Here’s What’s New In 2015: Introducing SIF Historical Weapons Study Groups

2014 was a huge year for Second Intent Fencing; it’s been a long road, but our first year as a club has been a good one. We’ve learned a lot and grown from nothing to a very real something. We have a long way to go, but that’s how it always is in this art. A few words of wisdom: If you feel like you’re done growing, you’re not doing it right! So it’s time to ask ourselves – how are we going to grow in 2015?

It should be no surprise that around this time of year, Tim and I have been thinking about our direction for the new year. Okay, that’s not quite true, we’ve been thinking and planning for a long time, but now we can finally tell you what we’ve been up to. Don’t worry, no  silly resolutions we can’t keep, just more HEMA.

Now Announcing Two New Study Groups

Study groups have always been part of the SIF plan, but they take a considerable amount of time to put together. Starting in January 2015, Tim and I will be offering two new study groups every Sunday from 2:30-3:00 pm. Study groups are free to club members age 15 and up. Here’s what you have to look forward to:

Longsword of Fiore dei Liberi – Tim Maurer

“The sword against any weapon is deadly, no spear, no poll-axe, no dagger can counter me. Long or short I can bind and enter into close play entering to take the sword and to wrestle.” Fiore dei Liberi, Fior di Battaglia

This study group will explore the use of the longsword depicted in the manuscripts of Fiore dei Liberi, a fifteenth century mercenary who wrote a text called Il Fior de Battaglia, the Flower of Battle. Fiore’s text is a manuscript for the art of battle, including two-handed sword, one-handed sword, grappling, dagger, pole-axe, and mounted combat.

Our first few classes will be devoted to developing proper structure and movement learning the guards (poste), steps, and turns used in Fiore’s system. We will transition into use of the crossings of the longsword, binds, and work with both long and short plays (zhogo). We will primarily be referring to the Getty manuscript (one of four surviving versions of Fiore’s work) with occasional reference to secondary sources for other authors’ interpretations.

Fiore’s work is structured by the description of various plays, which show specific techniques for various situations that, when mastered, show a practical approach to surviving in the mayhem of a battlefield. We will concentrate almost exclusively on the plays of the two-handed sword, although other plays may be brought in for comparison or application of concepts of distance, flow, and developing structure.

Equipment necessary for attending the study group will include a heavy fencing mask and appropriate hand protection for positioning work, footwork drills, and controlled plays. There are some club masks available for use. As basic skills are developed and we start to transition into less structured drilling, we will need to move to appropriate longsword sparring gear (gambeson, arm protection, leg protection, back of head protection).

This study group will be held on the 1st and 3rd Sunday of each month.

Bolognese Sidesword and Variants – Rebecca Boyd

“If you receive a hit while hitting your opponent, your glory would be naught, since this would make you simultaneously the victor and the vanquished. Do not, therefore, share your victory with the opponent, and do not let him share his shame with you.” Antonio Mancioliono, Opera Nova (1531)

The Bolognese tradition originates from Bologna, Italy. It refers specifically to the works of masters from this geographic location; they exhibit a particularly graceful, elegant, and efficient style, cultivated from a long tradition of fencing within Bologna. The Bolognese tradition began as early as the 1300s and masters were producing works through the 1600s. We will focus primarily on 16th century sources.

In this study group, we will explore the history of this tradition, the basics of the art – including footwork, the guards, the parries, and the cuts – and (eventually) more complex techniques and sparring. We will begin with the sidesword alone and then explore the sidesword and buckler. In the beginning, we will primarily study from The Complete Renaissance Swordsman: A Guide to the Use of All Manner of Weapons, Tom Leoni’s translation of Antonio Manciolino’s Opera Nova from 1531. Eventually, we will also explore Marozzo, the “Anonymous Bolognese” and other sources.

Equipment necessary for attending the study group will include a fencing mask and appropriate hand protection for positioning work, and controlled drills. There are some club masks available for use. As basic skills are developed and we start to transition into less structured drilling, we will need to move to appropriate sparring gear (gambeson, gorget, and back of head protection).

A special thank you to Ilkka Hartikainen, who is responsible for introducing me to Bolognese sidesword, and has been an invaluable resource in preparing this study group. For a taste of what he’s doing with Bolognese sidesword, check out this video.

This study group will be held on the 2nd and 4th Sunday of each month.

Tim and I are very excited to offer these two new study groups as an added benefit to our club members. If you have any questions about the Fior Longsword study group, please email tim@secondintentfencing.com. For Bolognese Sidesword study group questions, email becca@secondintentfencing.com. Click here to visit the study group page.

Happy New Year from Second Intent Fencing!

"It is necessary, if you wish to be accomplished in the practice of arms, not only to know how to attack well with the point, perform a good feint, or pass well with both your left and right foot.  You must also understand the counters to these techniques, that is how to defend against them with grace."
Nicoletto Giganti
Gigante