Instruction in the use of the longsword exposes the
new historical fencer to the fundamentals of combat with all
Renaissance close-combat weapons. For this reason, all new
members (called "White Shirts") first study to develop core
skills in basic and intermediate longsword techniques. Upon
the successful completion of three month-long courses and
demonstration of proficiency, the member will be allowed to
test for his Scholar ("Red Shirt") Ranking.
The Scholar ranking test will check for the candidate's
familiarity and fluency in basic knowledge and techniques.
The ranking scholar should expect to have to demonstrate any
or all of the following:
Training of basic cuts, stances, and other historical
fencing techniques is performed with a waster (wooden sword).
Students will begin sparring using wooden weapons, and as
they become more proficient with control of the weapon, they
will be allowed to progress to sparring with blunted steel
(See " A Few Words Regarding Sparring"
While the longsword is our foundational weapon, it
is equally important for a martial artist to be exposed to
different weapons and modes of combat, such as unarmed combat
and unarmed vs. armed. The typical training warmup routine
will remain based on the longsword throughout the year to
develop fundamental skills, but the Group Study portion of
training will vary throughout the year as we explore these
alternatives. Sessions may cover single sword, sword &
buckler, sword & dagger, rapier, messer, quarterstaff,
dagger, grappling, or other possibilities as long as manuals
are available for study.
usual sessions are held on Wednesday nights from 7:00
- 10:00pm, although it is recommended that the scholar arrive
15-30 minutes early to stretch and begin warming up.
6:45 pm to 7:00pm Announcements, stretching,
7:00 pm Training Begins (All Students) - The
entire group begins basic warmup exercises for 20-30 minutes.
A. Tiprogressions (Guards & Stances)
B. Press Drill
C. Touch drill
D. Abrazzare Drill
E. 16 Cut Exercise
F. Pell Run
7:30 pm to 9:00 pm Course Study - Official
course study begins. Beginning and advanced students ("Whiteshirts"
and "Redshirts") will work together on techniques
and concepts for the given weapon to be studied that month
(see schedule). Students will be expected to acquire appropriate
equipment prior to starting a new weapon; new students may
be loaned equipment on a short term basis only.
Course Study Schedule:
See Classwork & Worksheets
for study materials.
9:00 pm to 10:00 pm Free Study/Free-Play -
For the last hour of training, students may choose to continue
working on the Course Study material for the evening, practice
independently, or engage in free-play (sparring). We recommend
free-play at least every other week, if not every week.
Note: The last session of each month is Sparring Night.
On those nights we skip the usual warmup and engage in free-play
for the entire evening.
Few Words Regarding Sparring
idea behind our study is to learn and master an ancient
art of combat. The old German masters had the philosophy,
"Was Sehrt, Das Lehrt" (What Hurts, Teaches). Lack
of pain when being hit will destroy the individual's respect
for his opponent's weapon, turning a "lethal" duel
into a pillow fight. A fighter develops parrying and voiding
reflexes because getting hit doesn't feel good.
Wooden and blunted steel swords require the user to
practice controlling the blow, reducing the strike to a non-injurious
level while still moving with proper speed and energy for
fighting, what we call "intent." Even so, accidents
do happen. While serious injuries are almost unheard of, minor
injuries such as bruises are not uncommon, cracked and broken
fingers are rare, and head and finger protection is strongly
advised (see our section on equipment). Before the fencer
will be allowed to spar his classmates with these, he must
demonstrate that he can control the weapon effectively. These
are never used in mass combat matches, as the adrenaline level
and lack of control during these matches makes their use unsafe.