Thursday, September 24, 2009
Tuesday, September 22, 2009
Friday, September 11, 2009
Thursday, September 10, 2009
Although in general I really enjoy small classes, whenever the number is under five (including me), I tend to overemphasize a lot of things, and make every effort to make sure that everyone understands everything. It doesn't work in a classroom, and it doesn't work in a fencing salle. Tonight's class was supposed to be on the true fight (which I did cover, and went very well, actually), but it eventually turned into a symposium on the presence of the point, a concept that is key to excelling at the rapier. Muscular strength - while nice - is not what rapier is all about. Rapier is all about mastering time, distance and proportion, all by doing virtually effortless motions of the hand. This is something I need to work on myself for basically the rest of my existence.
Anyway, the one great thing that came out of tonight's class - and I hear this all the time during grappling class at AEMMA - is that if everything is aligned, i.e. my structure is sound, I'm acting in the right time at the right distance, doing should be absolutely effortless. Or really close to it. Changing the proportion of my sword's angle as I step back requires no physical effort at all from me, and it gives me a tremendous advantage.
Goal for this Saturday, regardless of who shows up: let the weapon do the work for me.
Wednesday, September 9, 2009
The absolute first thing I'll be posting will be from Dall'Agocchie's treatise, on what he calls stepping in the guards. It's an incredible simple form designed to get the new student used to the stepping patterns used in the Bolognese system, but it also contains a number of important sword actions which are seen again and again throughout his text: the dritto and riverso ribbon cuts, the tramazzone, and the riverso ridoppio-imbroccata combo. I've been working with his treatise for so long (a year and a half now), and I feel the urge to produce something from my experiences.
I also plan to take some short videos from class, which will focus either on a particular drill, a concept, or a moment in time, otherwise known as a play. I'll start with some really simple stuff (striking as my opponent enters misura larga, cavazione to regain the line, the counter-stepping drill), before moving on to some complex exchanges.
Now I just need some volunteers, and possibly someone with a nice camera...
My goal for the class on campus is to reach out to the student population at UofT, bringing in some new bodies, which is good for everyone in the long run; the more people we have learning, the more we all have a chance to fence with "many diverse players." Due to the initial equipment dilemma, I'll have to limit numbers to twelve students maximum, and we won't be doing any "fencing" until after the foundations of the Art have been understood to a satisfactory degree. Students will be expected to purchase their own equipment by the end of the eighth class, which includes specifically a mask and a rapier.
Material to cover during the eight weeks:
1: the essentials of posture, movement, the four guard positions, and the lunge.
2: an introduction to measure and angulation of the sword and body.
3: introduction to the concepts of trovare di spada, stringere, and guadagnare.
4: introduction to the various meanings of tempo.
5: the true fight.
6: expanding on the true fight, incorporating cuts, offhand use.
7: introduction to the deceptive fight, i.e. the basic feints.
8: tying it all together, the test.
I'm really looking forward to branching out; this should be good.
Tuesday, September 8, 2009
9h00-9h30: warm-up, basic footwork and targeting drills. (All students) Short break.
9h30-10h00: intro to dagger (blue) and both fights (green). Short break.
10h00-10h15: slow work.
10h15-end: attacker/defender scenarios: free, back against the wall, having been hit. (Hope to have time for all three)
Things might change slightly depending on how many people show up, but we shall see...
So far, we have six students (including myself) signed up for Jared's seminar. Keep the names coming!
Monday, September 7, 2009
Speaking of which, after the small hiccup caused by Labour Day weekend, we'll be having our second free fencing session at Queen's Park (at the UofT0 campus) from 12-2, weather permitting. Otherwise, we'll be at the salle. I'll be running a short lesson from 11-12 beforehand, and then we'll get right into fencing right away. There is no fee, and the only requirements are the following:
- Fencing mask
- Gorget (if not, you'll only be allowed to do slower speed fencing)
- A rapier. Pretty obvious, no?
- Fencing jackets or a heavier shirt is preferable; if you have one, bring it.
We don't fence for points - they sure as heck didn't do that in the 16th century - so all good hits count. Obviously, this is a very subjective qualifier, so I'll do my best to explain what I mean. Any solid thrust to a major target (head, throat, chest, under the arm, torso, flank, inside of the thigh) is a killing blow, as well as a cut to any of these areas. If one or both fencers receives a hit in one of these places, the fencers will reset, and fence again. A thrust or cut to any other target will also be cause for a reset, but only if the blow is good, i.e. the blade bends during the thrust, or the cut draws through; it's pretty hard to fence without a swordarm or feet. Seizures of the blade and swordarm are allowed, though full-on wrestling is not.
In other news, very important news, I might mention, Jared Kirby, the translator of Capoferro's fencing treatise Gran Simulacro, is coming to FAC for a two-day workshop on the 26th and 27th of September. If you are even remotely interested in rapier, or historical martial arts in general, this is definitely the workshop to attend. Mr. Kirby is an excellent fencer and instructor, and I hope you can all help me welcome him to Toronto with a big turnout. So without further ado, here's the workshop description.
Deconstructing Capo Ferro
Although Capo Ferro has not left us a “manual” to work from, his brilliant treatise hold the keys necessary to recreate his system of fencing while also giving a wonderful glimpse of contemporary fencing as well as the opinions of other masters. This weekend will give you guidelines to understanding how Capo Ferro presents information as we work on distilling his system from the source. This is an advanced workshop for those studying Capo Ferro's work and will assume you have read "Gran Simulacro dell’arte e dell’uso della Scherma" or "Italian Rapier Combat".
Class will begin with the posture and guard which are the foundation of all fencing. We will look at how Capo Ferro explains his guardia and where to find the information in his book. Using this information we will then assume the posture precisely as he describes and illustrates. Once in the proper posture, we will add the weapon and position it exactly as Capo Ferro describes in order to form his one and only guardia.
From this guardia, we will examine how Capo Ferro prepares and executes an attack. Start with his footwork, we will analyze the passo straordinario in order to perform the precise mechanics of his unique ‘lunge’. Next, we will examine how to enter the fight and create tempo for your attack. The workshop will conclude with an examination of how to position ourselves to facilitate defense in the attack.
Bio: Jared Kirby has been involved in Western Martial Arts for over fifteen years. He co-founded The New Dawn Duellists Society in Minneapolis, MN in order to generate interest in the study of Historical European Martial Arts. After several years of recreating western swordfighting from the historical treatises, he moved to Scotland and studied with Maestro Paul Macdonald. After returning to the U.S., he moved to New York City in order to learn the Spanish Rapier from Maestro Ramón Martínez. Jared has studied and trained at the Academy for 10 years and is an Instructor of Spanish and Italian Rapier as well as French Foil at the Martinez Academy of Arms in New York City.
He is currently the fencing instructor at SUNY Purchase and also teaches teaches a variety of workshops across the US and around the world including Canada, England, Scotland, Finland and Italy. He has taught at the Paddy Crean International Art of the Sword Workshop, the International Swordfighting and Martial Arts Convention (ISMAC), Rapier Camp and the Western Washington WMA Workshop just to name a few.
Jared is the editor and one of the translators of “Italian Rapier Combat”, the first complete, professional translation of Capo Ferro. He is also the editor and wrote the introduction for “The School of Fencing” by Domenico Angelo and annotated by Maestro Jeannette Acosta-Martínez. For more information, see Martinez Academy of Arms or Amazon.com.
He is the co-coordinator of the International Swordfighting and Martial Arts Convention in Detroit, MI. This workshop, created in 2000, brings together the finest instructors from around the world for one of the largest annual Western Martial Arts workshops. Jared is also a member of the Association for Historical Fencing.
The cost for the workshop is $100, and will run from 10-3 on Saturday, and 11-4 on Sunday. Required equipment: rapier, mask, gorget, fencing jacket or gambeson, gloves. If there are any questions, feel free to contact me.
Wow, that was a long post. I think I'm done now.
Sunday, September 6, 2009
Thursday: 16h00-18h00 (tentatively)
In addition, every two weeks we host a free fencing session at FAC from 12h00-14h00 on Saturdays, to which everyone is welcome.
I began my journey of historical fencing in Vancouver in 2006 (on Guy Fawke's Day, coincidentally) when I showed up for my first class at Academie Duello. I had been trying to find a martial arts school that suited my personal tastes for quite some time at that point, and having been weened on Dumas and all sorts of swashbuckling films, the rapier appealed to me immediately. I am so lucky to have walked into the studio that Autumn night, or else one of my lifelong passions might have just passed me by: without a question, taking up fencing was one of the most rewarding experiences I've ever had in my life. Not only is it an incredible physical exercise, but it involves every fibre of one's being; needless to say, there has never been a dull moment, and I know I'll never be done learning.
Starting up fencing has also been a tremendous social boon for me, as I have met a number of really wonderful people through fencing, most of whom I can consider my close friends. Not to mention the love of my life, whom I met during my first month of teaching. : ) Although everyone I met at Duello has played some part in my life, I owe my biggest thanks to Devon, who has been an excellent instructor and friend, and who has entrusted me with a number of projects, notably bringing the curriculum to Toronto, where I'm now teaching rapier.
After finishing my master's degree at UBC in the spring 0f 2008, I decided to continue my studies in Toronto at the UofT, a city that was also the home of AEMMA, a school that had been on my fencing radar for quite some time, possibly even before I found out about Academie Duello. Although I was quite disheartened to leave all of my friends in Vancouver behind (save one!), I was quite thrilled to start anew in Toronto, with a whole new group of people. Although the curriculum here is quite different from the one I was used to in Vancouver, I have learned a tremendous deal from my fellow scholler's and instructors since being here, and have felt myself grow as a martial artist and an instructor. Things are looking good.
So now that I have made the obligatory lengthy introduction, I can get down to the reason why I started this blog in the first place: involving more people in the fencing community, by offering classes, workshops, bimonthly open free-fencing sessions, and seminars from some of the best instructors out there. I love perfecting my knowledge, and I love passing it on to other people, and that is what I plan to do.