Academy of Knightly Arts
The Academy of Knightly Arts is focused on reviving the Historical European Medieval Martial Arts or HEMMA as they are widely known. We are not only interested in recreating medieval combat from period treaties, modern translations and interpretations, but also applying it in free sparring which we feel is important in order to internalize the art. We also want to make this a school where people from all different hobbies can come and take part. From re-enactment groups, recreation groups, WMA groups and LARPs, anyone with a genuine interest to learn and study in a serious manner is welcome.
What We Study:
We study the Knights of the Wild Roses' interpretation of Flos Duellatorum written by Fiore de Liberi in 1409. Fiore was a fighting master that had traveled all over Europe during his youth to train the arts of war. Over the years he developed his own martial discipline based on what he had seen work and what he had done himself.
As he advanced in age, he decided to write down his martial secrets so that they might not be lost. Luckily for us, 3 copies of it have survived. Unfortunately only the smallest of them all has been translated into English and it is that one that we work from. Even though it is the smallest of the known surviving copies, it is filled with page upon page of martial tricks and skills. Inside Fiore covers all of the fighting styles that a warrior of the 14th and early 15th century would need to know.
He starts with grappling and then goes into dagger. He covers sword in one hand and two. He also covers armored combat and combat from horseback. All the while he keeps to his basic principles with little to no exceptions.
How We Study:
We start a personís journey with unarmored long sword training. Even though Fiore himself starts with grappling, we start with the sword because of the romantic image and allure the sword itself has. The novice, our first level, will be taught the basics of footwork, body dynamics, the guards and sword terminology. A lot of this will be learned through drills and games. We like to keep the class fun and loose so we ask that when the student is practicing, that they actually practice and don't just go through the motions. It's important that the novice has inner discipline and that they develop body awareness. We ask that students practice outside of class but remind them that, "Practice doesn't make perfect. Perfect practice makes perfect!"
A thing to note about the footwork and the basics is that Fiore himself doesn't cover them. He is showing off his cool moves in his book and he assumes that the reader has a strong grasp of the basics already. Unfortunate we don't have a manual to tell us what those basics are but through study and practical experience we have reconstructed what we feel these basics could have been.
Once the novice has a good understanding of the basics they will undergo their scholar test where they must show their understanding and if they pass they are given a gold leg garter to wear, just like the scholars in Fiore's book.
Now they will start their deeper understanding of this fascinating martial art!
We have a few beliefs that we have broken down into phrases. Besides the perfect practice reminder, we also believe that "A swordsman without a strong foundation in the basics is like a house without a foundation. It may stand for a while but when things start going wrong it crumbles." Yes, that means we do allot of drills on the basics and it does take a while before the student starts to go over the sword plays that Flos Duellatorum actually covers. It is very cool to disarm an opponent or get them into an arm bar, but we view the sword plays as what you have to do after your good swordsmanship have failed.
We believe that "We dominate the fight by allowing our opponent to tell us the best way to defeat them." Itís a very aikido style philosophy but we don't try to fight energy but rather we go with it and redirect it to our own benefit.
Sparring - a privilege, not a right
We believe that sparring is a vital part of any martial style. It helps internalize the movements and the theories that we practice. However we do not want to introduce it too early in the studentís career as it will more than likely just reinforce bad habits. Therefore we don't allow a student to spar in class related situations until after they have become a scholar and even then we prefer that they wait until further on in their studies.
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