For more information on the different presenters, please visit
Please ensure you are aware of the assumed knowledge and required equipment for the workshops you would like to attend, as described below.
Checkmate please! Aka advanced strategy and tactics in hema
The Advanced strategy and tactics workshop seeks to explore the ways and philosophy behind the various attacks and combos we may deploy in sparring situations. Whether you prefer to act (attack or defend) in sparring situations intuitively or you're a cautious or even a fearless fighter this workshop will definitely give you some ideas to think about; we will examine some specific traps, luring and generally the way how to get our opponent exactly where we want to. Besides rigorous practice, warm-up and a lot of fun we will have a controlled sparring session so protection gear (a mask, gloves, groin and chest protection) is obligatory.
Lo Schermo, Overo Scienza D’arme
"In my youth, I could not have possibly held a sword and a book in the same hand" - apologizes Fabris in the introduction of his book why we won't find true erudition in it. Despite his attitude and proclamations he left us with one of the best books on fencing ever written. His work was so influential that it changed the course of rapier fencing and some masters even wrote chapters about how to fight with Salvator's students. In this practical workshop we will try to rediscover the true, avantagarde approaches in his rapier fencing, his specific guards and tactical advices both in single rapier and in rapier and dagger.
Advanced Body Mechanics in Basic Techniques of Lichtenauer’s School
The masters of 15th century are very brief; they left us only a few words about quite complex techniques. If we follow their instructions we can get a basic idea what was the intent behind the lesson. We know what should we strive to do. But there are more questions to answer: How? Why? And when?
In this workshop we will focus on the “how” question. We will try to inflate 2 sentences of technique description into a full and meaningful process of how to perform techniques in a more effective way. We will try to look at rotation and energy transformation from a slightly unusual angle. This workshop will include techniques like Zornhau ort, Schiller against positions and absetzen.
Gear Requirements: Safe and flexible longsword, mask, gloves, jacket and chest protection
Experience Requirements: Intermediate
Manipulation of the opponent
We will play with some techniques derived for German longsword tradition and we will use them to lure and deceive the opponent. We will try to scare or lure him into situations we can easily dominate or exploit. We will learn a way how to gain a tempo and force an opponent to react. Exercises will include krumphaw, umbchalgen, durchweschseln, absetezen.
Gear Requirements: Safe and flexible longsword, mask, gloves, jacket and chest protection
Experience Requirements: Intermediate
Reffing and judging in modern HEMA tournaments
This seminar is part lecture, part hands-on. In the lecture segment I will present the Nordic standard for referring along with my insight based on my experience in the ring. In the hands-on segment I will ask participants to play the roles of fencers, judges and referees in mock matches and coach the refs throughout the process.
Gear: Full sparring gear for those willing to volunteer as fencers for mock matches
Guards and counters to common cuts
We look at our body as a target divided in four main openings. In this seminar we will review various parries and counters discussed in I.33.
Gear: mask, gloves, arming sword, buckler
Learning to coach and use sparring as a training tool
We will look at various ways to use sparring effectively to gain in skills and analyze our fencing. We will also learn how to coach others, both as an instructor and a s a training partner.
Gear: Full sparring gear.
Head hunting- Fechtschule play
The historical tradition of fencing only to the head has a lot of great lessons to teach us. We will learn different tactics and plays for this kind of fencing, as well as trying it out in a few games.
Gear: Mask, gloves, sword
VAN NOORT, Reinier
On being lazy. (basic rapier - Bruchius)
Fencing with the single rapier can be a complex and tiring activity – closing the line, parrying, disengaging, lunging; the list goes on. In this workshop, which is mainly based on the works of Bruchius and l’Ange, we will explore how, by using posture and basic principles, we can be as lazy as possible in our fencing. Key questions will be “What do I need to achieve?”, and “What is the minimal effort I need to make to achieve that?” (while of course a more advanced question would be “What is the maximum beneficial effect I can achieve with the minimal effort?”).
Another Dimension (more advanced rapier, Bruchius)
A more advanced class looking at a single play in Bruchius, and exploring how this deviates from earlier styles: More recent fencing styles are often derided for their perceived linearity, where sidestepping is advocated for increasing a fencer's options for attack. Sideways footwork allows a fencer to change the line over which the opponent is attacked, and can thus enable the fencer to avoid the opponent's sword. However, in a thrust based style, only minute sidestepping may be required to achieve such an effect. Furthermore, the rapier fencing styles of the later half of the 17th century show an increased focus on closing the line, rather than changing it. This closing of the line can sometimes be lost when voiding footwork is applied. In this workshop, the above difference between (modern interpretations of) earlier rapier fencing and (my interpretation of) later rapier fencing is explored through detailed technical analysis of a simple yield in secunda with a passada against an inside parry.
Hieb-fechten (Cut-fencing, Henning)
In 17th century Germany, fencing on the thrust and fencing on the cut develop into two separate styles, often taught by different masters. Most of the known German fencing treatises of the late 17th century focus mainly on Stossfechten (thrust-fencing), and include only minor or no instruction on fencing on the cut. Henning’s 1658 treatise “Short though thorough Instruction in Cut-fencing” is an exemption that deals exclusively with Hiebfechten (cut-fencing). Mirroring developments in Stossfechten, the fencing system described by Henning focusses on minimizing movements, using an on-guard position in which the hand is kept on the centre line. Cuts are then made from the wrist, keeping the hand on the central line, with the body (especially the head) moving to set itself behind the hilt.
“Your mother was a hamster and you father smelt like elder berries.” How to start a fight in 1.33
The opening moments of a fight is probably the most difficult skill to master in fencing. The 1.33 manuscript gives us several techniques, concepts and tempos to deal with staring a fight. They resolve around putting pressure on your opponent to start the action and working to a place where you can safely and effectively strike, often both at once. Maybe not as sophisticated or complicated as presented in later systems but effective and occasionally subtle.
Workshop presenting the techniques of starting a fight in the manuscript, the concepts and some practice on how to make them work
Suitable for anybody interested in how to start a fight.
The humble fight of falling under sword and shield in 1.33.
The refrain of “fall under sword and shield” is repeated throughout the manuscript and on buckler blogs everywhere.
A workshop presenting our take on how the priest the manuscript want us to counter half-shield and where the concepts is used elsewhere in the manuscript.
Obviously focused on 1.33 but probably relevant for any buckler system. Concepts and actions should be understandable by person with a basic grounding in swords.
Don’t Forget the Nachschlag
Many fencers in the Liechtenauer tradition become very enamoured with the idea of the Vorschlag (“before attack”) from MS3227a and forget that the Vorschlag is introduced with the Nachschlag (“after attack”). This approach leads to many problems as fencers place themselves in unsafe positions with little or no information about their opponent’s intentions to try and win with the Vorschlag. This in turn results in many of the double hits that we see in longsword sparring.
This workshop will explore how commencing our fight with a two part Vorschlag/Nachschlag instead improves our fight. Through commencing the engagement earlier we remain in safer places for longer and gain more time and information on our opponent’s intentions and/or control their threats. This in turn reduces the likelihood of double hits.
Experience Required: Beginner. Suitable for anyone who knows how to hold and swing a longsword.
Equipment Required: Longsword trainer, Mask, Gloves. (Ideally chest protection and gorget also)
Preparatory motions in early Hauen: why a tell isn’t always bad
Many instructors try to eliminate unconscious telegraphing or ‘tells’ from students’ cutting motions, in the belief that hews (hauen) should be as short and non-telegraphed as possible. Is this historical though? There are hints in some of the fight books that fully hiding the preparation of powerful hews in the zufechten (entry to fighting) was not as essential as we may think. There are even downsides to blindingly fast, non-telegraphed hews in the initial attack, including high ratios of mutual hits in modern sparring.
This workshop examines ways in which powerful hewing cuts can be consciously prepared with motions that also provoke and test the opponent before committing the body to the entry into measure. These motions also assist the weaker, smaller fencer to generate significant levels of force. The specific mechanics of hewing through ‘rotational’ preparations, and also hewing via the ‘drawing back’ of the sword from leger such as vom tag, will be examined and practiced.
Prerequisites: basic knowledge of the German traditions of the longsword will be advantageous.
Equipment: a longsword feder/blunt, mask, gloves (and sparring gear if you wish to spar later).
Jogo do Pau according to Master Frederico Hopffer
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 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 introduces participants to elements of Master Frederico Hopffer’s system of Jogo do Pau, as described in his book ‘Duas Palavras sobre o Jogo do Pau’ (‘Two Words on the Game of Sticks’) published in 1924. Master Hopffer’s system includes some characteristically ‘classical’ features such as long range single-handed blows, graceful grip and guard changes, and circular positioning footwork, features which are less emphasized in some of the more contemporary schools of Jogo do Pau today.
Prerequisites: none, but prior experience with short staff or baton fencing will be advantageous.
Equipment: a smooth rattan (or hardwood) staff, approximately 160cm in length and 25-30mm thick.
19th Century Neapolitan Dueling Sword.
Neapolitan Dueling Sword or Spada was the Civilian weapon for Dueling within Southern Italy during the 19th Century. Unlike the northern Italian and French Dueling Swords of the time (which had evolved from the Small'Sword) the Neapolitan Sword had evolved directly from the Rapier (the Neoplolitan School can trace its roots to the 16th Century). This is one but not the only reason for its difference to other dueling swords of the Era. A piece of important Trivia was that Southern Italy was a very multicultural Region of Europe over the Centuries, especially where it concerns the Spanish. For this reason you can see almost as much of the old Destreza within the system as you can see the early Italian Rapier methods. This class hopes to give people a basic understanding of the lost art that was the Neapolitan Spada.
The Radaellian/Parise mixed Sabre Method of 19th Century Italy.
The Mixed Italian School of Sabre first came about with Useppe Radaelli Holding somewhat of a Sabre Revolution to train the Military how to use their weapons properly again (particularly using the elbow with the help of the shoulder to cut as opposed to just the wrist among other practices). Alas it was not to be as Warfare was rapidly approaching the stage where any Sword was purely ceremonial on the Battlefield. Thus the Mixed system was adopted not too many years later to be specialized for the Duel. Its main change to Radaelli's Original system was to combine its circular elbow cuts (while doing away with most of the shoulder and leaning mechanics) with Masaniello Parise's System through the footwork, guard names & some of the more Subtle wrist work. This combination system is what quickly became the most used system in Europe until the adoption of the Hungarian Olympic "Sabre" method which came to the fore in the early 1950's to make better use of the lighter "Sabre's". This class hopes to educate people on a unique & Effective use of the Sabre.
George Silver’s Four Fights: An exercise in reducing complexity in combat
In this class we will examine the basic elements of Elizabethan Gentleman George Silver’s system with what he called the shortsword, a basket hilted broadsword or backsword. We will examine how he uses four groups of guard positions, his four fights, to reduce the amount of decision making required in the fight. This is why Silver’s system is learned so quickly by modern practitioners and why it’s suitable for those with limited time who want to rapidly get up to speed in bouting. The class is based on Silver’s two works, Paradoxes of Defence (1599) and the undated Brief Instructions Upon my Paradoxes of Defence, probably written around 1605.
The class is open to people of all experience levels.
Required equipment: Basket hilted sword or reasonable facsimile, gloves and mask
Recommended equipment: Vambrace for sword arm, jacket
George Silver’s Sword and Buckler
George Silver wrote that sword and buckler was the surest fight with short weapons, only being beaten by polearms. However, his section on sword and buckler consists of nine lines where he basically tells the reader to do exactly what he said to do with sword and dagger. Following Silver’s instructions from his chapters on single sword and sword and dagger, but inserting a buckler we see a system that is very much like many other early sword and buckler systems, revolving around the use of the sword as the primary defence, with the buckler very much a secondary defensive weapon. In keeping with Silver’s English principles the system revolves around a strong defence and the principle that if you are alive at the end of the fight then you may not be THE winner, but you certainly are A winner.
Attendees at the class should have a familiarity with Silver’s single sword (attendance at the earlier class is sufficient).
Required equipment: Basket hilted sword or reasonable facsimile, buckler, gloves and mask
Recommended equipment: Vambrace for sword arm, jacket
Knife/dagger according to Alfred Hutton
In the late 19th century Alfred Hutton proposed a method for using knives, daggers and unmounted bayonets in his work Cold Steel. Hutton's system attempts to adapt classical fencing to the long knives of the period, though it takes very heavy inspiration from Achilla Morozzo's dagger. The system works well for experienced fencers looking to adapt their skills to knife and for newer fencers looking for a system with low barrier to entry.
Participants will need mask and gloves, padded knives will be provided.
How to win a sabre duel
Discover how Jules Jacob's advice on sabre duelling applies to the works of Alfred Hutton. The class will focus on the aspects of Hutton's sabre method that are most applicable to Jacob's advice on sabre duelling. The techniques are great for beginner to intermediate fencers looking to maximise their efficacy in a bout and advanced fencers needing tactics for unfamiliar or wild inexperienced opponents.
Participants will need masks, hand, forearm, and torso protection. There will be a few lendy sabres available, but it participants are encouraged to bring their own.
Six Grounds: a strategic toolkit for fencers
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 six things (Distance, Time/Initiative, Line, Space, the Sword, and Perception) are Grounds, and different fencers use different grounds according to experience, natural talents, and character. Different weapons emphasise one ground over another. Come and learn to take the fight to where your opponent least desires it.
This will be a hands-on workshop. It will utilise whatever weapons you have to hand, so bring all your toys! Mask and gauntlets are minimum safety equipment.
*Inspired by, but not limited to, Silver’s Grounds and Governors.
Hope’s Old Method. An Older, Short and Easy Method of Fencing.
Weapon - A smallsword or a modern foil hilt with an epee blade on it is best. Otherwise, a duelling sabre or a stick will work.
Armour - Nothing is essential although you will be able to get more out of the seminar with a mask, light gloves and a newton rated jacket.
I'm going to assume you all have a duel tomorrow and that you need a functional smallsword system from scratch.
This weapon is new to most people so the workshop is structured accordingly. Pace will depend on participant numbers and experience levels.
From Text to Training
“Every martial art is three or four things done well. Everything else is window dressing.” — attributed to Bruce Lee
This seminar present one method for figuring out these three or four key techniques from any HEMA text so that you can better train to use the text’s system of sword fighting. Using this method, you can develop a top-down understanding of the text and – more importantly – how to use the information gained from the text for its stated purpose: defeating another person with your sword.
The method gives you another set of tools for understanding the foundation of the text you studying from which you may either choose to delve deeper into mysteries of the text or use it to effectively smack up your opponent.
The seminar is aimed at all HEMA practitioners whether searching to find new perspectives on the sources they already know or looking for a way to read HEMA texts for the first time. Weapons are not required but may be used occasionally for demonstration purposes.
Marketing For HEMA clubs
Marketing for HEMA clubs will be a combination presentation and round-table discussion, led by Shannon Walker from the VHCA, about effective marketing tools for HEMA clubs. We'll discuss target audiences, how to reach them and various marketing and public relations tactics, including the importance of a good website, Facebook adverts, brochures/flyers, media relations and ancillary marketing at events. Attendees will receive a simple communications plan designed specifically for HEMA clubs and a case study on the effectiveness of Facebook advertising.
Fiore, Stretto & Largo games
Fiore dei Liberi wrote il Fiore di Battaglia over 600 years ago. The treatise teaches a fighting system meant to encompass all of the chivalric weapons of it’s time. This class will cover the concepts of Stretto and Largo and the common actions that lead into and out of these games. We will predominantly use longswords but may incorporate some dagger, wrestling and armoured techniques as well.
Fencing mask, longsword simulator - lacrosse gloves (or better) and dagger simulators may be handy too.
Fiore's Noble Art of the Lance
The Flower of Battle only depicts 6 guards for the lance (spear) and some basic plays. However it contains a range of techniques revealed by applying principles from other sections. These techniques in turn reveal other actions for Fiore's other weapons, especially the links between 2 handed sword, poleaxe and spear.
Skill level: All (prefer at least basic footwork and weapon handling)
Requirements: 6ft staff, preferably with safe spear head and butt.
Mask and protective gloves if possible.
Lignitzer's Sword & Buckler: A complex art in 6 verses
Lignitzer has given us only 6 plays for S&B, however they hold and demonstrate a range of principles which combine to form a relatively complete system.
Each play presents a number of 'if/then' puzzles as well as strategic combative principles which can be applied to any combat arts.
Skill level: medium skill and above (at least some familiarity with sword &buckler)
Requirements: blunt single hand sword and buckler. Mask and gloves