Category Archives: Event

We Have Two New Armizare Free Scholars!

The Guild’s newest Free Scholars: Nicole Allen and Jacques Marcotte.

Neither rain, nor sleet, nor snow (lots and lots and lots of snow) could stop this past weekend’s Free Scholar Prize Play!

As discussed elsewhere, the Guild uses a ranking system traceable to the fencing schools of the late 15th and 16th centuries. In the English tradition the grade of free scholar denoted a senior student who had grasped enough of the basics to move on to more advanced training. An analogy can be found in the modern academic system, with a scholar being equivalent to an undergraduate, and a free scholar similar to a graduate student. (Those familiar with modern Asian arts might it similar to a 1st degree black-belt: a recognition of embodying the fundamentals of the art, being able to apply it across the system, and therefore having the tools to take a truly deep dive onto the path to mastery.)

Nicole Allen and Jacques Marcotte are two long-time Guild members. Nicole joined the CSG only a few months after its founding in January 1999, played her Armizare Scholar’s Prize in 2001 and is part of the first group of students to become double scholars (Armizare and Renaissance Swordplay). Jacques joined several years later, and has been an assistant instructor for many years, teaching the Saturday morning Taste of the Knightly Arts class since time immemorial (or 2009). Consequently, they are vibrant, integral parts of the CSG family, and this made their at testing for Free Scholar all the more a cause of celebration.

PREPARATION, or, IT’S MORE THAN JUST FIGHTING

By Guild custom, students must spend at least three years at the Scholar rank before progressing to Free Scholar, although in practice it has taken twice that time or longer. In part, this is because, prior to opening of Forteza Fitness, and with it, the implementation of multiple training days, it was impossible for students to get in enough training time “on the mat”. Additionally, the Scholar curriculum is extensive, comprised of the entirety of Fiore dei Liberi’s dagger curriculum for use out of armour, longsword at wide play, elements of longsword and close play, arming sword and spear. Each of these components has its own written, skills and sparring exams, and students must pass all of them, a number of reading assignments, and complete a scholar project before being allowed to take their comprehensive written and skills exams.

Nicole’s project involves an annotated copy of the Getty Manuscript, designed to show visual interconnectedness of the sword and dagger, interwoven with student’s training notes. Whereas her project involves assisting the student, Jacques turned his attention to the teacher, creating a teaching guide of tips, traps and suggestions for new instructors teaching the introductory longsword course, as a companion to the  curriculum outline. (Both projects are in final revision, after which they will be made available to Guild members.)

THE PRIZE, or, NOW WE FIGHT!

One of the most important steps in the progression from the grade of scholar to master is the concept of prize playing.  Having passed all internal examinations,  the student to submit a challenge for a public prize playing (free fencing exhibition), for the grade being tested for. The Prize is fought in two parts:

  1. Three, four-minute rounds with each of three weapons: longsword, arming sword and spear.
  2. The Ordeal, in which the prizor holds the field against all Guild Scholars who wish to challenge them to three blows with the sword.

At the CSG we have always invited one or more outside challengers to help test the prizors’ skill at arms. This past weekend, we were joined by Mr James Reilly, chief instructor of the Wisconsin Historical Fencing Association’s Kenosha branch, and Mr. Christian Cameron of Hoplologia in Toronto, Ontario. Joining CSG Free Scholars Davis Vader and Erin Fitzgerald, together they provided the timed rounds of the Prize.

We are still processing and uploading video, but we have pulled a few sample fights to share right away:

Spear: Nicole vs. Erin

Spear: Jacques vs. Davis

Spear: Nicole vs. James

Sword in One Hand: Jacques and Davis

Longsword: Jacques and James

Longsword: Nicole and Erin

Longsword: Jacques and Christian

SWEARING THE OATH

Swearing the Free Scholar’s Oath after receiving the Gold Garter, the grade’s symbol of rank.

Ceremony and ritual was a large part of medieval and Renaissance life, and although our Guild is a modern one, we seek to connect to the spirit of those who have gone before through both the Prize and the ceremony by which our Scholars, Free Scholars and Provost are invested in their rank. The investiture ceremony involves a lesson on the symbolism of Fiore’s four animals, a charge with new responsibilities and duties, the bestowing of gold garters, and finally, a swearing of the Free Scholar’s Oath, adapted for modern use from those of the old London Company of Maisters.

Much of the modern world has lost the sense of ritual and its purpose: to initiate. At its heart, the Prize is an ordeal: both in preparing for the exams, and then facing your peers (or those whom you wished to be acknowledged as a peer) and your fears in front of friends and loved ones. It’s an ordeal that also brings student and teacher, prizor and challenger, together in a unique bond that is revealed to be both ordeal and celebration; a symbolic reflection of how we travel the road to mastery of both the art and ourselves alone, yet succeed through the presence and support of our community.

Speaking of that community we are all extremely proud of Jacques and Nicole both for the hard work training, testing and fighting, but also for the long years of service and support they have shown their Guild family, marrying the chivalric virtue of prowess with that of largesse. A hearty and heart-felt congratulations to them both!

Announcing a Play of the Prize for the Grades of Provost and Free-Scholar

We are pleased to announce there will be a playing of the prize for the grade of Laureato d’Armizare (Free Scholar of the Art of Arms) and Rettore d’Armizare (Provost), this upcoming Saturday (February 10, 2018), at the Sala d’Arme Forteza, in Chicago.

This will mark a huge occasion for the Chicago Swordplay Guild as this will also mark the creation of both our first Armizare Provost, and the first to be created under the auspices and procedures set out by the International Armizare Society. The candidate, Jesse Kulla, has also been with us since virtually the beginning, and over the years has developed quite a reputation in the local, regional and national HEMA community. (We will be posting a full overview of the process, with video from the various examinations and Prize, in the next week or so.)

In addition, the day marks our third Armizare Free Scholar Prize since the Guild’s inception, the candidates are long-time Guilders. Nicole Allen of Revival Clothing and Historica fame, has been with the Guild since shortly after its founding in 1999, and Jacques Marcotte has been one of our Taster Class instructors for nearly a decade.


Please join us in wishing Jesse, Nicole and Jacques the best of luck in the upcoming ordeal!

MidWinter Armizare 2018 After Action Review

CSG’s Ben Horwitz (Black) and Keith Stratten (Blue) trade blows at last weekend’s MidWinter Armizare Open – Photo courtesy Kevin Thomas

MidWinter Armizare II — This Time with Daggers, our annual contribution to the Midwest Historic Fencing League’s competition circuit is over, and I have to thank everyone involved.

Last year’s event was fun, but a bit chaotic with some snafus. Our principle goals this year were to: 1) streamline the process and 2) Improve judging. I am confident we achieved both of those, although as we all know, improving judging is a perpetual process.

Rationale

There can be only one! CSG’s Robert Salud (Green) delivers a passata sotto to Guildbrother Thayne Alexander in the One-Handed Sword Tournament.

Tournaments are not a big part of what we do at the CSG, far less than many HEMA schools, but I *do* think that developing martial artists need a chance to test themselves against people from outside their school, outside their art. I *don’t* think tournament fighting is any more “real” or reflective of “combat” than any other fencing, in fact some ways less so. (People wear a lot of safety gear and their adrenal reflex is to be more *aggressive*, rather than more *cautious* as you immediately become when faced with sharp weapons.) But it provides a way to learn to manage adrenaline, resist temptation to play the rules, face other styles, and to learn how to use art to defeat “il uomo bestiale” the so-called “untutored fencer” of whom many fencing masters warn.

Put another way, martial artists love to complain about bad sports fighting, and for good reason — combat sports really do often encourage certain gimmicks or actions that are best suited for a ring.

Here’s an example. CSG’s Ben Horwitz fought his first tournament this past weekend, and was able to win his pool fairly easily against some very good combatants. I am SUPER PROUD of him. But although he wins the below fight fairly definitively in score, it wasn’t his  best match martially.

Note the move that Ben pulls off at time-stamp 1:55. He manages to duck under Keith’s defense and take a lowline cut. But Keith’s sword is hovering over his head. Sword’s aren’t disintegration rays: unless the man’s arms or head fall off, there is no guarrantee that ANY blow is immediately disabling. Here, the hit scores, and the fight stops. In a real fight, there’s a very good chance that Keith gets his legs slashed and spends time learning to walk with a limp (if infection doesn’t kill him), but first cuts Ben’s head clean off.)

Different groups take these issues into account in different ways. In developing the MidWinter rules (based on those we have used at various events in the past, such as Viva L’Italia and the Western Martial Arts Workshop) I chose to use the following assumptions:

  1. Real combat is ugly;
  2. You can’t legislate pretty fencing, but you can design rules the courage good tactics;
  3. Good tactics will lead to prettier fencing anyway;
  4. Six hundred years of European fencing masters say the goal is to hit without being hit, so any rule-set should reward never losing a pass, and punish double-hits ruthlessly.
  5. If the rules take more than one sheet of paper to write out, there are too many of them!

The Rules

Combatants will be divided into  pools, fought under the below conditions, with an award to the overall victor.

Tournament One: Single-Handed Sword
Due to the diversity of single-handed sword styles (and scarcity of focused exponents of the same) , this will be a mixed-weapon tournament with the following, permissible weapons:

  • Medieval arming-sword;
  • Messer;
  • Side-sword;
  • Rapier (max blade length 45″);

Note: Sabers, backswords, broadswords, smallswords, etc are not permitted. (We love them, too, but we’re keeping this to fencing styles c. 1600 and earlier.)

Tournament Two: Longsword
Longsword’s have a maximum length of 130 cm, minimum weight of 1450 g.

The Winter King
As a culmination of the event, the victors of the two tournaments shall fight a mixed-weapons bout using the previously denoted scoring conventions, with the victor to be declared the winner of the overall tournament

Nic Cabrera lands a decisive thrust, although the Judges look oddly unimpressed…. – Photo courtesy Kevin Thomas

 CONVENTIONS OF COMBAT
With the Sword

  • Each bout is fought to a total of five landed blows;
  • The entire body is a target;
  • For our purposes a “blow” constitutes any “fight-ending action”:
    • a solid cut with the edge, thrust, disarm or throw;
    • a pommel strike to the center of the face;
    • a thrust to the center-of-mass with the dagger.
  • Incidental blows, light touches, flicks or hits rather than cuts, punches and open-handed strikes that do not end in a throw or lock, etc will not be scored.

With the Dagger
Combatant may carry a dagger on their belt in the longsword tournament, and switch to its use as they see fit.

  • Daggers may only strike with the point.
  • If a dagger hit is scored, combatants may, after the halt, switch back to their sword.

Grappling

Jesse Kulla takes his hapless victim for the “big ride”. Photo courtesy Kevin Thomas
  • Grapples that end in a throw with party dominant will score a point.
  • Grapples lasting more than 5 seconds or deemed to be dangerous will be halted by the judges;
  • Grapples that go to the ground with no one dominant will be halted.

SCORING
Once a fight is concluded, the combatants will report their scores to the list-table. Fights are scored as follows:

  • Overall Victor receives 2 pts;
  • If the Victor was not struck he or she receives 1 pt additional;
  • The person who scored the first blow receives 1 pt;
  • If there were any double hits during the match, both parties lose 1 pt.
  • Therefore, in any match a combatant could score between 4 and -1 points.

These rules are not meant to be “realistic”, simply to prioritize drawing first blood and avoiding being hit and, most especially double-hits. No matter how many double hits, for the sake of simplicity, only 1 pt is lost. However, additional double hits are not refought, so if you rack up too many double-hits, the victory in that match is going to go with who scored the first blow, and your overall score is going to go down!

ADVANCEMENT
There are two ways to advance to the final round of four combatants – by Score or by Accolade.

Score
After the Pool Round ends, total scores for each will be totaled, and the combatant with the highest score from each pool will move to the finals. (If two or person tie, then the person with the highest total of first blood scores will advance. If there is still a tie, the combatant with the most “never hit” scores will advance.)

Accolade
The list will be “balanced” to an even number by adding a combatant chosen by the other combatants. If the list is already balanced, the Advancement by Acclaim will not be needed.  (This wasn’t needed this year)

FINAL ROUND
Once the Finalist are assembled, they shall fight with the prior scoring conventions in a simple single elimination tree. (NB: In the event of a small final list (four or less), the finals may be fought as a pool at the judge’s discretion.

The Results

Photo courtesy Kevin Thomas

The tournament victors were:

Thomas Niebor — MidWinter King and 1 H Sword

Jesse Kulla — Longsword

Video of the final can be seen here:

https://www.facebook.com/msgellar/videos/10156148388732392/

Although there is no formal prize for second or third place at this event (the guy who comes in #2 in a swordfight is usually called “a corpse” not a silver medalist), the top three competitors in the tournaments were all excellent, and the #2’s could easily have been 1st place. So I would like to congratulate:

Longsword
2nd Place – Adam Franti (with some of the cleanest fencing of the day in both events)
3rd Place – Cameron Metcalf (with the second highest average score of the entire tournament)

One-Handed Sword
2nd Place – Scott Scooter Jeffers (with the HIGHEST average score of the tournament)
3rd Place – Robert Salud

After Sam Street of the Wisconsin Historical Fencing Association pitched a shut-out, winning all three events last year, this year’s tournament was dominated by Guild members and swordsmen from the Michigan diaspora, holding seven of the final eight spots between them in 1H sword and six in longsword. (Sam had to go and mess up the clean sweep!) The pool victors were:

One-Handed Sword Final 8

  1. Lars Olesen (Minnesota)
  2. Scott Jeffers (CSG)
  3. Robbie Salud (CSG)
  4. Nic Cabrera (CSG)
  5. Thayne Alexander (CSG)
  6. Zeke Talmage (Tri-Blade Fencing Academy)
  7. Sam Brian (??? — I just realized I know Sam, but not where he is from!)
  8. Thomas Niebor (Michigan)

Longsword Final 8

  1. Jesse Kulla (CSG)
  2. Ben Horowitz (CSG)
  3. Adam Franti (Lansing Longsword Guild)
  4. Cameron Metcalf (LLG)
  5. Thayne Alexander (CSG)
  6. Sam Street (WHFA)
  7. Thomas Niebor (Michigan)
  8. Lars Oleson (Minnesota)

Analysis

The fencing on a whole was like all fencing: some amazingly good, some…er….and a lot of bouts that combined moments of brilliance with moments of adrenal reflexes or choking under pressure. That’s how these things go, so let’s focus on the good!

1. Fencers all had a good spirit of friendship and conviviality combined with good sportsmanship. People routinely declined points or called hits when the judges missed something, or if they just felt their hit was ugly or sloppy. This even happened twice in the longsword *finals.* In a perfect world, a judge would never miss anything, but we live in the real world, and I think the one good thing about any errors was that it gave the combatants to show their own character. The following, IMO, shows this in an exemplary fashion:

CSG’s Jesse Kulla and Adam Franti of Lansing Longsword Guild fought a real nice bout for the longsword final. Although their being tired after 6 hrs of fighting meant that there were several double hits, it wasn’t because of stupid choices, it was because of either slowed reflexes, or failing to close a line sufficiently to prevent a counterattack. The best part, however, is that these two gentlemen showed why, IMO, a combatant should always get to call a blow to his own detriment. Our judges blow an early call that would give Jesse the victory. I was pretty sure it was a double hit, but my judges were all in agreement, so I was reticent to second guess them.  But Jesse and Adam thought it was a double hit too, and Jesse declined the victory. Next pass, similar issue but reversed roles and before I could make the call, Adam declined the point, and we tried it a third time.  Yes, each man gave up his chance to end the fight there and claim victory — those are the character tests competition can give, far more than they test “if you can bring the heat” (whatever the hell that even means in a pretend fight).


(Video courtesy Zeke Talmage)

Here is the fight from a second angle, which also shows what an “adventure” judging can be:

https://www.facebook.com/msgellar/videos/10156148178347392/

2. Although Scott Jeffers and Robert Salud are both CSG members, I think I can say with (minimal) bias that their sidesword bout was one of the most dynamic, prettiest and historically correct of the day. But you be the judge:

(Video Courtesy Zeke Talmage)

3. I always enjoy seeing my friends Adam Franti, Keith Stratten, Josias Arcadia and Zeke Talmage fence. I was super happy to be directing their pools, and in longsword to have almost all of them all in the same pool, with my student Benjamin Horwitz, who did some of his best fencing (after I informed him I had registered him for the tournament, whether he liked it or not). I really enjoyed their pool and the fencing they displayed.

4. Additional kudos to Adam and Keith, who brought proper steel dussacks (Keith’s was barely bigger than a bowie knife) to the 1 H tournament and used them to great affect and with great form, despite knowing they were giving themselves a huge disadvantage against some of the very long, very thin bladed rapiers a few combatants were carrying.

(Video Courtesy Lansing Longsword Guild)

5. Lars Olson was a fantastic in the 1 H sword list, and it was great finding out their is an armizare practitioner, not affiliated with the CSG/Milwaukee in the Midwest.

Of course, as I directed just over a third of the fights, I also missed seeing a bunch of them. I really wanted to see the Sam Street (who won all three events last year), Jesse Kulla rematch, but it was not to be. In fact, I never got to see any of Sam’s fights, and only saw Jesse fight in the finals. Ah well, it’s not about me.

Acknowledgments

Finally, I would like to call out and thank our team:

Kaethe Doherty who wrangled the pools, created the trees and basically did all of the ugly back-end stuff before the event, and then made changes on the fly at the speed of light as we added and dropped people. Their work made the day run far more smoothly than last year. You are a rock-star.

James Reilly, John O’Meara and Rob Rotherfoord directed, and James is functionally my chief lieutenant for the day of the event.

Alex Moe and Joseph Doherty were score-keepers, and were fantastic at it, Alex not least because we drafted him on Saturday morning.

Libby Beyreis, Robine Asamar, Heather Hilchey, Nic James Cabrera, Victor Allen Bayona, Rebecca Smith Cruz, Summer Sparacin, Alexander Shekleton, Andrew Morris, Robert Salud, Ben Horwitz and Jesse Kulla who all judged, a couple of them after being pressed into service.

Alisha Workman, Jess Johnson and Dante Guinazzo who were the event “gophers”. That might not sound like an illustrious job, but GOD it helped having them!

Thanks to Nicole Allen who donated one of her products from SwordGeek Boutique (which launches as an Indiegogo Thursday, but you can get a sneak peak now) as a tournament prize.

Finally, every combatant I didn’t mention — everyone who attends and does so with a good spirit and gives their utmost makes the event.

We’ll do some after action review, continue spending time each CSG FightNight training judges, and hopefully be better in 2019!

L’Arte delle Armi: A Bolognese University of Arms for the Complete Renaissance Swordsman

(Or,   A Night at the Opera Nova)

September 21 – 23, 2018

The Chicago Swordplay Guild and the DeKoven Foundation present an event celebrating one of the great fencing traditions of Renaissance Italy!

Located at the picturesque DeKoven Center, home to the Western Martial Arts Workshop, the conference is a retreat with attendance limited to the 70 students that DeKoven can host. Your registration fee  includes ALL classes, meals and lodging onsite at the beautiful DeKoeven campus.

This is a unique event and a unique opportunity to train in a private environment with some of the finest modern teachers of the Art of Defense. Act now, because attendance is limited to the 70 folks we can house on site, paces will go fast. We look forward to crossing swords with you!

Instructors:

We are pleased to bring an international cast of renowned instructors including:

  • Devon Boorman, Academie Duello (Canada)
  • Moreno dei Ricci, Guardia di Croce (Italy)
  • Jacopo Penso, La delle Arme (Italy)
  • Ken Harding, St. Louis School of Arms
  • Greg Mele, Chicago Swordplay Guild (USA)
  • Robert Rutherfoord, Chicago Swordplay Guild (USA)
  • Christian Cameron, Hoplologia (Canada)

Classes will include spada solo (sword alone), spada e brocchiero (sword & buckler), spada e rotella (sword & shield), spada a due mani (two-handed sword), prese contra daga (dagger defenses), polearms and more!

Class Schedule

A full schedule of the event is available: Arte dell Armi Schedule.

Key-Note Address:

Italian Arms & Armour of il Cinquacento (XVIth Century), by Dr. Jonathon Tavares of the Art Institute of Chicago.

Contests-at-Arms

A Contest-of-Arms with Sword, Rapier and their trusted companions: the Buckler and Dagger, derived in part from the competition outline by Antonio Manciolino (1531).

More details forthcoming!

Accommodations:

(Details for getting to Racine can be found on the WMAW website)

Location:
The DeKoven Center
600 21st Street
Racine, WI 53403

On campus; double and triple rooms. You will be able to request the roommate of your choice when you register, and we will make every effort to accommodate you. Lodging is from Thurs to Sat.

Nine hot meals.

Costs:

All-Inclusive price: $ 470.00

No cancellation refunds after August 1st, 2018

Registration Form:

Download this fillable PDF form, save it, and then e-mail it to the registrar at wmaw.registrar@gmail.com

Reg form Arte delle Armi

Contact Info:

MidWinter Armizare II — This Time with Daggers!

Let it Be Known to All that Profess the Study of Arms, that the Chicago Swordplay Guild does Challenge All Men and Women of Good Character and Keep Blade to Inaugurate the New Year in a Competition of Arms

WHAT
In conjunction with the Midwest Historical Fencing League and Forteza Fitness & Martial Arts the Midwinter Armizare Open is a public display of skill with one and two-handed swords in a relatively rules-light format meant to emphasize the tactical priorities of fighting with sharp weapons in lethal combat.

WHERE & WHEN
Date : Saturday, 27 Jan 2018
Location: Forteza Fitness & Martial Arts, 4437 N. Ravenswood Ave, Chicago, IL 60640
Schedule:
10:30 – Sign In
11:00 – Introduction: Rules and Demo
11:30 – Sword in One Hand
1:00 – Break
1:30 – Longsword
5:00 – Awards
5:30 – After Event Party

HOW: Tournament Rules and Equipment Requirements can be found at Midwinter Armizare Open 2018

JOINING: Registration is $50. Register online through the Forteza website.

Midwinter Armizare Open — A Tournament of Arms!

Let it Be Known to All that Profess the Study of Arms, that the Chicago Swordplay Guild does Challenge All Men and Women of Good Character and Keep Blade to Inaugurate the New Year in a Competition of Arms

WHAT
In conjunction with the Midwest Historical Fencing League and Forteza Fitness & Martial Arts the Midwinter Armizare Open is a public display of skill with one and two-handed swords in a relatively rules-light format meant to emphasize the tactical priorities of fighting with sharp weapons in lethal combat.

WHERE & WHEN
Date : Saturday, 21 Jan 2017
Location: Forteza Fitness & Martial Arts, 4437 N. Ravenswood Ave, Chicago, IL 60640
Schedule:
11:30 – Sign In
12:00 – Introduction: Rules and Demo
12:30 – Sword in One Hand
1:45 – Break
2:00 – Longsword
5:30 – Awards
6:30 – After Event Party

HOW: Tournament Rules and Equipment Requirements can be found midwinter-steel.

JOINING: Registration is $50. Register online through the Forteza website.

Viva Italia! Celebrating 600 years of Italian Martial Arts (Sept 16 – 18, 2016)

 

28

Mark your calendars for September 2016, because REGISTRATION IS OPEN!

The Chicago Swordplay Guild and the DeKoven Foundation present an event celebrating the ancient & living traditions of the land that brought you Fiore, Fabris, Marozzo, Galileo, DaVinci, Casanova and … spaghetti!

Located at the picturesque DeKoven Center, home to the Western Martial Arts Workshop, the conference is a retreat with attendance limited to the 60 students that DeKoven can host. Your registration fee  includes ALL classes, meals and lodging onsite at the beautiful DeKoeven campus.

This is a unique event and a unique opportunity to train in a private environment with some of the finest modern teachers of the Art of Defense. Act now, because ttendance is limited to the 70 folks we can house on site!paces will go fast. We look forward to crossing swords with you!

DETAILS:

Dates: September 16 – 18, 2016
Instructors:

We are pleased to bring an international cast of renowned instructors including:

  • Devon Boorman, Academie Duello (Canada)
  • Bob Charrette, Forteza Historic Swordwork Guild (USA)
  • Roberto Gotti, Guardia di Croce (Italy)
  • Sean Hayes, Northwest Fencing Academy (USA)
  • Greg Mele, Chicago Swordplay Guild (USA)
  • John O’Meara, Chicago Swordplay Guild (USA)
  • Marco Quarta, Nova Scrimia (Italy/USA)
  • Robert Rutherfoord, Chicago Swordplay Guild (USA)
Class Roster:

This year we have organized classes two ways: stand alone classes on a wide variety of topics, and several themes, meant to allow either in-depth study of one topic or to show commonality throughout the breadth of Italian fighting traditions. Stick with your favorite arts or dive into a pool 600 years deep!

Series One: Control the Center
These 3 hr classes allow an in-depth exploration of both the how and why of Italian martial arts.

  • The Tactics of Bolognese Sword and Buckler Combat (Devon Boorman)
  • The Tactics of Empty-Handed Combat (Marco Quarta)
  • The  Tactics of Armizare (Greg Mele)

Series Two: So You Got Yourself Into a Duel…
As much as we imagine skilled swordsman meeting at dawn, most duelists had often never fought before, and might not even be trained combatants. In these 2hr classes, students are taught what the historical masters themselves considered the “bare bones” basics of their art, in order to fight and survive. A perfect way to try something new!

  • Dall’Aggochie’s 30 Day Recipe for Success (Robert Rutherfoord)
  • You Got into Another Duel? A Survival Guide to Italian Rapier (Devon Boorman)
  • Dueling Fin de Ceicle Style: A Short and Concise Guide to the Dueling Saber (Sean Hayes)

Series Three: In Arnis — The Art of Armoured Combat
Every year folks who participate in the armoured deed of arms talk about how much fun it was…but also who they wish they had more time to use all of that  gear they lugged across the country. Well, we listened! This third series, taught “on the green” (weather permitting) combines daily classes, coached fencing and lectures — and of course, the invitational Armoured Deed!

  • Commonalities of Spada, Lanza and Azza en Arme: Making the Cross in Armoured Combat (Bob Charrette, Forteza Historic Swordwork Guild)
  • Armour as Worn: Understanding the Practical Ramifications of Harness Choice in Modern Deeds of Arms (Bob Charrette, Sean Hayes and Greg Mele)
  • Now We Wrestle: Moments of Transition in Armoured Combat (Sean Hayes, Northwest Fencing Academy)
  • The return of Uncle Bob’s Armour Schmooze
Stand-Alone Classes

Two and three hour classes on a wide variety of topics covering the 14th – 19th centuries!

Armizare

  • Integrated Body Mechanics and Movement in the Art of Arms (Sean Hayes)
  • The “New Footwork” of Filippo Vadi: Variations on a theme in Italian Longsword (Greg Mele)

Bolognese Fencing

  • Bolognese Fencing without Tears (Robert Rutherfoord)
  • Spadone: the King of Swords (Roberto Gotti)
  • Marozzo’s Defense Against the Dagger (Roberto Gotti)

Rapier Fencing

  • Getting from Dui Tempi to Stesso Tempo in Six Easy Lessons (John O’Meara)
  • Tutta Coperta I: The Dagger Has the Rapier’s Back (John O’Meara)
  • Tutta Coperta II: The Dagger Frees the Rapier (John O’Meara)
  • Infighting and Disarms with the Rapier (Devon Boorman)

18th – 19th c Martial Arts

  • Stick-Fencing: From Gentleman’s Cane to Modern Self-Defense (Marco Quarta)
Contests-at-Arms
  • An unarmoured Accolade Tournament with Sword, Spear & Dagger
  • An invitational Armoured Deed-of-Arms;
  • A Contest-of-Arms with Sword, Rapier and their trusted companions: the Buckler and Dagger.

More details forthcoming!

Accommodations:

(Details for getting to Racine can be found on the WMAW website)

Location:
The DeKoven Center
600 21st Street
Racine, WI 53403

On campus; double and triple rooms. You will be able to request the roommate of your choice when you register, and we will make every effort to accommodate you. Lodging is from Thurs to Sat.

Nine hot meals.

Costs:

All-Inclusive price: $ 450.00

No cancellation refunds after August 1st, 2016

Registration Form:

Viva Italia Registration Form (fillable)

Viva Italia waiver

Contact Info:

Dekoven School of Arms Class Roster

ITALIAN SWORDSMANSHIP

THREE HOUR WORKSHOPS

Agrippa’s Ball, or Rolling with the Rapier: On using the whole body and its aspects in guard
Instructor: John O’Meara
Italian rapier is a linear art, but the rotational aspect of the system is often overlooked. We will look at integrating sword, body and left hand to create a fluid, “rolling” offense and defense in the style of Salvatore Fabris. (Bring your favorite companion weapon — dagger, cloak, or buckler.)

Bolognese Sprezzatura: Must-Know Fundamentals of Bolognese Sword and Buckler
Instructor: Tom Leoni
Do you really think you know the fundamentals of Bolognese sword and buckler? And even if you do, does your body? For the more experienced swordsman ambitious to firm up his basics, as well as the beginner wanting to start on the right path, this class is an intensive on what you must know to successfully tackle the actions of Manciolino and Marozzo. From precise formation of the guards to efficient, martial-looking steps; from powerful cutting and thrusting mechanics to building intent in your actions; from positive, sure parries in all lines to accurate ripostes; from entering a crossing to safely performing a take-off; from provoking tempi from the opponent to exploiting them successfully–these are the basics you will drill in this class.

In addition, you will learn how to use your off-hand weapon (the buckler) as taught by the great Bolognese masters.

The main goal of this class is to let you develop a sense of mechanical precision, outward elegance (looking like the book), and effortless sprezzatura in the style of the men who invented the word.

Gioco Largo (Wide Play) to Gioco Stretto (Narrow Play) in Bolognese Swordsmanship–with Single-hander, Longsword or Spadone
Instructor: Tom Leoni

In this class, you will have a chance to bring your favorite weapon and truly understand the concepts of gioco largo and gioco stretto. Bring your single-handed sword with or without buckler, and  your medieval longsword or spadone — you will be using them both!

We will use the universal rules taught by Manciolino and Marozzo to:

  • Understand, hands-on, the nature of either play, as well as their differences
  • Learn multiple ways to safely arrive at and enter the narrow play
  • Visualize the main decision-tree of narrow-play actions
  • Develop a feel for the type of crossing with the opponent, and to choose your action accordingly
  • Learn the fundamental actions of wrestling at the sword

As the masters say, failing to understand the narrow play may put you in the position of being chased around by the opponent, while you flee across the salle fearing what lies beyond the safe confines of wide play.

FOCUS CLASSES (90 Min)

Keeping the Sword Free (Rapier)
Instuctor: John O’Meara
It’s not enough to find and control the opponent’s sword, we also have to keep control of our own. And what if he finds us first? Here’s how to keep the advantage in the Italian rapier fight, regain it once it’s lost, and avoid the “contendere di spada” (aka the “death bind”).                                                                                                                                                                  

Rotella and Sword: With Great Cover Comes Great Responsibility (Bolognese)
Instructor: Devon Boorman
Students in this workshop will explore the tactical environment of the larger rotella and how to maximize the benefit of its cover while accommodating for the greater constraint it puts on the maneuverability of your sword.

Partisan without Tears (Bolognese)
Instructor: Greg Mele
It was only late in the 17th century that fencing began to separate into the ars militarie and those of self-defense; the well-rounded swordsman of the 16th century was expected to have proficient with all manner of arms. This included the sword used with a variety of companion weapons, but also the two-handed sword, polearms and at least the basics of close combat.

In this short class we will look at one of the most common, useful, and for modern students – fun – polearms of the Bolognese tradition – the partisan. A massive, winged slashing spear, the partisan, whether used alone or with the rotella, was a both a common weapon of the battlefield and routinely appeared in the lists for use in a judicial duel.

In this short class we will look at the fundamental guards and defenses of the weapon, how it combines cuts and thrusts in a way similar to the sword alone, and learn several plays taken directly from the works of Antonio Manciolino and Achille Marozzo.

Please bring either a partisan or a 7 – 8′ spear, with the last 18″ (Including the point), marked to represent the cutting edge. We will have some additional weapons on hand for those traveling by plane.

Stringere: Are You Truly Constraining Your Opponent, Or Do You Just Think You Are? (Rapier)
Instructor: Devon Boorman
Many Italian practitioners are making mechanically and tactically weak choices in their positions but are not having those positions challenged in a manner that leads to the development of truly effective technique.  In this class we will explore the mechanical and tactical side of stringere, how to make positions that are truly sound and how to view and exploit positions that are weak.

 

 

IBERIAN SWORDSMANSHIP

THREE HOUR WORKSHOPS

Something Old, Something New, Destreza Common, and Destreza True (Destreza and Esgrima Comun)
Instructor: Tim Rivera and Puck Curtis

For years, Carranza has been called the father of Spanish fencing.  Recently, estranged uncle Godinho has returned to shed some light on the tales that brother Pacheco has been telling about his vulgar cousins and grandparents, and it turns out they’re a much closer family than previously thought.  The similarities and differences between the “true” destreza and the “common” destreza will be explored in order to understand the state of Spanish fencing from which Carranza created his method, as well as its possible origins.  Recognizing the relationship between these styles will lead to a broader understanding of what Spanish fencing really is.

The Spanish Sword and its Companion Arms: Shield, Buckler, and Dagger (Esgrima Comun)
Instructor: Tim Rivera
In 1599, maestro Domingo Luis Godinho wrote that although the three double arms (sword and rodela, buckler, or dagger) are distinct, their play is not.  This class will be in two parts; the first will build the necessary foundation of sword alone in the common Spanish style, and the second will integrate your companion weapon of choice: rodela, buckler, or dagger.  Bring your favorite and learn how to fight in the common Spanish style, or bring them all and learn how the use of one translates to the use of the others.

 

Tactical Showdown: Italian vs. Spanish
Instructor: Devon Boorman vs. Puck Curtis
Starting from the initial approach, to crossing safely into measure, tactically controlling the opponent, finding the right moment to strike, and concluding with a safe exit. Students will explore the fundamental flow chart of the Italian and Spanish tactical approach to the rapier at each stage and readily conclude that the Italian masters had a far better handle on what they were doing.

FOCUS CLASSES (90 Min)

Atajos: Making them, Breaking them, and the Naughty Attacks That Love Them (Destreza)
Instructor: Puck Curtis
In this class students will enjoy a crash course in the Atajo within a variety of contexts from simple to extreme.  In addition, we will examine ways to escape and reverse the atajo in order to open up a new tree of fencing actions taken from an initial position of disadvantage.  All of these actions will be coupled with a friendly dose of violence certain to delight your friends.

No experience required.  Bring mask, single-handed training sword, gloves, and a padded jacket.

Figueiredo’s Destreza sword and dagger (Destreza)
Instructor: Puck Curtis
From Portugal comes a Carranza-based form of Destreza which challenges Pacheco’s authority while also integrating beautifully with his work.  In these pages we see a simple and effective sword and dagger system to complement the existing single-sword material.  What happens when you pull out a dagger for your left hand in the streets of Madrid at midnight?  Find out here.

Montante vs. the World
Instructor: Tim Rivera
According to maestro Luis de Viedma, the montante is a weapon of little courtesy, and with it a man is forced to defend his life without having respect for anyone.  Forget fighting in narrow streets.  Forget breaking up fights.  Forget guarding a lady or your damn cloak.  This weapon is for driving your adversaries before you.  Outnumbered?  Surrounded?  Facing shields and polearms?  You’ve got a montante; time to show them what it was built for.

Trading Places: Parry-Ripostes and Counteroffense in Destreza
Instructor: Puck Curtis
The true mark of an experienced martial artist is excellent timing and La Verdadera Destreza’s method of stealing the place from your adversary is the diestro’s playground.  In this class we will use the adversary’s movements and footwork against him to develop our assaults at his expense.  This class will be particularly useful if you often fight with a reach disadvantage.

Some beginner level experience recommended.  Bring mask, single-handed training sword, gloves, and a padded jacket.

Spanish Use of Two Swords, in Rules
Instructor: Tim Rivera
The Belgian nobleman Jehan L’Hermite, during his time in Spain, learned the use of two swords from the maestro mayor Pablo de Paredes in 1599, recalling that it consisted of very beautiful turns in good order and step, with which one defends himself and offends the enemy, learned in rules.  The same year, maestro Domingo Luis Godinho wrote a manuscript containing rules for two swords which match that description.  Students will learn some of these rules and their applications against being surrounded, guarding a cloak, and others.