Classes at WMAW

We will update with more class descriptions as they become available.

MEDIEVAL WEAPON ARTS

A Practical Approach to Fighting with Spear

Instructor: Loreen Mattis

Length: 90 min

Required Equipment: 6 – 8’ spear or staff, Protective equipment required for sparring with moderate/speed and intensity – mask, gorget, gloves, groin protection, and light body protection.

This course addresses the basics of fencing with the spear, in and out of armor, as described in the German fighting manuals. Learn to use the fülen to appropriately apply foundational winding and binding techniques. This course is appropriate for the practitioner who is new to the German approach or the spear as a weapon in general, as well as the seasoned combatant looking for refinement in their technique.  

Training Games

Instructor: Loreen Mattis

Length: 2 hrs

Required Equipment: Longsword, Protective equipment required for sparring with moderate/speed and intensity – mask, gorget, gloves, groin protection, and light body protection. 

Learn enjoyable skill building games and activities which can be customized to fit a variety of needs in the HEMA student. This class specifically addresses broadening the techniques and building the confidence of students fitting into three categories: those prone to charging in, those who consistently back away from the fight rather than maintaining engagement, and those who feel they rely too heavily on a single “go to” technique. This course is geared toward working with the longsword, however, many of the activities can be adapted to the use of a variety of weapons.

Find Your Inner Animals: The Symbology of the Swordsman

Instructor: Mark Lancaster, assisted by Luke Ireland

Length: 2 hrs

Required Equipment: Longsword, Mask, Gloves Jacket recommended

Lynx, Lion, Elephant and Tiger, the four animals that form the martial principles underpinning the Art of Fiore dei Liberi.  In this class we will explore the nature of these principles and how they are brought together to Master the fight.

It’s Just a Sword

Instructor: Mark Lancaster, assisted by Luke Ireland

Length: 2 hrs

Required Equipment: Longsword, Mask, Gloves, Jacket recommended

With Fiore we talk about una mane, due mano, stretto and largo but it is just a sword. 

In this class we will look at using the Sword itself in different situations and if that should be one handed, two handed, half-swording or thrown!

From Messer to Dussack

Instructor: Petr Turya

Length: 2 hrs

Required Equipment: Longsword, Mask, Gloves

Not sure what a messer is? Or a dussack? How one, popular in the late 15th century, gives way to the other. This short intro into the tradition according to J. Leckuchner and J. Meyer begins with the six master cuts and shows the strikes and their defenses can create endless basic and advanced moves.

Halberd and Murder Axe: Polearm Combat of Master Peter Falkner

Instructor: Christian Tobler

Length: 90 min

Required equipment: Mask, gloves, armor if you have it! Some poleaxes should be available, but bring your own if possible.

Peter Falkner, writing in the 1490s, stresses the universality of polearm technique – his six techniques apply to halberd, battle axe, or “murder axe”. Falkner’s plays include three different covers, a couple of counter-techniques, and one very amusingly sneaky attack! They form a basic introduction to this powerful armoured form.

Long Shield and Sword Combat from ‘Gladiatoria’

Instructor: Christian Tobler

Length: 3 hrs

Required equipment: Mask, gloves, a steel arming sword. Long shield simulators will be provided.

The 1440’s fight book “Gladiatoria”, while primarily aimed at armoured combat, is also one of the finest sources for combat with the exotic ‘long shields’ that appear in numerous 15th century manuscripts. We will train the five techniques for the long shield and sword, each of which is supplied with a counter-technique. This is a truly elegant mini-system, so come prepared for a unique and fun experience!

Messerfechten of the Baumann’s Fechtbuch

Instructor: Christian Tobler

Length: 2 hrs

Required equipment: Mask, gloves, steel messer or arming sword.

The eight techniques for the Messer appearing in the Baumann’s compendium form a miniature treatise. Each begins with a cover before concluding with a relatively counterattack or grapple. Much like another short treatise on the Messer found in the Glasgow Fechtbuch, this suite of plays seems aimed at the fencer who “needs to learn some basic messer…quick!”

Three Turns of the Sword

Instructor: Greg Mele

Length: 2 hrs

Required Equipment: Mask, gloves, longsword

Fiore describes three turns of the body (stable, half and whole), and tells us the sword also makes three turns, yet he doesn’t describe them. The half and full turns are also alluded to in 16th century fencing, with the half-turn a recurring term (and clearly detailed) right into the 17th century. Can we elucidate what Fiore meant?

Using the idea that the turns of the body differentiate from steps by being tactical in nature, we will demonstrate a likely use of the three turns of the sword, and the plays – directly depicted by Fiore himself, that reinforce this idea, creating a tactical framework of how to work in the bind that will be familiar – and just a bit alien – to students of the German tradition as well.

The Foundation of Swordplay is In Wrestling: Basic and Advanced Body Mechanics for Swordsmanship

Instructor: Petr Turya

Length: 3 hrs

Required Equipment: Longsword, Mask, Gloves

Part One: Rignen as the fundamentals for European sword fighting. Basic and advanced biomechanics, which reflects into longsword. 

Here you will learn:

  1. How to structure body position thanks to Ringen methodology. 
  2. How to find own perfect body position with and without weapon. 
  3. How to break the opponent’ss body structure.
  4. Building own skill to control “die Wage“- center of gravity. 
  5. How to: Break arms, legs, throw.

We will apply these ideas through reconstructed moves from F. v. Auerswald (Arms locks and throws)

 

Part Two Renaissance longsword tradition by J. Meyer, P. H. Mair

The 16th c longsword is a continuation of what came before, but provides us very detailed and crips instructions that both clarifies what came before and shows how the art was still evolving. In this class we will focus on how to master and develop cuts and their use in combat

  1. How to flow though positions. 
  2. How to distinguish cut and slice.
  3. Basic and advanced assault combinations. 1 to 3 strikes, 3 to 5 strikes.
  4. Combination of Ablauffen (Running around) and various strikes.

Khevsur training methods and developing active Shield/Buckler use

Instructor: Mike Cherba

Length: 2 hrs

Required Equipment:: Buckler or Shield (round or otherwise, center grip of strapped), and a sword.  

 

One key aspect of the Khevsur form of sword and shield/buckler is a highly active role for the pari (shield or buckler).  In this workshop we will explore ways to train and develop active buckler and shield use via both modern methods and the traditional Khevsur “training puzzle” type drills. As might be expected, the same methods can be applied to other weapons combinations to good effect.  We will walk through several drills we use in our training, as well as talk about how the Khevsur traditionally created and assigned these drills to fighters.

Lashkroba: Introduction to Georgian Sword and Buckler

Instructor: Mike Cherba

Length: 2 hrs

Required Equipment: A straight or slightly curved single handed sword, messer, or sabre with a short guard or no guard, a round buckler. 

 

We will be going over the basic principles of Lashkroba, (guards, cuts, footwork, etc) and then diving into some of the drills used by the Khevsur to develop their skills with this weapon combination.  The style itself is known for linked sword and buckler actions and heavy cut focus.  As well as level shifting and aggressive buckler use.  Be prepared to USE your buckler very actively!

RENAISSANCE/EARLY MODERN WEAPON ARTS

An Approximation to Polearms in Verdadera Destreza 

Instructor: Ton Puey

Length: 2 hrs

Required Equipment: Partisan, spear or staff, mask, gloves

Some of the Verdadera Destreza Authors were of the opinion that the system could be applied to “all weapons”. While this is an exaggeration on a practical level, it does make sense in the case of polearms, as we can consider the intersecting lines that underlie the theory of the system directly applicable to even these massive weapons. In this workshop we will look at the similarities and some of the differences between using the staff-weapon with the principles of the True Science to those of the sword.

A Century of Montante: UNA ESCUELA A LO LARGO DEL TIEMPO: BARBARÁN –FIGUEREDO

Instructor: Ton Puey

Length: 2 hrs

Required Equipment: Montante or spadone; if you don’t have one, a 5 – 5.5’ staff is a better choice than a longsword. We will share and trade weapons as necessary.

The first text in which we find a description of the use of a true two-handed sword is that of Luís Barbarán, between 1526 and 1528. We can find the same techniques more than 100 years later in the most famous and complete text on the use of the Montante (probably a larger version of the weapon used by Barbarán) which is Diogo Gomes de Figueiredo’s Memorial Da Prattica do Montante. Same rules? Adaptations on them? In this workshop we will compare the descriptions and possible interpretations of them.

Highland Broadsword & Targe

Instructor: Jay Maas

Length: 2 hrs

Required Equipment: Scottish targe (preferred), large buckler or rotella, one-handed sword (broadsword, side-sword or arming sword), mask, jacket and gloves.

The broadsword and targe are the iconic weapons of the Highlanders. In this class we will explore their use as recorded by Thomas Page, McBane as well as in period artwork such as the Penicuik Sketches, demonstrating that there is a coherent, and consistent method of its use that can still be learned today.

Italian Dueling sword – Practical Italian Epee as a martial art

Instructor: Eric Meyers and Puck Curtis

Length: 2 hrs

Required Equipment: Mask, jacket, smallsword or epee

Class description to follow.

Punta to Punto

Instructor: Rob Rutherfoord

Length: 2 hrs.

Required Equipment: sidesword or rapier, mask, gloves. 

In this class we will explore the idea of ‘il punto’ as described by the early 16th century, Italian author, Marco Docciolini. What is the balance between constrainment, freeing our weapon, and threatening the opponent? Docciolini will answer that question for us with one simple concept.

The Rapier: Guards in Motion

Instructor: John O’Meara

Length: 2 hours

Required Equipment: rapier kit

The art of the rapier is a linear one — mostly. Getting the point of the sword where you want it, when you want it, while maintaining a good, defensive guard, requires controlled, deliberate movement — the very essence of what Fabris calls “union of forces”. This class will be a new look at footwork and moving through the guards of Italian rapier. A good preparatory class for “Using the Measures”.

Space, Body Position and Movement in Francisco Lorenç De Rada ´S Destreza. 

Instructor: Ton Puey

Length: 3 hrs.

Required Equipment: Rapier, jacket, mask, gloves

In the pinnacle of the VD system in the famous treat rise of Francisco Lorenç de Rada “Nobleza de la Espada” we can see how body positions that where not mentioned before are described in great detail, as well as the movements necessary to perform the techniques that are performed with the sword, the sword and dagger and sword and buckler. In this workshop we are going to study these positions and space management.

Taking the Low Road (or ‘When They Go High You Go Low’) – An Exploration in Bolognese Leg Cutting

Instructor: Davis Vader

Length: 90 minutes

Required Equipment: Sidesword (free of burs!), mask, knee protection recommended, fully-clothed legs required. Buckler, rotella, or parrying dagger. 

This class will explore the mechanical and tactical considerations when choosing a cut to the leg over a more conventional head or arm cut, as well as the remedies against such blows as found in the Bolognese manuscripts. The majority of the class will be spent on the sword alone, but near the end will look at how adding a buckler, dagger, or rotella makes these moves more appealing. 

The True Principles of Combat

Instructor: Rob Rutherfoord

Length: 2 hrs.

Required Equipment: cut and thrust, single handed sword, mask, gloves. 

In this class we will explore the single-sword of Heinrich von Gunterrodt (one of the owners of the oldest fencing treatise, I.33). We will see how he draws parallels between the sword and buckler system of his 14th century monks and the contemporary German rapier/sidesword of the late 16th c.

Using the Measures (All of Them)

Instructor: John O’Meara

Length: 3 hours

Required Equipment: rapier kit or any weapon

The most important aspect of fighting, with any weapon, is control of distance — and not just striking distance. We will be using the rapier to explore the use of all three measures (yes, three) in controlling the fight; but the principles are weapon-agnostic.

 

 

HAMA – HISTORICAL AFRICAN MARTIAL ARTS

Shotel: Abyssinian Sickle Sword

Instructor: Da’mon Stith

Length: 2 hrs

Equipment: Shotel, shamshir and buckler, mask

The shotel is the iconic sickle sword of medieval Abyssinia. It features a double-edged often semicircular blade that could be used to slash like shamshir or hack and pierce like a sickle or hook. Its origins are shrouded in mystery but some trace its roots to the kingdom of Axum. While others refer to the elite troops of Emperor Amda Seyon the Bashar Shotel. This weapon was put to brutal use during the battle of Adwa against the invading Italian army. 19th-century explorers make reference to shotel being used to hook around shields. In this class, we will be exploring the use of the shotel in conjunction with gashaa (shield). We will be using a number of different sources in order to guide our reconstruction.

North African Stick and Sabre

Instructor: Da’mon Stith

Length: 2 hrs

Equipment: Shotel, shamshir and buckler, mask

In 711 BCE a small group of Berbers crossed the Straits of Gibraltar and conquered the Iberian peninsula marking the start of Moorish cultural influence in Spain and Portugal. The Moors (a catch-all term used to refer to Muslims, especially from Africa that came to rule over Spain for seven centuries) brought with them their language, culture, love for literacy and mathematics as well as their unique way of fighting. In this course, we will explore fencing with stick and sword as practiced in the Maghreb (Northwest Africa). We will be drawing from historical sources such as the Mamluk Treatise Kitāb al-makhzūn jāmiʻ al-funūn (The treasure that combines all arts), and the living tradition of Al Matrag a form of stick fighting practiced in Algeria.

Machete Fencing in the African Diaspora

Instructor: Da’mon Stith

Length: 2 hrs

Equipment: Shotel, shamshir and buckler, mask

In this course, we will focus on the basic principles of two styles of machete fencing found in the African Diaspora: Esgrima con machete a form of machete fencing that originates in Cauca a state located on 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, and Tire Machet is a general term for machete fencing in Haiti. In this course we will explore the Avril family system, a unique style that places a greater emphasis on dynamic footwork, defensive movements as well blade binding.

CLOSE-QUARTERS COMBAT – WRESTLING, DAGGER, KNIFE

Italian Pugilato: From Ancient, Medieval and Renaissance Boxing to Contemporary Bare Knuckle Street Fighting Styles

Instructor: Marco Quarta

Length: 3 hrs

Requirements: Mouth guard, towel, water-bottle

Boxing or striking is the companion to wrestling, a part of Mediterranean culture going back to the pancrase/pancration of Classical Greece and Rome. There is a notion that striking arts disappeared in the Middle Ages only to reemerge in the modern era, but this simply isn’t true! In this workshop you will learn how to follow the winding, two and a half millennium long path of pugilism in the Italian peninsula as well as the strikes, guards and tactics common throughout its evolution and many branches.

Italian Grappling – Capofitto, or the Art Flipping Heads to the Ground

Instructor: Marco Quarta

Length: 90 min

Requirements: Mouth guard, towel, water-bottle

Throws and take-downs and the hallmark of standing-wrestling, or grappling, and have a long, or longer, a tradition in Italian martial arts than boxing. This energetic workshop will focus on a few of the core dynamic grapples of the Italian tradition. Do not attend if you are not comfortable with falling!

Renaissance Wrestling – The Technical wrestling system of Fabian Von Auerswald

Instructor: James Reilly

Length: 90 min

Requirements: Towel, water-bottle

This class will look at ways of understanding dominant positioning, tactical decision making, explore the dimension of time, how to capture instances of motion to work within, and how to coordinate instances of movement across space and time. Students are encouraged to wear wrestling jackets suitable for historical jacketed wrestling. These include HEMAWear and Spes brand wrestling jackets. No jacket is required for the class.

Motion, Local and Otherwise – Coordinating Physical Behavior Across the Dimension of Time

Instructor: James Reilly

Length: 2 hrs

Requirements: Towel, water-bottle

Historically, Dancing has invariably been featured among several areas of medieval martial training. While wrestling, stone throwing, vaulting and leaping have direct and obvious applications in various combat environments, the application of medieval dance to martial contexts is a bit more subtle, but no less important. This class will look at ways of understanding dominant positioning and tactical decision making based on timing, proportion, cadence, dynamic emphasis, and swing. Specifically how to capture instances of motion to work Indes and how to use medieval training methods to achieve this. The workshop will touch on wrestling and medieval dance as a way to access timing and apply it back into our fencing so that we can apply core techniques when the timing is right.

Per La Vita: Abrazare isn’t just Wrestling

Instructor: Luke Ireland, assisted by Mark Lancaster 

Required Equipment: All Optional: Abrazare/Ringen jacket, MMA/Grappling gloves, Headguard, Mouthpiece, Focus Pads

Fiore tells us in his introduction that there are two types of Abrazare, for fun and for your life, and that he wishes to address the latter. In this class we will explore what he may have meant by that term.

The Old Grab n Stab

Instructor: Luke Ireland, assisted by Mark Lancaster

Length: 90 min

Required Equipment: Mask, Training Dagger (Wooden/Synthetic), Old unwanted T shirt, Jacket recommended

Fiore’s 5th Master is the outlier within his 9 Masters of Dagger. Not only because it deals with an attacker who has grabbed you, but also in that it requires you to apply plays from several of the other 8 Masters, and the dagger may or may not be in play. 

 

During this class we will look at how you ended up in this position, which play you should use and why.

LECTURES

Georgia and Khevsurs

Instructor: Mike Cherba

Length: 90 min

Deep in the Caucasus mountains of the Republic of Georgia, there was a place where people still wore mail armour and fought with swords and bucklers well into the 20th Century. This wasn’t a theme park or living history experience, but the region of Khevsureti. This presentation will provide an overview of the history of Georgia, the Khevsur tribes, and the conditions that allowed them to become warriors feared throughout the region and maintain their sword and buckler tradition well into the modern era.  We’ll also talk about the efforts that have taken place since the dissolution of the Soviet Union to preserve and reconstruct as much of the tradition as possible.

Maximilian I and the Kunst des Fechtens

Instructor: Christian Tobler

Length: 90 min

The Holy Roman Emperor Maximilian I is well-known to historians for his enthusiasm for arms and armor…and his self-promotional literary creations. Much less known is how these memorial works reveal his interest in, and connections to, the fight book tradition. This presentation examines the emperor and his oeuvre, with a focus on his own training, as presented in his thinly veiled heroic biographical works.

No True Scotsman: The Truth About What’s Under the Kilt of Highland Broadsword

Instructor: Jay Maas

Length: 1 hr

Highland broadsword is without doubt one of the most romanticized branches of historical fencing.  Was there truly uniquely “British” fencing? If so, is there truly a uniquely Scots, let-alone, Highland style that was part of a larger, indigenous fighting tradition? Some of the answers may surprise you!

 

This will be a brief talk and discussion about the swordsmanship indigenous to the British Isles and its connection to continental fencing in the 18th and 19th centuries.