Armizare: From Battlefield to Deed of Arms

Instructor(s): Sean Hayes

Disciplines: Armoured longsword, polearm, dagger

Learn combat in armour from battlefield techniques to deeds of arms (knightly tournaments from history and modern practice). You will explore the armoured use of longsword, polearms like the poleaxe and halberd, and dagger and how the techniques of the Italian Armizare system can be used in earnest and in knightly tournament. This intensive will develop your groundedness, grappling skills, and capacity to move between fighting with long and short weapons at distance and in close measures.

Preparing for a Deed of Arms

This Intensive workshop does not require steel armour, though we encourage everyone to bring as much as they are able to.  Some HEMA gear approximates armour, though at a lesser weight – this is a good substitute.

Minimal Kit:

HEMA mask with back of head protection


Plastron (plastic, under gambeson)


Elbow & Knee protection

Hard hand protection

Day 1: Techniques & Tradition

Our first day will focus on technical work with sword & spear, with some additional time on dagger.  Technique is the prerequisite of tactics, and we’ll use a variety of exercises to explore the differences between using the weapons at full length vs half-sword (or the middle-grip spear guards), and when to drop the long weapon and take up the dagger.  Intensity on Day 1 will focus on cooperative drills at an easy speed, with some semi-antagonistic drills at a higher pace. 

  • Sword
  • Full Sword
  • Half Sword
  • Transitions Between
  • Spear
  • Long Guards
  • Short (middle grip) Guards
  • Transitions Between
  • Dagger (time permitting)
  • When the long weapon cannot be used even to grapple
  • When a close target presents itself

Day 2: Tactics & Antagonism

Our second day will use the technical foundations of the first to explore tactics against a measured degree of resistance from a variety of training partners.  We’ll explore the tactical ramifications of differing size and strength, and how to use measure, angle, and tempo against an opponent who is also striving for control of all three.  We’ll also begin discussing strategy, which is the necessary prerequisite of tactics.

  • Size & Strength
  • Misura
  • Tempo

Day 3: Strategy & Application

Our third day puts it all together.  We’ll begin with a review of key concepts and drills that illuminate them, and then progress to a Deed of Arms!  The deed will assume everyone is wearing armour and will be scored accordingly (i.e. even if you don’t have a breastplate you still can’t be scored on in the middle of the chest, and so forth).

  • Size & Strength Redux
  • Minimal Effort for Maximal Gain