During two days, the Swiss Blades will offer 12 workshops relating to various weapons, historical weapons, approches, and different skills level. The goal is to give a large choice to participants, so that everybody, beginner as well as advanced, can enjoy it. The schedule will also allow people taking part in the tournament to participate in at least two of the five workshops sessions. Furthermore, we will organise conferences on Saturday evening. Detailed schedule will follow.
Here are the workshops’ presentations:
Introduction to Viking Sword and Shield
Nobody knows for sure how people in the Viking Age fought with sword and large centre-gripped roundshield. It was never written down, and even it was, it did not survive the test of time. So we’ll never know for sure. However, through archaeological research of the original weapons – presentation of the lecture on that topic here -, understanding of the later HEMA-manuscripts, and a lot of experimentation, it might be possible to come as close as possible.
This is exactly what I’ve done in the last 2 years. For my master thesis in archaeology, I’ve personally analysed a lot of Dutch early medieval swords, being both of Frankish and Norse origin. I’ve combined this with studying Ms. I.33 and the Lignitzer, and experimentation with a dedicated group of friends from my club. And now it is time to share this work with the rest of the HEMA-community.
In this workshop, you will not only be taught the physical characteristics of the original weapons, but will also learn a small set of techniques which are vital for fighting with them.
Equipment: A large centre-gripped shield at least 80 cm in diameter (some may be provided), a single-handed sword, preferably a spatha (some may be provided), a mask, and some light gloves.
Mutual Thrust. Using the Langenort in langes Messer.
The langenort is the guard with the greatest possible reach and it plays a significant role in Johannes Leckuchners fechtbuch. This is not strange, as the langes messer is a one handed weapon. It can be fully extended into a thrust and Leckuchner makes good use of this. So much in fact, that it almost becomes the go-to counter to nearly everything.
In this workshop, participants will learn how to strike and thrust to Langenort first. Additionally, they will learn how footwork affects the Langenort. After that, we will be examining various stucken from Leckuchner that work with the Langenort. There will be ways of setting up the thrust as a feint, but also the Langenort as a defensive measure.
Finally, this workshop will provide participants with some easy to take home exercises for applying the Langenort in sparring, along with the various ways of moving it brings along with it.
Defending your honour and life with a knife, according to Émile André
In his 1905 treatise “100 Ways to Defend with Weapons”, Émile André extrapolates a method of knife fighting with the use of the jacket as a shield. This method combines the blows of the hall fencing, the French boxing and the Spanish Navaja, itself stemming from the old fencing with the rapier and the cloak. There are several testimonies of this combination of weapons in duels honors in Paris in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. This workshop will focus on the combination of fencing and boxing, as well as the discovery of distance and nervousness specific to knife fighting.
Equipment: a knife simulator (plastic, wood, newspaper …), a simple casual jacket and if possible a mask and small gloves.
Tactical use of Zufechten
In this German Longsword workshop we will explore how we can use the Zufechten (= coming to the fight) to learn more about our opponents. The old treatises often explain techniques that can be used against a certain type of opponent: bull fighter, a fighter that defends wide and passively, …. The purpose of this workshop is to provide you with a toolbox to notice these things during the zufechten.
Minimal: feder, fencing mask, gorget, light gloves.
Optimal: full gear.
The French fencing and the epee de court (court sword)
The workshop is designed to present thrust technics of the 17th and 18th century court sword and foil of the masters Liancourt and Angelo and to clarify the difference between the duel fighting and the fencing in the fencing hall. Finally, the court sword was a weapon that was developed from the rapier. Its lightness permitted a fencing game limited to the tip and to separate the parry from the riposte. The blunted sword which was used until there to the training had been replaced with the foil with flexible blade. Until the beginning of the 18th century, the foil blades were mounted in sword guards. With the exception of conventional French foils which owned no “pas d’ane”. At the end of 18th century, the guard in the form 8 was developed. It asserted itself very quickly, because it represented only of the contours of the doubled mussel and was therefore the lightest of all guard forms.
André Wernesson, Sieur de Liancour, was certainly the most well known personality of the French fencing history, even if he was not, really, innovative. The fact that he wrote his book at the beginning of his career and that he kept teaching for 46 years after the issue has contributed a lot to his celebrity. His text encloses two parts, the first 17 chapters contains very technical descriptions, the second part with educational advices and exercises was determined for the teacher. The Sieur de Liancour taught a very academic fencing. “His principles were those of his master about whom he always spoke with the biggest recognition”, wrote Egerton Castle in his book. We owe to him nevertheless that he has clarified and structured the French fencing. With him, the French fencing separated finally from the Italian one.
The “French” quarterstaff
The “École normal militaire de gymnastique et d’escrime” has influenced the fencing in France among other sports until 1936. They taught also a special form of French quarterstaff, the “bâton de Joinville”. The 1.70 m long conical staff from chestnut wood is hold with both hands like a long sword at the thick end. The more modern variant of this martial art is carried out with a staff of 1.40 m. This weapon is, first, a slashing weapon. However, it can be used to estoc punches.
In our club, I use the quarterstaff as an introducing weapon. Easy to apprehend, it gives very quickly some confidence to the students. Therefore, much fundamental weapon work like coordination, footwork, parry-riposte or first sparing can be studied without big risk.
No equipment needed. I provide the quarterstaffs.
Training the Zornhau with Aliveness
By Alexander Fürgut
Assistant: Lydia Röntgen
This class consists of two parts:
Part one is a theoretical lecture about using the Aliveness system. More informations here.
Part two is a practical workshop teaching the Zornhau and follow up techniques, using the Aliveness model from the lecture. Attending the lecture beforehand is not necessary, but if you did you will get a live example of training with Aliveness and the I-method. If you didn’t attend the lecture this will hopefully be an interesting Zornhau workshop nonetheless. 🙂
For the workshop the minimum equipment is Feder, Mask, Gloves and throat guard.
We will end the workshop with some sparring, so bring a jacket and whatever else you need to comfortably do this.
Biomechanics in sword and buckler I.33
The workshop will focus on how to be more effective using less motion. This workshop is for all levels (but people attending should know the basics of sword and buckler : guards and their counters). We will work on footwork, how to move efficiently and in true time. How to step properly, keeping our legs safe. We will learn how to walk again ( passing steps, double steps, going back). Then move on to upper body mechanics : how to generate power without getting a big resistance from your opponent, but just the right reaction from them. And finally we will apply all this to the weapons and how to use it in sparring. This will allow a better binding, a more powerful buckler strike, a more fluid way of moving and a relaxed fighting style which will save energy to enhance the endurance.
Equipment required : light gloves, mask, sword, buckler, throat protection.
Capo Ferro’s rapier
By Rui Ferreira
Assistant: Michael Silva
In this workshop we will take a look at the fundamentals of Italian Rapier fencing specifically according to Capo Ferro’s treatise “The Great Simulation of the Art and Use of Fencing”. We will be covering basic postures, guards, footwork, as well as taking a look at the proper tempo and measure, definition of fencing and other more specific terms, lines of defence/attack, as well as taking a look at some of the most interesting plates. Context will be given on the source itself as well as its core principles by which the entire fencing system is regulated. It is the ideal workshop for those wanting to start their practice of Capo Ferro’s Rapier as it covers the foundations of the system, as well as beginners who are looking for a first contact with the sword.
Equipment: Synthetic or steel rapiers. Masks may be used for later drills but they’re not mandatory to fully enjoy the workshop.
Fighting like a Bodyguard (Langes Messer by Andre Paurnfeind)
Andre Paurnfeind was the body guard to the most ambitious and hated Cardinal Matthäus Lang at the beginning of the 16th century. The probed Freifechter was following the Liechtenauer lineage while modifying it to match the modern weapons like the Tessak. This was a Langes Messer hilted with some hand protection and often a curved blade. But you won’t need a weapon like this to enjoy the workshop (any single handed weapon will do). Paurnfeind published his book in 1516, it was translated in a French dialect in 1538. It starts in Longsword and moves to the single handed weapons. The technique he provides for those weapons are a mixture of various sources. They are not very complicated in the beginning. He strives for a quick end of the fight, and wants to get away as fast as possible. Keeping occupied with one foe alone is not his thing. Into the plays of the Langes Messer he added plays of dagger which is best recognized by Fiore de Liberi’s fencers. Whether you are a beginner or experienced fencer does not matter. If you are already very advanced in single handed weapons, we work on the details – and there are many.
Equipment: one handed sword (best would be Langes Messer or Dussack, a strong saber will do as well). gloves, fencing mask.
The perfect crash course on British military sabre
By Anouk Post
Assistant: Martin de Jong
This workshop is perfect for people who have gazed longingly at beautifully curved sabres with their stylish guard, but didn’t know where to start. In this workshop we will fly through the basics of Roworth’s military sabre, so that at the end you will know enough to be able to spar without looking like somebody who thinks dussack and sabres are the same thing.
‘The Art of Defence’ was first published in 1796 by C. Roworth, a printer who served as a volunteer in the British Army at a time when the threat seemed real that Napoleon would invade Great-Britain. Although he never saw any real action it was obvious he was a fencing enthusiast. And what luck that Henry Angelo, son of the Angelo who started a fencing school in London, served in the same regiment! It is easy to fantasize how these two friends discussed fencing and training, much like we do now. The result was that Roworth ended up creating a perfect treatise for soldiers with little to no fencing experience, who would benefit from a clear, simple, yet effective system which they could learn in a short amount of time. No doubt he hoped the army would take notice and make it the standard system for all regiments, but no such luck.
During this workshop we will discuss the various guards, cuts and thrusts as described in the Art of Defence. We will exercise British footwork, and perfect our lunges. Little to no gear is needed. A fencing mask, light gloves and groin protector will be sufficient. Ten synthetic sabres will be available for use, although onehanded weapons such as messers and singlesticks will suffice as well. Dussacks; only if you really have no other option. Ugh.
Überlaufen, Durchlaufen, Messer nehmen nach Lecküchner
By Darko Andreas Zürcher
Assistant: Sybille Zürcher
The workshop will demonstrate different types of entry into ringen with the langes messer and explores the techniques that can be applied. We will do exercises to improve our entry and exploit opportunities created by our opponent.
The techniques explored are wrestling/dagger/messer techniques found in three sources concurrently (Fiore, Lignitzer and Lecküchner). The aim will be to offer a broad guide to possible actions, as seen time and time gain in many manuscripts, rather than single techniques.
Equipment: Mask & Hema Gloves, Messer, we can provide escrima sticks as simulators for a ca 8 people (best used with a good glove)
Required knowledge: Applicable for beginners, however at least basic understanding of german longsword or langes messer would be beneficial.