Friday, April 18, 2008

Summer medieval martial arts training in Digby, Nova Scotia

Introducing an 8-week training program scheduled for this summer in the Digby, NS area (Smiths Cove Fire Hall, 6:00 - 8:00 pm), scheduled between July 9 - August 26. An open house & free introductory training is scheduled on Wednesday evening, July 2, between 6 - 8pm at the Smiths Cove Fire Hall. The summer session concludes with a bar-b-que at the residence of David M. Cvet in Smiths Cove on Saturday, July 30 (rain day - Sunday, July 31).

Students will have the opportunity to learn self-defense techniques of grappling, dagger and single-hand sword based on a system described by Fiore dei Liberi.

Students will also gain experience on how it can be applied to 21st century scenarios, as well as improving one's conditioning during training.

Students considering the training program must be 16 years or older, males & females are welcomed, and adults encouraged to train! All you need to bring for training is a pair of regular leather gardening type gloves, t-shirt, sweats/shorts, running shoes (preferably flat soled martial art training shoes). Official AEMMA training t-shirts can be made available on request.

Digby County Courier, Wed. May 8, 2008: "Grappling with an old art"

AEMMA's president and founder David M. Cvet will be delivering the classes. Contact AEMMA for further information or add a comment or query to this post in this blog.

Unarmoured free-fencing weekend

AEMMA is pleased to announce the second annual unarmoured free-fencing tournament weekend.

Date: Oct 25, 26
Location: AEMMA salle d'armes (Dupont & Ossington)
Time: 9-5 Saturday Sunday
Weapons: - Sword on Saturday in round-robin format, spear, sword and buckler, mixed weapons, on Sunday
Eligibility: Scholar

So, any would be scholars out there - you now have an objective. More details will be announced later, but book this in your calender! We also hope that the DVD from last year will be ready for viewing this year (no promises here however!).

Tournament is being organized by David B. Murphy, AEMMA Guelph.

Monday, April 14, 2008

For the "newbies" considering training...

The Academy of European Medieval Martial Arts or AEMMA, is the only school in the Greater Toronto Area which offers historical fencing and fighting art training known as "l'arte dell'armizare". The methodology was developed as a result of over a decade of research on medieval treatises which describe fighting systems covering grappling, dagger, sword, spear, poleaxe and mounted combat.

AEMMA's focus is principally an Italian swordsmaster by the name of Fiore dei Liberi. He was born sometime around 1350 in a village Premariacco, located near Cividale d'Austra in north-eastern Italy. Sometime in the beginning of 1400, he entered the court of Niccolo III d'Este, Marquise of Ferrara, as the master swordsman. He then began to write a manuscript for the nobility on behalf of Signore di Ferrara. In 1410 Fiore dedicated his treatise to his Marquise. The manuscript was entitled "Flos Duellatorum" or "Flower of the Battle". Another version of the manuscript is entitled "Fior Battaglia".

As a "newbie", the typical question asked is "what do I need to buy or bring in terms of equipment to start?". A valid question and an easy one to respond to. Any individual (male or female) who wish to train in the art only needs to have comfortable black/dark training pants (sweats, tights), garden-variety leather gloves, appropriate footwear (flat soled training shoes are the best) and a T-shirt (AEMMA has T-shirts for $20). AEMMA has extra weapons (swords, daggers) for students to use. It should become clear that the initial outlay of cash for the purchase of equipment is very low. However, as one progresses through training, students are encouraged to purchase their own sword (arming sword) for as low as $120. One of our past students, Charles Jevons "Swordcrafts" makes the training swords used at the Academy.

Another common question asked is "when are the practices scheduled?". Practices are scheduled three times weekly, with a combined recruit and senior students training Sunday mornings between 10am and noon, followed by recruit training Monday evenings between 6:30pm and 8:30pm and finally, Wednesday evenings between 8:30pm and 10:30pm.

One cannot ignore another important question regarding fees, "how much does the training cost?". A somewhat under-publicized special is the first free month of training. This little known gem offers a "noob" the chance to train as often as one likes for their entire first month of training. All you have to do is print out the special "certificate" and bring it to your first class. There is no need to arrange an appointment. Simply show up, identify yourself to the instructor or instructors on hand, and present the certificate. Following a bit of paper work you're good to go. In general, fees are structured into three types: committed: allows one to train as often as there are training classes for $100 monthly and it includes longbow archery practices on Saturdays; casual: allows one to train once weekly for $65 per month; occassional: a pay as you play fee of $22 per training session.

Lastly, "where is the school located?". AEMMA is resides in Toronto, located near the intersection of Dupont and Ossington. Click on the link to pull up a map, including a TTC map on how to get there.

"Armed" with the above details, go forth and knock on AEMMA's door and demand that free month of training (bring the certificate!!) and learn about the medieval period (you can't help it!) and train in the fighting art which will offer you not only skills in self-defense easily applicable in the 21st century, but it's a pretty good workout as well.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

14th Century Tournament in the 21st Century?

Incredulous as it sounds, but it's true. The Academy of European Medieval Martial Arts (AEMMA), along with the Royal Ontario Museum (ROM) and the Royal Heraldry Society of Canada (RHSC) successfully delivered a colourful and heraldic pageantry of armoured combatants, heralds, pursuivants, marshals and even a Patron, the Lord of Wrentnall. This event was hosted at the ROM in their large Currelly Gallery on March 15, 2008. The museum was at capacity that day with over 10,000 people in the museum, with hundreds spectating the tournament. There were hundreds upon hundreds of people lined up along Bloor Street and south on Avenue Rd. awaiting their entry into the ROM.
Figure 1: Robbie Sprules and his wife, Lucinda lead the opening procession into the fighting lists - photo by Gail J. Smith

The tournament focused entirely on "combats on foot", with the defendants (the home team) comprised of 5 armoured combatants, being challenged by the appellants (the visiting team) comprised of 5 additional armoured combatants, one combatant coming from Gravenhurst, while another from Boston, Mass, and the rest from the Ottawa Medieval Sword Guild or OMSG. The opening procession displayed a spectacular array of heraldry in the form of banners, standards and colourful tabards depicting the coats of arms of the combatants. To add, the combatants themselves, accompanied with their standard bearers, also wore jupons emblazoned with their coat of arms.
Figure 2: David Cvet battling Dale Gienow from Muskoka with steel longswords - photo by Jim Atack

The bouts were configured to three landed blows, by any weapon or weapons chosen for that bout. The blows were required to create visible displacement of the target in order to be counted. The bouts were extremely intense, with a good number of combatants choosing the spear as their weapon of choice.
Figure 3: David Murphy battling Mat Ravignat (OMSG) with poleaxe - photo by Jim Atack

At the end of the tournament, Lady Lucinda, the Patron's wife selected a combatant deemed to be the "best amongst equals" and was presented with a gift, a classic claymore sword. Following the tournament, most of the combatants, their significant others, volunteers and friends and relations attended a medieval banquet at AEMMA's salle d'armes. A glorious day for all involved.
Figure 4: Mathieu Ravignat accepting the award from Robbie Sprules and Lady Lucinda for "best amongst equals" - photo by Gail J. Smith

Figure 5: One side of the tournament medallion depicting the AEMMA arms, the reverse indicting date and location of the tournament. These were presented to each of the combatants at the banquet. Designed and created by Nicolas Facundo-Rico.

After the tournament, a good number of combatants and other participants, friends and family attended the medieval banquet at AEMMA's salle d'armes. With the salle beautifully decorated with arms of all of the combatants depicted on wooden shields, standards, banners, wrought iron candelabras, a medieval musical ensemble and demonstrations of medieval dancing, the banquet achieved what it may have been like in the medieval period. After some remarks and short speeches, Lady Lucinda awarded to each of the armoured combatants a tournament medallion. The medallions were created by an AEMMA student Nicolas Facundo-Rico.


What's in it for me?

An interesting question when one considers swinging a sword is as anachronistic in the 21st century as using a square rigger as the primary mode of marine transportation. So, it begs the question "why would one study and practice a medieval fighting art, when people don't walk around with swords any more?"

The question can be answered two-fold: a) cultivating an appreciation and understanding of the medieval period and of a people in the time where individuals developed both defensive and offensive skills in sophisticated fighting arts not derived from Asian or Eastern cultures, but developed within the context of European cultures and b) developing defensive skills applicable in the 21st century. After all, there's more to swordplay than swinging a sword around. The fighting art encompasses a number of levels of physical skill, including grappling, dagger and other classic weapons of the medieval period. Training swordplay without the basis provided by close-quarters fighting is like learning how to drive by using a Formula 1000 race car. There's a ton of material to become familiar with and skills to develop before taking that F1000 to the track!

Personal evolution through enhancement of one's intellect through expanding it to encompass a historical period is invaluable to anyone seeking to grow. When one takes the historical component and applies it to a real application such as medieval martial arts, what better marriage than the intellect with the physical?