During two days, the Swiss Blades will offer 15 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.
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.
Elementary PHM Half Staff
The workshop aims at educating practitioners in understanding basic principles like structure, targeting and power-generation with the short staff or spear. All principles are explained and explored by means of techniques and excerpts from plays taken from Paulus Hector Mairs MSS Dresd.C.93. The workshop addresses beginners as well as inermediate fencers. Preliminary knowledge of Half Staff fencing or pole weapons is not necessary. You should bring your fencing mask and light gloves as well as a Half Staff if you can. According to your body size it should have the height of your nose and a diameter of around 3 cm. Ash is excellent wood for that. I will bring 15 Half Staffs from my club.
Required gear: light gloves, mask
Meyer’s Four Opponents
By Théodore Laverdure
Assistant: Rose Laverdure
Joachim Meyer describes all fencers as being either Violent, Artful, Judicious, or Foolish. Meyer’s Four Opponents represent four different strategies employed by fencers. Each strategy has advantages and disadvantages and Joachim Meyer insists that all fencers fall within these categories and that we learn all four categories so that we can deceive and defeat our opponents “that much more surely.” In this workshop, using the Rappier, we will explore the strategies and techniques employed by Meyer’s Four Opponents. We will develop these strategies to counter each combatant and lastly, we will learn how to use the four Combatants postures and techniques to deceive our opponents in freeplay.
This workshop is an introduction to Meyer’s Rappier with a focus on strategy. It is suitable for those with basic knowledge of Liechtenauer or Meyer techniques.
Minimum equipment: One handed sword, mask, gloves. A fencing jacket is preferred but not essential.
Catch-As-Catch-Can – No Holds Barred
By Chris Halpin
Assistant: Lauren Ireland
In this workshop we will explore the principles of catch wrestling. We will look at ways to submit our opponent as well as consider how to pin them, and we will examine how to continue a fight after it goes to the ground as we explore this unique and fascinating wrestling system. No grappling or wrestling experience is required, although groin protection may be useful to avoid any to avoid unfortunate accidents. Expect to have a wonderful time rolling around on the floor and making new friends.
The use of modern Eskrima – Drills to improve your skills with one – handed blades / weapons
By Ferdi Hutter
Assistant: Nathalie Strassmann
The subject of our workshop will be the use of Eskrima/Kali/Arnis – drills to improve your handling of one handed – sword / saber / sidesword or similar weapons. We will show you several drills that we teach in our classes, which are easy to learn and if you want to, to teach. All drills can be practised with a stick, a waster or a steel-weapon. All drills are designed in order to produce maximum benefits for your footwork and your ability to handle a blade.
You can bring along your own one – handed weapon, but their will be plenty of sticks to fight with. At the end of the workshop their will be some sparring for those participants who want to, so feel free to take your gear with you.
Messer for the Fechtschule – how to humiliate your opponent
By Lauren Ireland
Assistant: Chris Halpin
This workshop will look at some of the more unusual and esoteric plays from Lecküchner’s “Kunst Des Messerfechtens”; we will learn how to tie our opponent in knots and win the favour of our masters and peers using the messer. No experience is required, all you will need to take part is a suitable messer/arming sword or suitable wood/nylon simulator and a willingness to smile and have fun! Groin protection is recommended for the gentlemen and a pair of light gloves would be useful (please, no heavy gloves or gauntlets).
Harnischfechten (armoured combat)
This workshop will offer an introduction to the practice of historic armor fighting. We will use simple methods, imagined with Julien Vuagniaux, to obtain realistic limitations of modern fencing protections in order to work with them on the principles of armor combat. The workshop will focus on the exploration of techniques illustrating the stages of combat in armor as I formalized at the beginning of my research. These clear steps allow the practitioner to understand more easily the underlying logic of the texts they can find in the manuscripts.
Requested material: The most complete HEMA protections (for the armor and heat effect) or armor. Metal gauntlets are desirable.
Level: Beginner and intermediate.
Note : A “semi-contact” commitment will be necessary during this workshop (free entries, seizures, projections, etc …). The level requested will be comparable to a collaborative boxing sparring. The workshop will be given in French.
The “little advice” of MS3227a and Mscr.Dresd.C.487
This workshop will propose a martial vision of the Germanic longsword based on the glosses of the Liechtenauer poems of MS3227a and Mscr.Dresd.C.487. Emphasis will be placed on researching and understanding the “little advice” given throughout the texts, which is often ignored by modern practitioners in favor of “more effective” interpretation. Without this basic understanding of the system, the best techniques are doomed to failure.
The workshop will deal with a personal and martial vision of the Germanic longsword. Note that these proposals are totally unsuited to modern competitive practices. The proposed program will explore various logics stemming from this particular vision, a time of free contradictory debate will be planned at the end of the workshop.
Requested material: Mask, gorget, gloves. Chest protection possible.
Advanced level: you need to have notions of time, measurement, fühlen, struggle and ironwork.
Note: The work will be done with a steel weapon (feder or non-cutting replica) but only in collaborative mode or in “slow sparring”. The workshop will be given in French.
Smallsword – How to be elegantly lethal
In this session you will be introduced to some of the classic smallsword moves – the Flanconnade, Volta and Demi Volta as well as some disarms. All these done of course with characteristic smallsword gentlemanly aplomb/swagger as it is essential with Smallsword to look effortlessly elegant whilst lethally stabbing your opponent.
Level: Beginner and Intermediate
Equipment: mask, chest protector, light jacket, light gloves and a smallsword or foil.
Bartitsu – an introduction
In the late 1890’s the Bartitsu club in London taught a self defence system for men and women that combined the ‘manly arts’ of the day (wrestling, purring/shin kicking, pugilism, savate, la canne/cane fighting and backsword) with the newly introduced Eastern martial art of Jiu Jitsu. A key focus of Bartitsu was around using anything commonly carried or ‘to hand’ such as umbrellas, walking sticks, hats, coats or even bicycles.
This practical and fun session will cover moves from EW Barton Wright, Professor Pierre Vigny, and others to give a good taster of the Bartitsu system.
Equipment: We will be looking in part of the session at both straight and hooked canes/walking sticks, so bring both along if you have them. Recommended kit includes gloves, fencing mask, groin guard(men). Optional extras include chest protector and forearm protector
Stepping the line
Contrary to popular belief, the North Italian systems of fencing were not based on linear thrusting, but rather complex and subtle systems of footwork. Comparing various diagrams of the 16th century, we shall unlock the movements upon which these elegant styles of swordsmanship were based. Far more than just positions to place ones feet, these diagrams will also help to adjust and improve your posture, balance and understanding of fundamental techniques. This workshop starts with simple drills and builds in a manner that allows the combinations to be grasped even by beginners.
Equipment: Mask, swords
From the hall to the street – cane, boxing and other subtilities
During this workshop, we will study the techniques of sports games taught in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century (cane, boxing and fight from the texts of Leboucher, Emile André, Georges Dubois, Jean Joseph-Renaud, Charlemont father and son, Jacomb … and a few others) by comparing them to the needs and demands of street aggression.
We will discuss the three distances of an engaged street fight and the ways of using the knowledge at our disposal to escape unscathed. How to combine the sports knowledge of a hall art face, no longer a partner, but an opponent?
Level: from beginner to expert, we are not elitists
Equipment: pubic protection highly recommended ; mittens or MMA gloves (no boxing gloves!) recommended but not mandatory ; canes can be made available by instructors.
Long or short, that’s how you play it. Oh, and animals. And break his teeth, also – Fiore dei Liberi’s sword held in two hands
Furlan Master Fiore die Liberi da Premariaccio left us several examples of his florilegium of arms – his legacy after several decades learning and teaching the Arts of Fighting in the late XIVth and early XVth centuries. Integral part of his teachings, the Sword holds a very specific place as the weapon of the highest honour and virtue. In this class, we shall cover the basics, principles and articulations of Fiore’s sword in two hands, through various plays of his Giocco Largo and Giocco Stretto.
Equipment: fencing mask, longsword simulator, cup, gloves would come in handy.
Between a Rock and a Hard place
Swordfighting is all about making choices. Should I attack now or later? HOW should I attack? Should I retreat or advance? All choices have consequences: some good, some bad. It’s our job to make sure that our opponent’s options are limited. So limited that the only choices they can make is how and where they will lose. This is more than just attacking really fast and hope you’ll hit at some point; the opponent needs to feel pressured and be absolutely certain that whatever they do, they’ll get hit. In this workshop, we will go over very foundational movements and core principles to help us make our opponent’s world very uncomfortable indeed. Using relatively simple movements and concepts, we will put our opponent between a rock and a hard place.
Level: This workshop is open to practitioners of all levels.
Equipment: Longsword, mask with back-of-head protection, throat guard, gloves and chest protection. More gear will allow for more dynamic drilling, but all exercises can be done with relatively low gear.
There and Back Again
Going after that one hit is very tempting. Many dangers are to be found on the way to that hit, but sometimes we are so focused on the hit that we don’t even realise the danger we are in. Or, worse still: we manage to make a hit unscathed, but are struck ourselves right after! Getting away safely is just as important as arriving safely.
In this workshop, we are going on an adventure: we will try to make our hits as safely as possible, and we will attempt to ensure nothing bad happens after that either. The workshop will be based on two very important texts: Liechtenauer’s Zettel and Tolkien’s The Hobbit.
Equipment: longsword, mask with back-of-head protection, throat guard, gloves and chest protection. More gear will allow for more dynamic drilling, but all exercises can be done with relatively low gear.