We are pleased to welcome several new instructors this year John (Jay) Glenn is a n instructor at MASHS and at Chesapeake Fencing and will be helping with the anti-rapier tactics and techniques classes. Christopher Treichel teaches at Order of Seven Hearts and is a Guest Instructor at Capital Kunst Des Fechtens. These along with veterans like Larry Tom, Chris Amberger and Victor Markland will be sure to make an entertaining and edifying weekend. Detailed schedule and Smallsword vs Rapier Challenge Rules will be up soon.
I know many of you faithful followers have been asking "Whats going on with The Symposium? I haven't seen any updates!" As Many of you know I have had some family business which took precedence. However I now have a bit more time and energy to update you all on the event. So here goes . . .
We have a full slate of instructors and guests. These include Christoph Amberger, Kevin Côté, Larry Tom, John, (Jay) Glen, Chris Treichel and Victor Markland.
Classes will include:
Intro Smallsword, Rapier Basics, Anti Rapier Techniques from Liancour & Girard, German Smallsword, and more!
Rapier vs Smallsword Exercise:
After some elimination rounds we will pit Team Rapier against the Team Smallsword to determine which really is the better weapon.
Friday Night Fights:
You asked for more time to free fight so we are planning on having an open floor for participants to get in a little practice time on Friday night.
Christoph Amberger has once again generously offered to comb his extensive collection for texts and manuals related to rapiers and smallswords. these will be available for viewing on Sunday.
Early Bird Rate, $150 will continue through 3/31/2017 then will go up to $200.
Rapierist are encouraged to come and defend their mistaken contention that size matters! Smallsworders novice and expert will find a collegial exchange of new ideas and perspectives to inspire their Smallsword studies.
Ladies and Gentlemen registration is open!
I apologize for running so far behind my planned schedule but family comes before fun. Watch this space for updates on the instructors and class details as well as rules for the Smallsword vs Rapier contest.
For the moment I can guarantee classes will be lead by top instructors who you will probably recognize. These classes will include the obligatory Smallsword 101. Also a Fundamentals of Rapier class to familiarize folk with the strengths and weaknesses of the Rapier. There will also be classes on more specialized smallsword techniques like Using the Off-Hand drawn directly from period sources. Expect a bit of show and tell with period manuals and weapons. I have restructured the tournament to a more conventional format. There will be a class specifically on fighting against rapiers to prepare folk for the tournament And I have a couple of surprises planned as well.
Hope to see you all there.
Now that the questions about the venue have been settled American Smallsword Symposium can get down to business again. The dates, June 9 thru 11, 2017 are confirmed. The venue has not changed. What is different is that this year we will have a theme, Contra-Rapier.
Every one of the foundational smallsword texts includes a section on fighting against rapiers. So it was likley a possible real world scenario that the well trained smallsworder would have been prepared for. There is much discussion from rapierists (and Matt Easton) about the inferiority of the smallsword compared to the rapier. I don't agree. I am not alone. I believe that a practiced and prepared smallsword user is at least equal to a competent rapierist. So lets put it to the test with a weekend of preparation and a smallsword vs. rapier contest! YES, I am throwing down the glove to rapierists out there to come and prove me wrong if you dare.
This is also a fine chance for rapierists to get a good introduction to smallsword theory and practice. We will have classes for new and experienced smallsworders and rapierists conducted by well known instructors. There will be plenty of time for free play, exchange of ideas, and socializing too.
Full details and Schedule to follow soon.
Registration opens 1/1/2017
I can not thank enough all of the people who contributed to the event. From the instructors who presented interesting and inspirational classes; to the volunteers who worked lots and fenced little; the sponsors and supporters; the folks at Towson Dance Studio; the participants whose enthusiasm made it all worth while; Phil and Ian for convincing me to do this event: and Mom who walked the dog so I could stay out late socializing; you all helped me to realize a vision that I have had for a long time.
It looks like a good time was had by all. It has been a week and I have been going over some of the video and photos from the event. These will come out in the coming weeks and months as we have a chance to edit them into something entertaining to watch. Before the rosy after-glow fades and all you attendees have a chance to be more critical of the event I want to announce that I have placed a survey on the website for you all to register your compliments and complaints. You may do so anonymously with no fear of reprisal or recrimination. I assure you that all of the organizers and instructors value and look forward to hearing your critiques and suggestions.
THE 2016 SURVEY
We have a prize! Starla and the kind folks at Zen Warrior Armory have generously donated this fine weapon for the winner of the Tournament. It could be you! Be sure to study the rules and be ready for a challenge. Well much work and a couple of sleepless nights for me. Hope to see you all there. Remember to arrive about 8:45 so we can get you registered and then right to the fun stuff.
Here it is just barely a week until the event. It had been my intent to raise the price up to $200 for participation in the event in the last week or two. However I am going to hold the line on the price at $175. Please note there is a hard limit for participants that I do not want to exceed because a crowd would diminish the experience for those of you who have already paid and registered. So I will leave registration online open til Thursday 3/31 or until we reach capacity. If it is your wish to pay on the day you must contact me in advance to hold your space. If you do not I can not guarentee your spot. PM me or contact me through the Website.
I have been reminded that I have been remiss in failing to mention the dress requirements for the social events. The Still is a faux pub in an upscale neighborhood. So "Smart Casual" would be the order of the day. We have reserved a semi private area in the pub. You need not feel obliged to eat at the Pub if you do not want to. However the food there is not bad and reasonably priced.
There is sufficient time for you to change and enjoy dinner at any number of really nice restaurants in the area before 7:30. I would recommend trying something Crab while in town like a Crab cake or if you really want to do a B-more thing a couple of Steamed Crabs. (Waitress will show you how if you have never "picked" one.) Oysters are still in season too. Raw they are said to be aphrodisiacs. On the other hand there are also many budget eating choices close by too.
Looking forward to seeing you all there!
One of the unique features of the American Smallsword Symposium is the use of a scenario based competition. This was instituted because a lot of smallsword competitions or demonstrations were just too tame. While they did represent the duel or salle play it was often rather tame salle play. It seemed so tame that it was rightly noted that it looked too clean, too nice, too choreographed. On the other hand was a school of thought that smallsword was just like foil or epee fencing but with a historic weapon and without much of the fear that an encounter with sharps such as a duel would evoke.
We have chosen a different road. The use of the weapon to defend one's life on the street or the battlefield is certainly a valid period context that would have been trained for in the period. If we want to be as complete a swordsperson, as an authentic a swordsperson as we can we should also embrace the self defense context as well as the salle and the duel. The scenario based exercise is designed to test our skill at tactical analysis and flexibility under stress. While we cannot be completely authentic and still be safe we can include a reasonable amount of realism and induce stress by using time as a measure of performance.
These are potential scenarios for this year's competition. They are provided here so that participants will not be totally unprepared.
Scenario One. After the Battle
27 July 1689 at Killiecrankie near Pitlochry Scotland It has been a tough day for Redcoats like you. As you run exhausted from the battlefield you see many of your friends are already dead or like your comrade Donald McBane have fled the field. You watched amazed as he leapt nearly twenty feet to freedom across the river Garry. Your route of escape appears in front of you; a narrow defile in the gorge. Blocking your way stand two men; one Highlander armed with a musket and plug bayonet and behind him an aristocratic man armed with a smallsword. You are unarmed having thrown down your musket and accoutrement so as to run faster. As luck would have it a smallsword lies at your feet. The Highlanders are not taking prisoners. You must dispatch both of your opponents to live. As you reach down to pick up your only chance of survival you say boldly so all can hear " Well now, we shall see if those fencing lessons were worth the money!" And the fight begins . . . . .
Scenario Two. Unintended Consequences
April 3, 1730 Natchez Mississippi. Spring in the American Deep South. You sip your tea in the courtyard of a tavern as the morning sun warms your face. You close your eyes and breath deep. The Magnolias are in bloom and the air is heavy with their scent and that of the other myriad of flora which has burst back into life after a long winter of hiding. You to have had your own season of hiding. Six months ago you left New Orleans in a hurry. It was not meant to be a duel to the death but those damned smoothbore pistols are incredibly inaccurate . Usually this meant a clean miss but this time it meant a messy and fatal head shot to the only son of one of the leading citizens of the city. The seconds and most of the town understood but the father of the dead man, Don Francisco, was inconsolable. He has sworn to hunt you down and have his revenge. So it is not then a total surprise as you open your eyes that you see Don Francisco with his old fashioned Rapier in hand advancing across the courtyard toward you. He is restrained suddenly by another man. A man with the cool confidence and demeanor which betrays his experience and a familiarity with death. The other man speaks as he draws his smallsword and comes on guard. "This is what you paid me for Don Francisco. Please stand back and let me earn my pay". You draw your sword certain that this is a professional killer and in a moment your blades meet . . . . .
Scenario Three. Mistaken Identity
April 3, 1755 Just outside of Nice France. You are traveling to the home of your sick uncle in town. Anxious to rejoin your new wife who nurses him you have ridden all night. As your horse ambles east along the coast road from Monaco the birds begin to wake and celebrate the day. The sun burns off the dew releasing the rich warm smell of the wild sage. Suddenly there is a gunshot and another. Your horse bolts and you are thrown to the dusty road. You are not wounded. You look up and ten yards away two men re-holster their heavy cavalry pistols on their saddles and dismount. Their clothes are rather plain and humble in contrast to their surly and imposing arms-across-the-chest pose. " I Sir am Louis Mandrin and you are the new agent of the Ferme générale , and so you must die. " "Me" you protest " A tax collector? You are mistaken I am just a humble traveler. I hate the Gabelle and the Aides and those leaches who farm not for crops but for gold in the name of the king as much as any Frenchman. I go to my new wife. Pray let me pass monsieur." There is a pause. The highwayman speaks " It is sad, She has awoken this day as a wife and yet will sleep tonight as a widow. " There are no more words as you and your attackers simultaneously draw your smallswords and engage, . . . .
Things are rapidly coming together. I think the warming Spring weather is stirring the blood. Spring is after all, when a mans heart turns to . . . . . Smallsword. It is dueling season, and of course time for the Symposium. Here is what is new since the last update:
New Instructor: Ragnhild Viken is flying across the pond to present to us some elements of the smallsword of Donald McBane.
Meet, Greet and Dinner: All of the social activities will be at "the Still" located less than a mile from the venue. So that is Friday night after 8:00 and Saturday night after 7:30. Saturday we will have a couple of rooms reserved for us. There is no buffet or formal dinner at a set time. So come, Eat, drink, and be merry.
Original Texts: thanks to the kindness and generosity of Christoph Amberger you will be able to view more original smallsword texts in one room that anywhere else in the US and maybe the world. You will be amazed and inspired.
Helmet Cam: I will mount the action cam to a spare mask so you can see what you look like to an opponent. This will be available during the designated free play times.
Registration: There are still a few openings. It is not too late to sign up. but once we reach capacity we will have to turn procrastinators away. We will keep the online discounted price of $175.00 as long as there are any openings left.
Looking forward to seeing you all there!
In a just thirty days from now we will convene the second American Smallsword Symposium. Things are finally coming together and the excitement is building , at least it is for me. Some updates
Several people have mentioned that they would rather save expenses and enjoy a larger choice of options for Saturday dinner. So we will not run a flat fee buffet as we did last year. We will reserve some tables and convene as a local restaurant and each may order to suit their taste and budget. The location will be within one mile of the venue. I will announce the location shortly. The Friday "Meet and Greet" will probably also be at the same location.
Yes, it will involve mixed weapons.
Yes, we will have a class on dealing with rapiers and such before the "Competition" begins.
Yes, there will be prizes! Thanks to our generous sponsors. Please see our Vendor/Sponsor Page
(Hmmmm? Dinner and a Tournament. Where have I heard that before?)