and I would tend to agree.

This film, while it can be a bit cheesy at times, with exaggerated death scenes and fantasy action, hits every warrior nail on the head. From the beginning of the film there is non stop action, and I mean nonstop.

Emporer: Go kill those rebels
Prime Minister: Consider it done.

That's about as much back story as the audience gets before armies start tearing into each other like a 1980's Raider's fan fight in Oakland. But unlike our neighbors to the far west, our Chinese cast of characters in the Far East, such as Shido Nakamura

The katana swinging Samurai champion in Jet Li's Fearless,

Tony Leung Chiu Wai, who was a character named Broken Sword in "Hero",

and also the most interesting, smartest, and deadliest warrior on the field in Red Cliff, the passive yet amazingly deadly Takeshi Kaneshiro from The House of Flying Daggers,

conduct their savage strife with precision, honed skill (not to mention weapons), brilliant tactics, and above all else honor. But all run on sentences aside, the movie and the action are brilliant not just because of the fight scenes but because of the meticulous attention to detail that John Woo gave to recreating the authenticity of the battles of the Southern Kingdoms of Imperial China on the Yangtze River.

I believe at one point in the film they make reference to "The Art of War," the quintessential textbook to victory that should adorn every man's bookshelf.

Red Cliff adorns its soldiers in the armor, weapons, and equipment of the age with amazing accuracy. During this period, the Han Dynasty, around 208 B.C., foot soldiers and cavalry wore something of a lamellar armor, a number of linked metal plates which would cover their torsos, and helmets, usually made of iron.

This design was lightweight and maneuverable, yet strong and resistant to give the soldier more protection.

Their weapons, and this is my favorite part, as I have been looking into the fabulous construction of these blades for sometime, were for the most part Chinese Han swords,

straight spears,

and a particularly nasty weapon used with surprising efficiency, the Sickle Spear.

(Of course, as in any military hierarchy, the higher you went up the chain of command, the more elaborate the weapons and armor would become.)

The Han soliders used these weapons, and others such as their knowledge of wind patterns, the stars, fire ships, female sex, and link between human nature and the nature of music, in order to create this cinematic masterpiece. Fans of massive, and not so massive (as their are a number of raiding and one on one fight sequences throughout the film), battle scenes, swords, Chinese war cinema, or just have 2.5 hours to kill, then I suggest firing up Netflix and taking a leap of faith on this unbelievable story.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

The Spice of Life

At long last! Back to the posts. Much has transpired since my last entry and I apologize to you all. My muse was on vacation. But now she is back with a swift boot to the nuts and demands my diligance. Enjoy!

Sometimes we all get a little tired (and perhaps frustrated) at the limited selection of our favorite things on the Internet. We search everyday, endlessly waiting for the newest assortment of products, be they gadests, fashion, video games, ect. More often than not, the companies we love only put out new things every 2 weeks. Sometimes, it can be as long as a month, or even several. I myself check

every morning when I get into work. More often than not, I'm afraid, my efforts are wasted (with the exception of faithful CNN) as there is nothing new to report and all is quiet in my little microcosm.

Well I'm taking a stand on this one. After scouring the net for new products, vendors, and of course the best prices (don't drop thousands on 1 sword) for my steel swinging sojourners of 2010, I have compiled some websites that I think you will find quite sympathetic to your crusade against the mundane.

Without further adieu, I serve to you, the fruits of my labors:

May your searches be fruitful and your swords never dull!

Friday, February 26, 2010

Vikings: A Bit Further Than Minnesota

After many months and long toil, I have arrived at my new home east and a little north in Massachusetts. I moved up from the south with all of my my possessions, from the shores of the sea, and the road has not been easy. However, with my Newfound surroundings I am very satisfied and I know that my new life here will be just as amazing, if not better than the last.

As I write these words, and recollect my travels throughout our great state, I realize that my wanderings pale in comparrison with those of one of the greatest warrior cultures ever to tremble the ground before their enemies: The Vikings.

From as far back as 700 AD these terrifying Northmen, from a region with winter weather that would make New England look like Southern France in the summertime, would sail down in their dragon ships and raid the coasts of Ireland, England, Scotland, France, and even cities on the Mediterranean in search of glory.

They had the ultimate freedom if their courage, will, and skills on the hard north Atlantic would hold them on the hard seas. The Vikings had kings and chieftains; the chieftains had eldest sons to carry on their names and keep their borders well protected. But what of the others? Common men? Youngest sons? Daughters? What did their lives amount to? They sought foreign, sunny shores (and to these beserkers of the Finland, Sweden, Norway, and other northern lands where there is no sun 10 months out of the year, England was a sunny shore) to bring them fortune, power, weapons, women, and strength. They believed that to further your station in the world, you had to literally go out and take it.

In their conquests, the Vikings became great kings, amassed mountains of gold and goods, stolen or won in combat, and pushed their influence even to the lands of the Baltic Sea and Greece. Their mark has been left all over history even to the shores of North America. Leif Erikson and his band were said to have found Northern Canada and Newfoundland hundreds of years before Columbus ever sailed.

During the Crusades, converted Viking warriors sailed to the rock of Gibralta and to Jerusalem and helped to repel the Saracen hordes in the name of their new Christ god. They helped to spread His word, Scandanavian culture, and great fear to their enemies. History claims them as maurauders and barbarians, but they were noble warriors with a great and powerful name in the north.

The Viking culture gives the industry of arms and armor so much to work with, that many a smith and master forger have recreated some of the most famous blades of legend and other more original pieces that will someday earn their own place in the epic story of steel.

The Albion Thegn Sword (Left)


the Valiant Armory Hedemark Sword (Right) are only two weapons in a nearly endless flow of creative steel that can best sum up the weapons of the Vikings. Many other armorers, such as Dark Sword Armory, Cold Steel, and Hanwei make excellent Viking Swords that fall into what is called Wheeler's Configuration of Viking Swords

Many of the best pieces of Viking steel can be found at dealers such as Kult of Athena(my personal favorite), Sword Buyers Guide, and even a very new and kick ass vendor,The Scabbard.

But, aside from the sword, Vikings utilized their great skills to wield more ferocious and less delicate weapons. Spear and axe were less expensive than a full made sword and were carried into battle just as often.

Also, the vikings very appearance, his winged helm (there was never any historical proof the rediculous horned pieces of modern fiction and overzealous NFL fans), and set beserker vizage that made the viking the terror of the ancient world. One of the greatest examples of their armored craftsmanship was the Mask of the Sutton Hoo.

The original was found in a rich boat burial in Sutton Hoo, England and is believed to have belonged to the 7th century Anglo-Saxon king Redwald.

The Vikings, the sea bound Hell's Angels of antiquity, were skilled sailors, riders, raiders, and kings. They were the strongest of the strong and sang their history, of battles won and lost,their gods, and the unquenchable thirst for freedom of the body and spirit, in great halls of their fathers or halls of their own making.

They have been featured in literature, and Deadliest Warrior. They have their everlasting place in the hearts of warriors from the dark ages to the present and have aided to shape the world of the sword, the stuff of legend, and the unknown corners of the map.