2023 in Review

Happy New Year from Academie Duello!

With 2024 upon us I thought it would be nice to reflect on this past year at Academie Duello both in Vancouver and abroad, and the many special things that have happened in our school and community. This has truly been a year of camaraderie and community and I am so proud to be part of such a vibrant and passionate group of people.

On to the recap!

Swordplay Mastery and Examination

This was a special year for the journey of mastery at Duello with three swordplay rank exams and 11 candidates. Most notably Ben Davis tested for both his longsword and rapier free scholar (third rank) and passed both of them becoming the first person in the school to enter the free scholar rank through both program paths--this was years of hard work in the making! Congratulations also to all of our new scholars (second rank): Cameron, Travis, Vivian, Rahul, Tsuki, and Gavin Xu!

We’re looking forward to the first exam of 2024 which will be taking place in March.

A Year of Archery

Kudos to our lead instructors in the archery program, Erin & Fox, as well as Quintin, our program coordinator, for all their hard work this year.

We started the year with a whole new set of reed bosses sourced from England. These beautiful bosses were a bit firm at first but have become superb, and authentic looking, targets.

We ran our first prep exam and full exam for the scholar rank (second level). Six candidates examined across multiple archery disciplines including barebow, longbow, horsebow, speed shooting, and more. It was a challenging and exciting exam with three candidates passing to become our first ever archer scholars. Congratulations to Kate, Rosa, and Ben (yes another rank for his quiver!)

Our first archery exam of 2024 will also be in March!

Tournaments Galore

Our members participated in many HEMA tournaments both at our school and abroad in 2023.

Duelling Arts League

We hosted four seasonal Duelling Arts tournaments organized by our own Ben Davis and a stalwart crew of volunteers (thanks everyone!). The tournaments ranged in attendance between 26 and 35 fighters from five different schools from across the province. Duello students had a pretty strong standing throughout the year taking many of the top spots but there was some strong competition from Swordfighters in Vernon, THCC in Coquitlam, and Comox Valley Sword Guild on Vancouver Island. The final standings and awards for the year are going to be announced at the Award Celebration and Open Floor on January 19th - starts at 7:30pm, be sure to be there!

Tournaments Abroad

We started the year with a big win for our school, Matti Schneider won gold at Socal Swordfight placing on top of more than 400+ fighters from around the world—the largest HEMA tournament to date. Congratulations Matti!

Sihong continued to have a strong showing across North America winning bronze in test cutting at Combat Con in Las Vegas, Longsword and random weapon at Nordschlag in Edmonton, and in rapier at the IFG Spring Fling in Portland Oregon.

William Li also had fourth place showings in single rapier at Socal Swordfight and in test cutting at Combat Con.

Superb work everyone!

A big crew has already started training for the next Socal Swordfight taking place in February 2024.

Duello Armizare Around the World

Our system (Duello Armizare) and methodology have continued to have a strong and positive impact around the world. There are now Duello Armizare instructors in more than 30 cities on 4 continents and there are 11 associated groups from as far away as Austria and the Philippines.

Sihong taught a series of workshops in China over this past year in ​​Fuzhou, Xiamen, Changsha, Nanjing, Chengdu, and Chongqing. Many of these were repeat visits and the impact he is having there is remarkable. One of his students, Yingbo Chen, has been dominating the Chinese HEMA tournament scene winning 5 golds and 2 bronze medals in the past year. And notably Yingbo’s students have won an additional 5 golds, 3 silvers, and 3 bronzes. That is some serious trickle down effect. Well done Sihong and Yingbo!

In this past year we have also seen two new schools form in the Duello family: Valiant School of Arms in Dallas Texas run by Eric Weiss, and Bridge City Blades in Portland Oregon run by Andy Plymate. These two are both great teachers and people representing the values and virtues of Academie Duello and the desire to help others along the path of mastery. Be sure to visit them if you’re in their area.

What’s Coming in 2024?

This next year is shaping up to be an exciting one. Late in 2023, we took over the neighbouring space to Academie Duello and began getting it ready to become an expanded archery range, classroom space, AND Cafe Duello where we’ll be serving up coffees, juices, smoothies, and confections. We hope to open in January!

March will be a big month with a swordplay and archery rank exam as well as the first tournament of our new year of the Duelling Arts tournament league.

We’re also working hard at planning a return of the Vancouver International Swordplay Symposium, to be held in the Spring using our newly expanded space for a four track program! Stay tuned!

Kudos and Congratulations

Thank you to everyone at Academie Duello on our staff and in our community who have contributed to making this such a great place to pursue these ancient arts and the journey of mastery. I’m looking forward to ushering in a great 2024 with all of you!

Devon Boorman & the Academie Duello Team


Devon Boorman is the Co-Founder and Director of Academie Duello Centre for Swordplay, which has been active in Vancouver, Canada since 2004. Devon’s expertise centres on the Italian swordplay tradition including the arts of the Renaissance Italian rapier, sidesword, and longsword, as well as knife and unarmed techniques.
Read more from Devon Boorman.