Gardening Sword Press

The growth of HEMA/WMA here and in the ‘old country’ has well documented with both items in the past press, and with salles reporting the increasing numbers of students coming to their door.  And though we are all united as a community in having some common interest in the concept of historical fencing; each individual comes to it with a different specific interest: the rapier versus long sword debate; the superiority of Italian visa vi Spanish; dueling versus warring; study versus sport.  Each salle, regardless of its place in the world, is run by a Master at Arms with a very distinct vision of HEMA/WMA, and teaches accordingly … with the intent of bringing up new swordplayers reflecting their salles' image of the fencing world.  We lucky in recent times to have an increasing choice of salles to visit as we attempt to determine which approach to swordplay best suits our own wit, spleen and character.


Tall Poppy Out West

THE PROVINCE (Vancouver, British Columbia) 26 January 14  Vancouver leads the renaissance in swordplay (Paul Luke)

Devon Boorman and Our home salle  Academie Duello take their turn in the Vancouver spotlight this week; with the city’s Master-at-arms being questioned on the future of HEMA/WMA swordplay (and archery … and Bartitsu) on the west coast.

The Western Middle Ages and the Renaissance martial arts as taught within the Duello are part of a rekindled tradition that is happening in both Europe and North America (and Japan too actually)

“Western martial arts are gaining ground,” Boorman asserts. “Some people come to our classes because it connects with their cultural history. Some people come because it does not connect with their cultural history.”

“You need things other than brawn to excel at swordplay,”…“You need grace, movement and fluidity, the ability to recognize your own strengths and to figure out an opponent’s strengths and weaknesses.

“You’re playing a game of chess with an opponent that just happens to involve swords.”

Blooming in Fertile Ground

LA VERDAD (Spain) 14 January 14  El escenario idóneo de la espada (Eneas G. Ferri)

And to reinforce the continuing popularity of historical swordplay, this article takes us to Alicante where the city’s mayor, its’  Department of Culture and Sports and the president of the Fencing Federation of Valencia combined to sponsor and support a local ‘classical 17th Century fencing’ demonstration by a new salle established within Santa Barbara Castle. 

One attendee, the president of the Academy of Fencing Masters of Valencia, opines that this initiative will result in the promotion of historical swordplay research … and establishes Alicante as the ‘national benchmark’ for classical swordplay in Spain.

Arranging to Best Effect

THE TELEGRAPH (London, UK) January 14  How to choreograph a theatrical fight scene

In Our lead item above, Academie Duello’s Devon Boorman is quoted: “The movies make people think that all the Europeans of the Middle Ages did was pick up a sword and run screaming into battle, hacking madly, without a system,” he says. “The level of [swordplay] authenticity in the movies is low.”

Richard Ryan has spent two decades as a fight instructor and stunt coordinator trying to correct impressions such as this.

In this detailed interview, Mr Ryan describes in some detail just how demanding and difficult it is to create a safe, authentic and impactful swordfight scene within a film.

Detailed research, set design to allow safe movement; effective props, lighting and choreography are all blended into one idea … and followed by practice, practice, practice.

“The energy of a fight scene should build. You do this by creating the illusion that the fight is picking up pace. You start the fight with the actors doing bigger moves - and reduce them in size as the fight gets more intense. You also reduce the number of pauses in the action, as anger builds. It gives the illusion that the moves are faster and more violent, that tempers have frayed. But it’s an illusion; the reality is it’s very controlled.

“Ensuring that the actor is able to convey their character in a fight scene is fundamental to my brief”.


- {From the lead item}  “Boorman, who owns the Academie Duello school of Western martial arts, says the movies often depict swordplay as little more than modified butchery”

Well, the Spanish press might be able to be dressed in the same tabard, given some of the coverage of our peers over there as the first “Campeonato del Mundo de Combate Medieval” helps determine  the Spanish national team that will attend the next Battle of Nations.

Where do they get these venues II?

-  The Ukraine has traditionally always had a strong showing at the Battle of Nations.  But We wonder; where are they when they’re not training?

{Kidding, kidding!}

-  The ‘game of tag’ for the chivalric arts set.