Episode 139 The Yeti of Chest Protection, with Veronica Young

Episode 139 The Yeti of Chest Protection, with Veronica Young

You can also support the show at Patreon.com/TheSwordGuy Patrons get access to the episode transcriptions as they are produced, the opportunity to suggest questions for upcoming guests, and even some outtakes from the interviews. Join us!

Veronica Young is an industrial designer, historical martial artist and founder of Cryptid Combat Wear, and she is also currently running a campaign for making a chest protector for women, which will actually fit and allow for movement. Veronica explains how she developed the prototypes, and how she has worked on the sizing to fit the widest range of people. The Indigogo campaign is running until 6th January, and you can support it here: https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/fencing-chest-protector#/

You might recall from the AMA episode a couple of weeks ago, we had a question about women’s knees, and how to prevent injury from fencing in a Meyerist fashion. Well, Veronica practises Meyer, and she has knees, so I asked her what she does to protect them. It’s all about the inner quads!

Veronica has got heavily into tournament fencing, and we talk about the mindset one needs to compete successfully, and about being a minority in HEMA – the stereotypes and the difficulties of different genders fighting one another. We also talk about how to win a fight against someone much taller than you.

Birthday Sale

Don’t forget, it was my birthday on November 30th and as has become traditional, I have a present for you. You can use the code, GUYTURNS49 to get £5 off any of my books at swordschool.shop and 30% off any course at courses.swordschool.com. The code will work until the end of December 2022.

This week’s non-sponsor

It’s Freelance Academy Press, which is a publishing house dedicated to serving the historical martial arts community. It was founded by Christian Tobler (see episode 101) and Greg Mele, and it has a fantastic catalogue of books you might be interested in. Such as my own, The Medieval Dagger, of course, but also their stunning critical editions of the Fiore manuscripts, translations of Bolognese and rapier texts, and works on German medieval combat. There’s really something for everyone. So, if you are looking for something to read, go to freelanceacademypress.com.




Guy Windsor: I’m here today with Veronica Young, an industrial designer, historical martial artist and founder of Cryptid Combat Wear, and she is also currently running a campaign for making a breast protector for women, which will actually fit and allow for movement. We're going to get into all the details during the discussion. But for now, Veronica, welcome to the show.


Veronica Young: Hi. Thanks so much for having me.


Guy Windsor: Well, it's nice to meet you. So just to orient everybody, whereabouts in the world are you?


Veronica Young: I live in Atlanta, Georgia, in the U.S..


Guy Windsor: Okay. Where the Olympics were?


Veronica Young: Yes. In 1996, I believe.


Guy Windsor: Yeah. I was alive for that.


Veronica Young: Technically, I was too. Great that I was two. So.


Guy Windsor: Yeah, I was 22, I think, so there we go. Is there a lot of historical martial arts in Atlanta, Georgia?


Veronica Young: Yeah, absolutely. So there's a bunch of clubs. But the club I belong to is Atlanta Historical Fencing Academy, and that's where McKenzie Ewing fights, Marcus Lewis fights and everything. And Keith Cotter-Reilly runs the school.


Guy Windsor: Oh, yeah, I know Keith. I don’t know the other people you just mentioned. I assume they're tournament fencers, correct?


Veronica Young: Yeah. McKenzie was top in the nation for a while.


Guy Windsor: Okay, cool. Excellent. Is that how you got started? You showed up to the club?


Veronica Young: Yeah. Basically, I was like, I need a way to find a better way to get in shape, stay in shape, be healthy and stuff. And I was like, oh, well, maybe I'll do a martial art because competitiveness kind of fuels me. And so when I was looking at martial arts, I found this one gym that had historical fencing and I was like, I'm done, I found it. We're here. And it's become like a core part of my personality now.


Guy Windsor: Yeah. You know, I think a lot of us resonate with that. Of course, back in the day when you couldn’t just rock up to a club because they weren’t any, we had to start them. We did find that there's basically two kinds of people, people who you tell them what you're doing and they want further clarification and they're not really sure they really understand or whatever. And other people are like, oh, you fight with swords? I'm in. Where do I sign?


Veronica Young: I think that's still pretty true.


Guy Windsor: Yeah, absolutely. I mean, I have literally never tried to persuade anybody to take a historical fencing class. If you need to be persuaded then it's probably not for you.


Veronica Young: Yeah, absolutely. We have a whole bunch of people in the club that have started just because, like, one of their friends have been in there. It's like, well, absolutely. We have one woman who her sister has started joining because her sister keeps hearing about historical fencing and everything. And she's like, okay, well, I'm in.


Guy Windsor: So what kind of styles do you do there?


Veronica Young: We're primarily German so Joachim Meyer primarily.


Guy Windsor: Oh you’re Meyerists. All right. So Meyer would be your historical system of choice.


Veronica Young: Yeah, absolutely. I've definitely looked at some of the others, but I've only been doing historical fencing for about four years now. Actually coming up on five. Oh, my God. But yeah. So I've looked at other sources and honestly, this one just kind of makes the most sense to me.


Guy Windsor: Okay, so are you studying the source yourself or getting it from your instructor?


Veronica Young: I'm going to say about like 80 to 20. 80 getting it from my instructor to 20 studying the source. In Atlanta, we have a very loose tiered system that's like, hey, if you study this much, take a test, and then you're qualified as whatever type of fencer. I say, very loose because like, nobody cares. And barely any of us do it. I don't know. It's there, so I'm going to do it.


Guy Windsor: Yeah, my feeling is that for some students, skill development milestones are really important. They need that external structure. Often it’s cultural, like my club in Singapore had a very complicated, very strictly adhered to ranking system because that's what the culture there demanded. Whereas my guys in Seattle told me straight up they had no interest in ranks whatsoever, would I please stop talking about it.


Veronica Young: We're pretty much the same here too but I think for the most part, Keith has filtered it out a lot, but it's still technically there. And so I'm just like, I'm just going to do it.


Guy Windsor: And also there will probably be students who prefer it and like it. And it's good that it's there for them, but also good that if you’re not that into it, you don’t have to care.


Veronica Young: Yeah, yeah, absolutely. And it's great because partially it forces me to I need to go study the sources because like part of the test is like, okay, do you can do these specific types of things? Like if I tell you what an abluffen is, or an absetzen, can you do it? That kind of thing.


Guy Windsor: Yeah. I guess it can be useful for the instructor to know who's at what level. And so you can make better choices about pairing up students and whatnot. Okay. Now, you mentioned Meyer, so I'm going to go on a massive detour away from the questions because a while ago I got a question from one of my regular listeners. I do an AMA very occasionally. He asked about women's knees doing specifically Meyer. Because the way women's pelvises and femurs work.


Veronica Young: We’re not aligned.


Guy Windsor: So the femurs point in towards the knees and that can create mechanical issues in particularly Meyer’s footwork. So as you are a woman who does Meyer I thought, seeing as I was just thinking about this the other day, how do you protect your knees?


Veronica Young: That's a great question. And I would challenge it to say that it's not just Meyer.


Guy Windsor: Of course.


Veronica Young: It's like any type of like martial art. It just in general is going to have that issue. And so, yeah, I actually had to go to physical therapy for this because I didn't know what was going on. My knees started hurting a whole bunch.


Guy Windsor: Oh, interesting.


Veronica Young: And so basically what happens is that our quads, our inner quad doesn't develop nearly as much because of like the stance that everybody, uses a fencing stance. It doesn't get activated nearly as much. And so I am also a power lifter so that helps me. Yeah, lots of like basically squats and knee exercises just to make sure that that inner quad is built up. But it happens to guys, too. My partner had literally the same thing happen to him of just his inner quad wasn't developed as much as his outer quads and it pulls your kneecaps out of alignment.


Guy Windsor: Interesting, okay, so what did you do specifically to develop the inner quad?


Veronica Young: Yeah, of course. So lots of squats. So box squats, free squats, weighted squats, but also just a lot of weighted lunges, like the separated band walks and just a lot of training outside of training. My physical therapist told me something at the time that really stuck with me, which was you have to train for your sport. And so, I know that the world of, oh, HEMA is a sport, kind of whatever, but still you have to train for it. And so like that helps. I literally just had this conversation with one of my students two days ago.


Guy Windsor: All right. 95% of my training time over the last 30 years has been training to be able to do the sword stuff and about 5% of it has been swinging a sword around.


Veronica Young: Yeah, absolutely, because your body has to be in a good position to be able to do the thing you want to do.


Guy Windsor: Exactly. Yeah. Good. I'm glad that message got across at your age because at your age you can recover from stuff pretty quickly and develop good habits and whatnot. And so that establishes you nicely for a long fencing career. When we have students who are coming in who are in their fifties or sixties and seventies who haven't got the advantages of youth, we have to be super careful about the... I don't call it cross-training. I usually call it Jumppa, which is a Finnish word. I used to live in Finland. And so

jumppa is basically exercises you do for the sake of fitness rather than fun. Weightlifting or calisthenics or pull ups or running or whatever, it's all jumppa. And so everyone's personal jumppa is different.


Veronica Young: Yeah, absolutely.


Guy Windsor: What I do works for me in my 48 year old body with my particular background and my particular history of injuries and whatnot, so necessary to adapt it to every individual. But what you say about the inner quads is interesting because the issue, I would think, is if you were used to getting away with it. If you have like plenty of strength on the outside of the leg, you can use that to kind of fake your way through regular squats. So what do you do to make sure you're targeting specifically the part of the leg that you want targeted?


Veronica Young: Oh, yeah. So weighted step ups, like single leg step ups. So you get like a box and then you step up onto the box, but only using the leg, like the one leg that's on top of the box. And then Bulgarian split squats.


Guy Windsor: What is a Bulgarian split squat?


Veronica Young: You basically. You get into, like. Hold on. I'm going to have to do it, and then I'll try to explain it as I'm doing it.


Guy Windsor: Okay.


Veronica Young: It's early in the morning for me, but you get up, you put your back foot up on some sort of surface that's higher up. And then you get into a like a lunge position and then you have weights in either hand and then you just dip into it.


Guy Windsor: Oh dear God. I’ve got to have a go at those.


Veronica Young: Yeah. You just kind of sink down into it. And basically what it does is it forces your quad that's up on the higher surface to have a larger range of motion. And that's what you're using to like push yourself up and down. And so that really targets a lot of those, like, postural muscles in your knees.


Guy Windsor: Okay. So the foot that's raised on the surface behind you. You're actually using that leg actively.


Veronica Young: You're using both legs actively, but you end up feeling it a lot more in the leg that's on top of that raised surface.


Guy Windsor: Because it could easily be that you would do it more like a pistol squat where you're basically just resting the leg on the thing behind you. Well, if I just saw the video, I would probably do it wrong. The video of what I just saw you do. I would get it wrong. Because it looks like you could get away with just doing a pistol squat. But if you're actually actively using the back foot on the thing that makes a lot of sense.


Veronica Young: Yeah. And with weights, it's killer.


Guy Windsor: Okay, I'm going to have to I'm going to have to make a reference to this conversation in the AMA. It is actually going out next week. So before it actually goes out. But I will jump in and record a little extra thing or make a note in the show notes because that's fascinating.


Veronica Young: Yeah. So I definitely had to get used to like, actually, like I said, training for my sport and realising that like if I want to keep doing this for a long time, I'm going to have to like put in the effort. And so yeah.


Guy Windsor: Excellent. Okay. So I understand you know a little bit about sports psychology.


Veronica Young: Yeah. A little bit.


Guy Windsor: Okay. Could you just tell us a bit about your background in sports psychology and then how it applies to historical martial arts?


Veronica Young: Oh, yeah, absolutely. So obviously my background is in design, but part of the big thing about design is knowing people. The core idea of doing a good design, like because I work in primarily UX design right now, in product design, is you have to know who your audience is. So you have to be able to empathise with them and understand them. So taking that kind of psychological background of being able to apply it to my work, my background as far as sports psychology is a lot of books basically because earlier this year, I'm very competitive, so I really love competing and I want to be good at competing. And earlier this year, before one of my tournaments that I went up to in Michigan, I kind of had a giant breakdown because I was putting so much pressure on myself to perform that my brain was not in the right spot. It was bad enough that like I was doing okay in classes, we were free fencing, I was doing fine. But then as soon as somebody started judging me, I was losing to beginners. And just that pressure just completely kind of like I collapsed a little bit.


Guy Windsor: You were choking, in effect.


Veronica Young: I think in baseball they call it the yips. But yeah, so I realised that, you know, if I wanted to continue doing this, I had to get my brain in order. And so I ended up reading a whole bunch of books on sports psychology. The first one, The Brave Athlete, was recommended to me by Mariana Lopez, and that really like kind of set my brain on the correct path of like, okay, this is how I have to get my brain in order to be able to compete consistently. And realistically for me was resetting where my goals were. And so understanding and making realistic goals for myself. And then from there, I ended up reading like four more books. And that's how I put the class together that I taught at IGX this past year. Applying it to historical fencing is really interesting because in sports psychology you're talking about competitive sports, but what you're also talking about is sports that have a different motivation than we do when we're competing in HEMA, because HEMA, it's a hobby at its core. We don't get anything for winning. We get our own personal satisfaction and we get prestige and bragging rights. But we also don't, it doesn't mean all that much. Whereas if I win a school championship, like, NBA or something along those lines, there's like a whole bunch of stuff that you get for that.


Guy Windsor: Yeah. I mean, nobody's making a living off winning historical martial arts tournaments.


Veronica Young: Right, exactly. Like most HEMA tournaments don't have any type of a prize. If they have a prize, it’s like the whole wow, they got a sponsorship for this? This is this is awesome. And so because of that, there's a weird mental shift that has to happen of just like if I'm going to be serious about this, I have to be serious about this hobby. And it kind of has to turn into like your second job almost. Because going into that, it's like, okay, if you're going to be serious about this, if your goal is to win martial arts tournaments, to win gold, then you have to train for that. So you have to do the outside training like weightlifting, and then you have to study videos and stuff and really get into the mindset of it. I interviewed McKenzie Ewing for this and because he was winning every single longsword tournament that he would go to and he was training like weight training, you know, five, six hours a week. He was watching videos of himself fencing, watching videos of other people fencing, like 8 hours a week. There was like a consistent spending a lot of time on it.


Guy Windsor: That's how you win tournaments. That's how serious fencers win tournaments. Yeah, I used to do sport fencing back in the late eighties, early nineties and yeah, serious sport fencers it is a sport and this is a tournament, here are the rules, here are the things that win, and you study how your opponents do things. You come up with game plans against specific opponents and you watch yourself doing things and you figure out where you can improve and what things you should avoid. And you do all the cross-training and all of the jumppa stuff and it is a job if you take it seriously.


Veronica Young: Absolutely. And so between that understanding, like, okay, this is what I have to do to win. Literally this is like proven, this is what you have to do. And so that plus just kind of getting my brain in the right space, getting my goals in the right space of understanding, okay, for the average woman fencer, it takes them about 5 to 6 years to medal. I went through HEMA ratings and went through like all of the top 100 women on HEMA ratings.


Guy Windsor: Okay. You really care about this.


Veronica Young: I do. I do really care. Well, and also, that's what helped me get my brain in order is to do all of the research to understand this is how long it takes realistically for a person to do this. So, if I win a tournament at year two or three, that either is a fluke or I'm just really that good. And so can you keep doing it? And if you go down after that one medal, then that means it was it was a fluke, not necessarily like a bad thing that you didn't have any like thing into, and so that was in April of earlier this year. I got all my brain straight and whatever. And then by June I went to the Southeastern Renaissance Fencing Open in Atlanta and won gold in the women's.


Guy Windsor: Hey, well done.


Veronica Young: After doing all of that.


Guy Windsor: Yeah, sure. Okay. So what were your goals before you got into sports psychology and what are your goals now?


Veronica Young: Sure. So interesting, the goals haven't changed. So my goal has always been to be really good at competitive historical fencing, like just be very good at it and win medals. But my other two goals are to make a positive impact on the HEMA community and like be able to make friends.


Guy Windsor: That’s a good goal.


Veronica Young: So the, the goal of, you know, be competitive in HEMA and in longsword hasn’t changed. But what ended up happening was, is that every single tournament that I would go to, I was putting pressure on myself, you have to win gold this tournament. This one, you have to do it. Versus what I'm doing now, which is in the last tournament, my goals were to win most of my pool fights, win over half of my pool fights and then win one elimination match. And so, okay, I have done those things consistently. And so then the next time I go to a tournament, it'll be win most of my pool fights and win two elimination matches. So the goal is shifted from it's not about winning because winning gold can be subjective depending on the tournament rules sets. Who are the judges, what day it is, how you're feeling, how the other fencer is feeling. And so picking things that are more in your control is much better for your mental state because now you're not trying to literally compete against other people to win a medal. You're competing against yourself.


Guy Windsor: Yeah. My goal when I'm fencing someone is almost invariably I want them to come away saying that is the best fencing match I ever had in my life. Yeah, that's my goal. I mean, and occasionally I've actually managed it, but it's also it's not in my control, right? Because I have no control over their subjective experience of the match. But what I can do is I can give them what I think will lead to the best fencing experience. And whether they hit me or I hit them, I don't actually care. But then I stopped doing tournament stuff about 20 years ago. It was different when I was going into tournaments. Then it was, I’m going to fucking win this thing.


Veronica Young: Yeah, absolutely. No. Yeah. And I love that because it's just like, okay, it's not about winning. It's about having fun. It's about the experience and shifting your brain to something that's either about the experience or competing against yourself, it's a lot more within your control. And so you can walk away saying, okay, I met my goals. I didn't win, but that doesn't matter because only one person could win. And it's a toss-up on whether like people can actually do it. I went to a tournament in Denver this past weekend. Not past weekend, it was like two weeks ago. But I ended up getting silver in the women's because the final fight, based off of the rules, how tired everybody was, and the other person was just a lot better than me. I could have come back from it. But, you know, based off of the time and how like how long we had to do it, I wasn't able to get there. But that wasn't my goal. My goal wasn't winning a medal. My goal wasn't winning goal. My goal was to win two of my elimination fights and I won all of them.


Guy Windsor: Yeah, yeah. Perfect. That's really interesting. Okay, slight left turn. But actually I think quite closely related to the whole sports psychology thing. What are your views on recruiting women and minorities? I get asked this a lot. But then I'm neither woman nor a minority, I mean, my best answer is representation matters. So if you want people to come to your club, who are of a particular type, make sure they see people like themselves in your publicity literature, people like themselves demonstrating, people like themselves taking classes, if possible, that sort of thing. But beyond that, what have you got?


Veronica Young: Yeah. I mean, that's a really big part of it, is being able to see yourself doing it and see that, hey, I can do this. And so a step further is also if you can have a woman or a gender minority, I say underrepresented genders just because it's easier to say. But if you have an underrepresented gender as one of your instructors, I'm one of the assistant instructors at Atlanta, actually, so I'll like help teach classes and everything, but people will walk into a beginners class that I'm teaching and they'll stick around because, hey, a woman is teaching the class, like I could do this. But another big thing that we don't often really talk about is culture and club culture. And so the obvious things are, you know, make sure that the people in your club are being respectful of each other and not asking for their phone number every single time you show up to a class. I went to a club a couple of years ago. I had moved briefly and every time I showed up to the club, I had this one guy like constantly talking to me and asked for my phone number or like to go out on a date. The three or four times that I went and at the last point he gave me his phone number and I'm just like, oh I'm here to fence.


Guy Windsor: Yeah.


Veronica Young: And so those are the obvious ones, but also just being careful about safety. So understanding that having a culture where if somebody is hitting too hard, you can tell them and it's not going to be like a ‘big thing’. Creating like a safe environment for where people can feel comfortable competing or doing a martial art where the impetus to kill each other. But we're training. So we're not trying to hurt people and just creating a good at club culture that is welcoming, inviting to everybody. And so like we Atlanta, we actually have the all-inclusive flag, but it's because it's like the LGBTQ flag, but it also has like trans and like black representation on it with the little triangle, we have that hanging over our door.


Guy Windsor: And that's a pretty strong signal that everyone is welcome.


Veronica Young: Absolutely. And so when I did this talk on how to get more women and underrepresented genders in your club at IGX it was kind of the term of that's a green flag. So I like being able to walk in and see, hey, everybody is welcome. That's a green flag. And like understanding of everybody being respectful of each other. Also at Atlanta, we started a kind of a resource group with inside of our club specifically for underrepresented genders, where we have like a discord channel and in our discord people can ask questions about like gear stuff of just, hey, I'm a woman, I'm tiny, where do I find gear that's going to actually fit me? Or like, how do I do this? Because any standard kind of cis man in HEMA can go on the internet and that question whatever he has, has been answered, because the larger community is mostly geared towards that.


Guy Windsor: If you happen to fit the default, then there are plenty of options.


Veronica Young: Yeah, right. And I think the idea is the best thing to try to do in these circumstances to get more underrepresented genders in your club is to shift away from the idea that a cis man is the default and understanding that everybody's going to have their own experiences, everybody's going to have their own goals in HEMA. So people's goals might not be competing and so being able to foster individual goals. And then also, the biggest one really is training women like fencers and not training them like women fencers.


Guy Windsor: Absolutely. How do you do that?


Veronica Young: Basically, when you're fencing, you are not a gender. Whatever it is, you are not a gender. You are a fencer, you are a person with a sword. And so training everybody as a person with a sword, regardless of what their gender is, is very important because instead of saying, okay, which I have been told this, well, you're a woman, you would be really good at Rapier because that's more technical. Women are better at technical things.


Guy Windsor: Oh, okay. I am just thinking Jessica Finley and her wrestling.


Veronica Young: Yes, exactly. I'm sure she has been told that like something along those lines many a time.


Guy Windsor: But she's a way better wrestler than I'll ever be.


Veronica Young: Oh, yeah. She's outstanding.


Guy Windsor: Yeah. And I had her over to Finland, when I was living in Finland, and she taught a seminar for me on medieval wrestling stuff. And yeah, the students really enjoyed it because she kept throwing me around the place. But for some throws she picked a different person to demonstrate on because I just wasn't good enough and that actually was a really useful object lesson for my students. But also, I've had the experience of, you know, doing throws and whatnot, doing dagger stuff. A male student literally unwilling to throw a woman onto the ground. And sometimes what fixes that is, I come out and the woman gives me the feed for it, and I toss her on the ground a few times. And sometimes that does it. But sometimes the cultural conditioning is so strong, that just doesn't work. And I have to find her a new partner. We are coming up against this sort of, boys are told to not hit girls, which is probably a good thing because boys hit girls too much.


Veronica Young: I mean, nobody should hit anybody.


Guy Windsor: Right. But yeah. But most domestic violence is male on female. Not all, but most. So we have this sort of cultural programming to work against and enabling the blokes in the class to view the women as just fellow martial artists. I've not found a solution for it. I've been looking for one for a decade or so, but it's super hard.


Veronica Young: And yeah, absolutely. And to your point, the stereotypes go in both directions. So, yes, women or men are told like, oh, you're not allowed to hit women or you're not supposed to, that kind of a thing. And women are told you're not allowed to do a physical thing because you're not supposed to, that kind of thing. And so that's another big barrier to entry for a lot of women into the sport is just, you know, my mom's not happy I do this. I think it's mostly because I get hurt occasionally, but it's also just like, do something safer. Like, because, you know, you're delicate. Yeah.


Guy Windsor: Yeah. The powerlifting medallist is delicate, certainly.


Veronica Young: There's a whole thing there. And so a lot of that is really just about creating an environment where everybody feels safe, which is kind of coming back to that, is just creating this environment where everybody feels like a fencer and is able to be able to do things because a lot of the thing about, oh, don't hit a girl is, yes, the moral internally don't hit somebody that's really bad. But it's also, like you said, the social and cultural connotation of don't hit it is just like that cultural backlash of you hit a woman, you're not allowed to do that. And so creating an environment in which you can have those types of conversations, you can have those types of activities where they don't feel like they're going to be attacked or like they're doing something wrong that is really, really helpful. But I think also, when you're training throws and you're training grapples because we do that all the time at Atlanta, we like we'll throw pommels, all that kind of stuff, obviously with the utmost safety. But like we don't say, oh, you can't do this grapple because you're a woman. We'll still train it.


Guy Windsor: Yeah. Although, someone who's good at grappling, has a deep intuitive understanding of how joints work. And so they can grapple safely with someone with non-standard shape joints and maybe with medical conditions around joints and maybe a torn rotator cuff or whatever and things. Women's elbows behave differently, on average, to men's elbows. So there are things you can do to a man's over that you mustn't do to a woman's elbow. And conversely, things that you can do quite happy to a woman’s elbow that you should never do to a man's. But to my mind, if the person applying the lock is taught to feel what's going on, those problems go away because there's more difference between someone who's just had rotator cuff surgery and somebody who hasn't than there is between the average male shoulder and the average female shoulder.


Veronica Young: Yeah. So the two things that we do the first thing is whenever we're doing grapples with the sword, we never put it inside the elbow. We'll either put it on the bicep or we'll put it on the forearm. Because realistically, when we're training, yes, we're training the martial aspect of it. But at least from the way that Meyer teaches a lot of his grapples and stuff, it's about submission. It's not about hurting somebody. It's not about necessarily throwing them. It's ringen am schwert with the sword. But secondly, it's also, I call them more like immutable physical characteristics that can be ascribed to a person. And so, like we mentioned earlier with cis women's or assigned female at birth (AFAB) people's knees and hips are at an angle. And so that's going to be a thing. And so that's an immutable physical characteristic that is going to affect your physicality and how you fence. And so being able to say to everybody, hey, everybody, this is how in fencing your knees could get messed up because your kneecap gets pulled out of alignment because the quad imbalance, but also making sure to if you have like a underrepresented gender only class to make sure you absolutely say that because you're not going to have a bunch of AFAB people in that class, but you're going to have more than you normally would in a regular class and just understanding, okay, well, I'm a shorter person. I'm not short because I'm female, I'm short, because I'm just shorter. And so understanding, okay, I'm not going to be able to do a short edge cut to 6’4” person's head. I did do that one time, and it was my greatest achievement to date. But for the most part as a shorter person, I can't go over, so I'm going to go under. And so as a taller person, you can go over, but it's going to be harder to go under. And so that's not necessarily gender specific.


Guy Windsor: No, that's height specific.


Veronica Young: Yeah, exactly. And so shifting it away from gender stuff to height or to reach.


Guy Windsor: Body characteristics.


Veronica Young: Yeah, exactly. Yeah. Things that are just about you as a person. And so, you know, because you have longer legs you can do bigger lunges that are safer. You could have better footwork or because you have longer arms, your reach is going to be more than people are going to expect. So like being able to play with those types of things.


Guy Windsor: Obviously I do research for these interviews and obviously, very obviously, from the pattern of the questions, perhaps the most useful vein of my research was going to the IGX website and having a look at your class plans. But that bringing us very nicely onto your next IGX class, which was about tactics for smaller fencers. And you know, I am boringly of medium height. I am just under five foot nine. So, you know, I would be tallish for a woman, normalish height for a man. But many of my students are well over six foot two. And many of my students have been well under five foot two. I haven't experienced being massively taller. I haven't experienced being massively shorter, although I did was someone who is six foot eight.


Veronica Young: Yeah. That's pretty tall.


Guy Windsor: It wasn't a problem as I just went for his hands all the time. Because I could reach them.


Veronica Young: Oh yes. Exactly. And so I'm assuming this is what you're getting into.


Guy Windsor: I’m about to ask. How would you summarise your approach on tactics for smaller fencers? Go ahead.


Veronica Young: Yeah. So my class at IGX was about the height differential. So yeah for the most part, unless you're exceptionally of average height like you are, you're always going to be the taller fencer at some point and you're always going to be the shorter fencer unless you are Marianna Lopez, who is like 4’10” or you're Joe Lilly, who is 6’7” or 6’8” or something like that. And so you're always going to be taller or shorter in some aspects. And the class is about understanding what your advantages and disadvantages are in different scenarios. So if you're the shorter fencer and you're against a taller person, you're going to you're not going to go for deep targets nearly as much. Or if you are going to go for a deep target, you have to commit. So a lot of it was about distance. And so Meyer at least, or in Liechtenauer, it comes with Liechtenauer, you have the three kind of timings of a fight, so you have the Zufechten which just like ‘before’. Then you have the Krieg, which is like war, like in it, and then you have the Abzug, which is the get out basically. And so that's really about timing and there's not really one about distance. And so I defined in the class four distances, which I called out of distance, edge of distance, in distance, and like core on core. So I joked that out of distance was ‘fuck around distance’ and core on core was ‘find out distance’. And so when you're fighting a person who is the same height as you, both of those distance calculations are going to be the same for each of you. So when you were at your edge of your distance and I define that as is like you take one passing step and now you're in distance. So that when each of you were at the edge of your distance, you're like a weak, weak kind of tips touching kind of distance that's going to be the same for you. But if I'm fighting somebody who's six two or six three, my edge of distance is in their distance.


Guy Windsor: Easily.


Veronica Young: Yeah. So they can just reach out and touch me, whereas I'm going to have to take a step in to get there. So it was really about, okay, either you're going to stay out of distance more often and go for their hands, like you mentioned, and go for shallower targets, or you get in there.


Guy Windsor: Yeah. Against this six foot eight chap, there was no way I was going to get in there because he had biceps as big as my head and was a really good wrestler. So no, I'm not going to get in there.


Veronica Young: So that's like the mental calculation you do when you see your partner. One of the things that I do the best, which I talked about in the class is you have Abzug, which is like retreating under cover, basically. So basically you're getting out, you're throwing a cut so you can't get hit. But if you're a shorter fencer against a taller person, you have to advance under cover as well. And so typically what I talked about doing is, is like if you're a shorter person, your first cut should be like to their head if you can, but you're throwing it with the expectation of not necessarily attacking, you’re throwing it with the expectation of parrying, because you know that when you go to cut, they're going to go to parry you but their parry can still hit you in the head but your parry, your initial cut won't reach them unless you like jump in.


Guy Windsor: So what you're doing is you're breaking the guard, Fiore would you call that using posta longa to taste the guard, to basically get them out of their guard position? Because if you're both out of measure, you're both safe. But the problem of being shorter than your opponent is there is this zone where they can hit you and you can't hit them. So my view is your job is to get past that zone as quickly as possible. So you have to go in. But you have to go in without basically giving them an opportunity to hit you. That's the trick. And if we look at like all the historical sources have ways of doing that was basically involve getting your opponent's weapon out so you can get control of it.


Veronica Young: Yeah, absolutely. And so it's very similar to like obviously you're doing that same thing. If you're the same height and you're just fighting normally, you're in the Krieg normally. But it's more important if you're the shorter one to be able to do that more effectively so that you do have the opportunity to do something. And then also from the opposite side of things, if you're the taller fencer and you know that the person you're fighting is pretty good, like, you know that they're going to do something along these lines. You know that they're going to try to get you out of your guard. And so now that's where like feints and stuff can come in. If just like, okay,  I'm teasing you to do this and I know you're going to come in and try to advance under cover. So I'm going to get around it.


Guy Windsor: What most tall fencers, in my experience, like to do is as the shorter person gets in, comes in towards their measure, they retreat and they hit you on the retreat or they try to hit you on the retreat. It is irritating. It’s really irritating.


Veronica Young: Yeah, it absolutely is. But then if you're also if you're advancing under cover, that advance under cover, it really just becomes at that point a retreat under cover because like, okay, they're backing up. Okay, you're just get out. Fine, let's reset. Keep going, because they can't back up forever.


Guy Windsor: Yeah, no, I just chase the fucker down.


Veronica Young: Yeah.


Guy Windsor: My view is, get them moving backwards, you keep them moving backwards because if you can control the strikes that they're throwing at you as they're moving backwards, then eventually they run out of ground. And most people that are reasonably well trained can take two or three steps backwards and maintain their structure, but very few can take more than four or five and actually still maintain their fencing structure. So yeah, make the fuckers run away from you, it’s great.


Veronica Young: And so the class is also about footwork too. If you're the smaller fencer, you have to be a lot better at your footwork because you have to be able to move around a lot better. So I mentioned Marianna and Joe Lilly earlier, and so like I said, Marianna is 4’10” or 11 and Joe Lilly is 6’7”. They competed against each other in a single hand weapon tournament in July and Marianna won. Because she is phenomenal at footwork. She teaches footwork classes, she had a really good class on that and she's phenomenal. And so she got in there. He was getting cuts to the hands, cuts the shoulders and everything. And he had no idea. Like, if you watch the video of it, it looks like a mouse taking down an elephant because she comes in every time and will get him on the hand and he just backs into the corner. It doesn't look like he has any idea what to do. He's a good fencer. But it was just so fascinating to watch this happen because she's so good at footwork. She was able to give herself the space to do what she wanted to do.


Guy Windsor: That's fantastic. Excellent. Okay. We should find that fight and stick a link in the show notes.


Veronica Young: Yeah, I know it's recorded somewhere.


Guy Windsor: So. Okay, now I do have to ask, what is Cryptid?


Veronica Young: Sure. Okay. It's a funny story. So this was a hilarious nickname. Design Cryptid was a hilarious nickname given to me by some of my friends because there's that joke going around on the internet of that like meme of this one programmer who signs up for like, gets hired by a company to fix a feature about a website and then quits two weeks later after he fixes it or something along those lines.


Guy Windsor: You obviously move in different parts of the Internet as I didn’t come across this. That's fine.


Veronica Young: But I kind of ended up doing that a little bit. So I worked for Kroger, the food chain, like the grocery store chain, and I worked in their UX department. And so I was the lead designer for their cart and check out services. And so their scheduling service before I got there was terrible. It was like confusing to use and it was not great. So I was at Kroger for 15 months and it ended up being that I ended up fixing the scheduling portion like online, so you get a schedule to pick up your groceries for delivery or whatever. I fixed it and then I quit like a month later. And so it became a running joke in my friend group of oh you're the Design Cryptid, you show up, fix things and then leave.


Guy Windsor: So what does Cryptid itself actually mean?


Veronica Young: Oh it's a term for like a type of monster that is like unseen or unknown, like the Bigfoot or Nessie, the Loch Ness monster.


Guy Windsor: Oh, they’re cryptids. Okay.


Veronica Young: Yeah. So it's like those kind of like mythological figures, but it's not like, you know, like a history mythological kind of thing. It's more of like a common cultural one.


Guy Windsor: Okay, so you've named your, is it a company or organisation?


Veronica Young: Yes, I did start a business. It's Design Cryptid LLC is the actual business, but the doing business as name or like the brand name of the combat wear is Cryptid Combat Wear because one of my friends thought of it, I was like, that kind of rolls off the tongue, I’m going to keep it.


Guy Windsor: It’s great. Okay, so you're like the yeti of historical martial arts equipment. Yeah.


Veronica Young: I’m going to show up, I'm going to fix it and then I’ll leave.


Guy Windsor: Because honestly, people have been looking for the Loch Ness monster for hundreds of years and nobody's found it. And people have been looking for decent chest protectors for women for 100 years and nobody's found it. So actually, this is pretty prophetic. So what are you building and how are you going about it?


Veronica Young: Sure. It came about because like last June in 2021, I got so fed up with my chest protector because I have had one of the PBT chest protectors, but I bought the men's version and then I took it and I've stuck it in the oven at like 400 degrees until the plastic melted and then I put it on my body to form this to it.


Guy Windsor: That must have hurt.


Veronica Young: I put some more towels on, but it was hot. I wouldn't totally recommend it, but it does work. And so it worked a little bit better. But I had to modify it so heavily to get it to just at the bare minimum, not bruise the underside of my biceps whenever I was wearing it. So I was like, wait a second, I'm a designer. I could fix this.


Guy Windsor: Okay.


Veronica Young: And so it took a year and a half of testing to figure out exactly how it would work. But I did a lot of research on historical plate and like armour, like harnessfechten to see how did their chest protectors work. And so the big thing about harness is they're the cuirass, I think is what they're called, is they come in a lot more to allow for you to cross your arms. And so the actual protection of the cuirass comes in a lot further than you think, because they have the pauldrons on the shoulder to cover that gap or they're wearing mail to cover that gap. And so I was like, okay, how do we do that, but with like plastic and foam? So I basically did effectively the same thing where you've got the plastic on the front and then the foam protection underneath protects everything else that's like open. And so because of the way that it's put together, you can cross your arms in it and the foam will push in kind of underneath and around. And when you open back up again, the foam is protecting literally coming from the edge of your shoulder, underneath your armpit and down to your side to protect you from like those thrusts and everything like that. And so between understanding that of how can do a, you know, close handed Ochs and be able to do that in gear. And then also like, okay, the chest protectors that exist on the market are just plastic with elastic straps put together. Can I do this in a better way? So the plastic protector on the front actually attaches with straps, so it comes off and so you can wash the fabric underneath.


Guy Windsor: Shock, horror! You're not supposed to be able to wash your gear. It is supposed to build up this kind of protective fug around it.


Veronica Young: And just show up to tournaments with, like, the sweat stains.


Guy Windsor: Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah.


Veronica Young: I can smell that mental image and I hate it.


Guy Windsor: I know, I know, I know. I have fenced people that you knew when they were attacking because you could smell them coming. Yeah. Not good. Really not good.


Veronica Young: No, absolutely not. But I also for the design looked at military plate carriers. And Bullet-Proof vests to say, okay, how do people put these on quickly? What is the method of attachment? And so basically taking all of that together because basically that's just the modern version of the cuirass. And how does all that work together? And basically creating the Cryptid Combat Wear chest protector.


Guy Windsor: Okay, now I blasted your Indiegogo campaign out to my mailing list last week and I got a question back from a woman who wants to know how you can accommodate for. The industry standard is women with small chests have small breasts and women with large chests have large breasts. How do you handle women with small chests and large breasts or large chests and small breasts? How do you cope with that variation?


Veronica Young: Sure. The short answer is by ignoring it.


Guy Windsor: Okay, how is that going to work?


Veronica Young: When a woman or a person with breasts, doesn’t matter what size they are? It doesn't matter what size their breasts are when they're doing an active sport, you put a sports bra on. You don't have individual boobs when you put a protector on. It's just one curved surface and it's that curved complex surface that causes a lot of issues with the chest protectors and stuff because the male chest protectors are just flat. And so by having the surface of the chest protector curved, but not an individual boob cup, you don't have to worry about different chest sizes because as long as the protector is flexible to fit perfectly on your body, then it doesn't necessarily matter what your chest size is in relation to your body because it's going to fit everybody regardless.


Guy Windsor: So everyone has a circumference around the chest and breasts of a particular length. It will fit that regardless of what the relationship is between sort of chest and breast.


Veronica Young: Yeah, because a chest protector is not a bra. And so that's one of the other reasons why I wanted to build something along these lines is because the women's chest protectors online are just individual boob cups.


Guy Windsor: That’s terrible.


Veronica Young: Yeah, because if you don't fit within that particular size, then it's going to like squish down. It's terrible. Or you're going to get hit in one of those, like, curved surfaces and all the force is going to go into your sternum.


Guy Windsor: Exactly. Yeah. I saw somebody did studies on the fantasy armour for women that has like these separate metal cones or whatever. The thing is, if you have that, then any strike to the breast plate is going to end up smacking into the sternum. All the force is going straight to the sternum and you're going to break it in that way.


Veronica Young: It's much like we were talking about earlier with women and underrepresented genders in HEMA. You are a fencer, you are not your gender. And so I am a fencer that has breasts. So I'm going to accommodate for that. So in particular my chest protector design the straps, like the Velcro on the sides, you can adjust it to exactly what your circumference is and your width is. And then also the straps on the shoulders are adjustable as well. So you can put it on and adjust the shoulder straps so that it fits perfectly to you specifically versus having to get either different sizes or anything. So it's very adjustable to accommodate literally any body type.


Guy Windsor: Okay. So you can adjust in the horizontal plane and you can also adjust in the vertical plane to get this plastic shield in the right place. I have to think that at the extremes of size, you can't quite have a one size fits all, surely?


Veronica Young: No. Yeah. At the absolute extremes of size, it's very, very difficult to do that. And so, you know, that's when you're getting into like having to get custom protection and stuff along those lines. But for the most part, I've got four sizes of this chest protector. And so the smallest size of chest protector will cover a 28 inch chest around like the breast circumference. And then the biggest one covers up to a 60 inch.


Guy Windsor: Wow. That's a pretty big range. That’s an enormous range.


Veronica Young: There's only four sizes. And so I took a look at what the measurements were for the SPES women's jacket to understand what size ranges are those together. And then I also looked at the brand Old Navy’s size chart and the brand Universal Standard and what their size chart was. And I was like, okay, what are the ranges that we can get? And they tried to make sure that I was covering very well all of those ranges because. Yes, and I know it's unfortunate that brands can only cover a certain a certain size and people are bigger or smaller than that. And so accommodating everybody can be difficult. But I'm covering at least more than we are now.


Guy Windsor: Yeah. And it is pretty unlikely, you don't find terribly many women doing historical martial arts who are smaller than that or larger than that.


Veronica Young: No. Yeah, and that's why I looked at the SPES women's jacket specifically because if I'm remembering correctly, the women's group Esfinges actually got a list of all of like women sizes together and sent it to SPES to say please make your jackets in these sizes. Because this is what size we are. And so it's like, okay, this was a very good look at what the industry is and what the industry is doing and who is buying this stuff.


Guy Windsor: Right. Yeah. It sounds like you have got it pretty well thought out.


Veronica Young: One is it’s my degree and two, much like all of my research into sports psychology earlier, I like being thorough.


Guy Windsor: Yeah. And clearly you’re making the product that you want, so you have at least one customer.


Veronica Young: Yeah, so I had four iterations of this chest protector as I went through the process of figuring out like how it would go together and what the construction would be. And so I've actually been wearing the mark three for a year. So if anybody has seen me fence within the last year or so, I'm wearing that chest protector.


Guy Windsor: And I assume you've been hit many times in the chest during that time?


Veronica Young: Oh, absolutely. Absolutely. More so than I would like.


Guy Windsor: And it works?


Veronica Young: Oh, absolutely. And so I've been hit basically everywhere on the chest and it's way more protective than my last one. I have a video that I posted to the website Cryptid Combat Wear and to the Facebook page of my partner like hitting me with a sword with it on and he's not going soft. He's kind of baseball swinging at my chest and nothing.


Guy Windsor: Wow. Fantastic. Okay, so how's the campaign going?


Veronica Young: So far, so good. I think we're at 12% now, if I remember correctly. So we're just over $6,000.


Guy Windsor: Okay. Do you need to hit your target to make it or are you going to do it anyway?


Veronica Young: I'm going to do it anyway. So actually I was going to do it on Kickstarter first, but I switched over to Indiegogo specifically because it has the flexible funding option, meaning whatever money you collect, you get. And so I am very passionate about this. And so I was just like, I need at least a little bit of Start-Up funds, but I can do this regardless. So my goal is $50,000, and that's to cover everything from all of the factoring which I have all the manufacturers lined up already, I have gotten samples from the apparel manufacturers already. So basically as soon as the campaign closes, I'm like going. I already have it together. I don't have to worry about all of that. I've got shipping figured out. So it's not going to be seven years between the campaign closing and this coming out.


Guy Windsor: That’s a reference to gloves, I think.


Veronica Young: Yeah.


Guy Windsor: Okay. All right. Let's not cast shade, however enjoyable that might be. Okay, so when does the campaign end?


Veronica Young: The campaign ends on January 5th anyway, so. 2023. Yeah. This upcoming. So it goes for 60 days and yeah, it doesn't matter if it doesn't make it because any orders that I get I will be fulfilling.


Guy Windsor: All right. But it is better if it does make it because then you also get access to various, basically Indiegogo will start spreading the word for you as well of it. So critically important: how do people find the campaign? Obviously we will put a link in the show notes, but how you will people find the campaign, if they're just going to pull out their phone right now and start typing the link in?


Veronica Young: If they go to Cryptid Combat Wear, the link is on that website, basically the first button that you see when it appears.


Guy Windsor: That’s CRYPTID Combat Wear. Because it's good to spell these things out just in case.


Veronica Young: Yeah, just in case.


Guy Windsor: So Cryptid Combat Wear and you'll find a link there and brilliant, and if you are a person with boobs and you want to do historical martial arts, you should go there and buy it straight away.


Veronica Young: Yes, absolutely. And the other thing I will add to is that in the year and a half that I have that I've been working on this, I have actually tested this with other people. So Marianna Lopez, 4’10”, 4’11”, she wore it and loves it. And I made the medium size for her, the small size for her. And I based it off of the measurements that I have in the size chart that I've posted. It fit her really well and she, like, adores it. But then I also sent it to the women, the people out in Denver who tested it as well, who are all different sizes of person. And so I've gotten a lot of really, really good feedback from them actually.


Guy Windsor: Excellent, I think anyone listening who might be interested should probably be swayed by this point. All right. Okay. And they have to January 5th to support the campaign. Excellent. Okay. So you've done quite a lot in not very much time, but there are a couple of questions I ask all of my guests. And the first is, what is the best idea you haven't acted on yet?


Veronica Young: You know, you sent me this question and I had a really hard time thinking about this because, if you would have asked me this question a year and a half ago, it would have been a chest protector. And if you would have asked me this question six months ago, it would have been to run my own underrepresented genders tournament. But that tournament is happening in March. So I think then, I took my sports psychology class and I think I want to try to write a book on it of specifically about sports psychology for HEMA.


Guy Windsor: Okay, so you're going to write a book on sports psychology, okay, you're going to but you haven't acted on this idea of writing about sports psychology for historical martial arts.


Veronica Young: No, I just with how the class went at IGX and the questions I got from it and just some of like, you know, even asking about talking about it here I realised that it's such an interesting topic that people in HEMA don't really think about and don't really talk about all that often because in addition, which was part of my talk as well is that a lot of us in HEMA, this is like the first physical activity that we've done. Like a lot of us didn't do sports when we were in school. And so when you're in school, you have the opportunity, you're put up against those things about, you know, losing and losing to judges. But you have, conceivably, the support as a child to kind of go through that and understand it, internalise it, and then be better for it, kind of come out stronger for it. But in HEMA, we don't have that support network really all that much. And also we're adults now. And so we come into HEMA with a certain like set of understandings about like how the world works and stuff. And we're not often confronted with the black and white of competing, you either one are you lost. There's no grey area in competing. And so coming up against that as a child is a lot different where you're a little bit more malleable than as an adult. And so all of those factors together make HEMA so fascinating when it comes to sports psychology. And so I've been doing a lot of research to really understand that a lot better.


Guy Windsor: Okay. Are you thinking of writing a book on like the theory of this, or are you writing it more as a training guide to people to get their head in the right place?


Veronica Young: I think definitely more of the latter because I think that's what I'm more equipped to be able to write about. I definitely don't have the training to be able to kind of write about the theory nearly as much. But with my background in design and like all of that kind of stuff, I feel like I have a pretty good understanding about how can I basically write out a, not like a step by step guide, but like a guide of how to understand HEMA as a competitive sport.


Guy Windsor: Historical martial arts, the competition side of it is one small part of the whole. Right? To my mind, the psychological aspect of training is as important, if not even more important in the other areas. Are you going to apply it to that, too?


Veronica Young: Yeah, because training is a really big part of it as well. But then also HEMA, this is another reason why HEMA so fascinating is competition and training in HEMA is just one tiny part of HEMA. Like you have people who solely focus on studying the sources and translating the sources and that is its own section of HEMA, where you can kind of do similar things, you can have similar goals, but, you know, maybe not competition wise. And so there's that section there and then there's just like the social section in its entirety. And you have each of these big areas that kind of intersect.


Guy Windsor: But also most critically, to my mind, it’s the training people in how to kill. There's a massive ethical and psychological area there that, if you're taking the martial side of it seriously, you absolutely have to address the ethics of it and the under what circumstances would it be okay to actually stick my sword through somebody's head?


Veronica Young: Right. And that's when you get into some really deep legal and psychological and philosophical questions is where you really get into a lot of it with that.


Guy Windsor: From a psychological perspective that's where my interest lies. It's a major reason why this is so fascinating for me is because we are dealing with the purpose of these arts is to kill people. And often not in self-defence. Usually not in self-defence. Usually you're killing people because you're a knight or whatever and that's your job or you are a gentleman or touchy person in 17th century Italy and someone has said they didn't like your scarf. And so now you have to murder them.


Veronica Young: Obviously.


Guy Windsor: And getting people to engage with that side of it is actually quite hard because most people come  to fence their friends, which is a pretty good way to spend time. But I think most of the kind of the deeper benefits of the training come in when you take into account this is for killing people. How do we feel about that?


Veronica Young: Yeah. And being able to understand also kind of in training of, yes, martially this is for killing people. But how do you train this so you don't hurt your partner with techniques that are meant to kill. And so a lot of it is about like, can you control yourself when you are doing these? Do you know how these actions work in such a way that, if you were to do it for real, it would you know, it would actually hurt somebody or harm somebody. But knowing how to kind of pull the hit in the way that the technique will still work while also not hurting your partner and really understanding of like pulling apart that intersectionality between that martial art and kind of the sport that it has, I’m not going to say the sport it’s turned into. But like it's you kind of have these two tracks of like the sport and the martial art. What you're talking about is really fascinating because it's like, okay, you've got this martial side of the things where you have this, you have to understand and kind of be okay with the fact that you're learning how to kill people, conceivably. But then you're training that for the sport to compete in.


Guy Windsor: And I don't I don't train that for the sport to complete in.


Veronica Young: No, no. And everybody is different in that way, which is why it's so fascinating.


Guy Windsor: The same fundamental technique can be trained for winning tournaments or fencing your friends, which is different. Or for killing somebody who's trying to kill you. Or who you just want to kill for whatever reason. It is the same physical motion, but the intent behind it is entirely different. And the way you train is different, whether you want to use it to win tournaments, use it to fence your friends or use it to train as if you were going to be trying to kill somebody with it tomorrow. It’s completely different.


Veronica Young: It is completely different. And that brings up an interesting point about the mindset of people when they come to tournaments is you will see people in tournaments who are doing the actions as if they are actually trying to kill you.


Guy Windsor: It’s useful training. I mean, it's very bad behaviour in a tournament but as a martial artist. When I was going to tournament, one of the things I was looking for is people who were absolutely fucking nutcases because I needed to know whether my stuff would work against them.


Veronica Young: Yeah. Because you kind of have to fence them differently if they don't have the correct split in their head between this is a competition and we're studying the martial art. And I have to be especially aware of this because as a woman who competes in open tournaments, I get bullied a lot and unfortunately it ends up happening like once a tournament where like earlier this year I was doing my pool fights in an open tournament and I got ran out of the ring, pushed out of the ring after halt was called. Several seconds after halt was called and he got hit like three or four times on the way in because he was just bull rushing, charging me, and it turned into a he didn't do that to anybody else that he fought. He just did it to me. And then afterwards he tried to explain to me that, oh, no, no, no, I didn't run you out of the ring after halt. That's grappling. That's something in Fiore. Fiore does.


Guy Windsor: Oh, okay. Speaking as a professional Fiorista, I can say that's absolutely bullshit.


Veronica Young: Oh, yeah, I know it's absolute bullshit.


Guy Windsor: Don't judge all Fiore people by that son of a bitch.


Veronica Young: No, absolutely not. No.


Guy Windsor: Pushing people out of the ring is not grappling. Throwing people on the ground and then stabbing them is what Fiore would tell you to do.


Veronica Young: Right. No, exactly. And so that's definitely not what happened. He didn't even get the grapple until after halt was called. And I was like backing up to try to stop him from doing anything. But I mean, I've been thrown in tournaments that you're not supposed to throw people in, like onto concrete, because I'm smaller, because that person is like martial/lizard brain took over. Martial slash lizard brain took over.


Guy Windsor: No, not martial. Because a proper martial artist would understand what's going on. And I don't think it's even lizard brain. I think it's more social dominance stuff. It's like because to some men, it's absolutely humiliating to get hit by a woman in a tournament scenario. So if you do have the temerity to actually fence them in the way you're supposed to, then they have to basically reassert themselves because they are fragile little arseholes.


Veronica Young: Right. And I guess that's maybe kind of the point that I was making earlier is that we train the martial art, we don't train the sport. And so, at least in my club, we don't. We train the martial art and have a very distinct difference between, okay, we are going to learn how to throw a Mortschlag correctly and we are going to do it in a safe way. But we're going to learn it because it's in the book. Like that was, you know, something that's being taught. But with the understanding is you never do this in a tournament like you never do this when you're actually fencing real people because it is dangerous.


Guy Windsor: Yeah. I think that would be an interesting book. And if you want to come back and have a discussion off line or whatever about it, about these aspects of it, feel free when you're in the writing process, because I'm gonna hold you to this. Okay. You are definitely the sort of person that you have an idea, and then you actually act on it.


Veronica Young: Yeah. For better or for worse.


Guy Windsor: Once you're in book writing mode, let me know. And if you wanted to just ask.


Veronica Young: Yeah, please. I really love this, it is part of the reason why I want to write a book on it is because this topic is just so fascinating to talk about because there's so many intersections like even just with this discussion we were talking about, there's so many different things to think about of the mentality of a person and the intent. And it is just fascinating.


Guy Windsor: Yeah. Good. Okay, the last question. Somebody gives you $1,000,000 to spend improving historical martial arts worldwide. And the rules are you can't spend it on your own equipment collection. You can't use it to buy your own swords. You can't use it to pay off your mortgage. It has to be used to improve historical martial arts worldwide. How would you spend it?


Veronica Young: Yeah, that's a really good question. I don't know. I don't know how this answer is going to come across, but realistically, I think I would work to create, not necessarily a governing body for HEMA, but create an organisation where people, much like the International Powerlifting Federation or like modern fencing, they have different. Or like football. American football has like different orgs, and everything. So do something along those lines where groups that wanted to join could. But now you have a governing body to be able to handle safety issues. You have a governing body to help with insurance purposes because right now, for insurance reasons, HEMA is lumped in with Buhurt in the US.


Guy Windsor: Our risk profile is very different.


Veronica Young: It is absolutely very different. But to the insurance company were the same thing. And so insurance.


Guy Windsor: Has a couple of a couple of butthurt fighters on here, Beth Hammer and Dayna Berghan-Whyman, I think it is, so Beth in Seattle and Dayna in New Zealand. So if people aren’t sure what Buhurt is they can check out those episodes. It is a very different prospect to a longsword tournament.


Veronica Young: Yeah. If I remember correctly, I don't know whether this is true or not, but it's definitely the number that's thrown around that in Buhurt one in four people will come out of a match injured.


Guy Windsor: Wow.


Veronica Young: And so with that kind of thing insurance is really expensive. And so having an organisation that could act on behalf of those clubs and say, okay, this is the standard we have, this is the code of conduct to be a part of this and everything. But then also giving the ability of like tournaments that clubs that are smaller, that want to host tournaments, hey, we have this pool of judges that you can pull from so that you don't have to worry about trying to find judges or trying to find like experienced directors or table staff and like setting all of that up just to provide resources for everybody to be able to have that.


Guy Windsor: And also maybe training those judges.


Veronica Young: Yeah, training the judges. And just I mean, we're doing judges’ training actually in our club on Saturday and we're doing practise tournaments to have our judges practise.


Guy Windsor: I would be very much in favour of these judges being paid also.


Veronica Young: Yeah. Paying the judges or like at the very least like making sure that they have the correct training and everything. Because I know sports fencing judges are insane in how good they are and how much they're trained and tested and everything. And I don't think HEMA is there yet.


Guy Windsor: Not even close.


Veronica Young: We should. I aspire to get to there because I think that's really great.


Guy Windsor: And that's a good point. Like, sport fencing has been developing for a couple of hundred years now and the FIE was founded in I think 1913, it is at least 100 years old. And they survived the electrification thing in the fifties and sixties, which is a horrific thing to do. And then sabre got electrified, I think, in the eighties. And so they've been evolving over time and the rules are being applied differently in various ways and whatnot. But they have all of this experience. And winners get Olympic gold medals. Olympic medals. So the rewards for winning are much, much, much higher. Like we were talking about earlier, you can be a professional fencer. So yeah, I think the tournament side of the historical martial arts scene would do well to learn more from the sport fencers I think.


Veronica Young: Well and I even think just the rest of HEMA in general, at least in terms of like having some sort of like an organisation, like a governing organization, would be really great because then you would have resources for underrepresented genders for those clubs. So if you only have a club with ten people in it and you have one woman, let's say, that woman would have all of the resources from that governing body to be able to understand here's everything about this. Here is the gear that you should get. And then also people who are on their own would have a resource like if they don't have a club near them, would have a resource to either start a club on their own or have the books and understanding to be able to kind of get one going.


Guy Windsor: What sort of resources are we talking about?


Veronica Young: Well, understanding of like, okay, here are YouTube videos that you can watch or here is our instructors that we have within our organisation have created YouTube videos about specific topics for people within the organisation to help training and everything. Or just saying, okay, hey, here are the books. Even the books that you can like look at for this. The Art of Combat from Meyer. This is a great one. Or any of Fiore’s books or like Liechtenauer’s books of just what do we recommend in terms of like, here's the books for beginners. Like maybe here's where you should start to get an understanding and then, you know, choose your starter Pokémon effectively of HEMA masters and then also okay if you like liked this maybe you can try this next, or if you like this you can try this next, that kind of thing.


Guy Windsor: You know I've already built that, right?


Veronica Young: Have you? Sorry, I don't. I haven't been in HEMA that long so I don't actually know.


Guy Windsor: It's not a governing body at all, but it is a body of resources organised by interest.


Veronica Young: Oh, that's awesome. I did not know that existed. Is that on your website?


Guy Windsor: Yeah. Swordschool.com. It doesn't go quite as broad as I'm planning to make it. But there's all sorts of stuff like stuff on how to teach, stuff on how to choose a sword even, and books on various topics, beginner stuff, more advanced stuff.


Veronica Young: See, I wish I had known that when I started. Because I'm going to have to be sure I give that resources to everybody that starts and everything because I guess just even knowing about like things like that, like, I didn't know that that existed, that's amazing.


Guy Windsor: Clearly, my advertising is not as good as it should be.


Veronica Young: I mean, also because HEMA is just an interesting thing because I don't even think there's like a HEMA digest like of everything that's happening. You have to find the Facebook group that has the information.


Guy Windsor: But Facebook groups are awful.


Veronica Young: They are terrible.


Guy Windsor: They are a cesspool.


Veronica Young: Yeah. No, it's all terrible and like trying to find like, okay.


Guy Windsor: Okay, sorry to interrupt. I am currently working on the problem of there are lots of people who like swords. Some of them are arseholes. Most of them are not. And Facebook is a cesspool. And YouTube is a cesspool. Basically, anything algorithm driven tends to be a race to the bottom. Now, I have a discord server, which I set up a couple of years ago, basically to help my students keep in touch with each other over lockdown and whatnot, whatever. And the filter there is anyone who's bought one of my books, one of my courses, automatically get sent an invitation. Podcast guests also get invited, so I'll be sending you one in a bit. And so we have a filtration system which keeps out the arseholes. And in the two years that we've been running it, I've never come across anything, even approaching a flame war or somebody being an arsehole. Which is an extraordinary thing to say about any social media. But discord isn't optimal because someone like Michael Chidester goes on and writes this great long thing, going into this incredible depth of detail about some gloss on codex Wallerstein or something super specific and super valuable to that particular niche, but it is now lost in the discord feed. So what I'm planning to do. Tell me what you think. What I'm trying to do is use a service like Mighty Networks, which allow you to create your own, basically mini social media networks.


Veronica Young: Oh, that's cool.


Guy Windsor: Right. And build it initially for my students, my readers and whatnot, because I can filter those more effectively. Have it as a paid service. But with at least one tier that is extremely affordable, like, $2 a month or something.


Veronica Young: Yeah.


Guy Windsor: But that just filters out the bots and it fills out most of the arseholes.


Veronica Young: Yeah. Putting that barrier to entry there.


Guy Windsor: Yeah. Yeah. So that's a little barrier to entry. And of course, for some people $2 is actually a meaningful amount of money. There'll be ways for people to get it for free, but not directly. You have to come through a gatekeeper to get in for free. And then we have a safe space for historical martial arts people, including, people get this idea that I don't like the tournament scene. It is not true. I'm just not part of the tournament scene. Which is a different thing altogether, right? Like places where tournament fencers can go and discuss training tactics. How to organise a tournament and judging and all that sort of stuff. They can have their stuff there. And people who are nerding out about was this in Manuscript hand A or manuscript hand B in this manuscript, you know, and people are nerding out about that over there. And people who are in it really just to collect the swords, but like swinging it around a bit, they can have their equipment and stuff there and sword suppliers and get some sword makers in to put videos up of them bashing hot steel or whatever. So the sword world would have this safe place where all the sword stuff is. You can't just like open the doors immediately because then it lets in all the shite but is that closer to what you had in mind?


Veronica Young: Yeah, I think it's a combination of a lot of these things and I think with more recently the people sort of joining and some of the old guard like kind of pre-COVID and stuff, were starting to put this together. It's a little piecemeal, but I think we're starting to trend in that direction. We're starting to create those types of spaces where everybody is there. Everybody just wants to talk about fun swords. And we're starting to create like okay, well, let's do judging training so that we can actually train our judges versus just people who fight can also judge, kind of thing. But yeah, I think being able to have a lot of those resources set up so somebody doesn't, not to throw shade, but like, so somebody doesn't try to learn sword fighting from Shadowversary on YouTube and then try to come into a real class and then have to inflict that on everybody.


Guy Windsor: Yeah.


Veronica Young: But creating those spaces so that we are creating safe fencers.


Guy Windsor: Yeah. Okay. See, the issue with a governing body is that fencers do not like to be governed.


Veronica Young: You know? Yes.


Guy Windsor: So. But it doesn't have to be a governing body.


Veronica Young: No, it doesn't necessarily have to be a governing body. I guess it's just kind of where my head is at just in general. It's because the big thing about governing bodies, irrespective of fencing, is you are giving something up to get something back. And so I think historically, a lot of the governing bodies that maybe HEMA has tried to put together have not been giving the right incentives back for what people actually want. And so there hasn't been buy in because a lot of people don't see the need for it because they're in such a small area. And so maybe a governing body is it for them. So that's why you wouldn't have one for everybody. It would just be for people who wanted that type of thing.


Guy Windsor: Yeah. How about we sidestep half of the problem and instead of calling it a governing body, just call it an association.


Veronica Young: Sure. There you go. Yeah. Like an association of people who want to have that type of thing. Where you say that you are agreeing to this type of code of conduct, but, you know, you are getting all of these resources, you're getting everything else. You're getting experienced judges. You're getting tournament setup help, tournament running help. You're getting ability to have that kind of what you're talking about creating, that kind of like kind of managed social network for fencers. You're getting those types of things for that. And I think that's just kind of where my head is at with a lot of this stuff especially with, I mean I'm obviously very much a tournament fencer. I have turned into a jock and I don’t how that happened. And so I'm very into the training and everything. And so I read some of the sources, but I don't dig into it as much as others. And so that's a lot of where my head is at is because that's the world that I live in.


Guy Windsor: Yeah. The interesting thing is things are lost at either end of the extremes. Like a pure tournament fencer lacks the context and the historicity and the depth and the breadth of the historical martial art. Because there's only a very small subset of historical martial art technique that is appropriate to use in tournaments or would even work in tournaments.


Veronica Young: I would say it's like 60%. 60 to 70%.


Guy Windsor: Not even close. Absolutely not. Let me explain. Because most tournaments don't allow, even if would technically work, most tournaments don't allow pommel strikes, throws, joint locks, those kinds of things, which are absolutely fundamental to any medieval martial art. So there's that. So tournaments don’t allow it. And you mentioned yourself, the Mortschlag is just too dangerous to use against somebody wearing a fencing mask, right? But also, let's say we're doing armoured combat. I should lift your visor and stab you in the face or I should wiggle my point into your armpit. We don't do that. That's not safe, it's bad behaviour, it's just not appropriate. Because the techniques that you would use to kill somebody in a fight are different to the techniques you would use to fence your friends, they just have to be.


Veronica Young: Yes, and. So when you're talking about a Mortschlag you're talking about lifting somebody's visor up to stab them in their face. Yeah, 100% agree. But when we're talking about pommel strikes, I feel like at least you have to know how to train them safe. You have to train them safely, but you have to train them at full speed to know how to be safe. So, yeah, I guess what I'm saying is


Guy Windsor: Most tournaments don't allow them. There you go. So you can’t use it.


Veronica Young: Yeah. Okay. Yeah. I don't necessarily I don't necessarily agree with that. But also I totally get it because a lot of people like. I can't imagine trying to have a pommel strike against like a buffalo trying to run at me and oh, hey, you're smaller than me, I'm going to pommel you in the head. But yeah, we got off on a tangent, but. Yeah, I don't know. At least from where I come from, from Meyer, most of the techniques, at least in the longsword section, are viable for tournament stuff.


Guy Windsor: Meyer is a tiny, tiny section of the whole historical martial arts.


Veronica Young: I told you, I'm a jock. I one thing and I do it okay, but I do one thing.


Guy Windsor: Okay. But to complete my thought, at the other end where you have people who are just really into the historical side of things and they want to get everything exactly like the books or whatever, if they don't have any tournament experience there are all sorts of things that they don't have the opportunity to learn, which would deeply inform their interpretation process.


Veronica Young: Oh yeah. I million percent agree. 100%.


Guy Windsor: Yeah. So my point is just that either extreme stuff is lost and so it’s useful even if let's say the person has no interest in actually fencing tournaments really, as a martial artist at some point in their career, they should spend a couple of years going to tournaments because they'll learn stuff that will be useful then for the rest of their career. And likewise, honestly, I look at the tournament scene as that kind of like a fishing net for historical martial arts because a lot of people come into it because they think in terms of sports and tournaments. And that makes sense. And so that's how they find us and that's where they start. But then they filter through and find the historical stuff, and that's actually their jam. And off they go. So I'm very much of the opinion that at either extreme stuff is lost, but hopefully at some point in your 40 year historical martial arts career, mind you, you started very young, maybe 50 year martial arts career, there will probably come a period where you get sucked into the sources.


Veronica Young: Oh, absolutely. I know it's coming. It's already started to happen a little bit because I know when it first started, it was just I'm just going to go to classes, I'm just going to learn how to do this. But then, as I started to get more into it, obviously it became like a core part of my identity. I started to get into like, okay, I need to learn how to read this and say, okay, how is he actually describing this? What are the thought processes behind at least Meyer specifically? And I know that eventually it'll get to the point where like, okay, I've done Meyer, what are other sources that I could work on, that kind of thing? Yeah, but I absolutely agree with you. At one end, you lose the why, and the other end you lose the how.


Guy Windsor: That's a very good way to put it, an excellent place to finish. But just before we do need to remind people to go by your chest protective thing.


Veronica Young: Yes. Supporting the Indiegogo is great.


Guy Windsor: So cryptidcombatwear.com. You can find the links there. Well, thanks so much for joining me today, Veronica. It has been lovely to meet you.


Veronica Young: Yeah, thank you. This was awesome, thank you so much for having me. I really appreciate it.


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