I am very pleased to announce two sponsors who have generously donated swords as prizes for the tournament.
Benjamin Arms will provide a presentation quality French Foil with hand-inscribed acid etching. If you are not familiar with his work his weapons are used by many of the top classical and historic swordsmen in the world.
Joel Mason from Jacob's Armory has also promised us a weapon made especially as a prize for the event. Joel is well known in WMA circles as the maker of beautiful reproduction smallswords and twisted wire grips.
We are very blessed and to have the generous support of these craftsmen and expect several more to follow so keep checking back for details.
Finally the cost of participation will increase by another $25.00 to $225.00 on February 15th. If the chance to win one of these or other prizes, the outstanding instructors, and the increasing cost is not enough to get you to register now I do not know what is.
Exact details of the tournament are still being worked out. These will depend on the number of participants who sign up on site. I can guarantee that the rules will reflect much of the class content which is geared to practical fighting as opposed to salle play. That does not mean grappling or pummeling but may mean that there is a penalty for not being direct and decisive just as there would be in the dark alley next to the pub.
Vendors have donated some VERY nice prizes worth well over the cost of attendance at the event. I will have the details up as soon as I get all the text and pictures arranged. You will be impressed and you will not want to miss a chance to win these prizes.
Here is a little historical bit from Baltimore fencing history I just found while packing to go out to do some classes in Indiana.
I have been asked this question several times so let me state that the answer is emphatically "YES!"
Although the instructors are well known and the class titles sound as if one needs to be a expert to participate or appreciate beginners will definitely be able to benefit from them.
There a couple of truth to consider about workshops like this. First is that every class even if tailored to an upper level of participant experience will inevitably be composed of students with a wide variety of skills and abilities. All of them are their because they want to learn which makes them, for the duration, more alike than different.
Second is that the difference between an advanced class and a beginner is more about the demands that the students make on themselves. Beginners and advanced students can work through the same techniques but the level of performance and precision differs. Each student takes away something appropriate to their own level of experience and understanding.
So if you are a sport fencer or a actor who does stage combat or if you never trained with smallsword but always wanted to try I would encourage you to consider the event. Remember that everyone who is up in front leading the class was a rookie once upon a time.
You can expect to find no Jedi light saber classes or B movie stars. There will be no costume contests or board gaming sessions. While these are all fine ways to spend an hour or two that is not what this event is about. What you can expect is to have two days of immersion in authentic period correct smallsword training based on historical sources. Each instructor has been chosen not only because they are dynamic teachers but because they are proficient practitioners, dedicated scholars and researchers in the field.
Lets look at them in detail. In alphabetical order:
Kevin Cote from Canada assisted in the translation and contributed essays to the recent publication of Girard' s 1740 French manual. (see earlier post) In addition to being a keen analyst and interpreter of period texts he is an outstanding swordsman and winner the 2014 International Smallsword Tournament.
Professor Mark P Donnelly from the USA is a multi-award winning author, historian, screenwriter, and television producer as well as internationally renowned duelist, swashbuckler, and constant gentleman. Currently he has about 20 books in print – all of which are non-fiction – and all of which are on historical subjects. In addition to his work in print, Mark P. Donnelly has scripted and/or produced nearly 200 hours of broadcast television for Discovery, History Channel, PBS, BBC, National Geographic, Biography, A&E, etc.
His swordsmanship credentials are equally impressive. He began teaching full-time in 1998 when he founded the Society for the Study of Swordsmanship (S.S.S.) which has expanded to cover 7 different schools throughout the north of England accounting for 100-150 students. These schools can be found in Sheffield, Leeds, York, Durham, Whitby, Hartlepool, and Newcastle. It was due to his work with the S.S.S. and the B.F.H.S. that he was awarded the title of Professor of Arms. Under these auspices he was fortunate to travel throughout the United Kingdom and Europe teaching Western Combatives, Historical Swordsmanship, Dueling, and Manly Arts. And that doses not even begin to detail his expertise and experience.
Next update Victor Markland & Ian Macintyre
I am happy to announce that we have added two AWESOME instructors to our event.
Kevin Cote is an outstanding smallsword scholar, translator and winner of the 2014 International Smallsword Symposium Tournament. Kevin will be addressing the more combative aspects of parry and riposte in two recent translations Girard and St. Martin. (See Below)
Coming to us all the way from England Milo Thurston is a scholar, author and the undisputed authority and foremost practitioner of the fencing style of Sir William Hope. He will be presenting a class on Hope's New Method.
These two honored guest instructors combined with Ian Macintyre and Mark Donnelly , and if I may be so bold Yours Truly, absolutely guarantee that this is an event where smallsword enthusiasts can meet, train and fence with the very best in the field.
Register early space is limited and the regular rate of $250 is reduced to $200.00 until February 15.
Hope to see you there!
Just seven days to take advantage of the Early Registration Discount . Price will go up to $200 on 1/18/2015. There has been a lot of interest in the event and there is a limit to how many we can accommodate reserve your spot or it may be too late.
Additional instructors will be announced later this week.
Stay Tuned . . . .
While we are talking about new texts we should also mention Mr. Crawley's new translation of Girard
The Art of the Smallsword by P.J.F. Girard
Translated by Philip Crawley with Kevin Côté
Paperback: 211 pages
• Publisher: Wyvern Media (October 13, 2014)
• ISBN-10: 0992991803
• ISBN-13: 978-0992991807
There have been in the last ten years only two or three really important republications of historic smallsword manuals in English. The first chronologically was Jared Kirby’s facsimile edition of Domenico Angelo’s School of Fencing. The second was Mark Rector’s Highland Swordsmanship which contained Donald McBanes’s Expert Swords-Man’s Companion and Sir William Hope’s New Method of Fencing. To this one might add the Royal Armories edition of John MacArthur’s Army and Navy Gentleman’s Companion; which sadly does not get the attention that it deserves. To that list we must now add another title, Philip Crawley’s translation of P.J.F. Girard’s The Art of the Smallsword.
Kirby’s Angelo, when it was published set the bar very high. The School of Fencing is a great manual. No one would argue otherwise. The text is clear and concise and the plates are worthy of study in their own right. Angelo rightly deserves, without exception, the attention of every smallsword student. In addition to being the most celebrated text in the English smallsword cannon this edition contained insightful notes by Maestro Jeanette Acosta-Martinez.
The influence of this edition was so powerful that a sort of organized Angelo orthodoxy arose. Its creed was that there was only one true smallsword master and that smallsword truth could only be accessed through his ordained high priests. Each subsequent publication after however served to chip away ever so slightly at the temple of Angelo. Now thanks to Mr. Crawley, Girard is available in English and the crack in the edifice runs to the core.
Girard presents us with a manual that takes a different point of view from Angelo, one that is enlightened by military and probably battlefield experience. As a result Girard’s emphasis, over all, is one of a more combative bend. He generally advocates very simple and conservative tactics and techniques. Let me give a couple of examples. He talks extensively about use of the off-hand. The unique “thumb-down and by-the-ear” position of the left hand really helps to put the arm in the ideal position to deflect thrusts at the body and more importantly, the head. Feints for Girard are nothing like a succession of nearly full-on attacks that we too often see in the salle but are generally done off of an appel. This is not in an attempt to psyche out the opponent but rather to combat the urge to, or necessity of, withdrawing the blade before the intended final thrust. Girard also covers a variety of “battlefield” or street fight scenarios. These include opposing spadroons, rapiers with and without and dagger; pikes, bayonets pitchforks and even flails.
Girard begins with the usual “How to mount a sword”. But soon after he teaches coming on guard as “Twelve Points to Consider Protecting Your Life”. This is indicative of his view to the primary purpose his tuition. Not “Avoid a touch” in the salle but “Go home alive” from an encounter with sharps. He goes on to describe the parades, attacks and the rest in very clear and concise terms. Typical for more combat oriented texts, like McArthur or even McBane , there is more use by Girard of tierce and low line attacks like seconde. Girard gives us advice on how to counter a variety of other so called “national” schools of sword play viz. Italian, Spanish, German. Also included are how to deal with a variety of other weapons and self defense situations. He finishes up with suggestions on how to teach Smallsword.
Mr. Crawley assisted by Kevin Côté has provided us with a very clear and fairly literal transition. The original was only altered where it was necessary to convey Girard’s meaning. But there is more here than just a translation of an important smallsword text. We also find introductory essays that place Girard in context, and provide background on the art of smallsword for the newcomer. This background serves to introduce some of the concepts that one would need to readily understand Girard’s instruction, and what kind of equipment will be required to begin. Mr. Crawley also provides a nice bit on what constitutes a curriculum and the necessity of having one in mind if one is to seriously study the sword arts. Finally we find several useful appendices which provide a brief “Cliff notes” summary of Girard’s method, and of special interest a table of critical measurements of original smallswords.
If pressed my only suggestions would be to add a table of contents and to make the plates larger, perhaps full page, even if it means printing them perpendicular to the text. To be fair the plates are available online for those who want to look at them in detail. This volume belongs in the collection of every student of smallsword. Mr. Crawley, the force behind the annual SmallSword Symposium in Edinburgh, has once again done us a great service and pushed forward the study of the art more than anyone else in the last few years. (Further proof: His translation of St Martin’s 1804 manual will be out soon too!) Go ye now and buy this book. (Or at least ask for it for Christmas.)
Links to travel and lodging resources have been added.
Round trip from LAX to BWI available from $368.00 on Southwest
More class descriptions coming.
Also vendor, sponsors and instructors to be announced shortly.