Classes

Series of photos of a demo bout by Tom and Steve

STANDBY: We are still developing our final class list, so please check back for updates!

Whether this is your first WMAW or your eleventh, this year's Workshop will expose you to a wide-variety of new ideas, skills, methodologies and research by some of the finest instructors in the Western Martial Arts community.

  1. Armoured Medieval Combat (8)
  2. Close Quarters Combat (6)
  3. Early Modern Weapon Arts (6)
  4. Historical African Martial Arts (3)
  5. Lectures (8)
  6. Renaissance Weapon Arts (22)
  7. Special Events (10)
  8. Unarmoured Medieval Weapon Arts (10)

About the Class Categories

We are proud to offer a diverse curriculum of classes, lectures, demonstrations and workshops, aimed at a variety of skill levels. For newcomers, those without regular training, or attendees looking to refine their basics, we recommend you pay special attention to the Body Mechanics, Physical Conditioning and Training for WMA classes, which are being offered on Thursday to help prepare you for the rest of the weekend. Concurrent Pedagogical Training and Curriculum Development classes are being offered for those who wish to develop their teaching ability, and are specifically designed to help determine how to work with historical source material, what to teach, how to teach it, and how to translate those drills and exercises into practical application. The remaining General classes are broadly divided by topic: Medieval Weapon Arts (Pre-1500), Renaissance and Early Modern Weapon Arts (Post-1500) and Close Quarters Combat, are aimed at a wide variety of interests and skill levels, and occur in roughly 60 min, 90 min and three hour increments. Finally, as in previous years, there will also be a number of Lectures & Presentations throughout the weekend, designed to help give historical context or to present new research.

As you review the class roster and schedule, remember that most classes must be pre-registered and have attendance limits. Classes that are not Lectures & Presentations have a maximum attendance of 40 students, unless otherwise noted.

Armoured Medieval Combat

Armoured Combat Camp: Supervised Armoured Free Play

Instructor(s): Bill Grandy, Christian Cameron, Sean Hayes
Class Category: Armoured Medieval Combat
Day and Time: Thu, 1:00pm
Class Length: 90 min
Experience Level: Beginner to Intermediate
Intensity Level: Moderate
Pre-Requisites: A foundation in two-handed medieval sword use.
Required Equipment: Bring as much armour as you have. Have none? No problem, bring your fencing kit, a sword and dagger, Mask, gorget, gloves, longsword. Sword should ideally, reach the student's armpit and have a long hilt, but a sword of at least 48" will work in most cases.
Maximum Attendees: 40

Attendees to WMAW who have any interest in the armored side of fencing are highly encouraged to come to any of our Supervised Armored Free Play sessions. You may be a seasoned armored combatant looking to pick up some fights. You may be someone whom has only obtained part of your harness and is looking to work with others to gain experience. You may be a complete novice who doesn't have a single piece of armor and wants to talk to people and learn. Regardless of your skill or gear level, our Supervised Armored Free Play sessions will always have people there willing to help you learn or pair you up with someone based on your needs.

Fiore's Armoured Spear: Technique, Execution, and Application!

Instructor(s): Christian Cameron
Class Category: Armoured Medieval Combat
Day and Time: Fri, 10:30am
Class Length: 90 min
Experience Level:
Intensity Level: Medium to High
Pre-Requisites: Basic familiarity with Longsword or spear.
Required Equipment: Full harness required
Maximum Attendees: 40

In this class we'll examine both the techniques of Italian armoured spear fighting, with special references to crosses, covers and deceptions, and their application in the list in full harness and the effect of harness on speed and precision. We'll also discuss some solo drills to perfect point control after long covers from outside lines and cavazione deceptions.

Assisted by Chris Duffy of Hoplologia.

Foundations of Armoured Combat

Instructor(s): Bill Grandy, Christian Cameron, Sean Hayes
Class Category: Armoured Medieval Combat
Day and Time: Thu, 10:30am
Class Length: 90 min
Experience Level: Basic
Intensity Level: Moderate
Pre-Requisites: None
Required Equipment: Armor is encouraged, but students without armor may use a fencing mask and gloves.
Maximum Attendees: 40

New to fighting in harness? Interested but don't have harness? No worries, this class is for you! This workshop will teach students solo drills and partner drills to develop stronger proficiency with armored combat. Whether you are a veteran combatant or a raw beginner, the drills used in this class will be structured for students to take home for continued practice. The class will use the longsword as the primary teaching tool, but students will also explore how to adapt these drills to polearms as well.

This class is one part hands-on and one part "here is how to get started". Having issues in getting or using your harness? Having problems understanding a play in your favorite source? Having trouble executing a technique? Bring your questions along and we'll take a stab at them. Instructors and experienced harness fighters will be available for one-on-one work and discussion. All are welcome to observe.

Longsword as Long Spear: Using the full sword in armour

Instructor(s): Sean Hayes
Class Category: Armoured Medieval Combat
Day and Time: Fri, 9:00am
Class Length: 90 min
Experience Level:
Intensity Level: Medium to High
Pre-Requisites: Basic familiarity with Longsword, Arming Sword, Sword & Buckler
Required Equipment: Longsword and protective kit - full or partial harness optional
Maximum Attendees: 40

Much emphasis is placed on "half-swording" by modern practitioners in armoured combat: using the sword as a short spear by grasping it with one hand on the hilt and one hand on the blade. But Fiore provides us with a system that uses both half-sword grip and "full sword" grip in armoured combat. This class will explore the techniques and tactics using the full grip on the sword as part of a well-rounded strategy for fighting in armour.

Close Quarters Combat

Italian Walking Stick Fencing – IX century tradition

Instructor(s): Marco Quarta
Class Category: Close Quarters Combat
Day and Time: Sat, 12:45pm
Class Length: 90 min
Experience Level: Beginner
Intensity Level: Moderate
Pre-Requisites: no previous experience required but fencing background will help
Required Equipment: a stick or cane 90 cm/35.5 inches long, fencing mask and light gambeson or fencing jacket, light padded/leather gloves, elbow and knee protection
Maximum Attendees: 40

"...will be useful for all the police guards whose duty is to enforce the observation of the laws, using what they are provided with, moreover will be very useful for any citizen obliged to take care of his safety in regrettable situations, or help the weak persons if necessary..." - Maestro Giannino Martinelli - Milano - 1908

The Italian fencing school and the "Maestri di sciabola" (Masters of the dueling saber), to cite some: Cerri, Zangheri, Enrichetti, Arista, Masiello, Pecoraro, Radaelli, Ceselli and Martinelli; developed highly congenial methods of practical application and technical theory that has been transferred to the use of the walking sticks.

The walking stick (or cane), is a beautiful and very effective fencing art developed in the XIX century from fencing masters who translated the practice of sword, saber in particular, to the walking stick, in an age when the walking stick was popular and the use of the sword for civil fashion became illegal. It is mostly a fencing "in line", with straight movement. Elegant, precise and effective. Sparring and fencing assaults in full protective gears are a fun and intense practice.

In this workshop, we will explore in particular the walking stick fencing style described by Maestro Giannino Martinelli in his the treatise Trattato di scherma con il bastone da passeggio per la difesa personale ("Treatise of walking stick fencing for self defense") - published in Milan in 1908.

Lotta a terra (Italian Ground Grappling) : Herculean chthonic journey

Instructor(s): Marco Quarta
Class Category: Close Quarters Combat
Day and Time: Fri, 9:00am
Class Length: 3 hrs
Experience Level: Beginner
Intensity Level: Moderate
Pre-Requisites: no previous experience in grappling needed
Required Equipment: None
Maximum Attendees: 40

Strongly influenced mostly by the ancient Greeks and Etruscans and then by Romans, martial arts evolved in the Italian peninsula around the cult of the Hero. Historical Olympic games (from 776 B.C. to 393 A.D.) were based on martial exercises and trials. The winner was elevated to the status of Hero, inspired by the mythological champions such as Hercules, and crowned with the laurel. Arts such as Orthepale (standing grappling), Pale (ground wrestling), Pigmachia (pugilism) or Pancrazio (combination of all of them together) did not die in Greece or in Rome, but were instead passed along across the centuries. Today, we still experience this legacy in sports such as Greek-Roman Wrestling.

For Neoplatonics, human beings tend to the Good (Gods of Heaven). However, they are unable to reach the perfection due to a constant risk to fall into the irrationality moved by instincts (Gods of Earth). The drama of "being" is then challenged constantly by the awareness of running after this unreachable condition. The myth of wrestling become then, for the Hero, a sacred practice to fight himself, elevating his spirit to heaven, standing in the fury and tempest of the fight, in the reflection of himself observed in the grappling hug with the opponent.

In this workshop, we will focus on one specific aspect of Italian grappling, originated from ancient Greek-Roman wrestling: the transfer of the center of mass from one orthogonal direction (vertical) to the other (horizontal). We will be moving on the ground the fight into a different and more "primordial" dimension: descending into the darkness of the blind, abandoning the vision to rely instead on other senses.

During the workshops we will cross-reference Fiore's work across the different existing manuscripts of the Flos Duellatorum (early 15th century) with other sources of "lotta Italiana" of the Renaissance period. For instance, we will explore commonalities of Fiore's "abracar" in other sources, such as Petri Monti's Exercitiorum atque artis militaris collectanea in tris libros distinct (a Milanese manuscript printed in 1509) or the ca. 1500 Lucta Tiburtyna. We will use this matrix to connect the dots with existing styles of "lotta" evolved in the Italian peninsula as an experimental archeological exercise.

Scuola di Coltello (Italian Knife Fighting): La Paziata — Walking the Circle

Instructor(s): Roberto Laura
Class Category: Close Quarters Combat
Day and Time: Sun, 9:30am
Class Length: 3 hrs
Experience Level: Beginner
Intensity Level: Moderate
Pre-Requisites: None
Required Equipment: A lightweight stick, approximately 30 cm/1 ft long (a drum stick works perfectly) or nylon or metal Italian knife trainer, fencing mask.
Maximum Attendees: 40

The knife is a simple weapon: a tool adapted for combat. It has been used in every culture, but each school has certain technical characteristics that define that tradition and influence its tactics. The use of circular footwork, body turns, and learning how to move on the "chords" of the circle is just such a characteristic of the schools of southern Italy.

In this class we will look at how to walk the circle, switching from inside to outside movement, combined with hand-switches. As this basic skill is developed, we will show how circular footwork is used both to guard lines and create obvious invitations. obvious invitations vs. "hidden" invitations and when to move into the center vs. out.

Scuola di Coltello (Italian Knife Fighting): Le Piante — Fighting Positions

Instructor(s): Roberto Laura
Class Category: Close Quarters Combat
Day and Time: Fri, 1:00pm
Class Length: 3 hrs
Experience Level: Beginner
Intensity Level: Moderate
Pre-Requisites: None
Required Equipment: A lightweight stick, approximately 30 cm/1 ft long (a drum stick works perfectly) or nylon or metal Italian knife trainer, fencing mask.
Maximum Attendees: 40

The knife is a simple weapon: a tool adapted for combat. It has been used in every culture, but each school has certain technical characteristics that define that tradition and influence its tactics. The use of circular footwork, body turns, and learning how to move on the "chords" of the circle is just such a characteristic of the schools of southern Italy.

In this class we will look at:

  • the Position of the knife, the feet and the other limbs in relation to the adversary and its guard(s);
  • "Strong guards" (libere) vs. "weak guards" (falso);
  • Adaption — transformation of a "weak guard" into a nearly "strong guard;"
  • Proper use of the off-hand as e.g. ultima ratio
  • Alternative guards, e.g. sun guards

Zwerch Ringen — Wrestling from Wallerstein

Instructor(s): Jessica Finley
Class Category: Close Quarters Combat
Day and Time: Sat, 2:45pm
Class Length: 90 min
Experience Level:
Intensity Level: Moderate
Pre-Requisites: Comfort with falling required. We will not have time to teach this skill. Required Wrestling jacket and belt are appreciated, but not required.
Required Equipment: None
Maximum Attendees: 40

Vom Bauman's Fechtbuch (also known as Codex Wallerstein) has a set of seven interesting throws which are called the Zwerch Ringen, referring to the fact that your legs are in some way crossing your opponent's legs. We will choose a few of these techniques to explore in order to understand the broader concepts taught by this small sub-system of throws. Beginning from the entry, to a strike or grip on the arms or legs, followed by an attack, we will see how to set up these throws. Concepts taught in the Longsword such as Nachreisen (Chasing), Schiessen, and Attacking to the Four Openings are key to understanding how these techniques work on a conceptual level, and the practitioner of Liechtenauer's art should especially benefit from this cross-training, though there will be a lot to take home no matter what sword art you study.

Zwerch Ringen II — Wrestling from the Technique

Instructor(s): Jessica Finley
Class Category: Close Quarters Combat
Day and Time: Sat, 4:45pm
Class Length: 90 min
Experience Level: Intermediate
Intensity Level: Moderate
Pre-Requisites: Participation in Zwerch Ringen I is required to take this class. Comfort with falling required. We will not have time to teach this skill.
Required Equipment: Wrestling jacket and belt are appreciated, but not required.
Maximum Attendees: 40

The Zwerch Ringen techniques aren't limited to the throws themselves, instead each is paired with either a counter throw (a technique which relies upon the commitment of the opponent to their attack in order to mitigate it and successfully make a throw) or a combination throw (a technique which relies upon the opponent responding with a counter to the initial attack, allowing you to flow to a second throw). This pairing allows us to deep-dive into the tactics of ringen and explore how we can set up a string of attacks that logically progress from opening to opening while dealing with the logical response of the opponent. We will see how working from left-to-right, from high-to low, from forward to back will give us the opportunity we need to stay on our feet.

Early Modern Weapon Arts

'A Short View of the Use of the Smallsword' or Small-Sword for Englishmen

Instructor(s): Ian Brackley
Class Category: Early Modern Weapon Arts
Day and Time: Sun, 1:45pm
Class Length: 90 min
Experience Level: Beginner to Intermediate
Intensity Level: Moderate
Pre-Requisites: For the second class, participants are strongly encouraged to have attended the first class or come with some prior smallsword or sport fencing experience.
Required Equipment:

Fencing mask, gloves, comfortable shoes and a smallsword simulator:


Maximum Attendees: 40

Building upon the fundamentals class, this class follows the primary source, 'A Short View of the Use of the Smallsword' (appendix to 'The Soldier's Pocket Companion' B. Cole , 1746,) of which a short description will be given to illustrate the smallsword's historical context.

Attendees will proceed through the 6 thrusts and defenses described by Cole, with the inclusion of the attack on the pass should time allow. While this may seem a very narrow curriculum, Cole's instructions provide a foundation in the art, from which students can then take a deep-dive, or simply keep refining for a good, basic system of smallsword fencing.

Ambuscades, Falsifies, Traverses and Whirls: Advanced Tactics in Highland Broadsword

Instructor(s): Jay Maas
Class Category: Early Modern Weapon Arts
Day and Time: Sun, 3:45pm
Class Length: 90 min
Experience Level: Intermediate to Advanced
Intensity Level: Moderate
Pre-Requisites:
Required Equipment: Broadsword, mask, gorget, jacket and gloves.
Maximum Attendees: 40

In this class we will examine more complex aspects of the art of Highland Broadsword. These will include complex ways of safely attacking the leg, leaving the line of defence with circular footwork, feints laying traps for the opponent as well as blade actions to create openings and prepare attacks taken from a variety of broadsword sources from the 18th and 19th centuries. This class is suitable for those who have already taken the fundamentals broadsword class, or have previous experience with broadsword fencing.

Cutting Mechanics for Combat and Friendly Play

Instructor(s): Eric Myers, Puck Curtis
Class Category: Early Modern Weapon Arts
Day and Time: Thu, 1:00pm
Class Length: 90 min
Experience Level: All are welcome!
Intensity Level: Intense
Pre-Requisites: See below
Required Equipment: Single-handed sword, gloves, jacket, mask (or equivalents). Additional light weight trainer such as a fencing saber is strongly recommended.
Maximum Attendees: 40

Classical saber is famous for its fast and powerful circular cuts, but did you know those same cuts can be delivered with full speed but controlled (reduced) power for friendly play? This class will give you an introduction to the basis of traditional Italian saber body mechanics along with drills to teach and practice them. We will focus on cuts common to historical arts, not just those in the saber canon. The class will focus on single-handed swords, but the mechanics also apply to longsword and we will discuss that briefly as well. Bring a light weight trainer such as a modern fencing saber if you have one, as well as whatever cutting style sword you normally fence with. The lighter trainer will help you get a feel for the mechanics at the beginning of class, and allow you to train the mechanics for longer without muscle fatigue.

Depth in Simplicity: Fundamentals of Highland Broadsword

Instructor(s): Jay Maas
Class Category: Early Modern Weapon Arts
Day and Time: Thu, 3:00pm
Class Length: 90 min
Experience Level: Beginner
Intensity Level: Moderate
Pre-Requisites: None
Required Equipment: Broadsword, mask, gorget, jacket and gloves.
Maximum Attendees: 40

In this class we will look at the fundamental footwork, Guards, Cuts, Parries and some blade actions found in Napoleonic Broadsword sources such as Angelo, Roworth, Sinclair, Mathewson and Ferdinand. The art is straightforward in its approach yet highly developed to offer enough material for a lifetime of study. This class is both suitable for beginners in the system and experienced fencers wishing to refine aspects of the art.

Fundamental French Smallsword for the Complete Beginner

Instructor(s): Ian Brackley
Class Category: Early Modern Weapon Arts
Day and Time: Thu, 5:00pm
Class Length: 90 min
Experience Level: Beginner
Intensity Level: Moderate
Pre-Requisites:
Required Equipment: Smallsword, mask, jacket and gloves.
Maximum Attendees: 40

The smallsword is an elegant, demanding weapon built on a light touch, and sharp eye and precision. We will recreate a fundamental lesson of the 18th c salle des armes, comprised of learning correct balance, historically-informed guard stance and footwork. The lesson will culminate in the participant being able to advance, retreat, perform the lunge in quarte and recover from same.

Depending on prior experience or comfort with the material, students will be given the opportunity to essay the lunge against the instructor's plastron towards the end of class.

Recommended equipment would be limited to a pair of comfortable shoes . A standard fencing mask and soft leather gloves are optional if wishing to essay the lesson under arms with the instructor.

Secrets of the Stage Gladiators: Broadsword from the Earlier Sources

Instructor(s): Jay Maas
Class Category: Early Modern Weapon Arts
Day and Time: Sat, 2:45pm
Class Length: 90 min
Experience Level: Beginner to Intermediate
Intensity Level: Moderate
Pre-Requisites:
Required Equipment: Broadsword, mask, gorget, jacket and gloves.
Maximum Attendees: 40

Learn the skills of the 18th C men and women who fought to injury and sometimes death in prize matches with sharp broadswords. The art of the Stage Gladiators was recorded in sources such as Wylde, Miller, McBane, Page, Godfrey and Lonnergan and was widespread throughout the British Isles, Ireland and the New World. This class is suitable for beginners as well as advanced broadsword fencers.

Historical African Martial Arts

African Spear & Shield

Instructor(s): Da'Mon Stith
Class Category: Historical African Martial Arts
Day and Time: Sun, 3:45pm
Class Length: 90 min
Experience Level: Beginner
Intensity Level: Moderate
Pre-Requisites: None
Required Equipment: None
Maximum Attendees: 40

The spear is the most versatile weapon in human history, transcending region, culture, and time. Often overlooked and underrated, the spear is universally found throughout the world either as a tool for hunting or a weapon of war it has been humanity's constant companion.

In many African societies, the role of the hunter and warrior are one and the same and while swords were used on the battlefield it is the spear that is closely associated with the continent. This is due to the availability of the spear as well as its many tactical advantages it offers. In this class, we will explore the spear in the African context focusing upon spear and shield fighting from Sudanic Africa, using the spear as a ranged weapon, and finally the two-handed spear drawing upon iconography from Ancient Egypt.

Machete Fencing in the African Diaspora

Instructor(s): Da'Mon Stith
Class Category: Historical African Martial Arts
Day and Time: Thu, 10:30am
Class Length: 90 min
Experience Level: Beginner
Intensity Level: Moderate
Pre-Requisites: None
Required Equipment: Blunt machete/nylon trainer, one-handed stick about 24-30" long.
Maximum Attendees: 40

In this course, we will focus on the basic techniques of Esgrima con machete and form of machete fencing practiced in Cauca located along the Pacific coast of Colombia in a region heavily populated by people of African descent whose ancestors fled into the region to escape slavery and built several free communities called palenques. This area has a long tradition of machete fencing blending techniques from Africa and Europe into a unique expression of the people of Cauca.

Wrestling and Stickfighting in Ancient Egypt: From the Age of the Pharoahs to the Modern Day

Instructor(s): Da'Mon Stith
Class Category: Historical African Martial Arts
Day and Time: Sat, 9:00am
Class Length: 3 hrs
Experience Level: Intermediate
Intensity Level: Moderate
Pre-Requisites: Comfort with falling required. We will not have time to teach this skill.
Required Equipment: 36" stick, comfortable wrestling clothes, mask.
Maximum Attendees: 40

Martial arts are as old as humanity. The earliest depiction of systematic fighting arts can be found in the tombs of Beni Hassan in Egypt where wall art demonstrates soldiers practicing wrestling, stick fencing, boxing, and archery. In this course, we will explore the traditions of stick fighting and wrestling in ancient Egypt and compare and contrast how that fits into the greater African context.

Lectures

"Carry a Weighty Shield or Buckler in Your Hand"

Instructor(s): Roland Warzecha
Class Category: Lectures
Day and Time: Sat, 4:45pm
Class Length: 90 min
Experience Level:
Intensity Level:
Pre-Requisites: None
Required Equipment: None
Maximum Attendees:

Fighting with sword and buckler according to MS I.33 is often considered a somewhat exotic and isolated system. This demo will show that the combat art of I.33 was actually closely linked and based upon combat with military equipment of the day, namely mail armour and triangular shields. This would explain the popularity of buckler play in the 13th and 14th century. In contrast, 15th century buckler systems were no longer based on shield combat but on fencing with blades, with the buckler as a secondary weapon.

Are George Silver's True and False Times Fundamental to Good Fencing?

Instructor(s): Stephen Hand
Class Category: Lectures
Day and Time: Fri, 11:45am
Class Length: 1 hr
Experience Level:
Intensity Level:
Pre-Requisites:
Required Equipment:
Maximum Attendees:

English fencing author George Silver's concepts of True and False Times is one of the most argued over and misinterpreted concepts in the Western Martial Arts. This lecture examines the concept of True and False Times and discusses how they apply not only to Silver's system, but to other combat arts.

A lunch lecture, so no enrollment is required.

Curriculum and Curriculum Development

Instructor(s): Devon Boorman
Class Category: Lectures
Day and Time: Sat, 2:45pm
Class Length: 90 min
Experience Level:
Intensity Level:
Pre-Requisites:
Required Equipment:
Maximum Attendees:

How do you create a program that facilitates the development of proficient practitioners, transmits and authentic art, and keeps people engaged in their own development? In this lecture Devon Boorman, Director of Academie Duello, will bring participants through the process of curriculum design and give them a window into the system that he has developed at Academie Duello over the past 15 years.

Topics that will be explored include:

  1. How to breakdown your system into a syllabus
  2. Teaching approaches and models
  3. Developing progressive curriculum, and how/when to use leveled approaches
  4. Learning objectives, course outlines, and class plans - where and how to use them
  5. How to work with a team of teachers
  6. Models for refinement and improvement of curriculum over time

Academie Duello has a 5-level program that extends from initiate to master, a multi-year curriculum plan, a team of as many as 30 instructors, and over 250 active members in its mastery program. It began as two people teaching in a public square.

Come with questions and prepared to take lots of notes.

Decoding I.33

Instructor(s): Roland Warzecha
Class Category: Lectures
Day and Time: Fri, 10:30am
Class Length: 90 min
Experience Level:
Intensity Level:
Pre-Requisites: None
Required Equipment:
Maximum Attendees:

As modern viewers, we readily dismiss distorted proportions and lack of perspective in medieval images as a primitive form of artistic expression. However, a medieval person would probably consider a photo an inferior source of information, with only one perspective and a single moment in time captured. In this lecture we are going to take a fresh look at the art work of I.33's plates and at how technical information was conveyed in Gothic illustration – unveiling vital information about 14th century swordsmanship.

Judicial Dueling and 15th Century Martial Arts

Instructor(s): Michael Chidester
Class Category: Lectures
Day and Time: Fri, 2:30pm
Class Length: 90 min
Experience Level:
Intensity Level:
Pre-Requisites:
Required Equipment:
Maximum Attendees:

In the late 14th century, various strands of sporting and fighting tradition converged into a new kind of judicial duel. It was somewhat disconnected from the trials by combat of the Middle Ages, and also from the culture of honor dueling that arose in the 16th century. This judicial dueling culture developed and evolved over the course of the 15th century, and in 1476 Italian jurist Paride del Pozzo published his attempt to compile and organize all of the precedents and customs that he could find.

This lecture will discuss the dueling codes and customs laid out by Pozzo and compare them to the teachings we find in fencing manuals of the early-mid 15th century, from Fiore to Kal, and argue that this sort of duel could be the primary context that these arts were intended for.

Syllabus vs System: The Teachings of Johannes Liechtenauer

Instructor(s): Michael Chidester
Class Category: Lectures
Day and Time: Sun, 1:45pm
Class Length: 90 min
Experience Level:
Intensity Level:
Pre-Requisites:
Required Equipment:
Maximum Attendees:

Johannes Liechtenauer, grand master of the oldest known German fencing tradition, recorded his art in a 358-line poem called the Zettel. To unlock the secrets of this poem, we rely on the writings of his students and associates, as well as later masters in his tradition.

This lecture consists of two parts. The first will explore the different kinds of fencing manuals that have been preserved and how they relate to and inform each other, tracing the evolution and expansion of this literary tradition from early recordings of the Zettel, through the process of glossing and commentaries on the glosses, and eventually into lavish illustrated artbooks.

The second part will take a step back from the raw instructions in those sources and consider what they tell us about the fencing system itself. It will argue that the Zettel and its glosses are not intended to describe a system of fencing in an orderly or comprehensive fashion, but rather contain a syllabus for teaching that system to students. At the same time, clues in the text can lead us toward an understanding of the shape and nature of the system or method of fighting that underlies that syllabus, and suggest ways in which we can escape the trap of "fencing according to the lessons".

The Great Inventor of la Verdadera Destreza

Instructor(s): Puck Curtis
Class Category: Lectures
Day and Time: Sat, 12:45pm
Class Length: 90 min
Experience Level:
Intensity Level:
Pre-Requisites:
Required Equipment:
Maximum Attendees: 40

"If you want to see in an equal balance the blonde Phoebus and red Mars, procure to look upon the great Carranza, in whom the one and the other are not separate. In him you will see, friends, plume and lance with such discretion, skill and art, that fencing, in divided parts, he has reduced to science and art."
~Cervantes

This lecture will explore the life of Jerónimo Sánchez de Carranza, his work as inventor of the Spanish True School, his approach to fencing and pedagogy, and what the can tell us about the tradition today. In this you will find stories of battles, social justice, pirates, excommunication, false fencing masters, and perhaps a bit of wisdom.

With research and assistance from Dr. Mary Curtis.

Visualizing Liechtenauer: Figure and Allegory in Liechtenauer's Verse

Instructor(s): Jessica Finley
Class Category: Lectures
Day and Time: Fri, 1:00pm
Class Length: 90 min
Experience Level:
Intensity Level:
Pre-Requisites:
Required Equipment:
Maximum Attendees:

If we were to suggest that medieval knights had three main leisure pursuits, they would likely be hunting, fighting, and romancing. Hunting as an allegory for love is a common medieval theme and the poetry of the Minnesanger has been extensively explored in literature to date and is a rich source of material for German hunting traditions. Additionally, much like our familiar fighting treatises, there still exist numerous treatises on hunting, including such diverse techniques as judging and harboring a stag, hunting with and training falcons, trapping, fowling, and zoological treatises. Despite a wide understanding that hunting was a training ground for war, and an allegory for romantic and carnal love, the symbolic connection between the techniques of the hunt and the tactics of Liechtenauer's Ritterkunst have been much less understood and explored.

This lecture will center around medieval German hunting language as it applies to the tactical approach to Liechtenauer's fight, and will expand to explore how one may use the examples of diagrams in many medieval texts to create a simple codification of his art which can be held in the mind for study and illumination.

Renaissance Weapon Arts

"Philosophy and Greatness": Understanding Carranza through Pacheco

Instructor(s): Ton Puey
Class Category: Renaissance Weapon Arts
Day and Time: Sat, 9:00am
Class Length: 3 hrs
Experience Level: Beginner to Intermediate
Intensity Level: Moderate
Pre-Requisites:
Required Equipment: Rapier, mask, gorget, jacket and gloves.
Maximum Attendees: 40

In his first book, Grandezas de la Espada published in 1600 (18 years after the publication of Carranza's book "De la Filosofía de las Armas y de su Destreza y la Agresión y Defensa Cristiana") Pacheco provides an explanation of the fencing system much more direct and understandable than the dense and complex treatise of his "virtual teacher", filled with more philosophy, science and theoretical wisdom, than concise martial explanations.

In this class we will look at Carranza's system through the eyes of Pacheco, before he went on to innovate, and later denounce, his master's work.

A Very, Very Long Rapier: Polearms and the True Dexterity

Instructor(s): Ton Puey
Class Category: Renaissance Weapon Arts
Day and Time: Sun, 1:45pm
Class Length: 90 min
Experience Level: Beginner to Intermediate
Intensity Level: Moderate
Pre-Requisites:
Required Equipment: Polearm (6' - 7' staff, spear, partisan), gloves, mask.
Maximum Attendees: 40

Destreza is an approach to fencing, and as such can be applied to all weapons. Polearms are treated by Destreza masters as weapons longer than "short weapons" (rapiers or swords), with some specific adaptations to their size and particular properties. There really is not much more to say than: think alike and practice according to the foundations of the system! In this class, we'll show how true this simple admonishment is, and how to adapt what you already know to these large, powerful weapons.

Close Play in Rapier: A Matter of Time and Structure

Instructor(s): Francesco Loda
Class Category: Renaissance Weapon Arts
Day and Time: Sat, 4:45pm
Class Length: 90 min
Experience Level: Intermediate
Intensity Level: Moderate
Pre-Requisites: Experience with rapier is recommended
Required Equipment: Students will need gloves, masks, rapier – a lighter, late 17th c sword is preferred but not necessary.
Maximum Attendees: 40

Although the purpose of rapier fencing is to keep the opponent at a distance, the masters of the Southern School not only kept a complete teaching of disarms, grips and hilt-strikes, but, influenced by the "moments of conclusion" in the Spanish tradition with which they constantly came in contact, developed a clear theory of how, when and why close play should occur. These techniques are beautiful to see, fun to do, but require a clear understanding of tempo, line and leverage. Come learn how!

Combat Analysis and Improvement (Any Weapon)

Instructor(s): Devon Boorman
Class Category: Renaissance Weapon Arts
Day and Time: Sun, 9:30am
Class Length: 3 hrs
Experience Level: Intermediate
Intensity Level: Moderate
Pre-Requisites: None specific, except ability to spar with the weapon of your choice.
Required Equipment: The workshop is open to students with any weapons and can be participated in at slow or full combat speeds (with appropriate protective gear).
Maximum Attendees: 40

How do you capture appropriate data from your sparring experiences and turn that into training programs that make real improvements in both your sparring and your martial art as a whole?

Students in this program will learn exercises to help them:

  1. Determine what happened in sparring and identify the most important aspects for analysis.
  2. Identify root causes of sparring deficiencies.

Students will work with exercises hands-on, practice coaching skills, and go through the process of diagnosis, repair, conditioning, and integration in a hands-on manner.

From the Soldier's Two-handed Sword to the Fencing Master's Montante (and Spadone)

Instructor(s): Ton Puey
Class Category: Renaissance Weapon Arts
Day and Time: Sat, 2:45pm
Class Length: 90 min
Experience Level: Beginner to Intermediate
Intensity Level: Moderate
Pre-Requisites:
Required Equipment: Spadone or montante. A longer longsword will work in a pinch.
Maximum Attendees: 40

The two-handed sword achieved prominence in the 16th century – a battlefield weapon and symbol of a fencing master, whose use continued into the early 18th century. This class will provide a quick overview of the rules known from the early sixteenth century to the fullness of the Montante / Spadone system in the seventeenth century, its evolution and martial practice both within the world of Destreza and outside it.

(And after you take this class, practice what you learned in the "Montante Mile"!)

Iberian Flail

Instructor(s): Eric Myers, Puck Curtis
Class Category: Renaissance Weapon Arts
Day and Time: Sat, 4:45pm
Class Length: 90 min
Experience Level: Anyone brave enough to swing a flail!
Intensity Level: Moderate
Pre-Requisites: See below
Required Equipment: For instructions on how to build a flail trainer see this site: http://www.puckandmary.com/blog_puck/2016/02/building-a-flail-trainer/. Fencing mask or eye protection. (We will not be hitting each other in this class but there is a strong possibility that you, your friend, or the instructor's will hit themselves.)
Maximum Attendees: 40

Mendoza (1675) - "Its [the montante's] doctrine is more important than that of the single sword or the other weapons, since only the mangual (flail) can equal its great rigor..."

The Montante tradition includes a hidden facet often left untouched which is ripe for exploration and violence; the flail (or mangual). Like the Iberian greatsword, you can find a flowing sort of zen in the actions as you learn to transition from pattern to pattern. Just as with the greatsword, the 3-headed flail is a weapon of intense potential trauma and with 1-pound weights can crush steel and tear bits of armor off an adversary's body. This class will start with a basic intro and then recreate rules from Figueiredo's Memorial of the Practice of the Montante. We will only permit impact-safe flail trainers for the class.

Interpreting Meyer's Dussack: A Guided Session

Instructor(s): Dustin Reagan
Class Category: Renaissance Weapon Arts
Day and Time: Fri, 2:30pm
Class Length: 90 min
Experience Level: Beginner to Intermediate
Intensity Level:
Pre-Requisites: Some study of Meyer's Dussack material. Please bring at least one play or technique from either of Meyer's Dussack books that you want to get my or others' ideas regarding.
Required Equipment: A Dussack trainer of some sort, preferably non-metallic. Mask & gloves (whatever you deem appropriate for cooperative drilling).
Maximum Attendees: 40

This class is geared towards those who have previously studied Meyer's Dussack material and enjoy the experimental process of technique interpretation. I will start the class by walking step-by step through one of my favorite plays, and attempting to describe how and why I came to the interpretation I did. However, this is less of a 'class', and more of a collaborative group project, where we will present questions we have regarding techniques and/or plays and work through them together. I will do my best to give my own interpretation and rationale for any of the questions, however, since of course I don't know everything there is to know about Meyer's Dussack, I expect other members of the group to offer ideas & interpretations.

Italian Sword & Rotella

Instructor(s): Christian Cameron
Class Category: Renaissance Weapon Arts
Day and Time: Sat, 12:45pm
Class Length: 90 min
Experience Level: Beginner to Intermediate
Intensity Level: Moderate
Pre-Requisites: None, but sidesword or sidesword and buckler experience will help!
Required Equipment: Mask, Gorget, round shield approx 2' in diameter, arming sword or sidesword.
Maximum Attendees: 40

This class is a recommended preparatory class for the Hoplite Experiment

Beginning in the 14th century, the use of the sword and a large round-shield strapped to the arm (la rotella) became an increasingly popular weapon system for foot-soldiers in the Italian peninsula, whether in siege, on ship or in the field. The use of the "ancient art" is well-documented in 16th-century fencing texts, particularly those of the Bolognese masters and the Paduan Giacomo di Grassi.

This class will look at the basic guards, opening attacks and defenses of the sword and rotella. It makes a good companion to Spear, Sword and Rotella: Homeric Combat through Renaissance Eyes.

Meyer's Dussack I: A Complete Introduction

Instructor(s): Dustin Reagan
Class Category: Renaissance Weapon Arts
Day and Time: Thu, 3:00pm
Class Length: 90 min
Experience Level: Beginner
Intensity Level:
Pre-Requisites: None
Required Equipment: A Dussack trainer of some sort, preferably non-metallic. Mask & gloves (whatever you deem appropriate for cooperative drilling).
Maximum Attendees: 40

We will take a breadth-first approach through Meyer's Dussack material, starting with Meyer's Drills. We shall focus particularly on the footwork and the 4 cuts described in these first Drills. Next , we will briefly cover Meyer's Dussack guards and *perhaps* his named Hews (time permitting). Finally, we will go back to Meyer's 4th Drill to explore one of the most fundamental concepts underpinning Meyer's Dussack material (i.e. Provoker, Taker, Hitter) and to practice combining our footwork, bodywork & handwork.

Meyer's Dussack II: Meyer's Defenses and Deceptions

Instructor(s): Dustin Reagan
Class Category: Renaissance Weapon Arts
Day and Time: Sat, 12:45pm
Class Length: 90 min
Experience Level: Beginner to Intermediate
Intensity Level: Moderate
Pre-Requisites: Meyer's Dussack I, practical knowledge of Meyer's Dussack material, or significant experience with single-handed hewing swords.
Required Equipment: A Dussack trainer of some sort, preferably non-metallic. Mask, gloves & protective gear (whatever you deem appropriate for active, non-cooperative drilling & guided sparring).
Maximum Attendees: 40

Meyer describes 3 main categories of defense. We will break these down using examples from the Main Man himself (yeah, I'm talking about Meyer if it wasn't clear!). We will focus primarily on cutting out your opponent's cuts with cuts of your own, as this seems to be the most frequently described method of defense in Meyer's dussack material.

Time permitting, we will go through the main categories of deceptive handwork that Meyer describes with the Dussack.

Meyer's Rappier: Nehmen and Reitzen

Instructor(s): Robert Rutherfoord
Class Category: Renaissance Weapon Arts
Day and Time: Sun, 9:30am
Class Length: 3 hrs
Experience Level: Beginner to Intermediate
Intensity Level: Moderate
Pre-Requisites:
Required Equipment: An early rapier/side-sword, mask, gorget, jacket and gloves.
Maximum Attendees: 40

"For it is by no means enough to have begun well and rightly, if you do not also press after judiciously, for the greatest art depends on this"

This class will look at the Takings in Meyer's art of the rapier. When the blades have crossed at their middles how do remove the threat while simultaneously dispatching our opponent? These 'handworks' are fundamental to understanding blade engagements at a distance where the weapon is the greatest threat.

"You must thus incite and provoke him out of his advantage, since you cannot attack without some opportunity, for you must worry that he will overreach or catch you in your own device. Therefore you must see how you can bring him out of his advantage."

Once we understand the Takings, we will take a step back, and explore the fight the action before the blades have come to cross at their middles'. We will see how we can set up situations that move us through and past our opponent's weapon and strike him in the instant he sought to Take ours.

Partisan and Rotella: Achilles and Hector Reborn

Instructor(s): Davis Vader
Class Category: Renaissance Weapon Arts
Day and Time: Thu, 3:00pm
Class Length: 90 min
Experience Level: Beginner to Intermediate
Intensity Level: Moderate
Pre-Requisites: None, but Greg Mele's class Partisan: The Spear of Heroes will enhance the experience.
Required Equipment: Mask, Gorget, round shield approx 2' in diameter, spears or partisans (yes, multiple if you can), knee pads would be recommended. Bring a buckler if you cannot find a large shield.
Maximum Attendees: 40

This class is a recommended preparatory class for the Hoplite Experiment

Like any good courtier, you've read – and thrilled – to the adventures of Achilles, Hector, Ajax and Aeneas, imagining the class of spear and shield in the ancient world. Fast forward to the "present day" (the 16th century) and now you've found yourself in a duel. What better way to celebrate the glorious heroes of old than by settling your differences with the classic combination of spear and shield updated with the in voga partisan? This class will explore the tactics and movement found within the Bolognese masters and beyond and look at linking and extrapolated actions to unveil a system found within the extant writings.

Partisan: The Spear of Heroes

Instructor(s): Gregory Mele
Class Category: Renaissance Weapon Arts
Day and Time: Thu, 1:00pm
Class Length: 90 min
Experience Level:
Intensity Level:
Pre-Requisites:
Required Equipment: Spear or partisan (6' - 7'), heavy gloves/gauntlets and a mask with back of head protection. Half-armour is ideal!
Maximum Attendees: 40

This class is a recommended preparatory class for the Hoplite Experiment

Learn to fight like an Italian warrior fighting like an Ancient Greek! The humanist-era saw a rise of interest in the Classical world, and an attempt to "reclaim" Classical heritage in art, literature and, yes, war. Much as the cinquedea was meant to harken to the Roman pugio and gladius, the partisan was seen as the heroic spear of warriors such as Achilles Aeneas and Hector. As such, it became a weapon not only of interest on the field of battle, but for fighting judicial duels, its use taught by many Masters at Arms.

Drawing on the works of Marozzon and Manciolino we will look at this elegant weapon, both in its own right and as a foundation for training with other polearms, in a system of three guards, three thrusts, three parries, the cavazione and ...cuts!

Primo Assalto of the Two-Handed Sword, by Achille Marozzo

Instructor(s): Roberto Gotti
Class Category: Renaissance Weapon Arts
Day and Time: Sat, 9:00am
Class Length: 3 hrs
Experience Level: Intermediate
Intensity Level: Moderate
Pre-Requisites:
Required Equipment: Spadone or montante or a longer longsword (the sword should not be too heavy), mask and gloves.
Maximum Attendees: 40

The assalti are a center piece of Bolognese fencing, and none are more beautiful than those Achille Marozzo uses to teach the two-handed sword. In this workshop we will make a deep study of the first of Marozzo's three assaults, both as a solo and partnered exercise, showing how it serves as a "frame" upon which many actions may be understood.

Saviolo: Stirring things up a bit?

Instructor(s): George Livermore
Class Category: Renaissance Weapon Arts
Day and Time: Fri, 1:00pm
Class Length: 3 hrs
Experience Level: Intermediate
Intensity Level: Moderate
Pre-Requisites:
Required Equipment: Sidesword, or long heavy-ish rapier preferable but any single handed straight sword can be used.
Maximum Attendees: 40

The 'stir', or more commonly known as the 'shift', and its application to the body mechanics of a martial art.

'...that in the stirring of a foote he may be soddenlye overtaken and slaine'

This quote from Saviolo's treatise and the mentioning of the 'stir', which can be translated to a 'shift' seems to illustrate the fundamental principle of this master's martial technique, but what exactly does it mean?

Saviolo, in his treatise, states on numerous occasions that the 'stirring' or 'shifting' of a foot would allow the fencer to maintain, control, and use both time and measure more effectively and by doing so is able to overcome their opponent.

In this first lesson we shall explore this theory through Saviolo's 2nd exercise, the sequence, which shall serve as an introduction to this master's art and principles of defense. We shall explore what is believed to be the meaning of 'the stirring of a foote' and transcribe it into the use of the shift, trigger step, and shrink and therefore gain a better control of time and measure.

This introduction should then allow us to build the foundation upon which we can then see how this 'stirring' can be adapted and used with other weapon forms, from unarmed all the way to staff weapons via sword and dagger.

Saviolo: 'the furthering'

Instructor(s): George Livermore
Class Category: Renaissance Weapon Arts
Day and Time: Sun, 3:45pm
Class Length: 90 min
Experience Level: Intermediate
Intensity Level: Moderate
Pre-Requisites:
Required Equipment: Sidesword, or long heavy-ish rapier, dagger, partisan or spear, or just a staff.
Maximum Attendees: 40

"... this science to be the ground and foundation of the Arte Militarie ..."

Now that we have looked at the main techniques we can further our exploration and see how these simple shifts, trigger steps, and shrinks, can be implemented into different weapon forms.

In this lesson we shall begin with the weapon all of us are born with, our body, namely how we can generate power from a short distance using the said shifts and remain safe. From there we shall look at the 'stick' or 'cane', a weapon that is easily accessible to most and implement the same techniques. From this it is but a short hop to these techniques being applied to combination weapons and with one more skip we can enter into the wonderful world of the staff weapon.

By the end of the lesson we should be able to look at any weapon available to us and with but a few adjustments, due to the weapons strength and weaknesses be able to use it effectively.

Sidesword and Buckler

Instructor(s): Devon Boorman
Class Category: Renaissance Weapon Arts
Day and Time: Thu, 10:30am
Class Length: 90 min
Experience Level: Intermediate
Intensity Level: Moderate
Pre-Requisites: Experience with sidesword alone is required.
Required Equipment: Students will need gloves, masks, gorgets, sideswords, and small bucklers.
Maximum Attendees: 40

Students will explore how to effectively use the sidesword paired with the small buckler from within the teachings of the Bolognese tradition.

We'll explore how to:

  • support the sword with the buckler and the buckler with the sword
  • cut around the buckler and when to bring it into and out of the action
  • use of the buckler to control directly and to strike

Spear, Sword and Rotella: Homeric Combat through Renaissance Eyes

Instructor(s): Christian Cameron
Class Category: Renaissance Weapon Arts
Day and Time: Thu, 5:00pm
Class Length: 90 min
Experience Level: Beginner to Intermediate
Intensity Level: Moderate
Pre-Requisites: None, but Davis Vader's class Partisan and Rotella: Achilles and Hector Reborn would only enhance the experience.
Required Equipment: Mask, gorget, round shield approx 2' in diameter, arming sword or sidesword.
Maximum Attendees: 40

This class is a recommended preparatory class for the Hoplite Experiment

Building off the lessons of the partisan and rotella class (not required but encouraged!) this class looks at the transition from polearm to sidearm. Casting the partisan, spear or javelin was a basic skill, and that is where we will start, progressing on to how to draw the sword and come on guard, comparing the 16th c Italian method with that of the Ancient Greeks (Purpleheart Armoury will have inexpensive, nylon xiphos trainers available), and from there looking at how to transition measure into the next phase of the fight.

While we will be covering some basic sword and rotella techniques and guards, this class is focused on the use of combined arms, and how to move from one to the other while engaging your opponent. A more extensive sword and rotella repertoire is covered the Italian Sword and Rotella class, offered later in the weekend.

The Art of Retreating: How to Regain the Tempo with the Rapier

Instructor(s): John O'Meara
Class Category: Renaissance Weapon Arts
Day and Time: Sat, 12:45pm
Class Length: 90 min
Experience Level: Intermediate
Intensity Level: Moderate
Pre-Requisites: Basics of Italian rapier: guard, footwork, lunge, blade engagement ("finding the sword", "stringere", etc.); as well as the ability to move in tempo
Required Equipment: Rapier, mask, gorget, jacket, and gloves.
Maximum Attendees: 40

When the opponent attacks, or finds your sword, or you've otherwise lost control of the fight, breaking the measure is the most intuitive way of getting out of trouble. Far from relying on Silver's "Cobb's Traverse" (i.e. running away), the good Italian rapierist will go backward only to go forward, give ground only to retake the tempo, defend only to immediately attack. We will look at using footwork, proper body mechanics and coordinated actions to turn a brief set-back into victory.

The Left Hand of Fabris: Off-hand parries and other uses

Instructor(s): John O'Meara
Class Category: Renaissance Weapon Arts
Day and Time: Sun, 1:45pm
Class Length: 90 min
Experience Level: Beginner to Intermediate
Intensity Level: Moderate
Pre-Requisites: Basics of Italian rapier: guard, footwork, lunge, blade engagement ("finding the sword", "stringere", etc.)
Required Equipment: Rapier, mask, gorget, jacket, and gloves.
Maximum Attendees: 40

In Salvator Fabris' art of the rapier, no part of the body is left behind. Much as he disparages the off-hand "blade-grabbers" of his day (sound familiar?), he still considers the unarmed left hand to be an integral part of the guard and of every action proceeding from it, and sees the left-hand parry as having its (albeit limited) place in the system. We'll see how the union of all the parts of the body work to make these actions as efficient and safe as possible, and look at the best times to use them.

The Perfect and Not-so-Perfect Schermo of Angelo Viggiani

Instructor(s): Robert Rutherfoord
Class Category: Renaissance Weapon Arts
Day and Time: Sat, 2:45pm
Class Length: 90 min
Experience Level: Beginner to Intermediate
Intensity Level: Moderate
Pre-Requisites: Side-sword, mask, gorget, jacket and gloves.
Required Equipment: None
Maximum Attendees: 40

"I am full of amazement, seeing how utterly perfect is this schermo of yours, and fundamental to all wielding of the sword; but how have you reduced everything to a perfect offense, and to a perfect guard?"

This class will look at the intricacies of the perfect offense and defense of Viggiani's 'schermo.' But before we do, we will look at his commentaries on the common fencing of the time, and add some context to why he believes his method is so 'utterly perfect.'

The Roman School of Rapier: From Fundamentals to Strategy and Tactics

Instructor(s): Francesco Loda
Class Category: Renaissance Weapon Arts
Day and Time: Fri, 9:00am
Class Length: 3 hrs
Experience Level: Intermediate
Intensity Level: Moderate
Pre-Requisites: Experience with rapier is recommended.
Required Equipment: Students will need gloves, masks, rapier – a lighter, late 17th c sword is preferred but not necessary.
Maximum Attendees: 40

Modern HEMA students are familiar with the famous, early 17th-century northern Italian fencing tradition made famous by Capoferro, Giganti and Fabris, the latter of whose teachings swept through central Europe. However, there was also a southern Italian tradition, centered in Rome and Naples, that flourished from the mid-17th century into the dawn of the 19th, giving rise to what we today call "classical" Italian fencing. This elegant, highly technical style is less-known today, but in this class we will change that! Come ready to learn with your body and mind!

Special Events

Armoured Combat (or, "The MiniDeed")

Instructor(s): Bill Grandy, Christian Cameron, Sean Hayes
Class Category: Special Events
Day and Time: Thu, 3:00pm
Class Length: 90 min
Experience Level: Beginner
Intensity Level: Moderate
Pre-Requisites: None
Required Equipment: None
Maximum Attendees: 40

The MiniDeed: An Armored Team Tournament

"All dressed up and nowhere to go" can mean something very different to those of you who regularly don plate harness. Thankfully, now you have somewhere very exciting to go.

This WMAW will have an ongoing tournament for armored combatants. Participants will form a Company — a team of 4 to 8 competitors. Companies will fight against another Company, where team members will individually face off one-on-one with sword, spear and dagger. Teams will be eliminated throughout the weekend until only one Company remains victorious.

Interested in joining? Form your Company and apply by emailing to Bill Grandy your Company name and roster. There is a maximum of 6 Companies allowed, and are admitted on a first come, first serve basis. You may, however contact us to modify or add more to your roster (maximum of 8 per team) at a later date.

Full rules and equipment regulations. All combatants are expected to have a complete plate harness in accordance with those rules. When contacting us to register, please send us a photo of the harness you will be fighting for pre-approval, as well as any notes of changes that may happen to your kit by WMAW.

Martial Challenge: The Montante Mile

Instructor(s): Eric Myers, Puck Curtis
Class Category: Special Events
Day and Time: TBA, 12:00am
Class Length:
Experience Level: Beginner and up
Intensity Level: Intense
Pre-Requisites: Recommend pre-training to build conditioning for this event
Required Equipment: A great sword
Maximum Attendees:

It has been said you do not understand someone else's experience until you walk a mile in his or her shoes. This is your chance to understand the montante experience. The practice of the montante is described by rules which function as martial forms. In each form the martial artist will cover a few paces of ground per repetition. Over the course of three days practitioners will execute montante rules on a measured course to reach a distance of one mile. Instructors will be on hand to provide guidance but when it comes down to it, this event is about you, the montante, and the mile. This activity is not for the faint of heart but if you want a challenge it will be waiting for you at WMAW. The sturdy few who complete the mile shall have a boast worthy of note.

The Hoplite Experiment 2019 (Mass Combat 1)

Instructor(s): Christian Cameron
Class Category: Special Events
Day and Time: Sun, 9:30am
Class Length: 90 min
Experience Level: Beginner to Intermediate
Intensity Level: Moderate to High
Pre-Requisites: None
Required Equipment: Full sparring kit (minimum), any medieval armour you own, spear, sword, rotella shield.
Maximum Attendees:

This year, one of the focuses of WMAW will be on mass combat. We have a unique opportunity not just to participate and learn a little about the way combat worked in the past, but to share our data with professional academics in the worlds of Classics and Renaissance warfare, where issues around how hoplite combat (for example) really worked can affect ideas of democracy and the very way we translate Plato or Aristotle.

Theories about the mechanisms of Hoplite Combat abound. Scholars have debated the issue for over a hundred years, and reenactors have joined in, sometimes with excellent data, sometimes with hilarious results. Now it's time to engage serious martial artists in good protective equipment in some rigorous experiments. We'll run up to a dozen of these, and not all of them will involve 'spear and rotella/aspis'; some will involve 14th and 15th century techniques. At a meta level, we're not just experimenting with mass spear fighting; we'll be setting the ground-rules for a whole generation of future experiments (pike? Legion? Warband? Shield Wall?) and a whole new level of participation in WMA. We'll face issues of simulation and equipment, safety, representation, and tons of data limitations.

At least one professional academic, Dr. Paul Bardunias, will 'conduct' the experiments, setting the controls and leading discussions on the experiences. All of our findings will go into an article or set of articles which Paul will write. BYW, Dr. Bardunias owns a good Greek panoply (harness) and is not an 'armchair historian.'

We invite any trained martial artist who can competently spar with a spear and owns safe protective gear (safe helmet, safe gauntlets, throat protection and gambeson or similar) to participate. There will be some loaner spears and rotella, but it would be ideal if you purchased your own. In addition, those who take the Spear and Rotella class and/or the Sword and rotella class will be more likely to serve in the front ranks and to more fully understand what's going on!

In our ideal experiment, we would have two teams of 64 martial artists, allowing us to fight 8 deep and learn what the effects of pushing are on stance, an every other aspect of combat. We'd really like EVERYONE to come play.

Although the rotella saw a return to prominence in the second half of the 15th century and through the next century and a half, in the late Middle Ages, it was often set-aside in favor of a fully-armoured front rank. We hope to look at this late medieval style of combat, in what might be called 'The Italian Experiment' – detailed below.

Finally, a caution. This is not all out competition combat. There will be quite a bit of stop/start, especially at first. Safety will remain paramount; many of us are veterans of large-scale melee from other organizations and we know the element of risk and we want to mitigate it. This is not the place to be Achilles. This is, quite truly, a scientific experiment. We hope you'll come!

The Italian Experiment 2019 (Mass Combat 2)

Instructor(s): Christian Cameron
Class Category: Special Events
Day and Time: Sun, 10:45am
Class Length: 90 min
Experience Level: Beginner to Intermediate
Intensity Level: Moderate to High
Pre-Requisites: None
Required Equipment: Full sparring kit (minimum), any medieval armour you own, spear, sword, rotella shield.
Maximum Attendees:

Nope, this is not a cooking class!

This year, one of the focuses of WMAW will be on mass combat. We have a unique opportunity not just to participate and learn a little about the way combat worked in the past, but to share our data with professional academics in the worlds of Classics and Renaissance warfare.

The late 14th century (trecento) and 15th century (quattrocento) show a sweeping evolution in arms and armour technology and an increased return to combined arms, as the once dominant heavy cavalry found itself challenged by improved archery, pikes and increasingly, gunpowder. Although Italy continued to make particular use of heavy cavalry, the constant warfare between the northern city-states and the dynastic wars in Naples, the use of professional mercenaries, and the growing influence of Humanist writers, put the peninsula both at the head of the late medieval arms-race, and one of the first places in Europe to look back to the Classical world for inspiration on how to train modern armies and use combined arms.

Occurring at the end of the "Hoplite Experiment" we hope to run TWO versions of late medieval infantry clash, with the front ranks in full late 14th or 15th-century harness and without shields; possibly even with the front ranks fighting with other weapons (long swords).

Finally, a caution. This is not all out competition combat. There will be quite a bit of stop/start, especially at first. Safety will remain paramount; many of us are veterans of large-scale melee from other organizations and we know the element of risk and we want to mitigate it. This is not the place to be Achilles. This is, quite truly, a scientific experiment. We hope you'll come!

The Parson's Challenge

Instructor(s): Eric Myers, Puck Curtis
Class Category: Special Events
Day and Time: Fri, 8:00pm
Class Length: 60 min
Experience Level: All are welcome!
Intensity Level: Intense
Pre-Requisites: See below
Required Equipment: Full fencing kit and any or all of side sword, rapier, small sword, sabre, as well as paired weapons such as sword and dagger or sword and shield.
Maximum Attendees: 40

"Tis no opinion of mine, said Corchuelo, but a manifest truth, and if you will have me show it by experience, there you have foyles commodius: I have an arme, and strength, which together with my courage, which is not small, shall make you confess I am not deceived; alight and keepe your distance, your circles, your corners, and all your Science..."
~Cervantes

Corchuelo calls the diestro to demonstrate his skill and we call on you to do the same. WMAW will host a martial challenge for diestras and diestros who wish to publicly receive challengers on behalf of the tradition. The challenge welcomes all fencers who wish to participate. Defenders shall be asked to represent the Spanish traditions to the best of their ability while challengers may fence using any historical system of their choice. We welcome all of the weapons practiced by the tradition including side sword, rapier, small sword, sabre, as well as paired weapons such as sword and dagger or sword and shield. For safety purposes we must exclude the montante and flail from antagonistic play but we may make time for demonstration of the forms if time permits. If you practice the Iberian arts, this is your chance to represent your tradition on her 450th anniversary. (Specifically we wish to include practitioners of the Common School who are also members of our Destreza family.)

If you are not a practitioner of these arts, we invite you to celebrate with us by testing your skill against ours in fellowship. Let us find together what value there is in the distance, circles, and corners of the Science.

Unarmoured Medieval Weapon Arts

"Whence Comes the Entire Foundation of the Art of Fencing"

Instructor(s): James Reilly
Class Category: Unarmoured Medieval Weapon Arts
Day and Time: Thu, 1:00pm
Class Length: 90 min
Experience Level: Intermediate
Intensity Level: Moderate
Pre-Requisites: Familiarity with the use of the longsword or other medieval weapons.
Required Equipment: Mask, Gloves, Longsword, and one other weapon of choice. Students are encouraged to a single additional weapon such as Rapiers, Quarterstaffs, Messers, Dussacken, or sideswords. Limit additional weapons to one.
Maximum Attendees: 40

This class will explore the tactical framework of Johannes Liechtenauer, in terms of the 5 words, which he lists at the beginning of his recital as being the foundation of all fencing. Strong, Weak, Before, After and Meanwhile are given special importance in the zettel, yet very little explanation. Where there is explanation, it is vague, muddled and even contradictory. This class will be an exploration of the meaning of these terms, with the desire to create a positive account of the fight as Liechtenauer conceived of it. The applications of this material extends across all weapons, both in the KDF tradition, and also in combat more generally.

Don't Be Hasty And Mind Your Step!

Instructor(s): Roland Warzecha
Class Category: Unarmoured Medieval Weapon Arts
Day and Time: Thu, 10:30am
Class Length: 90 min
Experience Level: Everybody is welcome
Intensity Level: Moderate
Pre-Requisites: Being a good person!
Required Equipment: Mask and one or more weapon simulators of your choice
Maximum Attendees: 40

Probably the greatest flaw in modern sparring with sword simulators is charging in without control. However, any sportsman who takes off his mask to look down a sharp blade being pointed at him instantly understands the old masters' obsession with control! In this class we are going to take a close look at measure and order of events and actions within a tempo, to better understand what separates a safe entry from gambling.

Dueling with the Viking Shield

Instructor(s): Arthur von Eschen, Roland Warzecha
Class Category: Unarmoured Medieval Weapon Arts
Day and Time: Sat, 9:00am
Class Length: 3 hrs
Experience Level: Intermediate
Intensity Level: High
Pre-Requisites: Decent shoulder muscles help!
Required Equipment: Mask, blunt hand axe or single sword, preferably of a 9th/10th century type (but medieval ones will do, too). Loaner shields available. If you have your own, you are welcome to bring your authentic Viking shield.
Maximum Attendees: 40

This class will explore the application of well-documented principles of later historical combat arts to typical 9th century armament. We will learn how a flat center-gripped round shield can be used as a weapon in close combat. Special attention will be given to establishing a shield bind, sensing through a shield and how to work from a shield bind. At the same time we will learn how to safely deal a devastating blow when attack lines are limited by the opponent's shield. The focus is on understanding the under-lying principles on the one hand, and correct posture and body mechanics on the other.

How to Simplify a Combat System: Principles of George Silver's True Fight

Instructor(s): Stephen Hand
Class Category: Unarmoured Medieval Weapon Arts
Day and Time: Fri, 9:00am
Class Length: 3 hrs
Experience Level: Intermediate
Intensity Level: Moderate
Pre-Requisites: None
Required Equipment: Students will need a basket hilted sword or similar, a fencing mask and ideally a vambrace for the sword arm.
Maximum Attendees: 40

George Silver structured his combat system through his four fights. This class will examine how that division simplifies the decision-making process and makes his system easier to learn and master than many others. We will examine the critical principles behind Silver's system and look at the purpose of each of the four fights and how they should be used. It will primarily work through Silver's core weapon, the basket hilted "shortsword" but will touch on his advice on the use of dagger and buckler.

Longsword: Building Complex Actions

Instructor(s): Devon Boorman
Class Category: Unarmoured Medieval Weapon Arts
Day and Time: Sat, 4:45pm
Class Length: 90 min
Experience Level: Intermediate
Intensity Level: Moderate
Pre-Requisites: Students are expected to have a solid grounding in the use of the sword in two hands. Backgrounds in any traditions are welcome.
Required Equipment: Masks, gorgets, gloves, swords, required. All actions will be conducted at controlled speeds.
Maximum Attendees: 40

How do you build the capacity to stay present beyond one or two actions in a longsword fight? How do you not only start the fight but stay in long enough to work your plan? How do you get your opponent to stop suspecting everything you're doing is some kind of trap--especially when it is?

In this workshop students will explore the anatomy of complex fighting actions. How to effectively enter into combat, constrain the opponent, setup secondary and tertiary actions, and how to bury your true intentions deeper in the action so deceptions are less obvious.

Students will explore:

  • Effective entry
  • Strategic and tactical constraint
  • Provocation (how to get the opponent to do what you want)
  • Mechanics of stringing together multiple actions
  • How to practice and condition complex sequences
  • How to not over-fight your opponent (i.e. do something complex when simple is all that's required)

Positional Theory of Combat Strategy: Tactical Analysis & Strategic Planning in the Fight

Instructor(s): Sean Hayes
Class Category: Unarmoured Medieval Weapon Arts
Day and Time: Fri, 1:00pm
Class Length: 3 hrs
Experience Level:
Intensity Level: High
Pre-Requisites: Basic familiarity with medieval longsword, Italian or German;
Required Equipment: Longsword, Sparring Kit of gambeson, steel gauntlets or similar, gorget, elbow protection, mask (please kit up for mobility, with no heavy modern HEMA armor - contact me if you have questions)
Maximum Attendees: 40

Successful fighting at any weapon is significantly more than simply knowing techniques and possessing courage in adequate degree. Students of any martial study frequently confuse technical ability, which is learned and demonstrated in drills and exercises, with fighting ability. The former is necessary to the latter, but having technical skills is not the same as having fighting skills. Strategy is the plan of attack decided upon by the individual combatant; tactics are the means to implement that plan - they are the application of technical skills in a specific situation. This class details a method for quickly assessing the adversary and planning the fight - and revising the plan as needed. There are three sets of characteristics to be considered: physical, temperamental, and strategic.

Physical - Relative to your opponent, you are:

  • Longer, Equal, or Shorter (have greater, similar, or lesser reach)
  • Faster, Equal, or Slower
  • Stronger, Equal, or Weaker

Quickly assessing these qualities will allow you to choose a sound initial strategy: if you are longer, you can use your reach to advantage; if you are slower, you must set up actions in tempo to use their speed against them; if you are are weaker, you will find it harder to hold a line closed against them unless you have absolute advantage of strong to weak. Using the intersection of these characteristics, the fighter can form a preliminary strategy and begin to implement it, assess the results, and revise as needed.

Temperament - Your opponent (and you) will be somewhere along this spectrum:

  • Timid - very reluctant to engage or join the fight
  • Cautious - slow to engage, spends a lot of time assessing
  • Cool - keeps calm and focused, fights judiciously
  • Valorous - presses and stays in the fight
  • Impetuous - joins the fight quickly and without due consideration

Each of these in your opponent presents specific challenges to address (and you will want to be somewhere between Cool and Valorous!)

Strategic - Your opponent will take one of these strategies:

  • Offensive - tends to take the offense
  • Defensive - tends to stay on defense
  • Counteroffensive - tends to attack into the attack
  • Mixed - some balance of these

You must develop a strategy for approaching a specific opponent, planned from consideration of all the above elements, and implement that strategy with specific tactics. This is a hard-earned skill, particularly because there is often little time to strategize. This is where both training and experience come into play, allowing the fighter to make initial assessments to form a preliminary strategy, and to rapidly reassess that strategy during the fight. We will develop a series of drills around the general physical characteristics noted above; these drills become the specific tactics necessary to enact a chosen strategy.

We'll then add in assessments of the opponent's temperament and strategy to arrive at our own strategic plan. The drills will take into account shifting actions on the part of the drill partner, and allow both partners limited freedom of action within a general framework. Drills of this type assist greatly in developing the ability to implement, and change, tactical approaches while under the pressure of a fight. Finally, we'll engage in freeplay to practice our new decision-making skills in a spontaneous environment.

Schlach Vach; Streich Stich mit Stössen — Fighting from the Zufechten

Instructor(s): Jessica Finley
Class Category: Unarmoured Medieval Weapon Arts
Day and Time: Thu, 5:00pm
Class Length: 90 min
Experience Level: Intermediate
Intensity Level: Moderate
Pre-Requisites: Basic familiarity with the longsword.
Required Equipment: Tipped Longsword, Gorget, Mask and heavy gloves or gauntlets are required. This will be a thrust-centric class, so plastron and jacket are encouraged.
Maximum Attendees: 40

Often a lot of our attention and training is focused on the time beginning just after strikes have been launched through a hit being landed, however many actions that takes. The moment before that, the Zufechten is nebulous in both time and distance. How do we safely approach from where there is no fight, to the place where that fight has to happen? This class will explore Liechtenauer's tactics – as informed by research on the hunting treatises and allegorical poems of his day. The name of this class, from a line of Liechtenauer's verse, contains both fight and hunting imagery. Schlach and Vach – Imagine a trap door falling onto a bird lured in by tempting bait and who is then caught. Streich Stich mit Stössen – Imagine casting off a hawk who flies straight and dives onto the prey. Now, we get to do this with swords, and see how this allegory fits into the Zufechten!

Strengthen Your Sword

Instructor(s): James Reilly
Class Category: Unarmoured Medieval Weapon Arts
Day and Time: Fri, 1:00pm
Class Length: 90 min
Experience Level: Beginner - Intermediate
Intensity Level: Moderate
Pre-Requisites: Basic familiarity with the longsword.
Required Equipment: Longsword, mask and gloves
Maximum Attendees: 40

This class will explore the use of the point forward strong parry as Liechtenauer's primary method of defense. It will discuss body mechanics and sword geometry of a strong posture. It will discuss under what circumstances Liechtenauer advises this posture, and develop techniques to use once that position has been achieved.

The Longsword of Filippo Vadi: Playing in Zogho Largo

Instructor(s): Gregory Mele
Class Category: Unarmoured Medieval Weapon Arts
Day and Time: Fri, 9:00am
Class Length: 3 hrs
Experience Level: Beginner to Intermediate
Intensity Level: Moderate
Pre-Requisites: A foundation in two-handed medieval sword use.
Required Equipment: Mask, gorget, gloves, longsword. Sword should ideally, reach the student's armpit and have a long hilt, but a sword of at least 48" will work in most cases.
Maximum Attendees: 40

Filippo Vadi was acquainted with the armizare tradition of Fiore dei Liberi and c. 1482 composed his own fencing manual for the young Duke of Urbino. Due to the close connection between this work – De Arte Gladiatoria Dimicandi (On the Art of the Sword) and the Pisani-Dossi and Florius versions of Fiore's own Flower of Battle, Vadi's role in the tradition is often misunderstood. While one theory wrongly considers his work to be merely a copy and redaction of Fiore's own, another looks at some of his superficial changes to the guards, use of a longer sword and boast that he has created "a new art" and take those words at face value. In truth, neither are true: rather, Vadi represents a creative evolution of the tradition, whose work both offers tactical insights into the early master's writings, and contains a number of adaptations of his own.

Vadi introduces a number of "firsts" or creates unique adaptations of Fiore's fight, most of which impact the first phase, or wide play, of the fight, and we will examine a number of these elements:

  • stances "in piccolo passo" (narrow footing);
  • right-leg lead guards;
  • "Sun, Tower and Wheel": the use of Vadi's "new footwork;"
  • use of the stramazzone and rotare to chain together feints and attacks;
  • coming to the half-sword.

Towards a Grand Unifying Theory of Sword and Buckler

Instructor(s): Stephen Hand
Class Category: Unarmoured Medieval Weapon Arts
Day and Time: Sun, 1:45pm
Class Length: 90 min
Experience Level: Intermediate
Intensity Level: Moderate
Pre-Requisites: None
Required Equipment: Students will need a single-handed sword that allows you to cut and thrust (arming swords, 16th century spada and basket hilted swords will all work) a buckler, fencing mask and if possible a dagger to compare dagger and buckler techniques.
Maximum Attendees: 40

George Silver hid his instructions on how to use the sword and buckler under several layers of obfuscation, essentially saying to use the buckler as you would use the dagger and use the dagger as you'd use the unarmed off-hand. When you unpack that and do as he says it starts to look a hell of a lot like one of the other major sword and buckler systems in HEMA. This class will follow that journey of discovery and suggest what that might mean for the study of sword and buckler as a whole.