Wednesday, January 28, 2009

So You Want To Fight in Armour.....

As students of Western Historical Martial Arts it is, for many, a desirable extension, or sometimes the ultimate goal, to train and fight in an accurate, period appropriate medieval harness (suit of armour). AEMMA Scholler Matt Brundle began training in armizare some years ago and the thought of fighting in harness was of immediate interest. Fighting in armour may very well be the hook which drags one into the study of Western Martial Arts. AEMMA's purpose academically is to study historical text to come to a more complete understanding of the medieval armoured combat. Training these techniques with historically accurate equipment is an essential part of this study. Matt has written some thoughts on the acquisition of harness for the purpose of training for foot combat with steel blunts with reputable training partners and instructor/s oriented to those who are considering taking the path towards armoured combat.

The several points which Matt covers in which he believes are the salient ones pertaining to the process of putting together harness and to begin getting ready to train with it.
1. Be clear about your intent
2. Develop a Vision
3. Research, Research, Research
4. Budget
5. Repair and the DIY of Armour
6. Avoid The Impulse Buys

He then proceeds to discuss on one's preparation to train in harness. The points raised are:
1. Conditioning
2. Helmet Time

If one decides to embark on this journey, one is about to enter a truly superb community of individuals. The demands, intellectual, academic and physical are substantial. However, the rewards are nothing short of awesome. It feels terrific to have assembled a complete, working harness. Training and fighting in armour with authentic medieval techniques and authentic equipment and weapons is a unique experience and adds another, truly excellent dimension to one's study of the Historical Western Martial Arts. For a complete version of this article, click "So You Want to Fight in Armour...".

Matt Brundle
Scholler, AEMMA

Monday, January 26, 2009

Fighting Arts Collective Toronto - Open House

The Fighting Arts Collective Toronto or FACT, is an organization originally established through a partnership between AEMMA, JKD and Wing Chun. Over the years, FACT has organized an annual Open House, which is essentially a celebration of the various fighting arts and body movement forms which are offered at FACT. The day began around noonish with the sharp sword cutting. Representatives from each of the schools took turns at striking the rolled tatami mats in their attempts to slice all the way through. The rolled tatamit mats each had a wooden dowel core to "simulate" a human limb, and were inserted into a stand providing a vertical target. A variety of swords were used including the German messer, longsword and Filipino sword.

The cutting demonstration was immediately followed by the Dragon Dance, celebrating the Chinese New Year. The two dragons weaved, and danced their way towards the prize which was a head of lettuce suspended from the ceiling. The dragons had remarkably detailed faces, with eyes blinking and seemingly coming to life with their expressions. By the conclusion of the Dragon Dance, FACT experienced what was undoubtedly, the largest crowd ever.

The demonstrations continued after the Dragon Dance with Ryan Kennedy leading an impressive presentation of Wing Chun Toronto. All of his students in unison were conducting their traditional Wing Chun kata. This was followed by Shawn Zirger and the Jeet Kune Do, opening with the JKD kids aged between 10 - 14 years, adequately demonstrating their skills with staff. Following this, was a demonstration by AEMMA, which included Beau Brock and his assistants demonstration rapier techniques based on Capo Ferro. Following this was Brian McIlmoyle and Aldo Valente demonstrating sword & buckler. The rest of the day offered demonstrations of other activities at FACT, including Systema Downtown (Russian martial arts) lead by instructor Paul McCaughey accompanied by a number of students including his wife Jenn, Toronto Kettlebell Club, and the recently added aerial acrobatics. The four performers of the aerial acrobatics includes three women who train at FACT in women's self defense with Shawn Zirger as their instructor. Shawn became fascinated with the aerial acrobatics that he now trains in this and was one of the four performers at the Open House. FACT had expanded it's offering by including Live Action Role Playing (LARP) by a group known as "Underworld". These costumed individuals gave a presentation of what they do, with the usual "good vs evil" and having to do battle with the "undead". One of the battles between a viking and the undead left a little souvenir on the floor depicted on the right.

Of course, the day would not be complete without a little armoured combat, with Aldo Valente and Matt Brundle engaged in battle firstly with spear and then a second engagement with dagger.

The day ended with nothing short of a feast comprised of giant pots of chilli, lasagna, tons of meatballs, and plenty of libations, including the in-house favourites of Kel's Ale, Bermudian Rum and swigs of "Waldec Shine".

Overall, based on visitors comments, it was a tremendous success. Most visitors had no idea that such an environment existed in Toronto and were extremely impressed with the demonstrations and presentations, which means that the Open House did satisfy at least one of its objectives, which is to educate the people of Toronto.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Guelph Challenge 2009

David B. Murphy, founder of the Guelph Chapter of AEMMA and his schollers challenged AEMMA Toronto to an unarmoured fencing tournament, encompassing spear, dagger and sword. This challenge occured on the Saturday afternoon of January 17th, 2009 at the salle d'armes in Toronto.The challengers numbered five including David, and the defendants numbered five, plus one or two extras who got a match or two in-between. The bouts were played to three landed blows, with the victor of each bout announced at the conclusion of each bout. The structure enabled every combatant to play with every other combatant, whereby, each weapon saw 25 bouts with a total of 75 bouts in the afternoon, not counting the few extra bouts with some of the extra Toronto schollers.

The spear challenges saw the employment of the's rubber spear heads afixed to wooden shafts. This training weapon proved to be useful and appropriate for exchanges in unarmoured bouts. The tips were flexible enough to disipate the blows when struck, and therefore, reducing the potential injury incurred by the combatants receiving spear blows.

After the first round with spear, everyone took a water/bio break and resumed the bouts with sword. The combatants would select either an arming sword or longsword. The type of sword was agreed to prior to the bout. The action was fast, with strikes and thrusts.Another break was had after the sword segment of the challenge, and the challenge was resumed with dagger bouts. The daggers were constructed using the same rubber head as the spears, and were afixed to short wooden dowels. Marshalling these bouts were a challenge as the action was very fast and the "feel" of the rubber tips was far less, in that the combatants receiving the thrusts with dagger often did not feel the thrust. The "jury is still out" on whether rubber daggers have a place in training at AEMMA.At the end of the day, once all the bouts were tallied, the Guelph schollers were victorious, having won more bouts than the Toronto schollers.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Maritime training...

During the summer of 2008, David M. Cvet of AEMMA, Toronto started up an eight-week training program in Smiths Cove, near Digby, NS. Students local to Digby and the Cove attended the training throughout the summer, which concluded with a bar-b-que at David's residence in the Cove.However, due to the interest and desire to continue training, the group coordinated a practice at the Digby Elementary School to review the basics of Fiore, and when David is visiting the Cove, arrangements are made with the school to provide their gym to allow for periodic AEMMA training.

The class structure is similar to the structure used in Toronto, except that each class will start off with some dagger or grappling alternating each class, concluding with arming sword. Due to the somewhat irregular training during the winter months, this form of structure covers much material and appears to work.

The photos above depict the gymnasium located at the Digby Elementary School in Digby. The school principle was kind enough to offer us the space in exchange for the presentation of "How a man shall be armed" delivered earlier in the fall of 2008.

Clovis achieves Scholler rank

Clovis Kari, who started training with AEMMA when he was 16, had successfully achieved the rank of Scholler on Dec 21, 2008. What better way to describe the event than with the words of his father in both French and English.

En ma qualité de témoin, de compagnon et de modeste père, je tiens à signaler la noblesse et la droiture de l’Académie, de ses Maistres et de ses Escholiers. Je suis reconnaissant et ému par le talent et la maestria des éducateurs et des mentors qui ont fourni les conditions maximales permettant, en un dense mélange de rigueur et de camaraderie, à une recrue de 16 ans de devenir un Escholier de 18 ans. Je pense à ces personnes de haut savoir qui ont donné généreusement de leur temps et de leur ascendant, notamment (la liste est incomplète): David, Brian, Frank, Kel, Aldo et notre merveilleux Homme aux Trente Arts Martiaux. L’Académie a établit indubitablement la preuve de sa capacité et de son désir de former des adolescents et de leur faire découvrir, articuler et mettre en forme, avec solidité et rigueur, leurs rêves et leurs aspirations. Quand un Art, via ses Artistes, atteint un objectif de cette nature, il se prouve, pour son propre bénéfice et pour le bénéfice de ses futurs adeptes, qu’il est moins un Vieil Art qu’un Art Éternel…

Ventre Saint Gris,
Que trépasse si je faiblis,
Audace d'abord, Prudence après...

As a witness, a companion and a modest father, I want to point out the noblesse and credibility of the Academy's leadership and scholarship. I am thankful and touched by the talent and skill of the educators and role models who created a rich environment which cultivated a rich mix of rigor and camaraderie facilitating a 16 years old recruit to become a 18 year old scholar. I think of persons of scholarly influence who shared generously with their time and mentoring such as (the list is incomplete): David, Brian, Frank, Kel, Aldo and our wonderful Man with the 30 Martial Arts. The Academy proved clearly it's capacity and willingness to train teenagers and make them discover, articulate and give a solid and rigorous shape to their dreams and aspirations. When an art, through it's artists, reaches such an achievement, it proves to itself and to it's future students that it is not old but eternal...

Ventre Saint Gris,
May I die if I weaken,
Audacia first, Prudencia after...