Table of Contents:

 

      Single sword intensives         Longsword intensives         Rapier intensives         Grappling intensives

Feb. 16 – Thursday

Academie Duello
412 W. Hastings St.
Dancey Ballroom
505 Hamilton St.
Annex
417 W. Hastings St.
12:00pm-
9:30pm
Orientation

Feb. 17 – Friday

Academie Duello
412 W. Hastings St.
Dancey Ballroom
505 Hamilton St.
Annex
417 W. Hastings St.
Annex 3F-A Annex 3F-B Annex 4F
8:15am-
11:00am
Paul Wagner
English Backsword
Day 1
(165 min)
Christian Tobler
German Longsword
Day 1
(165 min)
David Coblentz
Italian Rapier
Day 1
(165 min)
Marco Quarta
Italian Grappling
Day 1
(165 min)
11:15am-
1:00pm
Paul Wagner
Silver vs. Liechtenauer
(105 min)
Sean Hayes
An Introduction to Armoured Combat
(105 min)
Rob Rutherfoord
German vs. Italian Rapier
(105 min)
David R. Packer
& Kaja Sadowski

The Salle vs. the Street: Grappling
(105 min)
Mark Mikita
LECTURE:
Short-Term vs. Long-Term Practice
(105 min)
1:00pm-
2:00pm
Lunch Service &
Opening Ceremony
2:00pm-
5:00pm
Rob Rutherfoord
Bolognese Sidesword
Day 1
(180 min)
Devon Boorman
Italian Longsword
Day 1
(180 min)
Matthew Howden
Thibault’s Rapier
Day 1
(180 min)
Jessica Finley
German Grappling
Day 1
(180 min)
7:00pm-
10:00pm
Open Floor

Feb. 18 – Saturday

Academie Duello
412 W. Hastings St.
Dancey Ballroom
505 Hamilton St.
Annex
417 W. Hastings St.
Annex 3F-A Annex 3F-B Annex 4F
9:00am-
12:00pm
Paul Wagner
English Backsword
Day 2
(180 min)
Christian Tobler
German Longsword
Day 2
(180 min)
David Coblentz
Italian Rapier
Day 2
(180 min)
Marco Quarta
Italian Grappling
Day 2
(180 min)
12:00pm-
1:30pm
Lunch Service
1:30pm-
2:45pm
David R. Packer &
Kaja Sadowski

The Salle vs. the Street: Fencing
(75 min)
Sean Hayes
One with the Sword:
Integrated Body Mechanics &
Movement Training
for Medieval Arms
(75 min)
Matthew Howden
Thibault’s Rapier vs. the World
(75 min)
Marco Quarta
The Heart of the Lion:
Unarmed vs. Knife
(75 min)
Dr. Shawn Bullock
LECTURE:
Motivation in
Martial Arts:
Intrinsic vs. Extrinsic
(75 min)
3:00pm-
6:00pm
Rob Rutherfoord
Bolognese Sidesword
Day 2
(180 min)
Devon Boorman
Italian Longsword
Day 2
(180 min)
Matthew Howden
Thibault’s Rapier
Day 2
(180 min)
Jessica Finley
German Grappling
Day 2
(180 min)
8:00pm-
12:00am
Saturday Evening Gala

Feb. 19 – Sunday

Academie Duello
412 W. Hastings St.
Dancey Ballroom
505 Hamilton St.
Annex
417 W. Hastings St.
Annex 3F-A Annex 3F-B Annex 4F
9:00am-
10:30am
Guro E.W.
Patterned vs. Unpatterned
Training Methodologies
(90 min)
Devon Boorman
& Christian Tobler

Italian vs. German Longsword
(210 min)
David Coblentz
& Matthew Howden

Italian Rapier vs.
Thibault’s Rapier
(210 min)
Mark Mikita
Problem Solving
and Mindset in
Asymmetrical Weapon Combat
(210 min)
Mike Panian
LECTURE:
Martial Arts Practice vs. Athletics
(90 min)
 
11:00am-
12:30pm
Paul Wagner
Longsword vs.
Broadsword vs.
Smallsword
(90 min)
Panel Discussion
moderated by Jessica Finley

Women vs. Men:
Exploring Gender in Martial Arts
(90 min)
12:30pm-
2:00pm
Lunch Service
2:00pm-
3:30pm
Paul Wagner &
Rob Rutherfoord

English Backsword
vs. Bolognese Sidesword
(210 min)
Sean Hayes
The Positional Theory
of Combat Strategy
(210 min)
David Coblentz
Rapier: Dealing with Physical
Asymmetries
(90 min)
Marco Quarta &
Jessica Finley

Italian vs. German Grappling
(210 min)
Matthew Howden
LECTURE:
Signal vs. Noise:
A Neo-Classical
Approach to Modern
Technical Analysis
(90 min)
 
4:00pm-
5:30pm
Devon Boorman
Rapier: Tactical Asymmetry
(90 min)
Michael Heveran
LECTURE:
History vs. Myth:
Using and Abusing
Historical Narratives
in Martial Arts
(90 min)
5:30pm-
6:00pm
Passing Period
6:00pm-
6:30pm
Closing Ceremonies


 

3-Day Intensive Workshop Series


 

Single Workshops

 

3-Day Intensive Workshop Series

    The core of the VISS schedule is made up of 3-day intensive workshops, each at least three hours in length. Our intensives are opportunities to spend over nine hours with a single instructor over the course of a weekend.

    This year, our intensive workshops come with a theme: “This vs. That.” Our goal is to more deeply explore our martial arts through the lessons of contrast and comparison with other disciplines and in asymmetrical environments. We’re not asking which martial art would win; we’re exploring the many different solutions to the problems of combat.

    VISS 2017 features eight intensive workshop tracks. Each track is paired with a matching partner. The partners are related disciplines, generally the same (or similar) weapon but with a different historical or cultural background. The partner tracks will run in parallel for the first two days (in the morning or the afternoon) and then meet on the last day in a combined session led by both instructors. The combined session will be a chance for students to examine the two arts in direct contrast. Students can choose to focus on one track or the other, but our schedule has been designed so that an attendee can take both sides of any intensive track.


 

Paul Wagner – English backsword intensive

    George Silver has probably become the single most widely read source in historical fencing, despite the fact that his influence on the development of English fencing was virtually none. His single published book, Paradoxes of Defence of 1599, ranted vainly against the spread of the “Italianated” rapier at the expense of traditional English martial arts, and his second work, Brief Instructions Upon my Paradoxes of Defence, remained unpublished until 1898. Regardless, Silver’s works have turned out to be invaluable, as no one could ask for a better introduction to the practice of English swordsmanship. While his system is fairly simple and easily learned, it is also theoretically comprehensive and extremely robust against when faced with other styles of combat.

    Silver writes of “the warrs” with some authority, suggesting first hand experience of battle, but leaves no detail as to where his experience might have been obtained. Of his swordsmanship, he claimed “there is no maner of teaching comprable to the old ancient teaching”, and although not technically medieval in era, Silver was a full inheritor of the medieval tradition, describing cuts from “aloft” that “cutteth off the hand, the arme, the leg, and sometimes the head,” and contemptuously remarked on the Italian rapier-fencer that he could “bring him out of his fence trickes with good downe right blowes.”

    Silver’s style of combat was straightforward, pragmatic, devastatingly effective, but sadly unfashionable, and ultimately superseded by the vagaries of social change and style. In practice he is often misunderstood and misinterpreted, due to the obscurity of the Elizabethan language and the fact that Brief Instructions upon my Paradoxes of Defence was merely an unillustrated, handwritten manuscript that was never meant to be published in its existing form.

    This class will concentrate on presenting the basic techniques of Silver’s system with an emphasis on the fundamental principles that underlie the art. Although we will be using the single-handed sword as the primary weapon, we will also explore companion weapons such as the buckler and dagger.

    Required equipment: A basket hilted sword (though any single sword will do in a pinch), a 15 inch buckler (though any buckler will do in a pinch) and/or a 2 foot basket-hilted dagger (though any dagger we can make work), fencing mask, forearm protection, and as much other armour as you desire
    Required experience: No prior experience required.


 

Rob Rutherfoord – Bolognese sidesword intensive

    Angelo Viggiani has much to teach us about the theory and mechanics encompassing the art of the side sword, though, light on the number of techniques he wished to share with his audience, a simple set of rules and admonitions is all he needed to describe his perfect schermo.

    We will be exploring Viggiani’s theory through basic exercises and progressive play building. At the conclusion of this intensive it will become clear how Viggiani’s basic set of rules can be used to extrapolate any technique from the various masters of the Bolognese tradition, and beyond.

    Required equipment: Mask, gorget, gloves, sidesword (other single handed cutting swords are acceptable).
    Required experience: No prior experience required.


 

Christian Tobler – German longsword intensive

    In this intensive class, we’ll explore the finer points of the five ‘Secret Strokes’ of Liechtenauer’s treatise, – the Zornhau, Krumphau, Zwerchhau, Schielhau, and Scheitelhau – along with thrusting in the bind, but from the perspective of knowing when and how to apply them. We’ll answer the following questions:

    How should I manage distance?
    How do I assess an opponent? What kind of attack should I use?
    Should I work from the bind? If so, how?
    What are the best ways to employ provocations?
    When should I use 1st vs 2nd intention actions?
    How do I enter the fight? How do I exit?

    Expect a fun, interactive, and mind-opening intensive!

    Required equipment: A steel longsword trainer, fencing mask, and gloves.
    Required experience: Intermediate. Students should understand basics of footwork, stance, basic guards and strikes of the Liechtenauer tradition or have a solid grounding in the Italian longsword tradition.


 

Devon Boorman – Italian longsword intensive

    In this intensive track students will explore the art of the Italian longsword primarily within the tradition of Fiore dei Liberi. The emphasis will be on strategy and tactical decision making. Topics covered will include:

    1. Strategic constraint. Choice of posture and attack to force opportunity.
    2. Defensive and offensive options and mechanics.
    3. Responding to pressure in the bind.
    4. Making and exchanging effective thrusts.
    5. Effectively entering to grapple.

    The Italian system of fencing places particular emphasis on:
    – Use of constraining footwork and sword actions that limit the opponent’s options for response.
    – Control of the centre and keeping blade crossings on one’s centreline while “using the point” to parry instead of the strong.
    – Guards where the sword is held low, to protect the hands, make defense easier, and facilitate entry to grapple.
    – Low crossings that cover the entire body and make pressure response easier.

    Required equipment: A steel longsword trainer, fencing mask, and gloves.
    Required experience: Students should have a fundamental understanding of longsword in any style. Fundamental posture, attack, and defense mechanics are expected.


 

David Coblentz – Italian rapier intensive

    Francesco Alfieri (1640) writes that it is difficult to say which method of attack is the best, and that all of them are good when “well understood and executed judiciously and at speed”. In this class, we will develop an understanding of a wide range of techniques – offensive, defensive, and counteroffensive – and we will consider specific tactical contexts to executive them quickly and judiciously. Students will develop decision-making skills as they practice reading the opponent’s technical and tactical choices across this three-day seminar.

    Day 1: Working against your opponent’s position
    We will explore the openings created by various guards. We will cover responding to an opponent’s engagement, working from our own engagements, and basic defensive actions.

    Day 2: Working against your opponent’s tactics
    We will introduce counter-offensive actions and methods for defeating fencers who indicate a preference for parries or counterattacks.

    Day three will be a joint session with Matthew Howden in which we will contrast some of the differences in approach and tactics between Thibault’s system and the Italian rapier tradition.

    Required equipment: Mask, gloves, gorget, jacket, and rapier. Alternative forms of chest padding are permitted. If you do not have a jacket, wear something that will make it comfortable for you to receive many at-speed chest hits.
    Required experience: Solid foundational experience with a systematized approach to rapier such as Italian rapier or Destreza.


 

Matthew Howden – Thibault rapier intensive

    Published in 1630, Gerard Thibault’s Academy of the Sword stands as perhaps the most lavish treatise ever written on the subject of swordplay. It is also one of the less studied of its period. In this intensive, we will explore Thibault’s take on La Verdadera Destreza (the true art and skill with the sword — the system most commonly associated with Spanish rapier) for the single rapier. We will begin with basic principals of grip, stance, and movement, and then move to an exploration of the theoretical underpinnings of the system to show how everything in Thibault’s massive tome originates with a small handful of basic principals and skills.

    Day one will cover basic stance, grip and movement, defining and entering measure, and fundamental concepts of working from blade engagement.

    Day two will look at dealing with opponents who avoid blade engagement, countering offhand weapons, and fighting from initial disadvantage.

    Day three will be a joint session with David Coblentz in which we will contrast some of the differences in approach and tactics between Thibault’s system and the Italian rapier tradition.

    Required equipment: Mask, gorget, gloves, and rapier (swords without knucklebows are preferred, but not absolutely necessary), students should bring an offhand dagger for Day 2.
    Required experience: No prior experience required.


 

Marco Quarta – Italian grappling intensive

    In this intensive track, we will explore the framework of the Italian early Renaissance wrestling from the early 14th to the 15th century. The foundation of our study will be based on the work of Master Fiore de Liberi.

    We will cross-reference Fiore’s work across the different existing manuscripts of the Flos Duellatorum (early 15th century) with other sources of “lotta Italiana” of the Renaissance period. For instance, we will explore commonalities of Fiore’s “abracar” in other sources, such as Petri Monti’s Exercitiorum atque artis militaris collectanea in tris libros distinct (a Milanese manuscript printed in 1509) or the ca. 1500 lucta tiburtyna.

    We will explore techniques and tactics of the “abracar” as they were integrated in the regular academic curricula by Renaissance fencing masters. To this end, original correspondence (dated 1443) between the Bologna city council and the Bolognese Master Filippo (o Lippo) di Bartolomeo Dardi (considered the master of Master Guido Antonio di Luca, who was himself the Master of Achille Marozzo) describes how “abracar” (named in the document as “zuocho dele braze”) was part of the regular martial teaching. In particular, “abracar” was included together with stick, sword and dagger fencing classes, documents from “Archiginnasio” historical archive show.

    Indeed, the whole work of Fiore De Liberi characterizes “abracar” as an organic art fully integrated with the use of weapons, such as daggers and swords. As a matter of fact, this approach is still represented today in modern living traditions of unarmed, dagger, knife and stick fencing arts survived across the centuries in various regions of Italy.

    We will cover both ends of the spectrum, dissecting the “abracar” in the use of “Zoghi di Concordia” (plays of concord) — for the playful practice — and “Zoghi d’Ira” (plays of anger and fury) for the defense and combat. To use the words of Master Antonio Manciolino, we will study the Art (of “abracar”) for “il diletto, la scienza e la conservazione della vita”: the delight, the science and the conservation of life.

    Required equipment: Wrestling jacket (gi tops and sweatshirts acceptable) and belt (martial arts belt or any belt without a tongue).
    Required experience: Competence in taking falls and being thrown


 

Jessica Finley – German grappling intensive

    In this intensive track, we will dig into the wrestling treatise written by Master Liegnitzer in the mid to late 15th century. Liegnitzer seems to have been a particularly prolific master, writing treatises on Half Sword in Armor, Sword and Buckler, Dagger and Wrestling. With 17 techniques (and their counters), his treatise exhibits a pedagogy which allows us to understand throws against taller or shorter opponents, stronger or weaker opponents, and the combination of attacks that lead to success. Liegnitzer shows us an exceedingly useful snapshot of techniques found in the wider German corpus… with a notable exception. This exception, it would seem, provides insight into the kind of fighter Liegnitzer was. Students will discover his qualities through his 17 techniques and thereby gain the ability to analyze any wrestling technique and choose those which are best for their own personal attributes.

    Required equipment: Wrestling jacket (gi tops and sweatshirts acceptable) and belt (martial arts belt or any belt without a tongue).
    Required experience: Competence in taking falls and being thrown.

Back to top

 

Single Workshops


 

Rob Rutherfoord – German vs. Italian rapier

    Friday, 11:15am-1:00pm (105 min)
    Rapier

    “As regards rapier combat, which at the present time is a very necessary and useful practice, there is no doubt that it is a newly discovered practice with the Germans and brought to us from other people. Therefor, I will present and describe rapier combat in orderly fashion, as I have learnt it from these people and experienced it through daily practice.”

    Have you ever wondered how a German would interpret an Italian art? Because various regulations barred Germans from using the point against their own countrymen, a comprehensive thrusting art never really developed there in the 16th century. It took a young free-fencer named Joachim Meÿer to bring the Italian art of the thrust to the German people, culminating in an interesting and violent mix of the Italian thrust and German meisterhau.

    Required equipment: Rapier, mask, gorget, and gloves.
    Required experience: No prior experience required.


 

Sean Hayes – Everything You Know Is Still True: An Introduction to Armoured Combat (Armour Not Required!)

    Friday, 11:15am-1:00pm (105 min)
    Longsword

    In his treatise on the medieval L’Arte dell’Armizare, Fiore de Liberi makes clear that armoured combat is not an art distinct from unarmoured combat, but is rather an integrated art that is fought from the same core mechanical and tactical principles developed in the unarmoured material. Further, most of those techniques and tactics are directly applicable: Fiore is careful to call out in the “unarmoured” material those techniques that are specifically applicable to armour. Even so, armoured combat is not a simple matter of strapping on steel and heading out to the lists. Armoured combatants need to condition themselves to movement and tactical actions with a raised center of gravity, the necessity of using correct movement dynamics for armoured combat, limited supply of air, and significantly obscured vision.

    We will explore why Fiore’s movement mechanics & dynamics are the same both in and out of armour, and how each informs the other. This class will begin with solo work on the mechanical properties of moving, breathing and seeing in harness, progress to partnered movement and pressure drills to develop tactile sensitivity, and finally develop a series of multi-step tactical drills that employ these skills. Students without harness are welcome to participate, as this work is directly relevant to unarmoured combat as well.

    Required equipment: Gambeson, mask or helmet, gorget, sturdy gloves, rondel dagger, steel longsword with thrusting blunt. Optional Equipment: Full Harness, spear, or poleaxe.
    Required experience: A working knowledge of medieval two-handed sword, either Italian or German. Poleaxe experience helpful but not required.


 

David R. Packer & Kaja Sadowski – The Salle vs. The Street, Part 1: Grappling

    Friday, 11:15am-1:00pm (105 min)
    Unarmed

    The debate over whether a given technique or style is better suited for training and sport, or for self-defense, has become a well-worn cliché in martial arts circles. In this pair of workshops, David R. Packer and Kaja Sadowski will draw on their unique blend of historical knowledge and tactical training to explore what it takes to make your skills work in both contexts. We’ll look at some of the fallacies that underpin this argument, and work through a training model for taking any martial technique from the safety of a martial arts class to the chaos of a fight, and back again. You’ll learn how to adapt your mindset quickly to address new challenges, and gain new insight into your favourite skills and tactics.

    This session focuses on knife and grappling martial arts.

    Required equipment: No equipment required.
    Required experience: No prior experience required.


 

Paul Wagner – Silver vs. Liechtenauer

    Friday, 11:15am-1:00pm (105 min)
    Sidesword/longsword

    At first glance, Silver would seem to vehemently disagree with the Liechtenauer tradition on even the most fundamental level of how you approach a sword fight. But is this really true? This class will lead students through a hypothetical encounter between an English and German swordsman, and look at what advice the sources give at each step of the way. Are they truly different, or merely presented with different language and emphasis? And where they differ, what is the thinking behind the theory?

    Required equipment: Longsword, fencing mask, and as much other armour as you desire.
    Required experience: Familiarity with Silver or Liechtenauer’s longsword is recommended.


 

Sean Hayes – One with the Sword: Integrated Body Mechanics and Movement Training for Medieval Arms

    Saturday, 1:30-2:45pm (75 min)
    Longsword/sidesword

    “When a warrior picks up a sword for battle, do sword and soldier become one?” This question is the first line of an article published in the academic journal Psychological Science, and the answer turns out to be yes: “Our experiments provide empirical support for the notion that objects can be integrated into an extended sense of the body. . . this extended body sense is highly plastic, quickly assimilating objects that are in physical contact with the observer.”*

    This class will train students to use proprioception (the sense of where the body is in space), equilibrioception (the sense of balance and acceleration), as well as the sense of sight, hearing and touch in the handling of medieval arms. Each student will discover where their own center of mass is based on their body type, and how to use this to stabilize themselves, how to use this center of movement (center of mass plus forces acting on that mass, as in a cut, thrust, step or turn) of both body and weapon to learn proper cutting and thrusting technique that use minimal effort for maximum benefit. We’ll cover movement dynamics from the body’s center for both basic grappling and for weapons use, and we will connect the body’s center to the weapon’s center. Benefits of this training are relaxed and efficient movement that fully supports – and as we will see is specifically required by – Fiore de Liberi’s L’Arte dell’Armizare and the medieval tradition of Kunst de Fechtens.

    *Psychological Science, July 2010 vol. 21 no. 7 1000-1005

    Required equipment: One Longsword, arming sword, or sword & buckler; Optional: poleaxe, spear (Please select a single weapon to work with for the class)
    Required experience: No prior experience required.


 

Matthew Howden – Thibault’s Rapier vs. the World

    Saturday, 1:30-2:45pm (75 min)
    Rapier

    It’s easy to learn to fight against people who fight more or less the same way you do. It’s slightly more difficult to learn how to use one system against another system with similar weapons. What do we do, however, when our opponent is using a different weapon or weapon combination entirely? In this 75 minute class, we will look at a few examples from Gerard Thibault’s Academy of the Sword to see how understanding the basic principles of a system allows us to adapt our approach to the unique conditions of a mixed-weapons fight. Specifically, we will be looking at Thibault’s approach to rapier vs. two-handed sword and rapier vs. sword and rotella.

    Required equipment: Please bring mask, gloves, gorget, and rapier. A fencing jacket is encouraged but not required. We will have a limited number of two handed swords and rotellas on hand, if you have either, please bring them along.
    Required experience: Students should have at least a basic familiarity with Gerard Thibault’s fencing system or other Destreza systems, prior attendance in the Thibault intensive track is preferred.


 

David R. Packer & Kaja Sadowski – The Salle vs. The Street, Part 2: Fencing

    Saturday, 1:30-2:45pm (75 min)
    Any sword

    The debate over whether a given technique or style is better suited for training and sport, or for self-defense, has become a well-worn cliché in martial arts circles. In this pair of workshops, David R. Packer and Kaja Sadowski will draw on their unique blend of historical knowledge and tactical training to explore what it takes to make your skills work in both contexts. We’ll look at some of the fallacies that underpin this argument, and work through a training model for taking any martial technique from the safety of a martial arts class to the chaos of a fight, and back again. You’ll learn how to adapt your mindset quickly to address new challenges, and gain new insight into your favourite skills and tactics.

    This session focuses on historical fencing application.

    Required equipment: Students should bring the sword (and secondary weapon, if applicable) that they fight with the most frequently, as well as appropriate protective equipment to that weapon.
    Required experience: Students should have at least a beginner-level background in whatever weapon they’re bringing along.


 

Marco Quarta – The heart of the Lion: how to (try) to survive unarmed against a knife attack, the Italian school

    Saturday, 1:30-2:45pm (75 min)
    Unarmed

    In this workshop we will cover the framework of the Italian school of unarmed defense from a knife attack. We will start with the principle that in such unfortunate situation you are almost already a dead person, especially if the attacker knows how to use a knife and he/she is motivated in her/his intentions. However, the Italian school developed structure, techniques and tactics to improve your chance to survive in these situations (and to gain time and space to equip yourself with items that can reduce the difference of power between you and the attacker). Moreover, we will analyze that a specific “psychology” and a mind set is also critical, and we will cover some of the strategies and methods developed to build a “lion heart”, which represents a critical element to execute these actions more effectively in a real life situation.

    Across the centuries, authors such as Fiore dei Liberi, Filippo Vadi, and Achille Marozzo reported a complex body in the art of defending against dagger and knives with bare hands. This tradition continued over the centuries until present time, in several Italian regional schools and methods. We will also study the transition from unarmed defense to the use of a cloth to empower the same actions. These methods, specifically developed in the Italian school of knife fencing, represent an important element of the art, that were part of the official curricula of the Renaissance Salles d’arms, such as in the Bolognese school.

    Required equipment: No equipment required. Your own training knife is welcome otherwise one will be provided. Light glove and protective gear for the forearm is suggested.
    Required experience: No prior experience required.


 

Mark Mikita – Problem Solving and Mindset in Asymmetrical Weapon Combat

    Sunday, 9:00am-12:30pm (210 min)
    Unarmed/mixed weapons

    “Research your own experience; absorb what is useful, reject what is useless and add what is specifically your own.”

    This now-famous set of directives is most often attributed to the late Bruce Lee (who was actually quoting Mao Zedong) and has served as the foundation of the martial arts revolution he incited in the late 1960s. While many enthusiasts have tended to focus on absorbing what they feel is useful and rejecting what they feel is useless in the various martial arts they’ve dabbled in, they have generally failed to grasp the essence of what inspired Bruce to pass on Mao’s words, that being the critical importance of personal research and innovation in advancing not only one’s own skill but also the horizons of one’s art.

    This workshop will focus on using critical thinking skills to dissect technique, method and mindset habits to unlock your wealth of insight and creativity through the exploration of problem-solving in asymmetrical armed combat.

    Required equipment: No equipment required.
    Required experience: No prior experience required.


 

Paul Wagner – Longsword vs Broadsword vs Smallsword

    Sunday, 11:00am-12:30pm (90 min)
    Longsword, broadsword, and smallsword

    There is, of course, no “best” sword. Each type of weapon has strengths and weaknesses, and was fitted to it’s historical context. This class will look at two mismatches – the two handed Longsword vs the single handed Broadsword. Then the Broadsword against the much lighter Smallsword. We will examine how each weapon can overcome its opponent by understanding its strengths and weaknesses.

    Required equipment: A longsword, a basket-hilted sword (though any single sword will do in a pinch), a smallsword/light rapier/other light sword or substitute (like a stick!), fencing mask, and as much other armour as you desire.
    Required experience: No specific experience required.


 

Guro E.W. – Patterned vs Unpatterned Training Methodologies

    Sunday, 9:00am-10:30pm (90 min)
    Unarmed/knife

    In this workshop, we will uncover the advantages and disadvantages of repeated organized movements and organized chaos using Southeast Asian empty-hand and weapon-based flow drills.

    Required equipment: A single short blade and eye protection.
    Required experience: No prior experience required.


 

Sean Hayes – The Positional Theory of Combat Strategy: Tactical Analysis and Strategic Planning in the Fight

    Sunday, 2:00-5:30pm (210 min)
    Longsword

    Successful fighting at any weapon is significantly more than simply knowing techniques and possessing courage in adequate degree. Students of any martial study frequently confuse technical ability, which is learned and demonstrated in drills and exercises, with fighting ability. The former is necessary to the latter, but having technical skills is not the same as having fighting skills. Strategy is the plan of attack decided upon by the individual combatant; tactics are the means to implement that plan – they are the application of technical skills in a specific situation. This class details a method for quickly assessing the adversary and planning the fight – and revising the plan as needed. There are three sets of characteristics to be considered: physical, temperamental, and strategic.

    Physical – Relative to your opponent, you are:
    Longer, Equal, or Shorter (have greater, similar, or lesser reach)
    Faster, Equal, or Slower
    Stronger, Equal, or Weaker
    Quickly assessing these qualities will allow you to choose a sound initial strategy: if you are longer, you can use your reach to advantage; if you are slower, you must set up actions in tempo to use their speed against them; if you are are weaker, you will find it harder to hold a line closed against them unless you have absolute advantage of strong to weak. Using the intersection of these characteristics, the fighter can form a preliminary strategy and begin to implement it, assess the results, and revise as needed.

    Temperamental – Your opponent (and you) will be somewhere along this spectrum:
    Timid – very reluctant to engage or join the fight
    Cautious – slow to engage, spends a lot of time assessing
    Cool – keeps calm and focused, fights judiciously
    Valorous – presses and stays in the fight
    Impetuous – joins the fight quickly and without due consideration
    Each of these in your opponent presents specific challenges to address (and you will want to be somewhere between Cool and Valorous!)

    Strategic – Your opponent will take one of these strategies:
    Offensive – tends to take the offense
    Defensive – tends to stay on defense
    Counteroffensive – tends to attack into the attack
    Mixed – some balance of these
    You must develop a strategy for approaching a specific opponent, planned from consideration of all the above elements, and implement that strategy with specific tactics. This is a hard-earned skill, particularly because there is often little time to strategize. This is where both training and experience come into play, allowing the fighter to make initial assessments to form a preliminary strategy, and to rapidly reassess that strategy during the fight. We will develop a series of drills around the general physical characteristics noted above; these drills become the specific tactics necessary to enact a chosen strategy. We’ll then add in assessments of the opponent’s temperament and strategy to arrive at our own strategic plan. The drills will take into account shifting actions on the part of the drill partner, and allow both partners limited freedom of action within a general framework. Drills of this type assist greatly in developing the ability to implement, and change, tactical approaches while under the pressure of a fight. Finally, we’ll engage in freeplay to practice our new decision-making skills in a spontaneous environment.

    Required equipment: One longsword, arming sword, or sword & buckler; sparring kit or gambeson, steel gauntlets or similar, gorget, elbow protection, mask (please kit up for mobility, with no heavy modern HEMA armor – contact Sean Hayes if you have questions).
    Required experience: Basic familiarity with medieval longsword, Italian or German; Optional: Integrated Body Mechanics and Movement Training for Medieval Arms Class


 

David Coblentz – Rapier: Dealing with Physical Asymmetries

    Sunday, 2:00-3:30pm (90 min)
    Rapier

    What do you do when your opponent is stronger than you? How can you best use your height (or lack thereof) to your own advantage in a bout? What should you do against those pesky left-handed fencers? Italian rapier texts are full of tactical advice for fencing specific kinds of opponents — tall, short, strong, weak, left-handed, and more. This class will explore the options presented by masters such as Fabris, Alfieri and Capoferro. We will discuss their tactical ideas and explore methods of implementing their advice.

    Required equipment: Mask, gloves, gorget, jacket, and rapier. Alternative forms of chest padding are permitted. If you do not have a jacket, wear something that will make it comfortable for you to receive many at-speed chest hits.
    Required experience: Solid foundational experience with a systematized approach to rapier such as Italian rapier or Destreza.


 

Devon Boorman – Rapier: Tactical Asymmetry

    Sunday, 4:00-5:30pm (90 min)
    Rapier

    “No plan survives contact with the enemy.” Students in this workshop will explore this well-worn quote as they learn how to get the most out of contact with the enemy and adapt their strategy appropriately.

    Students will explore how to identify an opponent’s core combative attitudes (Approaching/Receiving, Aggressive/Defensive) and then how to adapt their strategic and tactical approach to those attitudes.

    Aggressive – Prioritize offence in defence.
    Defensive – Prioritize defence in offence.
    Approacher – Forward motivated, want to come to you.
    Receiver – Want you to come to them.

    Against each attitude combination we will identify:
    – The appropriate place (at what measure should you seek to engage this opponent)
    – Tempos of opportunity (how is this type of opponent most likely to give you opportunity and how do you structure your approach to capitalize on that.)

    The workshop is not specific to any particular rapier system.

    Required equipment: Mask, gloves, gorget, and rapier.
    Required experience: Solid foundational experience with a systematized approach to rapier such as Italian rapier or Destreza.

Back to top


 

Lectures


 

Mark Mikita – Short-Term vs. Long-Term Practice: Thoughts From a 50-Year Veteran

    Friday, 11:15am-1:00pm (105 min)

“With one eye on the mountaintop, keep the other eye firmly affixed to the path.”

Let’s talk about the notion of short-term and long-term choices as they relate to teaching and our own development as martial artists. Whether it is in regard to the steps you take on your own path or the guidance you give to others as they walk on theirs, the discipline required to keep both the goal and the path in mind is what separates great martial artists and teachers alike from those who seek only to assume the revered title without taking on the responsibility.

In addressing a question or issue that arises in class, it can be tempting to solve it in a perfunctory manner without considering the potentially negative effect our words may have down the line. Similarly, if we are too rigid in our devotion and adherence to someone else’s path to alter our own to overcome obstacles that inevitably arise, we may find our enthusiasm waning when we never thought it would.


 

Dr. Shawn Bullock – Motivation in Martial Arts: Intrinsic vs. Extrinsic

    Saturday, 1:30-2:45pm (75 min)

What motivates you as a martial artist? There are many possible answers, of course. Perhaps you have a desire for self-improvement or mastery of a physical skill set. Perhaps you seek connection to a particular cultural practice or a concern about self-defence. Perhaps you want to have fun and engage in a special kind of camaraderie with a great group of people. We all have a sense of what we mean by “motivation” – and most of us would probably argue that being motivated by internal factors is better than being motivated by external pressures. In this lecture, Dr. Bullock will challenge you to think in different ways about the concept of motivation and how it can apply to your practice as an martial artist for solo work, pairs practice, applied combatives, and teaching martial arts. We will see the opportunities and challenges of thinking about motivation as either “intrinsic” or “extrinsic” before moving on to consider alternative ways of thinking about what motivates you and your training partners, how theories of motivation might be used in teaching martial arts, and even how motivational factors might be at play in a self-defence scenario. Dr. Bullock will present some ideas from educational research, but we will all work together to think about how these ideas might be applied to our personal practices as martial artists.

    About Shawn Bullock: Dr. Shawn Bullock holds graduate degrees in both education and in the history and philosophy of science. He has trained nearly continuously in martial arts for over three decades and still has far more questions than answers. As a certified professional physicist and an associate professor, Shawn enjoys working in cross-disciplinary ways on understanding the historical and philosophical underpinnings of how we develop scientific knowledge. Martial arts are his favourite form of applied physics.


 

Mike Panian – The Vigil, the Quest, and Facing Dragons: Martial Arts Practice vs. Athletics

    Sunday, 9:00-10:30am (90 min)

What are you looking for from your martial arts training? Like most people, you probably want to have fun and perhaps you want to have some sort of life-changing adventure. In most cultures, martial arts are often linked to a deep study of the self, and yet a case can be made for martial arts as a purely athletic endeavour. What are the advantages and disadvantages of these two paths? This interactive lecture/discussion will consider what can be gained and lost from each of these approaches. It is a discussion that is relevant to both teachers and students as HEMA itself grows, gains momentum and codifies itself.

    About Mike Panian: Mike Panian has been teaching martial arts for 40 years. As a wrestling coach, karate teacher, and swordfighting instructor, he has been watching people learn and grow through the martial arts for most of his adult life. He is the owner/instructor at Swordfighters School of Martial Arts and Self Defence and Martial Energy Works, an organization dedicated to supporting human growth and personal development through the martial arts.


 

Panel Discussion: Women vs. Men: Exploring Gender in Martial Arts

    Moderated by Jessica Finley, with Dr. Shawn Bullock, Kaja Sadowski, Sean Hayes, and Pamela Muir
    Sunday, 11:00am-12:30pm (90 min)

All martial artists, at one time or another during their studies, will encounter a member of the opposite gender as a training partner, a competitive opponent, or, in the worst-case scenario, as an assailant. Despite this, gender studies in martial arts are a relatively under-discussed subject. While many books have been written about the martial artists’ experience by both male and female martial artists, these books only touch lightly upon the shared experience that exists in the mixed-gender training scenario. This discussion will have a panel of experienced martial artists, male and female, to tackle questions regarding gender’s impact upon teaching, training, competing and fighting.


 

Matthew Howden – Signal vs. Noise: A Neo-Classical Approach to Modern Technical Analysis

    Sunday, 2:00-3:30pm (90 min)

What differentiates a technique from a trick? If a source offers 3 different ways to perform an action, are they all different techniques or is there a basic form that the others are adapted from? How do I break down a technique into its component parts? How do I determine which parts are essential and which are wasted? What does it mean for the fight to proceed from “True Causes?” There is no question that studying martial arts requires analysis and the ordering of information, but we have few tools at hand with which to do that ordering. This lecture will cover a modern approach Aristotle’s Four Causes and how they can be used as a model for ordering and understanding the fight from the highest levels down to the most minute details.


 

Michael Heveran – History vs. Myth: Using and Abusing Historical Narratives in Martial Arts

    Sunday, 4:00-5:30pm (90 min)

How do martial arts change? How did the world of martial arts become the way it is? We rely on historical narratives to answer these sorts of questions. However, not all narratives are equally valid. Given the frequent abuses of history by martial artists, we have ample examples of what not to do. This lecture is designed to encourage martial artists to approach the history of martial arts with a critical eye.

We will explore various historical narratives surrounding martial arts, both Eastern and Western, and show how they can affect our ways of thinking about martial arts. We’ll deconstruct the historical claims of various martial arts communities and see how they represent hidden assumptions about how history works. We will debunk several myths and simplistic narratives to understand some of the ongoing debates about martial arts history, and to see how uncritical narratives can be abused. Rather than playing whack-a-mole with historical misconceptions, we will use these examples of a way of examining the qualities of good historical narrative.

    About Michael Heveran: Michael received his Bachelor’s degree in history from Lewis & Clark College, where he conducted original research into the modern history of Chinese martial arts. His martial arts background reaches back over 15 years and is mainly focused on swordsmanship, but he participates in many different martial arts communities. He currently practices a form of classical Japanese martial arts, leads the Seattle Historical Rapier Practice and writes extensively about conceptual debates in martial arts.

    Back to top