WHAT WE PRACTICE
At MASHS we are pleased to offer training in the medieval sword arts of 14th century Germany, the sword arts of the early and late Renaissance, and the dueling weapons of the 18th and 19th centuries. Common to each curriculum is the emphasis on the theory, techniques, and tactical application of each weapon system. Practitioners will develop an understanding of the concepts of timing, distance, defense and offense. All curricula are designed to establish a strong foundation in these fundamentals through extensive drills, and to provide knowledge of the tactical aspects of the weapon system through bouting.
The German Longsword
In the German tradition of medieval combat, one master of arms stands out. That being none other than the 14th century master Johannes Liechtenauer. The leading expert today on Liechtenauer is Christian Tobler, whose translation and interpretation of the great master's work culminated in the book, Secrets of German Medieval Swordsmanship. This was followed by the successful training manual, Fighting with the German Longsword. These books, and Christian's seminars in May 2003 and November 2006, form the foundation of MASHS German Longsword program.
Novice practitioners will learn the basic theory and techniques of Longsword combat, focusing on footwork and body mechanics, the art of cutting, the primary and secondary guards and their application, and basic tactical applications. These concepts will be honed through extensive drills. As the practitioner advances, more in depth training drawn directly from the Liecthenaur teachings will be made available. Included will be the concept of Vor und Nach, the vier Leger, the five Meisterhau, the vier Versetzen, other advanced techniques, and advanced tactical applications.
As part of our study on medieval weapons, MASHS also offers training in Sword and Buckler, based largely on the manuscript I.33.
The Italian Rapier
The Rapier of 17th century Renaissance Europe .... the embodiment of the high art of defense during the Renaissance. At MASHS, two levels of training in rapier fencing are offered. At the novice level, practitioners will begin with a focus on footwork, the mechanics of the use of the rapier as a predominantly thrusting weapon, the guards and their application, basic theory of rapier play, tactical applications of stesso tempo (single time) actions, and an introduction to the rapier’s companion weapons. These concepts will be honed through extensive drills and culminate in light bouting.
Advanced rapier training builds on the foundations established in the Beginning Rapier sessions, but more importantly, it centers on the work of the late 16th - early 17th century master Salvatore Fabris. The leading proponent of Fabris’ work is former MASHS member Tom Leoni, who has studied the great master’s Scienza d’Arme, and has established a very fine curriculum and methodology to impart his knowledge of the Fabris system. The practitioner will learn to attack the opponent without being hit, by developing an understanding and mastery of the following:
Understanding of the Sword
Understanding of the Geometry of Fencing (advantage of the line)
Understanding the Mechanics of Fencing (advantage of the sword)
Mastering the Ability to Find the Opponent’s Sword
Developing an Impeccable Sense of Measure
Developing an Impeccable Sense of Tempo
Developing an Ability to Perform all Actions with the Union of Forces
Through concentrated drills each of Fabris’ essential techniques for both rapier alone and its companion weapons will be developed, and then the tactical combat applications of Fabris’ system will be explored through extensive bouting.
The French Smallsword
Arguably, the epitome of the art of dueling can best be exemplified in the art of smallsword fencing. The "successor" to the rapier, the smallsword of the 18th century proved to be an elegant and lethal dueling weapon. And in the hands of the French masters of fencing, the smallsword supplanted the rapier as the weapon for the duel. At MASHS the smallsword program centers on two treatises from the 18th Century. These being The School of Fencing by D. Angelo and Fencing Familiarized by Olivier. Other treatises from fencing masters of the period will also serve as source material. Practitioners will learn the hand and guard positions, foot work, parades (parries) and returns (ripostes), engagements and disengagements, feints, actions on the blade, and advanced techniques such as disarms.
The Dueling Saber
MASHS offers training in the art of dueling with the saber. The foundation of the dueling saber is found in the treatises of the late 19th century Italian masters Masaniello Parise, Giuseppe Radaelli, and Luigi Barbasetti. The essence of the Italian system is the use of the powerful circular cuts called Molinelli. Practitioners will learn these very specialized cutting actions, along with the basic guardia, parries, ripostes, attacking with the cut and with the thrust, actions on the blade, counter attacking, and of course footwork.
The Dueling Sword
Dueling with the sword survived as a means to satisfy questions of honor well into the 19th century, and even into the early 20th century. For those duelists who chose not to settle their disputes with a saber (or a pistol), the alternative choice was a slender point thrust weapon known simply as the dueling sword. By the time dueling reached its pinnacle in the second half of the 19th century, this lightweight sword with its very lethal point became the weapon of choice for the duel. The two countries that dominated the use of the dueling sword was France, where the weapon was called the epee du combat, and Italy, where it is called the spada de duello. Modern day sport epee fencing is derived from these historic dueling weapons. Both the French and Italian systems are offered, with resource material from a variety of sources, including Guy La Marche, Luigi Barbasetti, Clovis Deladrier, and William Gaugler.