Greetings Academie Duello friends and family!
I hope that you have all had a wonderful holiday season and are looking forward to a special 2020. It is pretty amazing to me to be moving into the second decade of the new millennium already. Academie Duello marked its 15th anniversary in 2019 and it has been quite an adventure.
When the school started in 2004 I did not know of any others like it in the world (though I now know there were a few clubs here and there like AEMMA in Toronto, the Chicago Swordplay Guild in Chicago, and Guy Windsor's school in Helsinki Finland). It was a dream to have a professional school based on historical fencing (Western Martial Arts as we were soon calling it) and it was particularly special to have it so well received. Within just more than a year we had moved into our own space (a few doors down from where we are now), a quick upgrade from outdoor spaces and rented halls.
Over the past many years we have expanded from a club into a full on school with hundreds of students, a museum, store, and a beautiful facility where we host international training programs, kids summer camps, and more.
2019 in Review
This past year we held our fifth Vancouver International Swordplay Symposium that attracted instructors and students from around the world to our largest VISS to date held for the first time at the Richmond Olympic Oval!
We hosted our largest Carosella Mounted Combat Symposium with Cornwall Ridge (the first held at the beautiful new stables owned by our master of stables Jennifer Landels!). Not only did we have great participation overall, we were able to bring together our community with the local Sikh Gatka martial arts community who fielded a large and successful team. This was a meeting of cultures both social and martial and we look forward to more (spoiler: they're joining us at VISS 2020).
We held our first Axe Throwing programs, including a great kickoff at our super Halloween party (our first big costume event in a few years)! We also hosted archery, pumpkin cutting, demos, and more cool stuff at Harvest Land at the PNE this past October!
We had participants in tournaments around North America and took home a few medals! Congratulations to Sihong (Gold at Index Spring Fling and 8th in the overall Triathlon at Longpoint), Sander (Silver at Swordsquatch), and Benjamin for their performances abroad!
This year was also a great year for mastery. We promoted 12 people to the rank of Scholar and one to Free Scholar (a significant achievement)!
We also hosted 4 Instructor Intensives and 2 Mounted Combat Intensives with participants from Italy, Australia, New Zealand, China, the USA, and Canada. There are now many new Academie Duello practitioners and study groups around the world!
The year has also not been without its challenges. In August our landlords sought to raise our rent an exorbitant amount at the last minute of our renewal. A tough thing in a city that is already expensive for running a business. Fortunately, through a lot of excellent community support, and as much hard nosed negotiating as we could muster, we were able to make it through and renew our lease at a manageable rate. Phew!
Welcomes and Goodbyes
A few people have moved on from their roles at Duello in the past year. Provost Clinton Fernandes, who is still part of our teaching staff, stepped down as our Lead Instructor after many great years on the job. Thanks for all your help developing our programs and supporting our instructors!
Mariko, who has been a superb part of our bookings and front desk staff for the past 4 years has recently moved on to other opportunities (though she's still helping out a bit in the background). We're sad to see her go and are so happy to have had her on our team for so long!
Benjamin Davis, who has been a part of our teaching staff for a long time, has now joined us on the front desk and in administration! Miguel, who many may know as one of their first Longsword Fundamentals instructors, has moved into the role of Operations Manager, and just before Christmas we welcomed Margoe to our desk crew! Be sure to welcome these people to their new roles!
What's to Come?
This year our aim is to expand the support and methods for achieving mastery we provide while offering new and exciting programs that I hope will inspire our current members and new members alike.
This January, I'm excited to announce that Caron Adderley will be joining our team to bring her skills as a personal trainer, nutrition coach, and maven with the Steel Mace! Starting on the 13th we will be offering new fitness programs that feature the Steel Mace on Mondays and Thursdays. We'll also be doing some SwordFit expansions--stay tuned for those!
We have begun offering regular Axe Throwing programs, with our partners Axewood, for corporate teams, parties, and in the near future axe throwing league play for individuals! We're also going to be expanding our archery offerings! Information on all this as it grows will be found on the Adventures section of our website at www.dueladventures.com
This March, we will be hosting another Vancouver International Swordplay Symposium from the 6th to 8th, 2020 as we move VISS from odd numbered years to even. This year the theme is East meets West and we're bringing in an international slate of renowned Eastern and Western Martial arts instructors to compare and contrast across a myriad of disciplines. It's going to be an amazing event!
There is so much tremendous momentum within our Mastery programs coming out of 2019, I am looking forward to being a part of the training and growth of many of our members as they pursue their Scholar, Free Scholar, Provost, and Master Ranks in 2020.
I'm anticipating that it is going to be a special year!
Thank You Everyone
Thanks to everyone for being such a supportive and excellent community over the past many years. Community is what it takes to make masters and provide such a welcoming home in the heart of Vancouver. I look forward to sharing 2020 with all of you.
Happy New Year!
Director and Maestro D'Armi
PS Be sure to join me in this year’s 30 for 30 Swordplay Challenge for the month of January! A Great way to start the year with sword in hand.