Friday's Rank Examination Results

This past Friday, Academie Duello hosted a small but vigorous rank examination for two of our members in the Mastery Program. About 25 fellow students came on the first Friday of the new year to help Gareth test for the rank of Blue Cord (our second rank of five) and Michael to test for the rank of Red Cord (our third rank).

For those new to the examination process it involves two primary parts: Demonstration and Combative. In the demonstration portion a candidate must display the skills they have learned at their current level in controlled drilling and slow sparring situations. In the combative portion, students are required to demonstrate the skills of their previous rank under the pressures of full-speed sparring. In this section students of all levels in the school act as sparring partners for the examinees. It is a great opportunity for all to test their skills and build some practical experience.

Blue Cord Candidates are required to demonstrate:

  • Fundamentals in the first level of Abrazare (wrestling techniques)
  • Solid fundamental posture, movement, and strategy in slow sparring.
  • Controlling the opponent's sword while approaching and being approached.
  • Use of the cut to control the opponents sword and strike.
  • Ability to defeat cuts delivered by an opponent, using various techniques.
  • Ability to employ the offhand to deflect and control the opponent's sword.

Red Cord Candidates are required to demonstrate:

  • Solid fundamentals in the second level of Abrazare (wrestling) which includes clinching, application of holds to all parts of the body, and entries and exits from unarmed combative situations including varying strikes and grabs.
  • Excellent form and movement as well as breadth of techniques and approaches in the true and deceptive fight during slow sparring.
  • Ability to employ the offhand effectively in combat
  • Use of presented and refused postures (where the sword is withdrawn)
  • Proficiency with voids of the body (dodges, ducks, and twists of the body away from the opponent's attack)
  • Ability to employ the rapier and dagger together

The combative examinations for both levels require excellence of form under pressure and implementation of good strategy. For Blue Candidates a thoughtful approach to combat and an understanding of distance, timing, and control are what are required. Red Cord candidates are required to show a greater breadth of techniques and a much more advanced ability to analyze their opponents and implement strategies to defeat them.

Preparing yourself to test for a rank is quite an investment of time, and mental and emotional energy. Both of these examinees are dedicated practitioners and have did their best to prepare for this examination. Their dedication and practice paid off and we were proud to award both of them with their new ranks.

Congratulations Michael and Gareth!


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.