Basic Longsword Study
Instruction in the use of the longsword exposes the new historical fencer to the fundamentals of combat with all Renaissance close-combat weapons. For this reason, all new members (called “White Shirts”) first study to develop core skills in basic and intermediate longsword techniques. Upon the successful completion of three month-long courses and demonstration of proficiency, the member will be allowed to test for his Scholar (“Red Shirt”) Ranking.
The Scholar ranking test will check for the candidate’s familiarity and fluency in basic knowledge and techniques. The ranking scholar should expect to have to demonstrate any or all of the following:
- Basic Stances and their German and English names.
- 16 Cut Exercise
- Basic Floryshe
- Explain the ARMA Study Approach and Training Methodology
- Give the names & publication dates of at least three of the Fechtmeisters.
- Must have submitted application for ARMA Membership.
Training of basic cuts, stances, and other historical fencing techniques is performed with a waster (wooden sword). Students will begin sparring using wooden weapons, and as they become more proficient with control of the weapon, they will be allowed to progress to sparring with blunted steel (See “A Few Words Regarding Sparring” below).
While the longsword is our foundational weapon, it is equally important for a martial artist to be exposed to different weapons and modes of combat, such as unarmed combat and unarmed vs. armed. The typical training warmup routine will remain based on the longsword throughout the year to develop fundamental skills, but the Group Study portion of training will vary throughout the year as we explore these alternatives. Sessions may cover single sword, sword & buckler, sword & dagger, rapier, messer, quarterstaff, dagger, grappling, or other possibilities as long as manuals are available for study.
A Typical Class
Our usual sessions are held on Tuesday nights from 7:00 – 10:00pm, although it is recommended that the scholar arrive 15-30 minutes early to stretch and begin warming up.
6:45 pm to 7:00pm – Announcements, stretching, independent warmup
7:00 pm – Training Begins (All Students) – The entire group begins basic warmup exercises for 20-30 minutes.
A. Press Drill
B. Touch drill
C. Tiprogressions (Guards & Stances)
D. 16 Cut Exercise
E. Abrazzare Drill
7:30 pm to 9:00 pm – Course Study – Official course study begins. Beginning and advanced students (“Whiteshirts” and “Redshirts”) will work together on techniques and concepts for the given weapon to be studied that month (see schedule). Students will be expected to acquire appropriate equipment prior to starting a new weapon; new students may be loaned equipment on a short term basis only.
Course Study Schedule:
See Classwork & Worksheets for study materials.
9:00 pm to 10:00 pm – Free Study/Free-Play – For the last hour of training, students may choose to continue working on the Course Study material for the evening, practice independently, or engage in free-play (sparring). We recommend free-play at least every other week, if not every week.
Note: The last session of each month is Sparring Night. On those nights we skip the usual warmup and engage in free-play for the entire evening.
The idea behind our study is to learn and master an ancient art of combat. The old German masters had the philosophy, “Was Sehrt, Das Lehrt” (What Hurts, Teaches). Lack of pain when being hit will destroy the individual’s respect for his opponent’s weapon, turning a “lethal” duel into a pillow fight. A fighter develops parrying and voiding reflexes because getting hit doesn’t feel good.
Wooden and blunted steel swords require the user to practice controlling the blow, reducing the strike to a non-injurious level while still moving with proper speed and energy for fighting, what we call “intent.” Even so, accidents do happen. While serious injuries are almost unheard of, minor injuries such as bruises are not uncommon, cracked and broken fingers are rare, and head and finger protection is strongly advised (see our section on equipment). Before the fencer will be allowed to spar his classmates with these, he must demonstrate that he can control the weapon effectively. These are never used in mass combat matches, as the adrenaline level and lack of control during these matches makes their use unsafe.