Workshops for Swordplay 2017.

Joseph Swetnam rapier and dagger

Steaphen Fick

Joseph Swetnam was a fencing master to Prince Henry, older brother to King Charles I, and wrote a manuscript called The Noble and Worthy Science of Defence.

Swetnam says in his Epistle to the reader that he spent a lot of time traveling, and that a lot of the techniques in his manual he invented.  He dedicated his fencing manual to Prince Charles, Prince of Wales, Duke of Cornwall (Charles 1 of England, Scotland and Ireland).  He taught his brother, Prince Henry who died of Typhoid in 1612.

In this class we will be learning the art of the Rapier and Dagger as he taught it. We will learn how to use the dagger more effectively, we will learn how to use the dagger more offensively and the rapier as a defensive tool. We will also learn about the stance that he suggested for the most optimal movement, and defense of yourself within the fight.


Steaphen Fick

This class is based on the style taught by Fior di Liberi in his manuscript Fior dei Battaglia from 1409. We will be working on the use of the 2 handed sword; we will learn the guards, footwork and some of the theory that makes this system work. We will also learn how to use the transitions of the guards to tactically interact with our opponent and help dictate what he can and can’t easily/safely do within the fight.

The longsword class will have you transitioning through your guards tactically and using the guards to protect yourself as you are attacking your opponent.

The secret language of conflict

Steaphen Fick

Every experienced martial artist learns how to understand what his opponent is going to do by his position and balance. This skill usually takes around 10 years to develop. In this class we will be learning how to read the body language within the fight. Every position and movement will give you information about what your opponent can and can’t do.  When you learn to understand what you are seeing on a conscience level you are better able to train these skills so that in the fight it all happens on an unconscious level and you are able to respond to an action before it even happens.

We also call this ‘Reading the Roadmap’. Your adversary will tell you how to defeat them, you just need to know what he is telling you.

Fighter Fitness

Skye Hilton

Fighter Fitness is a class that was developed with martial artist, specifically weapon oriented ones, in mind. It focuses on increasing endurance, strength, coordination, and agility using exercises that can be geared for any fitness level.

In the Fighter Fitness workshop, Skye will discuss what muscle groups are primarily used for fencing, development of these groups, muscle balance and imbalances, and common injuries and how to avoid them. Following the discussion, participants will engage in a 40 minute Fighter Fitness class. Be prepared to work out by wearing appropriate clothing, a towel and plenty of water.

What you will take away will be a better understanding of body mechanics, how to exercise specifically for your sport, your strengths and weaknesses, and a good sweat!

Visit to view images and videos of Fighter Fitness classes. 

Introduction to Jogo do Pau

Bill Carew

Jogo do Pau is a surviving staff fighting system originating in the mountains of northern Portugal. Originally developed for defence against wild animals and bandits, and as a weapon to settle village disputes, the art eventually spread to the capital Lisbon, where it joined sport fencing as a tool of physical culture and leisure. In Lisbon, the rough and tumble rural version of Jogo do Pau (developed for multiple opponents in the mountains) evolved into a sophisticated and refined system for duelling (one on one).

This workshop will introduce participants to the basics of the art of Jogo do Pau in the modern Lisbon style led by Mestre Nuno Russo, followed by some elements described by the historical Mestre Frederico Hopffer in his book called ‘Duas Palavras sobre o Jogo do Pau’ (Two Words on the Game of Sticks) from 1924.

Experience required: no prior experience is required, but familiarity with longsword or staff is advantageous.

Equipment required: a smooth rattan (or hardwood) staff, approximately 1.6m in length and 25-30mm thick.

Fabris on cuts: Four simple ways to defeat a slower inferior attack.

Woody Craig and Habibi Favila 

The workshop will showcase four plates directly from Fabris that deal with cuts and make clear why they are slow and dangerous for the cutting fencer.

Required gear: mask and rapier (complex hilt preferred, some sideswords will suffice), Gambeson recommended but not required.

Meyer's Polearms

James Handley

This workshop will be taking people through the basic postures, stances and body mechanics of the Meyers polearm section and how some of the actions we take actually flow over into other weapon systems like Meyers Longsword and rapier.

For required items you'll need a mask and some gloves (fingered gloves are preferred)

SA Sainct Didier Workshop (not available)

Chris Slee

1467 A Messy Fairytale - A Challenge from Julian Clarke

Alex Hughes

Julian Clark was the Grand Old Man of Australian historical fencing. I first met him at a conference on the Gold Coast in 2001 where he and Melissa Nesbitt presented some plays from Salvator Fabris’s Book II. These plays demonstrate how you may “attack the opponent immediately after unsheathing the sword, without stopping and without regard to the opponent’s guards, postures, tempi, parries, attacks, advances or retreats.” This idea fascinated me and while I had no interest in rapier, Julian challenged me to make it work with those weapons that I did use. Unfortunately I never could tell Julian that I had completed his challenge. Julian passed away on the 22nd of March 2016, two months to the day after his 79th birthday. So why would Julian’s challenge to me be of interest to you? Proceeding with resolution is an interesting but relatively simple concept that in the words of Fabris is “never expressed or even considered by others.” In this workshop we will look at making it work unarmed, with a dagger, rapier, rapier and dagger, single sword, sabre or longsword. By happy coincidence, there are some similarities between Swetnam and Fabris, and the example rapier and dagger technique will concentrate on one of the most striking of these.

Applying medieval interpretation techniques to I.33

Christopher Blakey

This workshop will cover my research into I.33 based on using medieval fourfold interpretation to find the intended lessons behind the drills. The focus on the workshop will be on the structure of the art.

Sword, Buckler and Mask. No other kit needed

Fiore Abracare and Dagger

Christopher Blakey

This seminar will explore the structures and principles of movement in Fiore's Dagger and Abracare. It will cover awareness and movement patterns, types of learning and exploring drills up to a suggested interpretation of how the art was used in actual combat.

1 practice dagger between 2 people. Masks.

Destreza Sword and Buckler

Sean Reichman

Diogo Gomes de Figueyredo was a 17th century Portugese soldier, diplomat, and fencing master. Nowdays most widely known for his work on montante. But first he wrote a rapier text following the Carrancista tradition of la Verdadera Destreza written in 1628 and published for the first time in 2013.

This workshop will cover BSIS’s interpretation of “Figgy’s” sword and buckler as translated by Lois Spangler. We will also explore the Rada training circle as a method of teaching.

Requires: Rapier/sword, buckler, mask, prior Destreza experience helpful but not essential.

Physics of Swords

James Bennet

The principles of Bolognese Fencing

Gindi Wauchope

The Bolognese school of fencing existed for approximately one hundred years and encompasses a wide variety of treatises and weapons. Popular Bolognese weapons include: sword and buckler of various sizes and shapes, single sword, two handed sword, a variety of polearms, and knives. The style emphasises flowing strings of attacks and parries and has a distinctive emphasis on parries with the false edge of the sword. This class will explore some of the principles and fundamentals common to the whole corpus, including the system of guards, common mechanics, and especially the tactical framework. If we have time we might cover some of the use of solo forms too. Required equipment: Fencing mask and single handed sword, buckler, and two handed sword may be useful too.

Godinho's Art of Fencing

Lois Spangler

Domingo Luis Godinho's Arte de Esgrima [Art of Fencing] is the only known extant complete treatise on Iberian vulgar or common fencing, which existed before, and was eventually supplanted by, la Verdadera Destreza. Originally offered as an original-language critical edition from AGEA Editora, an English translation by Tim Rivera will soon be available from Freelance Academy Press. This workshop is intended to present a limited selection of the theory and practices in Art of Fencing, including fundamental sword-alone rules, sword and buckler rules, and advice on how to out-underhand the underhanded. This workshop is derived from the AGEA Editora edition. Sword and mask required, and off-hand weapons including bucklers, daggers, additional swords, and cloaks recommended.

Diminishing Geometries: Reconciling Meyer with MS3227a

Daniel Pope

16th Century German fencing is, to many observers, characterised by its circular cuts and continuous motions. While visually impressive, this draws a stark contrast with the earlier German traditions of fencing which are much more direct and compact in their approach. Indeed, in MS3227a we find descriptions of "false masters who: "practice wide and beautiful parries and swings when they begin to fence for show, and execute long and far-reaching strikes slowly and clumsily and by doing this they miss and cannot recover again quickly – and thus exposing themselves easily." One may be tempted to conclude that the two systems are in direct conflict with one another; that Meyer's system is "false" under the earlier interpretation of fencing. To do so, however, is to ignore an important distinction between the systems. The 16th century system presents and entire teaching pedagogy from the rank beginner to the master fencer while MS3227a,is a series of notes by the experienced swordsman. I propose that in taking the large movements of the beginner and decreasing the size of the movement (while maintaining the same fundamental geometries and mechanics) we find the key to reconciling the Meyer and MS3227a. During this workshop participants will rediscover Liechtenauers fencing for themselves from first principles; first taking large "beginner" movements and gradually reducing them through a series of use-cases until we arrive at something indistinguishable from the techniques we see in the earlier sources.

Required gear: Longsword, Sword, staff or spear, and mask.

Concussion & Risk Management in HEMA

Stuart McDonald, ESSAM AES AEP Head Program Developer, GLECA; Head of Research, Global Performance Testing Australia.

Historical European Martial Arts are a lot of fun. Like many fun pastimes, they have a certain element of risk embedded in them. Risks can be identified and managed against and this workshop will equip you with some simple tools to do just that. We’ll briefly overview international and Australian risk management standards as they apply to HEMA. We’ll also spend a lot of time unpacking concussion, one of the biggest risks in HEMA. We’ll explore the science behind concussion, and current international recommendations for management of concussion. We’ll also explore the unique ways in which HEMA can result in concussion, and how to minimise the risk of concussion and manage it if it does occur. This will all be explored through the lens of risk management. This workshop is recommended for coaches, instructors, marshals and athletes. Numbers need to be confirmed to allow for printing handouts for participants.

Grounds for Fencers: a meta-theory of fencing

Mark Holgate

We all know a fencer who “isn’t very good” but keeps on winning. We have a sparring partner that keeps on landing the same hit over and over again. We lose bouts and have no idea what just happened. We fight someone and just can’t set up the techniques we want to. The Grounds can help us understand what’s going on. The Grounds* are a style agnostic tool to analyse your fencing and that of others, so that you can answer the challenge of radically different opponents and styles. They ask the question: What do fencers fight for control over? Those things (Distance, Time/Initiative, Line, Space, Sword, Perception and Spirit) are Grounds, and different fencers use different grounds according to experience, natural talents, and character. Different weapons may emphasise one ground over another. Come and learn to take the fight to where your opponent least desires it.