Nike Tiempo in a HEMA context

Reviewed by Luke.

The Nike Tiempo Academy is a lightweight sporting shoe marketed at Indoor Soccer players. It features a soft leather upper, cushioned insole, and a multidirectional grip for indoor court flooring. Indoor soccer shoes generally support quick, precise, and dextrous footwork, and the Tiempo is no exception.

Footwork in HEMA is a combination of toe-strike and heel-strike steps, with lateral and pivoting movements mixed in. The Tiempo delivers good (but not excessive) grip, sufficient insole padding and heel support, and superior lateral support compared to other thin-soled shoes. The Tiempos are on the lighter side of the spectrum, weighing ~270g, compared to the Merrell Trail Glove (Trail running) at ~220g, Asics Gel-Rocket (Volleyball) at ~315g, and Adidas D’Artagnan (Fencing) at ~490g. Every gram on the shoe is well-considered, as the leather uppers on the Tiempo provide more lateral stability than fabric uppers on lighter shoes like Merrell Trails, and the padding (while more subject to personal preference) is quite welcome. Even so, the thinner soles may require some getting used to. Those coming from a more padded cross-training or running shoe will find that you need to be more mindful in a toe-strike gait, especially when moving quickly. Correct lacing for your foot shape is a requirement to achieve solid foot-lockdown but resources for lacing patterns are plentiful online. Arch support is also minimal, in line with most other thin-soled shoes, but not as absent as in barefoot-style footwear.

The current iteration of this boot (Tiempo 9) is at the time of writing retailing for AUD$120 for the Academy version (don’t buy the Club) which is the only tier featuring Indoor Court soles. They are generally rated to last one season (18 weeks) but my current pair is still in good condition after 18 months of semi-regular use (1-2 training sessions per week). Two colorways are available on the official store (Space Purple/White and Metallic Copper/Photon Dust/White) though as with any soccer boot there are many limited runs of various colours and older series can be found on retailers’ websites for significant discounts.

In summary, Indoor soccer boots in general and the Nike Tiempo series specifically are suitable for HEMA on an indoor court surface and can provide distinct advantages over other alternatives.

Pike Armory Black Cayman

Reviewed by Lee.

My Black Cayman federschwert from Pike Armory was my first ever HEMA-related purchase, and it’s seen much use in the two years that I’ve had it. This is a sword that’s well loved in our club, and for good reason.

We’ll start with the specs, and I’ll preface this review with the note that since my Cayman is almost two years old, the measurements are a bit different to the ones currently advertised on the website.

  • Blade Length    
    • Mine: 102.5 cm
    • Advertised: 101 cm
  • Total Length    
    • Mine: 134.5 cm
    • Advertised: 131 - 134 cm
  • Weight    
    • Mine: 1550 g
    • Advertised: ~ 1460 g
  • PoB    
    • Mine: ~ 7.5 cm
    • Advertised: ~ 9 cm

The pros
If I had to use one word to describe the Black Cayman, it would be "solid". It’s well balanced and nice to handle, weighty and stiff enough to cut and block comfortably—though still flexy enough to feel safe thrusting. Its weight also gives it a strong ‘presence’ in the bind, and as a result I’ve gained a preference for techniques like duplieren and zucken that allow me to stay there rather than cutting around.

After nearly two years of continuous use, the quality has really held up. I rarely have to file the edges, have yet to need to replace the grip and none of the hardware has come loose. You can buy replacement blades and pommels from Pike but I doubt you’ll need them - I suspect this feder will last a long time.

I love how it looks aesthetically; the only thing that really shows much sign of wear is the blued pommel and quillons, but just what you get from blued hardware. The shape of the schilt tends to deflect cuts really well, though others in the club have made the criticism that it’s too small and their hands will get hit a lot in a thumb grip. I’ve never had this issue myself though.

The cons
That all being said, while the Cayman is fine all round—there aren’t any obvious weaknesses in its performance - there’s no particular area in which it really excels above other feders I’ve used. It’s not that nimble, and I often find myself unable to keep up with many of my opponents in the Krieg, when I go to cut around or use other techniques once in the bind.

My problems wielding the Black Cayman are certainly exacerbated by me being a wee 5’3 (my sword tip has hit the ground unintentionally many, many times); other, taller club members would likely disagree with my criticism, and if you’re bigger and stronger than I am, this may be the perfect feder for you.

The order process
I’m glad that Pike has a proper website now - though payment does feel a little sketchy via direct bank transfer to Russia. My satisfaction with the Black Cayman was enough to make me pull the trigger on an arming sword and their Sidesword No.2 earlier this year as part of a group order with a few other club members, which I may review in the future. We ended up ordering five swords and two daggers in April, one being custom. Our order was completed in early September and we received it mid-October; overall, not a bad time frame. The Pike team were a little cagey (for obvious reasons) about the shipping situation, but were otherwise transparent, helpful and pleasant whenever I had queries.

The bottom line
Would I recommend the Black Cayman feder? Yes.
Well, maybe not if you’re looking for something with a lot of finesse. I think they’re well worth the price, and if you’re looking for a good all-purpose feder that will last, the Black Cayman is an option worth considering.

Krieger Historical Weapons messer

Reviewed by Jim.

This striking little piece was provided for review by Krieger Historical Weapons. I’ve used it for a few months now, in both drilling and sparring situations, as well as handing it around to some of my fellow fighters to get their opinions on it. In short; it’s a very interesting value proposition and a well-positioned training tool for those looking for a more durable, affordable, industrial training sword. Let’s get down to some details:
  • Weight: 745 g (1,53 lb)
  • Length: 900mm (35,43”)
  • POB: 13 cm (5,12”)
  • Blade geometry: Flat bar, like a feder - folded tip
My initial impression of this messer was that it felt great to use. It’s light and fast, but still has reasonable bind presence. It’s capable of cutting around deftly and can be accelerated significantly, thanks to the handle shape (more on this later). It performed well against other messers, arming swords, and sabres (though with a significant reach disadvantage), and could be used equally as well with a buckler or without.

Things I didn’t like about this blade
  1. The blade geometry is very basic
    No distal taper, which means the bend profile isn’t great (bends across the whole length, not just in the top third)
    Corners of the blade are around 90deg, meaning they have a tendency to wear a bit faster and cause more pain than if they were rounded like so many ‘feder-style’ blades
  2. The durability of the furniture
    Or more accurately, its fitting. The crossguard became quite loose after only a few bouts and there is now significant rattle & play.

Things I like about this blade
  1. Performance is great, handling is great
  2. No frills utilitarian design appeals to me
  3. Durability is great, except for the loosening of the crossguard
  4. Price: 185 euro. Great value proposition for an entry level, utilitarian training tool
There is however one caveat… this blade hits deceptively hard. Having been on both the giving and receiving ends of this blade as it was passed around for review, I can safely say it hits harder than you would expect. I think this has to do with the balance, weight, and handle geometry; the downward curve of the base of the handle lets you accelerate the blade considerably. This is something to be aware of when sparring with this blade.

Would I recommend it?
At this point it’s a hard sell. While it has some great specs, a good price, and is great to use, the looseness of the crossguard after only a short time is a slight concern. This isn’t a huge problem as you can shim the furniture to stop/reduce the rattle, but definitely something to keep in mind. I think I would recommend it with two caveats; buy it as long as you don’t mind addressing a loose crossguard, and with the awareness that it has the tendency to sting.

I’m excited to see what Krieger comes out with in the future!