The art of medieval swordplay is (like any martial art) built on a foundation of basic physical elements: balance, footwork, structure, and efficiency of movement. For beginners and long-time practitioners alike, improving your fighting skills starts with a focus on these critical basics.
You can take your fighting skill to the next level with the University of the Sword’s online symposium “Power, Speed, And Grace: Secrets of Effective Movement in Medieval Martial Arts.” In this one-day instructional event, five of North America’s most recognized WMA instructors will present one-hour workshops on unique aspects of movement in the medieval fighting arts. This video replay package contains all five presentations, plus the bonus Q&A panel.
Let Your Lying Always Be to His Right Side: A system of tactical movement
The title of this class comes from a quote by the often misunderstood, and decidedly maligned, George Silver. Here, Silver’s tactical advice is to always press towards the opponent’s weapon-side to constrain his ability to attack or counterattack. Silver was hardly alone in this: the contemporary Italian master Docciolini writes his entire fencing treatise on just this topic, but is himself echoing a strategy that stretched back to Fiore dei Liberi in 1409.
In this class we will look at how the asymmetrical zogho largo (wide play) crossing shown by Fiore begins a process of “walking dangerously”, with each following action continuing either a domination of the inside line, or forcing the opponent to over-parry, leaving them exposed on the outside line. If you can walk and a diagonal line, you can do this!
Greg Mele is best known within the Western martial arts community for co-founding the Chicago Swordplay Guild in 1999 as formal venue to study historical European swordsmanship and its adjunct arts. In October of that year he also organized and hosted the first Western Martial Arts Workshop as an attempt to promote these arts amongst practitioners throughout North America. The oldest and most respected of workshop of its kind, WMAW now draws participants from three continents.
Movement and Balance in Armor
Suits of medieval armor were nowhere near as cumbersome as modern media depicts. Nonetheless moving a weapon smoothly and efficiently with fifty pounds of metal attached to your body is a skill that needs to be learned like any other. In this workshop, Scott Farrell will give you pointers on moving in balance with half-sword and pollaxe, while wearing full harness.
Scott Farrell is director of the Chivalry Today Educational Program, and chief instructor with San Diego Longsword.
Throwing Blows From The Hip: Power Generation for Arming Sword or Longsword
One of the most difficult blows to throw with speed and power is the middle blow (mezzani or mittlehau, commonly used in the action of the zwerchau). Sean will teach you to use the rotational centers of sword and body to strike with maximum speed, power, and cover. Any single-handed or two-handed sword, or stick, will work just fine: the goal is to master the feel of the action and transfer it to any weapon, and to the other blows of the sword (or other weapon).
Sean Hayes is a fencing master trained in classical Italian fencing pedagogy under Dr. William M. Gaugler at the San Jose State University Fencing Masters Program, graduating in 1999. Hayes is a full-time teacher and practitioner of Medieval and Renaissance Italian Martial Arts, teaching six centuries of Italian martial arts privately through his own school, Northwest Fencing Academy, in Eugene, Oregon.
Power & Precision: the Best Exercises to Hone your Control of Horse & Blade
When fighting from horseback it is vital to be able to move parts of your body in isolation from the rest. Inadvertent movements of the legs and hips can send your horse in unexpected directions. You can’t rely on your full body to power your cuts, and must generate force from small groups of specific muscles. In this workshop, Jen will take you through a workout designed to target precise muscles and improve your ability to isolate and control your arms, shoulders, waist, hips, and legs. This routine is not just valuable for riders — it will help you improve your point control, feints, and deceptive fight strategies as well.
Equipment: dining chair or armless office chair, yoga mat or carpet, sword or long stick.
Jennifer Landels is one of the world’s foremost experts in Historical Mounted Combat. She has been practising historical fencing since 2008 and riding horses since before she could walk. She founded Academie Duello’s Cavaliere Program in 2010 as an excuse to combine her passions for swords and horses, and has been teaching mounted swordplay both in the BC Lower Mainland and across Europe and North America in the decade since then. In 2020 she founded Academie Cavallo, where the Mounted Combat Program continues to grow at Cornwall Ridge Farm in Langley BC.
Get Them Coming and Going: How to Exit and Re-enter with Power and Speed
When you enter into the fight you’re not just going to go forward. When you retreat you’re not just going to escape. In this workshop Devon will teach you the mechanics of movement that allow you to dance at the edge of an opponent’s measure, entering, exiting, and re-entering in a way that is powerful, deceives the opponent, and creates opportunities to strike and control on your terms.
Weapon: Longsword, Sidesword, or Arming Sword (any type of at-home simulator is fine)
Devon Boorman has been practising martial arts since 1986. Starting first with Chinese and Filipino martial arts, Devon discovered western swordplay through the Society for Creative Anachronism (SCA) which connected him with a burgeoning community of martial artists and scholars studying Historical European Marital Arts throughout the world. Devon has travelled extensively, first as a student, then as a competitor, teacher, and researcher. He has won international tournaments, worked on both stage and screen as a stunt person and choreographer, and is the authour of two DVDs: Introduction to Italian Longsword, and Introduction to Italian Rapier, and a book by the same name, all available through Freelance Academy Press. He is the master instructor of Academie Duello in Vancouver, BC, the world’s largest school of European martial arts.