Sunday, December 14, 2008

Aaron out ranks himself!

Aaron Bolarinho, who's had a passion for medieval fighting arts since he was 16 and who has been training with AEMMA since 2005 challenged for the rank of Scholler earlier this year, and proved
Aaron fencing his 10th bout during the test, presently fencing with Free Scholler Kelly Rekuta
himself worthy of the rank of Scholler as a result of the Scholler test held Sunday, December 14th 2008. Spectators on hand to witness this event included his parents, and friends of his from the University of Toronto and other recruits training at the Academy.

He faced 9 Schollers and 2 Free Schollers, including his previous instructor, David B. Murphy who instructs in Guelph - the test being presided by Brian McIlmoyle and David Cvet. The test was long and gruelling. He was first tested on his knowledge of the art described by Friulian
Provosts Brian McIlmoyle and David M. Cvet both attentive in observing and assessing Aaron's skills and abilities during the fencing bouts
swordsmaster Fiore dei Liberi, combative theory and techniques. He was able to adequately demonstrate his skills developed over the years on the various grappling, dagger and sword techniques. Following this first portion of the test, all schollers and free schollers to fence prepared themselves for the fencing bouts with Aaron. Aaron would challenge with either arming sword or longsword, and the schollers and free schollers would comply. He fought admirably against all those he challenged for the rank. All of the schollers, free schollers and provosts then retired to the armoury for diliberation on
A lonely figure of a man sitting on a stool in the middle of the salle d'armes, in contemplation of his performance, awaiting the results of the deliberation of the schollers, free schollers and provosts at the conclusion of the test in private, in AEMMA's armoury
whether or not Aaron should be awarded the prize of Scholler. Once the testing group re-formed the circle, with Aaron in its centre, he was conveyed the title of Scholler by principle instructor and provost, Brian McImoyle, and was awarded the traditional symbol of the rank of Scholler, a rondel dagger, presented to Aaron by AEMMA president and provost, David M. Cvet.

As tradition dictates, all would retire to the Armoury, where the newly created Scholler would show his thanks and gratitude to his new peers by providing significant amounts of libations for the pleasure of all those who participated in the test.
Being congratulated by all fencers and fighters for his successfully achieving the rank of Scholler, and awarded the traditional Scholler rondel dagger

Congratulations to Aaron for his well earned rank of Scholler!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Italian Rapier in the style of Ridolfo Capo Ferro at AEMMA

AEMMA is pleased to announce the addition of Italian rapier to its curriculum. Although the Academy focuses on the medieval fighting arts as defined by Italian swordsmaster Fiore dei Liberi (1410), the fortunate circumstance of Mr. Beau Brock, hailing from Vancouver, and instructor at Academie Duello, is now
Instructor Mr. Beau Brock
attending the University of Toronto, working on his post doctoral degree focused on societal languages. During his studies in Toronto, the opportunity presented itself to leverage his skills and expertise in Italian rapier, and his passion for Ridolfo Capo Ferro manifested into a popular rapier class now scheduled on Wednesday evenings between 9 - 10:30pm.

His instruction is based primarily on the treatise written by Ridolfo Capo Ferro of Cagli entitled "Gran Simulacro dell'arte e dell'uso della scherma" initially published in 1610. The treatise provides an excellent theoretical basis for understanding the principles of misura, tempo and stringere, as well as their uses in combat. Classes will encompass basic drills (footwork, blade sensitivity, line control, etc.) followed by reviewing specific elements of swordplay and conclusing with the application of those principles in slow work, or more advanced level of free fencing.

We extend our warmest wishes for his success in cultivating both interest in rapier fencing and creating excellent rapier fencers at AEMMA.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Good Knight Children, Take two....

The Hospital for Sick Children has developed programs designed to elevate their patients' sense of well being and emotional health through almost daily presentations. Such presentations are donated by individuals and by organizations such as Mickey Mouse and Mini Mouse from Disney, local magicians, clowns and so on, with the intent of making the children forget for a few moments that that they are in a hospital. Caron Mills, a Child Life Specialist, has organized this and other presentations for the hospital. David M. Cvet of the Academy of European Medieval Martial Arts or AEMMA delivered a second presentation this year on Wednesday morning, November 19th on "How a man shall be armed in the 14th century". The presentation was done with the assistance of two students of the Academy, Russ Howe and Adam Trumpour. The venue of the presentation was the Hospital's "Bear Theatre" on the 4th floor, and was broadcast to all of the room occupied by children who were unable to leave their room for medical reasons.
L-R: Russ Howe, David M. Cvet, Caron Mills, Adam Trumpour

At 11:00am, at the conclusion of the presentation, the children were invited to enter the Bear Theatre to experience a second presentation, this time on heraldry. David, donning his Royal Heraldry Society of Canada's hat, along with RHSC member Russ Howe, enlightened the children with the spectacle of heraldry, using wooden shields painted with his own and Russ's arms. The children were provided with dozens of blank shields and with copies of the colourful charges available on the RHSC website. The Hospital provided colouring markers, and many pages of "stickies" which the kids used to create their own personal coats of arms.

The names of each of the children were written onto small pieces of paper, and tossed into David's helm for a draw for a prize - a blank wooden shield give to the winner. A young man called Damien won the shield and his smile lit up the room.

The children had a fantastic time, and their smiles were bright despite being patients in the hospital. The Academy of European Medieval Martial Arts and the Royal Heraldry Society of Canada wish to thank the Hospital for Sick Children for allowing us the opportunity to create moments of joy and fun for the kids, and look forward towards "take three...", hopefully in early 2009.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

AEMMA in Ljubljana, Slovenia

The "Narodni muzej Slovenije " (National Museum of Slovenia), the organizers of the workshop, and sponsors of the workshop were "BTC City" (Slovenian business, shopping, recreational – entertainment and cultural centre) and "Rauch d.d." (provider of juices) presented "Delavnica srednjeveških Evropshik borilnih veščin " or Medieval European Martial Arts Workshop, the second of its kind in Slovenia on October 11-12, 2008. This follows the first workshop by David M. Cvet of AEMMA in 2005. This year's workshop featured five instructors including David M. Cvet from AEMMA Toronto. The first half of Saturday covered Fiore dei Liberi's "abrazare " (grappling) and "spada " (sword) by David. The lessons were oriented towards the application of distance and timing concepts. This was followed with the second half of Saturday with a Slovenian instructor from the Celje area, Igor Sancin, who has been working with Sigmund Ringeck's treatise for more than a decade. He is also in the process of publishing Slovenia's first Slovenian translation of a historical fencing treatise within a year. His technical understanding of Ringeck was clearly demonstrated during his class, conveying the necessary technical skills to incorporate Ringeck's concepts into German longsword fencing.

The second day of the workshop featured two instructors in the first half, Petr Matoušek from the Czech Republic and Martin Fabian from Slovakia representing "Spoločnosť pre výskum a praktické prevádzanie vznešeného umenia šermiarskeho " (The Free Brotherhood of the Honourable Art of Fencing) instructing initially on "ringen" or wrestling techniques of Ringeck, von Danzig and from the Codex Wallerstein. This was followed by longsword techniques led by Martin sourcing Joachim Meyer. The last instructor for the second half of Sunday was instructor Roman Vučajnk, from Ljubljana covering grappling and dagger techniques derived from Filipo Vadi.

The workshop's venue was a large gymnasium in central Ljubljana offering extremely high ceiling and tall windows creating an excellent workshop environment. Twenty students registered for the workshop and all felt very satisfied with the level and quality of training received. The weekend workshop included visiting the "Narodni muzej Slovenije " at 8:00pm for the opportunity to physically examine numerous medieval arms and armour artifacts from the museum's collection. A rare opportunity for the students of the workshop, and the second time the museum has offered students of such a workshop the chance to examine the artifacts, the first being on the Sunday evening after the weekend workshop in 2005.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Proclamation of the Grant of Arms, Flag and Badge to AEMMA

L-R: Dr. Claire Boudreau, Chief Herald of Canada, David M. Cvet, founder of AEMMA, Dr. Darrel Kennedy, Assiniboine Herald, Canadian Heraldic Authority, assigned to the file, Bruce Patterson, Saguenay Herald. Canadian Heraldic Authority

The Academy of European Medieval Martial Arts received its offically granted arms by proclamation at a formal event in Montreal, on October 4, 2008. The proclamation certificate text is reproduced below.

"In 1988, by Royal Letters Patent of her Majesty the Queen of Canada, the Governor General received the authority to grant armorial bearings, such grants being part of the National Honours System.

Pursuant to this authority now vested in Her Excellency The Right Honorable Michaëlle Jean, Governor General of Canada, and to the terms of my commission of office, I, Claire Boudreau, Chief Herald of Canada, do hereby proclaim the arms, flag and badge of the Academy of European Medieval Martial Arts as granted by me, entered in Volume V, Page 197 of the Public Register of Amrs, Flags and Badges of Canada, to be borne and used for ever hereafter by the Academy of European Medieval Martial Arts according to the terms of the grant and the law of arms of Canada.

These Letters Patent were signed and sealed at Rideau Hall in the City of Ottawa on the fifteenth day of January in the year two thousand and eight and proclaimed and presented here in the City of Montreal on the occasion of the Annual Meeting of the Royal Heraldry Society of Canada, this fourth day of October in the year two thousand and eight.

God Save the Queen."

Friday, August 22, 2008

Smith's Cove Swordsmanship Training

It is without a doubt, a story which has garnished much interest in the press and television network during the summer's swordsmanship training in the tiny community of Smith's Cove near Digby, Nova Scotia. The training course delivered by David M. Cvet of the Academy of European Medieval Martial Arts or AEMMA was patterned after the introduction to swordsmanship offered by AEMMA through the Royal Ontario Museum, but with extensions that introduced some basic concepts and foundations with respect to "abrazare" and "daga" fighting styles.

The student count was 7 regular, with a periodic visit from one or two other individuals during the summer curious about what the training was all about. The students themselves have appeared in the spotlight in the small town of Digby, with such comments from the public they've received like "hey, you're that sword guy on the TV!".

Given the success of this experiment in measuring the interest locally, the residents of Digby County can expect to see a repeat of the training and possibly additional or more advanced offerings during the summer of 2009.

For more stories, click on the links below:
  1. Knight Class, CTV Halifax, August 19, 2008

  2. Class offers a clash of steel on a summer evening, Digby Courier, July 24, 2008

  3. Anyone for knight classes?, Nova Scotia's Chronicle Herald, July 22, 2008

  4. Grappling with an old art - swordfighting, Digby Courier, May 8, 2008

Monday, July 21, 2008

Call to Arms...

The Academy of European Medieval Martial Arts or AEMMA has been granted an official coat of arms through the Canadian Heraldic Authority in Ottawa. The arms granted on January 15, 2008. The arms are based on the original coat of arms assumed by the Academy in 1998. The petition for
Click on the image to view larger of the same
the officially granted arms included the submission of the original arms, resulting in the granted arms being not to dissimilar to the originally assumed arms.

Heraldry in Canada, as well as the rest of the world, in particular, countries which have a close history with Europe continues to be practiced, and is alive and well. This thousand year old tradition seemed fitting for AEMMA and embraced this tradition with its petition. The entire process took about two years to complete, with receiving the Letters Patent, hand painted by a heraldic artist Ilona Jurkiewicz.

The motto "PRUDENTIA", "AUDATIA", "CELERITAS" and "FORTITUDO" represent the ideal qualities of a warrior as described by Fiore dei Liberi. These qualities are also symbolized in the armorial bearings with the two supporters, the lion ("AUDATIA") and the tygre ("CELETERITAS") and the lynx or wild cat in the crest ("PRUDENTIA"). The last quality, "FORTITUDO" represented in Fiore's manuscript entitled "Flos Duellatorum" or "Fior Battaglia" is the elephant and castle, but design aesthetics of the arms didn't allow for that representation to be included.

The standard depicted illustrates the arms and what looks like a rook and the crest (the lynx). The rook is actually a representation of a single-towered castle ("FORTITUDO") and is charged with three other symbols, the compass ("PRUDENTIA"), the heart ("AUDATIA") and the arrow ("CELERITAS"). The same castle charged with the three symbols also form the Academy's badge, which will be reflected in lapel pins or as embroidered patches to be affixed to jackets, athletic bags or other items.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Good Knight, Children...

The Hospital for Sick Children has programs designed to elevate their patients' well being and emotional health through almost daily presentations donated by individuals or organizations such as Mickey Mouse and Mini Mouse from Disney Land, local magicians, clowns, comedy troupes, etc.. David M. Cvet, of the Academy of European Medieval Martial Arts or AEMMA, and 1st Vice President of the Royal Heraldry Society of Canada, delivered a presentation on the arms and armour of a 14th century "knight", followed by a talk and presentation on the origins and history of heraldry on Thursday morning, June 12th. The kids were very engaged, and listened with great anticipation to every word uttered, never before seeing a "real live knight in person". The hospital also setup some new equipment for the first time, to televise the presentation to the rooms of many kids who couldn't leave their beds. Other kids, numbering about 15 arrived at the theatre room to witness the presentation directly, in their wheel-chairs, and pulling banks of bags of fluids and monitoring equipment. One little boy, Tony, played the role of a reporter during the televised presentation, and asked pertinent questions about the armour, its weight, where it might've been made, and what the coat of arms meant. Another little girl, Emily, perhaps 8 years old, was very charming and who appeared to be recovering from major surgery, and asked questions, and was very intent on drawing her own coat of arms. Other kids, in similar situations, of various stages of recovery were present and focused on creating their own arms.

At the end of the little dissertation on arms and armour and what it was like being a knight in the 14th century, the staff had prepared many photocopies of blank shields, and supplied markers and pages of stickies (horses, balls, geometric shapes, etc.) that the kids used to create their own arms. The kids who were restricted to their rooms, watched the activity via the TV network they have setup in the hospital, and also received their own copies of shields, markers and stickies.

The hospital staff were very pleased and excited about the presentation, and discussion pursued about repeating this presentation sometime in the fall. The children were fantastic and all were very satisfied and grateful with the presentation, and left with big smiles on their faces.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Summer medieval martial arts training in Digby, Nova Scotia

Introducing an 8-week training program scheduled for this summer in the Digby, NS area (Smiths Cove Fire Hall, 6:00 - 8:00 pm), scheduled between July 9 - August 26. An open house & free introductory training is scheduled on Wednesday evening, July 2, between 6 - 8pm at the Smiths Cove Fire Hall. The summer session concludes with a bar-b-que at the residence of David M. Cvet in Smiths Cove on Saturday, July 30 (rain day - Sunday, July 31).

Students will have the opportunity to learn self-defense techniques of grappling, dagger and single-hand sword based on a system described by Fiore dei Liberi.

Students will also gain experience on how it can be applied to 21st century scenarios, as well as improving one's conditioning during training.

Students considering the training program must be 16 years or older, males & females are welcomed, and adults encouraged to train! All you need to bring for training is a pair of regular leather gardening type gloves, t-shirt, sweats/shorts, running shoes (preferably flat soled martial art training shoes). Official AEMMA training t-shirts can be made available on request.

Digby County Courier, Wed. May 8, 2008: "Grappling with an old art"

AEMMA's president and founder David M. Cvet will be delivering the classes. Contact AEMMA for further information or add a comment or query to this post in this blog.

Unarmoured free-fencing weekend

AEMMA is pleased to announce the second annual unarmoured free-fencing tournament weekend.

Date: Oct 25, 26
Location: AEMMA salle d'armes (Dupont & Ossington)
Time: 9-5 Saturday Sunday
Weapons: - Sword on Saturday in round-robin format, spear, sword and buckler, mixed weapons, on Sunday
Eligibility: Scholar

So, any would be scholars out there - you now have an objective. More details will be announced later, but book this in your calender! We also hope that the DVD from last year will be ready for viewing this year (no promises here however!).

Tournament is being organized by David B. Murphy, AEMMA Guelph.

Monday, April 14, 2008

For the "newbies" considering training...

The Academy of European Medieval Martial Arts or AEMMA, is the only school in the Greater Toronto Area which offers historical fencing and fighting art training known as "l'arte dell'armizare". The methodology was developed as a result of over a decade of research on medieval treatises which describe fighting systems covering grappling, dagger, sword, spear, poleaxe and mounted combat.

AEMMA's focus is principally an Italian swordsmaster by the name of Fiore dei Liberi. He was born sometime around 1350 in a village Premariacco, located near Cividale d'Austra in north-eastern Italy. Sometime in the beginning of 1400, he entered the court of Niccolo III d'Este, Marquise of Ferrara, as the master swordsman. He then began to write a manuscript for the nobility on behalf of Signore di Ferrara. In 1410 Fiore dedicated his treatise to his Marquise. The manuscript was entitled "Flos Duellatorum" or "Flower of the Battle". Another version of the manuscript is entitled "Fior Battaglia".

As a "newbie", the typical question asked is "what do I need to buy or bring in terms of equipment to start?". A valid question and an easy one to respond to. Any individual (male or female) who wish to train in the art only needs to have comfortable black/dark training pants (sweats, tights), garden-variety leather gloves, appropriate footwear (flat soled training shoes are the best) and a T-shirt (AEMMA has T-shirts for $20). AEMMA has extra weapons (swords, daggers) for students to use. It should become clear that the initial outlay of cash for the purchase of equipment is very low. However, as one progresses through training, students are encouraged to purchase their own sword (arming sword) for as low as $120. One of our past students, Charles Jevons "Swordcrafts" makes the training swords used at the Academy.

Another common question asked is "when are the practices scheduled?". Practices are scheduled three times weekly, with a combined recruit and senior students training Sunday mornings between 10am and noon, followed by recruit training Monday evenings between 6:30pm and 8:30pm and finally, Wednesday evenings between 8:30pm and 10:30pm.

One cannot ignore another important question regarding fees, "how much does the training cost?". A somewhat under-publicized special is the first free month of training. This little known gem offers a "noob" the chance to train as often as one likes for their entire first month of training. All you have to do is print out the special "certificate" and bring it to your first class. There is no need to arrange an appointment. Simply show up, identify yourself to the instructor or instructors on hand, and present the certificate. Following a bit of paper work you're good to go. In general, fees are structured into three types: committed: allows one to train as often as there are training classes for $100 monthly and it includes longbow archery practices on Saturdays; casual: allows one to train once weekly for $65 per month; occassional: a pay as you play fee of $22 per training session.

Lastly, "where is the school located?". AEMMA is resides in Toronto, located near the intersection of Dupont and Ossington. Click on the link to pull up a map, including a TTC map on how to get there.

"Armed" with the above details, go forth and knock on AEMMA's door and demand that free month of training (bring the certificate!!) and learn about the medieval period (you can't help it!) and train in the fighting art which will offer you not only skills in self-defense easily applicable in the 21st century, but it's a pretty good workout as well.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

14th Century Tournament in the 21st Century?

Incredulous as it sounds, but it's true. The Academy of European Medieval Martial Arts (AEMMA), along with the Royal Ontario Museum (ROM) and the Royal Heraldry Society of Canada (RHSC) successfully delivered a colourful and heraldic pageantry of armoured combatants, heralds, pursuivants, marshals and even a Patron, the Lord of Wrentnall. This event was hosted at the ROM in their large Currelly Gallery on March 15, 2008. The museum was at capacity that day with over 10,000 people in the museum, with hundreds spectating the tournament. There were hundreds upon hundreds of people lined up along Bloor Street and south on Avenue Rd. awaiting their entry into the ROM.
Figure 1: Robbie Sprules and his wife, Lucinda lead the opening procession into the fighting lists - photo by Gail J. Smith

The tournament focused entirely on "combats on foot", with the defendants (the home team) comprised of 5 armoured combatants, being challenged by the appellants (the visiting team) comprised of 5 additional armoured combatants, one combatant coming from Gravenhurst, while another from Boston, Mass, and the rest from the Ottawa Medieval Sword Guild or OMSG. The opening procession displayed a spectacular array of heraldry in the form of banners, standards and colourful tabards depicting the coats of arms of the combatants. To add, the combatants themselves, accompanied with their standard bearers, also wore jupons emblazoned with their coat of arms.
Figure 2: David Cvet battling Dale Gienow from Muskoka with steel longswords - photo by Jim Atack

The bouts were configured to three landed blows, by any weapon or weapons chosen for that bout. The blows were required to create visible displacement of the target in order to be counted. The bouts were extremely intense, with a good number of combatants choosing the spear as their weapon of choice.
Figure 3: David Murphy battling Mat Ravignat (OMSG) with poleaxe - photo by Jim Atack

At the end of the tournament, Lady Lucinda, the Patron's wife selected a combatant deemed to be the "best amongst equals" and was presented with a gift, a classic claymore sword. Following the tournament, most of the combatants, their significant others, volunteers and friends and relations attended a medieval banquet at AEMMA's salle d'armes. A glorious day for all involved.
Figure 4: Mathieu Ravignat accepting the award from Robbie Sprules and Lady Lucinda for "best amongst equals" - photo by Gail J. Smith

Figure 5: One side of the tournament medallion depicting the AEMMA arms, the reverse indicting date and location of the tournament. These were presented to each of the combatants at the banquet. Designed and created by Nicolas Facundo-Rico.

After the tournament, a good number of combatants and other participants, friends and family attended the medieval banquet at AEMMA's salle d'armes. With the salle beautifully decorated with arms of all of the combatants depicted on wooden shields, standards, banners, wrought iron candelabras, a medieval musical ensemble and demonstrations of medieval dancing, the banquet achieved what it may have been like in the medieval period. After some remarks and short speeches, Lady Lucinda awarded to each of the armoured combatants a tournament medallion. The medallions were created by an AEMMA student Nicolas Facundo-Rico.


What's in it for me?

An interesting question when one considers swinging a sword is as anachronistic in the 21st century as using a square rigger as the primary mode of marine transportation. So, it begs the question "why would one study and practice a medieval fighting art, when people don't walk around with swords any more?"

The question can be answered two-fold: a) cultivating an appreciation and understanding of the medieval period and of a people in the time where individuals developed both defensive and offensive skills in sophisticated fighting arts not derived from Asian or Eastern cultures, but developed within the context of European cultures and b) developing defensive skills applicable in the 21st century. After all, there's more to swordplay than swinging a sword around. The fighting art encompasses a number of levels of physical skill, including grappling, dagger and other classic weapons of the medieval period. Training swordplay without the basis provided by close-quarters fighting is like learning how to drive by using a Formula 1000 race car. There's a ton of material to become familiar with and skills to develop before taking that F1000 to the track!

Personal evolution through enhancement of one's intellect through expanding it to encompass a historical period is invaluable to anyone seeking to grow. When one takes the historical component and applies it to a real application such as medieval martial arts, what better marriage than the intellect with the physical?