A Christmas Eve Reflection on the Past Year at Academie Duello

It’s the first day of the holiday and it’s always a bit confusing when you don’t go about your usual routine. I find myself not at Academie Duello, as I have been nearly every day for the past two weeks, but instead at my in-laws' for the preparation of Christmas Eve dinner. Now we set into one of my favourite times of year, not just for visiting family and enjoying holiday merriment, but for reflecting on the year past and the year ahead.

This year at Academie Duello has been one of momentous events!

In the spring, we hosted the third Vancouver International Swordplay Symposium (VISS), welcoming guests from all over the world to Vancouver for workshops, sparring, and a gala affair. It was a busy time for us as a few weeks later we also participated in the second annual Duelling Arts event at the Vancouver Club, putting on a rapier tournament for an audience of over 200!

In the summer, we hosted our first Provost examination in collaboration with Maestros Puck Curtis and Marco Quarta. From that, Roland, Greg, and Clint all became the first Provosts of the Academie.

In our Knight Camp program we welcomed two young men to the rank of Knight: Alan and Piers. Both underwent trials in martial prowess, teaching, speaking, service, and more that took more than a year to complete. Well done Sirs!

This year we also opened the door for students to enter the second level of our mastery program with the longsword. Shortly after the announcement we welcomed our first group of longsword scholars in two separate hard-fought examinations — some of the fullest in our school’s eleven-year history.

In the fall, we opened the door of our instructor program, inviting students from Vancouver and across North America to join us for our first Instructor Intensive. The first cohort did an amazing job through the 50 hour week and are now hard at work in their studies for their next levels. They are also soon to be joined by cohort 2 in February.

I have personally been travelling extensively this year, connecting with study groups in places as far away as Rhode Island and New Jersey, as well as those a little closer to home in Canada. Back home, my senior students have continued to hold down the home base and make me happy to be a part of a rich school and community that strives, seeks, and grows beyond my own efforts. And to that I’d like to say thank you. Thank you to all of the instructors and students who have made Academie Duello such a wonderful place to be a part of this past year. To the staff who work so hard to make our school great and to share this art with others. And to the larger swordplay community who has been so encouraging to us and have inspired us through their own efforts and accomplishments.

Happy holidays to all and here’s looking forward to another excellent year. I hope you all enjoy much merriment no matter what or how you may celebrate.

Buon Natale!

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.
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