Happy 2013!

Good Morning and Happy New Year!

(sorry, was that too loud?)



Since it is far too soon after last night's indulgences to be practising cutting in a safe and responsible manner, I'll eschew wrist, shoulder and elbow cuts for another week.  Instead, sit back in a comfy chair with the hangover remedy of your choice and consider your goals for 2013.

If your goals for the year are fame, wealth and everlasting happiness you're on your own.  But if they involve improving your Riding, Horsemanship, or Mounted Combat skills and perhaps achieving the next rank in the Cavaliere Program here are some tips on getting there.

1. Sign up for the Integrated Training Packages.  For either $120 per month or $675 for six months you get all the classes offered in the Cavaliere program.  This includes one Mounted Combat Workshop and two Cavaliere Classes per month.  On this training schedule, the average amount of time it should take you to achieve each rank is as follows:

Green Spur: 6 months
Blue Spur: 12 - 24 months
Red Spur: 18 - 36 months

This presumes no prior riding or swordfighting experience, and some practice outside of class time.  But how do you get practice time without a horse of your own?

2. Take Riding Lessons.  Additional private or semi-private riding lessons are available at Red Colt and many other excellent riding facilities around the Lower Mainland.  If you want some help finding a riding stable near where you live contact me directly at jennifer@academieduello.com.

3. Lease a Horse.  Leasing one or two days a week is an excellent way to experience the responsibilities and joys of horse ownership without taking the full plunge.  Our school horses are all available for part lease, with special rates for Academie Duello students starting as low as $100 per month, and there are several other horses at the barn for lease by their owners.


4. Book Extra Riding Time.  If a lease is too much of a commitment, those students with a minimum of Riding Level 2 can book individual rides on our horses at $35 per time.

5. Become an Apprentice.  Strapped for cash, but have plenty of time on your hands?  Trade your muscles for riding time by assisting at the barn.  Duties include grooming, mucking, ring & paddock maintenance, and for more experienced apprentices, longeing, warming up and cooling out horses.

6. Attend Open Barn.  Offered once a month, Open Barn is a chance to practise all your Cavaliere skills.  The sessions are free and use of a school horse is only $10 (free to apprentices and leasers).

7. Audit Clinics.  Even if you don't have a horse to ride, watching other people take lessons or clinics is a valuable learning tool.  I often find I get more from watching clinics than riding in them, as I can observe other horses and riders and listen more closely to the instructor than I would be able to if focussing only on my own horse.

8. Read, read, read. Aside from our core book, The Manual of Horsemanship, there are hundreds of fabulous magazines and books out there.  Subscribing to a magazine is an excellent way of building your knowledge base, and is far less overwhelming than digesting a whole book.  Some of my favourites are:

And all these are just tips on improving the horsey side of your skills.  What about swordplay?


9. Take extra classes.  Warrior Fundamentals, Swordfit, Longsword and Sidesword Focus classes, and Quarterstaff, Polearm or Abrazare (wrestling) workshops will all give you additional practice and new techniques with our core weapons.  Mastery classes also include abrazare and, as you progress through the ranks, increasing focus on side- and longsword.

10. Watch videos. Duello TV has an ever-expanding array of excellent videos.  New videos are posted each week and are generally free to view when they first go up. Don't be afraid to check out the advanced Red Cord curriculum -- that's where you'll find a lot of the longsword mechanics that will help your mounted swordplay.

11. Practise, practise, practise.  Swordplay's a lot easier to practise at home than riding is, so make sure you take advantage spare moments in your day to practise movement, guards and cutting.  If you don't have a sword, a long stick, a dressage whip, or your imagination will do.  Remember practise is 80% mental, so visualization will go a long way.

12. Attend VISSThe Vancouver International Swordplay Symposium is happening in Vancouver in February.  Don't miss this fabulous opportunity to learn swordplay from the panoply of well-respected masters coming to our town. There is something for everyone at this amazing conference, and I for one, can hardly wait!

Of course these are all standard means of improving your skills aboard a warhorse.  If you're more of an iconoclast you could follow Matthew Inman's advice ... but please, not on our horses!




And as a last resort you can always resort to the more Pythonesque methods:

Wishing you all a very happy New Year brimming with success for all your goals!

Jennifer Landels, Maestra di Scuderia
Academie Duello Cavaliere Program


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.