Happy New Year everyone!
With 2022 beginning on similar footing to how we began in 2021, it’s hard not to feel sad and frustrated that we are again separated from each other and unable to share the passion of swordplay as a community.
Yet as I look back over the past year, I can’t help but see a story of resilience and opportunity, and feel optimistic for the coming months. I want to take a moment to share a few highlights from Academie Duello’s past year and some of what I am excited about in 2022. I am confident you will be able to cross swords with your fellow schoolmates again soon!
Online Swordplay Goes Next Level
While 2020 marked the launch of a new level of online training, with live training added to our mix of video courses, 2021 is where I feel we really hit our stride. Starting in January, DuelloTV launched the Swordplay Masterclass, a 6-week swordplay intensive designed to level up your at-home training. Our first cohort of 20 students from around the world spent as many as 20 hours per week honing their craft and supporting each other’s training. It showed how much people could learn and improve their skills, even at a distance, with dedication to their practice and the right online guidance.
Academie Duello and DuelloTV continued to keep the fire burning all year. We hosted more than 20 online workshops, over 100 online classes, and had thousands of views from around the world.
This January, DuelloTV is again hosting the 30-for-30 Swordplay Challenge as well as a whole new series of online live classes. In this second year of the pandemic, we have seen a new generation of martial artists connect with their personal practice, beyond the in-person classroom. We are in the business of helping people build their personal excellence and mastery, and these advances in online training have helped us do that in a whole new way.
Big kudos go to our online team including Greg, Vitor, Marli, Adrian, Eric, Erik, Sean, and Quintin.
Knight Camp & Knight Academie
One thing that the pandemic has not held down is our youth programs. Through our work with the Provincial Health Authority, we were able to keep offering our award winning Knight Camp as well as launching our new Knight Academie. These programs give kids aged 8 to 14 a chance to experience the martial arts, culture, and creative arts of knighthood including swordplay, archery, heraldry, knightly virtues and more. They also offered many first responders and other essential workers a safe and enriching place for their kids during spring break.
One of the greatest pleasures of these youth programs is watching kids mature, build their character and confidence, and develop their martial skills, with a dedicated few achieving the rank of Knight. This fall, we welcomed two fierce young women into our knightly ranks: congratulations to Natalya and Sophie!
These two, along with Robert, Oliver, Fox, Amelia, and Erin, helped instruct our next generation of aspiring knights this year alongside Ben, with Nicky (our Youth Programs and Operations Manager) helping make the magic happen behind the scenes. Great work!
Enrol your kids now in the Winter semester of Knight Academie, starting on January 8th!
As soon as we opened our doors again in the summer, things started hopping. From busy outdoor classes, an accolade tournament in Stanley Park, and then getting back inside our beautiful school for daily programs, it was a great summer and fall with awesome energy, hard work, and so many new faces! I know you’re all going to keep the momentum alive and I’m looking forward to our first post-pandemic rank examinations soon!
Big thank you to all of our students, long-term supporters, and of course our teachers: Matheus, Adrian, Marli, Clint, Ben, Erin, Peter, Erik, Hugh, Lin, and Fraser!
Stay tuned for a new, expanded schedule, as soon as we re-open!
Axe Throwing, Archery, Cutting, and Adventure!
Part of what makes Academie Duello an exciting place to be is the chance to immerse yourself in a world of medieval adventure. This year we expanded our offerings with whole new opportunities to throw axes, shoot bows, and chop stuff up!
We had more than a thousand people come through our doors, inspired by the martial arts of Europe. There are no other places like ours in the world where you can try axe throwing, archery, and authentic swordplay. It is so exciting to be able to share our arts with so many.
Thank you to our talented team of adventure instructors including Ben, Mike, Johanna, Matt, Travis, Peter, and Erin!
We were not spared loss and sadness in 2021. Our hearts go out to the families and friends of two dear members of our community who passed away: David Schullinger-Krause and Katherine Umayam, you are both missed dearly.
So Much More and So Much to Come
There are so many more great stories of 2021 to share: From Thomas and Vilija kicking butt at the 2021 Carosella Mounted Combat Tournament hosted by Academie Cavallo, to Sihong surprising his sparring partners with rapier-inspired longsword moves while competing on the East coast, to Marli’s resurrection of ancient flag waving arts. 2021 was a full year with challenges and frustrations but many more moments of inspiration, artistry, and community.
Thank you all for continuing to be a part of our sword family, pursuing this passion with us, and continuing to support our school and this crazy adventure we are on!
Special thanks to our dedicated crew who work behind the scenes to help keep the Academie going strong through it all: Nicky (Operations Manager), Ben (Youth Coordinator and All Around Instructor-man), Quintin (Front Desk, Social Media), and Kajetan (Marketing).
We will be back at it soon enough in 2022 and I’m looking forward to more crossed blades, loosed arrows, thrown axes, and shared cheers.
Wishing you all the best in 2022!
Director & Master Instructor