Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Why Become a Scholar?

Over the course of my involvement with AEMMA there have been scores of students who have darkened the door. Some have stayed for just a few classes, some a few months, some for years. Others have decided to commit to achieving the rank of Scholar. A few have, through much training and study ascended to the illustrious rank of Free Scholar. There are examples of individuals who are content with each of these scenarios and have found the appropriate place in their lives for this study.

I have noticed that it is not at all uncommon for students to hover around the decision of whether or not to commit to playing for the prize of Scholar or not. The following are some thoughts and personal reflections which may help your internal dialogue.

Shawn Zirger, who challenged on September 9, 2007, is being observed under the watchful eyes of Frank Williams FS, Brian McIlmoyle and David M. Cvet Provosts, Kel Rekuta FS and Anton Cvet Provost.
Firstly, and this can’t be said strongly enough, there is no timetable, other than the one one imposes on ones’ self, for becoming a Scholar. Some set short time lines and strict training regimens and eagerly set test dates. Others linger, taking time to digest and make sure they’ve internalized key skills and concepts. Both strategies work depending on what type of individual you are.

Secondly, we all start from a different entry point. That is, some are fit and lithe and have scads of martial study under their belts before they enter the salle d'armes. Some are a tad longer in the tooth with conditions or injuries to contend with. Some are single with a good measure of free time. Others have schedules that are not their own. All these things must be considered when developing a time line for your scholar test and expectations for yourself. Many students who get to the point of setting a date for their Scholar test, find it prudent to back the date up for some time to make sure they are ready. This is not out of the norm and can be perfectly acceptable.

Aaron Bolarinho, who challenged on December 14, 2008, sits patiently in the middle of the salle d'armes at the conclusion of his test, awaiting the results of the deliberation of the Schollers and Free Schollers in the armoury.
Some find that there are several advantages to becoming a Scholar. The first and most immediate is a sense of accomplishment. It is no small task to be successful in your challenge. As with anything difficult, success breeds enhanced self-esteem and self-concept proportionate to the task. However, it has happened in past that individuals are not successful in their initial play for Scholar. This is not reason to give up or pack it in. Rather, it’s a time to reflect and retool.

One of the most obvious advantages of “scholarhood” is the opportunity to participate in free-play with a variety of weapons. This is truly a most excellent thing. I cannot find words to describe how much fun, how invigorating, how much of a multi level superb experience this is (and this is written by a person who rarely “wins” a bout!). Participation in tournaments is an opportunity to meet new people in the broader community and test yourself. They are a wonderful opportunity to put your own skills under the microscope and set study and practice goals for the next opportunity.

Personally, I find the biggest advantage to becoming a Scholar is the freedom to self-direct study to a large degree. The very word scholar implies study and, for me at least , this limitless field of study is the single greatest result of becoming a scholar. Over the years our community has grown and accordingly, a greater number of players is becoming available to fellow Scholars. The ability to study together, in text and on the floor is valuable and allows one to propel one’s own study.

For some, achievement of the rank of Scholar is an end in itself. For those people, occasional practice, visits to the salle d'armes or online participation adds to the richness of their lives. For others, WMA study is woven into the fabric of the rest of their lives. They continue, in whatever capacity possible, to train and study and improve themselves and their understanding of the art. It becomes a necessary component of life. If you’re worried about not having “the stuff” don’t. You can do it. If you’re considering to move beyond recruit training, you’ve already taken the first step. Once you’ve decided to pursue this path, it’s simply a question of hard work, hard thinking and patience. Feel free to talk to any or all Scholars at the salle d'armes or online if you have questions. Good luck and I hope to see you in the circle!

A link on the AEMMA website which describe the requirements for becoming a Scholar can be reached by clicking here.

Matt Brundle

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

3rd Annual Unarmoured Tournament

A shot of the bout between Mat Brundle (L) and Beau Brock (R)
AEMMA Toronto hosted the 3rd annual unarmoured tournament at its salle d'armes on Dupont st, Toronto on Saturday, November 7, 2010. It was an all day event, with combatants being comprised of twelve combatants including schollers and free schollers from the Toronto Academy, Guelph Chapter, Ottawa Medieval Sword Guild (OMSG) and one Dale Gienow from Muskoka. The weapon to be used for this tournament was the Tinker Pearce blunt trainer longsword. David M. Cvet and Brian McIlmoyle were the marshals for the tournament, and OMSG's scholler Leanna Falkenhagen assisted with the execution of the tournament.

This entire event was initially organized by David Murphy, founder and instructor of the Guelph Chapter, however, was unable to attend the event due to illness. He is on the road to recovery, and he was missed by one and all.

A shot of the bout between Chris Penney (L) and Bill Brickman (R)
The event was structured so that each combatant had a chance to fight with all other combatants, resulting in approximately 73 bouts during the day (a couple dropped out towards the end of the tournament due to incurring injuries). For details on the structure and rules of the tournament, click here. All went well, and the quality of the bouts were extremely good, with most of the bouts demonstrating the art in spirit and principle. After the conclusion of the tournament, all combatants casted a secret ballot for voting on which combatant best demonstrated the principles and spirit of the art, selecting him/her as "first amongst equals". The ballots selected the AEMMA Guelph Chapter's Bill Brickman who was awarded a prize (under contruction at that time) of a sword created by Charles Jevons, the same individual who constructs AEMMA's aluminum arming and long swords.

An assessment and review of the Tinker Pearce Blunt Longsword Trainer can be viewed by clicking here. Videos depicting some of the bouts can be seen by going to the AEMMA Channel on youtube.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

AEMMA on Discovery HD

A shot of a portion of the filming depicting Dieter Jilge on the left, and David M. Cvet on the right.
Photo credit: John DeMings, Digby Courier
David M. Cvet and four of the students engaged in AEMMA training in Nova Scotia, assisted in the filming of a documentary for M5 Productions Inc., "M5-Weapons of War", a mini-series scheduled for Discovery HD. The filming was done at the Smiths Cove residence of David Aug 23-25 for a series of out door shots and action, and Saturday, Aug 26, at Rebeka Hall, Bear River. The students involved in the filming include Dieter Jilge, Robert Wilkinson, Mark Amirault and Jurgen Griegoschewski.

The weather during the outdoor shoot was completely cooperative, however, rain set in on Saturday, but this was not a problem, given the shoot was scheduled for indoors on that day. The days were long, ending with dinner at the local restaurant "Boardwalk Cafe" in Digby. The expected scheduled for airing is sometime this coming winter.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Forza e Destrezza

AEMMA has a new blog, oriented towards renaissance fencing, pull together by rapier instructor and AEMMA member, Beau Brock. The blog offers its readers updates on subject such as equipment, training courses and workshops. The blog is entitled Forza e Destrezza and is an invaluable resource for those individuals who have an interest in rapier form of fencing.

Friday, August 7, 2009

OMSG Camping Weekend 2009

The Ottawa Medieval Sword Guild (OMSG) hosted their 7th annual camping weekend, on the farms of John Woods and Matt McKee in Spencerville, south of Ottawa during the long weekend from Friday, July 31 to Monday, August 3rd. The weekend featured the usual activities archery, bonfires, large amounts of libations and a pig-roast banquet on the
Maestro Sean Hayes, Northwest Academy of Arms, Oregon, USA, wearing his armour worn at the armoured pas d'armes during the camping weekend.
Saturday evening. The event was attended by David M. Cvet (who traveled in from Nova Scotia), Ariella Elema, Igal Lelchuk, Brian McIlmoyle and Aldo Valente all from the AEMMA Toronto. Also attending and participating during this weekend, was Maestro Sean Hayes from NorthWest Academy of Arms, from Eugene, Oregon, USA.

This year's event included three new features. A Viking re-enactment and fighting group called "Scallagrims" from Toronto were on hand on Friday and Saturday. They participated in the class delivered by Sean, and also demonstrated their fighting Saturday afternoon. To add, they entertained all present during the evening after the banquet around the bonfire, a demonstration of fire acts, including fighting with swords in flames.

The appellants having been awarded their pas d'armes medalions. L-R: Sean Hayes, David M. Cvet, Brian McIlmoyle, Aldo Valente
Another feature was the pas d'armes organized by OMSG's Herald and armoured combatant, Mat Ravignat. The rules were based on the tournament rules employed by AEMMA in Toronto at the tournaments held at the Royal Ontario Museum. With some minor adjustments to the rules, the tournament was a huge success and will be integrated into future OMSG camping weekends as a new tradition. The appellants were David, Brian, Aldo and Sean Hayes. Sean demonstrated excellent armoured fighting skills and all spectators were suitably impressed with his abilities.
Mat Ravignat, OMSG Herald and armoured combatant organized the pas d;armes.
The defendants included OMSG's Chris Penney, Dan Sellars, Matt McKee, John Woods and "Nic" from Scallagrims, who wore Anton's gear and fought on the defendants' side. At the conclusion of the pas d'armes, each of the appellants were awarded a pas d'armes medalion, as well as the defendants. All fighters had an excellent time crossing swords, daggers, spears, poleaxes during this armoured challenge.

To add to the events of the weekend, was a Free Scholler test for OMSG's Chris Penney. The test was scheduled on Monday, and the panel included David, Brian and Aldo from AEMMA Toronto, Anton from OMSG and a special guest member of the panel, Maestro Sean Hayes. Chris proceeded to demonstrate his knowledge and skills of Fiore dei Liberi's manuscript from beginning to end,
A pair of combatants from Scallagrims demonstrating sword and shield fighting.
clearly showing his intimacy with the works of Fiore. At the end of the 1.5 hour test, the panelists all agreed that Chris was worthy of the rank of Free Scholler. Chris was awarded the gold garter, the symbol of Free Scholler at AEMMA. By tradition, when a Chapter or Associate Group creates a Free Scholler, the founder of the group, in this case, Anton Cvet, is then conveyed the title of Provost by the Provosts of AEMMA.

For more photos of the event, visit the AEMMA website by clicking here.

Monday, March 30, 2009

ROM Pas d'armes

Presentation of the appellants to the Patron of the tournament
Photo credit: Ray Barlow

The day began as any other day at the Royal Ontario Museum (ROM), except that there was something different in the air that spring day on March 21, 2009, which had little to do with the moderate weather the city was experiencing, nor the exhibits in the museum. There was a sense of excitement as the growing numbers of spectators began to accumulate, jocking for the best seats around the fighting lists, feeding the air with expectation awaiting the commencement of the second annual medieval pas d'armes (tournament). Tiny subtle battles between spectators vying to protect their "investment" as more people began filing in to possess available seats offering the best vantage to spectate the armoured combats soon to be unleashed on the floor of the Currelly Gallery later that day.
Combatant defendant Aldo Valente with combatant appellant John Woods from OMSG
Photo credit: Ray Barlow

Combatant defendant David M. Cvet with combatant appellant Dale Gienow from Muskoka
Photo credit: Ray Barlow

Towards the end of the morning approaching high noon, the Gallery was filled with children of all ages, parents, friends, wives, husbands, boyfriends and girlfriends, all awaiting the fanfare which denotes the opening of the grand tournament. Number of spectators having achieved as high as 1,400 spectators during the day. The spectators were treated with a presentation of "How a man shall be armed in the 14th century" by David M. Cvet, with the assistance of his squire Larry Brydon.
Defendants' herald, Dr. Robert Mason (ROM)
Photo credit: Ray Barlow
While this presentation was being made, all of the other combatants defendants and appellants were arming themselves in preparation for the ensuing armoured combat bouts. Immediately following the presentation, the anxious spectators were not disappointed with a lavish opening procession lead by a medieval musical ensemble, followed by heralds and pursuivants bearing their beautifully decorated tabards depicting the arms of the combatants defendants and appellants. These were followed by the marshals, responsible for the monitoring and tallying of strikes in the bouts, who were then followed by the combatants defendants and combatants in full armour wearing jupons depicting their coats of arms, preceded by their squires and banner bearers. Lastly, the combatants were followed by the Patron of the tournament, Robbie Sprules, Lord of Wrentnall and his wife, Lady Lucinda. The final grouping were the lovely ladies of the tournament who had undoubtedly inspired the combatants in each and every bout.
Combatant appellant Mat Ravignat from OMSG with combatant defendant Aldo Valente
Photo credit: Ray Barlow
Combatant defendant David M. Cvet with combatant appellant Jeremy Oneail from Boston
Photo credit: Ray Barlow

Once the tournament was officially opened by the Lord of Wrentnall, the bouts began in earnest. The fighting was intense, the spectators intimidated with the realism of the combats, perhaps not entirely understanding that the combats were unscripted tests of prowess, in which each is attempting to best the other.
Appellants' herald, David Birtwistle (RHSC)
Photo credit: Ray Barlow
Weapons chosen by the combatant appellants were one or more of sword, dagger, spear or poleaxe. This year's tournament featured the first female armoured combatant, Nikki Fourtzialas-Oneail who was accompanied by her husband and armoured combatant, Jeremy Oneail both from Mass., USA.

The first bout matched Matt McKee from the Ottawa Medieval Sword Guild (OMSG) who challenged Matt Brundle (AEMMA) with sword. The bout began without incident, however, in one of the early
Procession herald, Geoff DeMille
Photo credit: Liz Woods
exchanges, Matt Brundle delivered a thrust to the armpit while gripping his sword in the manner known as "1/2-sword". Unfortunately, the odds of incurring serious injury, although low, reared its ugly head, combined with looseness of the mail over the upper arm allowed the sword to penetrate between the mail and gambeson sleeve and struck Matt McKee squarely in the armpit. This injury drew blood to the surprise of Brundle, and McKee was removed from the lists, and had his injury treated at St. Mike's hospital, no stitches required. McKee was able to make it to the post tournament dinner party at the salle, and assured everyone there that he was fine and was on the road to recovery.
Combatant appellant Nikki Fourtziales-Oneail from Boston with combatant defendant Kel Rekuta
Photo credit: Ray Barlow

Without too long of a pause, the tournament continued forward with the next series of bouts in the first round. David, who involved with two battles, the battle against a flu bug, engaged in yet another battle with Jeremy Oneail fighting with spears, who promptly struck David on the inner elbow with the spear. The trauma to the elbow did not manifest itself till later at the post tournamenmt dinner party at the salle where his left arm began to swell and cause pain, which was duly handled with dark rum, purely for medicinal purposes.

Combatant appellant Nikki Fourtziales-Oneail from Boston
Photo credit: Leslie Lemar
The level of prowess was superior to last year's tournment, an obvious testament to improved, dedicated and enhanced training on both sides of the lists. The second round was a bit shorter than the first, due to fighters having become absent, McKee, Brundle (emergency at home), David out due to fever and congestion, and Larry Brydon (who replaced Brian McIlmoyle who was involved with his own family crisis) incurred an injury to his hand. However, the appellants John Woods, Mat Ravignat, Dale Gienow, Jeremy Oneail and Nikki Fourtziales-Oneail demonstrated their prowess to the delight of the spectators, the rest of the defendants including Kel Rekuta and Aldo Valente satisfied the appellants. All fighters had fought with gallantry and good sportsmanship. The combatants defendants identified Nikki Fourtzialas-Oneail as the "first amongst equals" and most deservedly so.

Lady Lucinda and Robbie Sprules, Lord of Wrentnall posing with the OMSG clan
Photo credit: Liz Woods
The conclusion of the tournament included a procession of armoured combatants and their banner bearers, to receive the traditional tournament medalion placed around the neck of each combatant by Lady Lucinda. This year, the medalion's silk cord tincture was "Or" or gold, representing yet another tincture found in AEMMA's coat of arms. The prize of a beautiful poignard dagger for the combatant selected as "first amongst equals" was given to Nikki by Robbie Sprules, Lord of Wrentnall. This was followed by a closing ceremony, equal to the pomp and circumstance of the opening to the delight of the spectators.

AEMMA wishes to thank the Royal Ontario Museum for allowing us to hold the tournaments in the Currelly Gallery, a fine venue and most appropriate for such an event, given the medieval murals painted on the walls. AEMMA also wishes to thank the Royal Heraldry Society of Canada for their support and volunteers, in particular to Society's members, Robbie Sprules and David Birtwistle, the combatants appellants herald.

Friday, March 6, 2009

"The Aldo's" Free Scholar Challenge

Aldo Valente, a dedicated and committed student of "l`arte dell`armizare", joined AEMMA March 29, 2004. It was evident at that time that he had already possessed good martial experience developed from his boxing training. He demonstrated excellent footwork, and continues to display this today. His recruit training led him to challenge for the rank of scholar the following
A sterling silver Free Scholar lapel pin awarded to those who successfully challenged for the rank of Free Scholar. Pin was created by Nicolas Facundo Rico
year, and successfully achieved it on May 29, 2005. From there, he was faced with a significant challenge of the next rank, Free Scholar, and realized the amount of work in endlessly studying the treatises by Fiore dei Liberi, and developing his skill in each and every play and technique described by the historical figure. During the period of his rank as Scholar, Aldo developed his abilities to the point of leading training classes. He also took the Getty, Morgan and Pisani-Dossi versions of Fiore's treatises and translating these into English, thus contributing to AEMMA's own improved understanding of these treatises.

On the Sunday, March 1, 2009, the Free Scholar test was scheduled at 11:30am. Provosts David M. Cvet and Brian A. McIlmoyle presiding over the test, along with Free Scholars Anton J. Cvet (OMSG), David B. Murphy (Guelph Chapter), Frank Williams and Kelly Rekuta were present and engaged in the test. All of the recruits and scholars in attendance at the earlier training remained to observe this most comprehensive and intimidating test. Other visitors included John Woods, Nick Conway, Chris Penney and Leanna Falkenhagen all from OMSG, Bill Brickman and Martin Taves from AEMMA Guelph. The Free Scholar test was 4 hours long, and gruelling to say the least. Aldo had spent many hours and days prior to the test tuning his knowledge and intimacy of Fiore's works with the help of his "zugadore", Beau Brock. It became a regular event for the pair of these students to be at the salle prior to regular training, working through the plays in every minute detail. From Beau's perspective, he learned an incredible amount on Fiore and therefore, found the training with Aldo to be quite beneficial for himself as well.
Aldo demonstrating abrazare techniques with his zugadore Beau Brock.
Aldo demonstrating spada in daga techniques with his zugadore Beau Brock.

The test began with almost two hours on the concepts, principles and structure of Fiore's works, combative principles, drills, and the application of the concepts to physical realities. The first portion was the segment on "abrazare". Aldo's "zugadore" Beau, was bent, twisted, turned, thrown in every which way, and in ways he didn't even know was possible. This portion of the test continued to the section on "daga" followed by "spada" and "spada longa", "lanca" (spear) and "aza" (poleaxe). Questions posed by the Free Scholars and Provosts were designed to keep challenging Aldo's knowledge and intimacy of the material, and his "repostes" adequately demonstrated his thorough understanding through his excellent presentation of technique and their application to the physical, using Beau as his "zugadore" to help convey the concepts to those present. This portion of the test was both intellectually and physically challenging for Aldo and of course, for Beau as well.

Kel Rekuta attaching the Free Scholar gold garter below Aldo's right knee, the symbol of the rank of Free Scholar
After a short rest, Aldo and the Provosts and Free Scholars dressed to engage in the second portion of the test comprised of physical bouts. The Provosts and Free Scholars selected the weapon of choice to combat Aldo, and Aldo was to simply "comply". The bouts would last to the satisfaction of each of the combatants challenging Aldo. Most bouts were long and fatiquing, but Aldo resisted his desire to rest and reaffirmed his commitment by continuing his acceptance of the next bout and the next, always knowing that the choice of weapon is the challenger's choice, not Aldo's. This portion of the test along with rest stops took about an hour. These bouts were physically demanding and at the end of each of the bouts, the challenger indicated that he was satisfied with the performance of Aldo.

After another short rest, Provost Brian McIlmoyle and Free Scholar Kel Rekuta decided to test Aldo in harness, to which Aldo was both prepared and accepted. By this time, Aldo was nearing fatique, but he remained strong and confident, and donned his harness as did his two challengers. The first to challenge Aldo was Brian who challenged with longsword. The bout was intense, ending up with a take down to the floor, however, both ended on the floor, and Brian attempting to retrieve his dagger for the finishing left his hand and skittered across the floor out of reach. It was at that point, the bout was concluded. Brian was satisfied with Aldo's performance.

Kel challenged Aldo to poleaxe and dagger. By virtue of a disarm of Aldo's poleaxe followed by the dagger, it was clear that Aldo's skill and capabilities matched those of Kel and at the end of yet another, physically demanding bout, Kel was satisfied with Aldo's performance.

Aldo and Brian enjoying Montechristo "a" cigars in the office after the Free Scholar test
The Provosts and Free Scholars retired to the Armory to discuss Aldo's performance and it was agreed by all that Aldo was a worthy Free Scholar. Aldo was presented with the AEMMA's traditional symbol of Free Scholar that being a gold garter worn below the right knee, and was also presented with a sterling silver lapel pin representing the official coat of arms of AEMMA. Most everyone remained after the test for libations to celebrate Aldo's success at achieving the rank of Free Scholar. Aldo and Brian each enjoyed a Montechristo "a" Cuban cigar, which by coincidence were brought back by Brian's wife, Betty from a recent vacation trip to Cuba.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

So You Want To Fight in Armour.....

As students of Western Historical Martial Arts it is, for many, a desirable extension, or sometimes the ultimate goal, to train and fight in an accurate, period appropriate medieval harness (suit of armour). AEMMA Scholler Matt Brundle began training in armizare some years ago and the thought of fighting in harness was of immediate interest. Fighting in armour may very well be the hook which drags one into the study of Western Martial Arts. AEMMA's purpose academically is to study historical text to come to a more complete understanding of the medieval armoured combat. Training these techniques with historically accurate equipment is an essential part of this study. Matt has written some thoughts on the acquisition of harness for the purpose of training for foot combat with steel blunts with reputable training partners and instructor/s oriented to those who are considering taking the path towards armoured combat.

The several points which Matt covers in which he believes are the salient ones pertaining to the process of putting together harness and to begin getting ready to train with it.
1. Be clear about your intent
2. Develop a Vision
3. Research, Research, Research
4. Budget
5. Repair and the DIY of Armour
6. Avoid The Impulse Buys

He then proceeds to discuss on one's preparation to train in harness. The points raised are:
1. Conditioning
2. Helmet Time

If one decides to embark on this journey, one is about to enter a truly superb community of individuals. The demands, intellectual, academic and physical are substantial. However, the rewards are nothing short of awesome. It feels terrific to have assembled a complete, working harness. Training and fighting in armour with authentic medieval techniques and authentic equipment and weapons is a unique experience and adds another, truly excellent dimension to one's study of the Historical Western Martial Arts. For a complete version of this article, click "So You Want to Fight in Armour...".

Matt Brundle
Scholler, AEMMA

Monday, January 26, 2009

Fighting Arts Collective Toronto - Open House

The Fighting Arts Collective Toronto or FACT, is an organization originally established through a partnership between AEMMA, JKD and Wing Chun. Over the years, FACT has organized an annual Open House, which is essentially a celebration of the various fighting arts and body movement forms which are offered at FACT. The day began around noonish with the sharp sword cutting. Representatives from each of the schools took turns at striking the rolled tatami mats in their attempts to slice all the way through. The rolled tatamit mats each had a wooden dowel core to "simulate" a human limb, and were inserted into a stand providing a vertical target. A variety of swords were used including the German messer, longsword and Filipino sword.

The cutting demonstration was immediately followed by the Dragon Dance, celebrating the Chinese New Year. The two dragons weaved, and danced their way towards the prize which was a head of lettuce suspended from the ceiling. The dragons had remarkably detailed faces, with eyes blinking and seemingly coming to life with their expressions. By the conclusion of the Dragon Dance, FACT experienced what was undoubtedly, the largest crowd ever.

The demonstrations continued after the Dragon Dance with Ryan Kennedy leading an impressive presentation of Wing Chun Toronto. All of his students in unison were conducting their traditional Wing Chun kata. This was followed by Shawn Zirger and the Jeet Kune Do, opening with the JKD kids aged between 10 - 14 years, adequately demonstrating their skills with staff. Following this, was a demonstration by AEMMA, which included Beau Brock and his assistants demonstration rapier techniques based on Capo Ferro. Following this was Brian McIlmoyle and Aldo Valente demonstrating sword & buckler. The rest of the day offered demonstrations of other activities at FACT, including Systema Downtown (Russian martial arts) lead by instructor Paul McCaughey accompanied by a number of students including his wife Jenn, Toronto Kettlebell Club, and the recently added aerial acrobatics. The four performers of the aerial acrobatics includes three women who train at FACT in women's self defense with Shawn Zirger as their instructor. Shawn became fascinated with the aerial acrobatics that he now trains in this and was one of the four performers at the Open House. FACT had expanded it's offering by including Live Action Role Playing (LARP) by a group known as "Underworld". These costumed individuals gave a presentation of what they do, with the usual "good vs evil" and having to do battle with the "undead". One of the battles between a viking and the undead left a little souvenir on the floor depicted on the right.

Of course, the day would not be complete without a little armoured combat, with Aldo Valente and Matt Brundle engaged in battle firstly with spear and then a second engagement with dagger.

The day ended with nothing short of a feast comprised of giant pots of chilli, lasagna, tons of meatballs, and plenty of libations, including the in-house favourites of Kel's Ale, Bermudian Rum and swigs of "Waldec Shine".

Overall, based on visitors comments, it was a tremendous success. Most visitors had no idea that such an environment existed in Toronto and were extremely impressed with the demonstrations and presentations, which means that the Open House did satisfy at least one of its objectives, which is to educate the people of Toronto.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Guelph Challenge 2009

David B. Murphy, founder of the Guelph Chapter of AEMMA and his schollers challenged AEMMA Toronto to an unarmoured fencing tournament, encompassing spear, dagger and sword. This challenge occured on the Saturday afternoon of January 17th, 2009 at the salle d'armes in Toronto.The challengers numbered five including David, and the defendants numbered five, plus one or two extras who got a match or two in-between. The bouts were played to three landed blows, with the victor of each bout announced at the conclusion of each bout. The structure enabled every combatant to play with every other combatant, whereby, each weapon saw 25 bouts with a total of 75 bouts in the afternoon, not counting the few extra bouts with some of the extra Toronto schollers.

The spear challenges saw the employment of the's rubber spear heads afixed to wooden shafts. This training weapon proved to be useful and appropriate for exchanges in unarmoured bouts. The tips were flexible enough to disipate the blows when struck, and therefore, reducing the potential injury incurred by the combatants receiving spear blows.

After the first round with spear, everyone took a water/bio break and resumed the bouts with sword. The combatants would select either an arming sword or longsword. The type of sword was agreed to prior to the bout. The action was fast, with strikes and thrusts.Another break was had after the sword segment of the challenge, and the challenge was resumed with dagger bouts. The daggers were constructed using the same rubber head as the spears, and were afixed to short wooden dowels. Marshalling these bouts were a challenge as the action was very fast and the "feel" of the rubber tips was far less, in that the combatants receiving the thrusts with dagger often did not feel the thrust. The "jury is still out" on whether rubber daggers have a place in training at AEMMA.At the end of the day, once all the bouts were tallied, the Guelph schollers were victorious, having won more bouts than the Toronto schollers.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Maritime training...

During the summer of 2008, David M. Cvet of AEMMA, Toronto started up an eight-week training program in Smiths Cove, near Digby, NS. Students local to Digby and the Cove attended the training throughout the summer, which concluded with a bar-b-que at David's residence in the Cove.However, due to the interest and desire to continue training, the group coordinated a practice at the Digby Elementary School to review the basics of Fiore, and when David is visiting the Cove, arrangements are made with the school to provide their gym to allow for periodic AEMMA training.

The class structure is similar to the structure used in Toronto, except that each class will start off with some dagger or grappling alternating each class, concluding with arming sword. Due to the somewhat irregular training during the winter months, this form of structure covers much material and appears to work.

The photos above depict the gymnasium located at the Digby Elementary School in Digby. The school principle was kind enough to offer us the space in exchange for the presentation of "How a man shall be armed" delivered earlier in the fall of 2008.

Clovis achieves Scholler rank

Clovis Kari, who started training with AEMMA when he was 16, had successfully achieved the rank of Scholler on Dec 21, 2008. What better way to describe the event than with the words of his father in both French and English.

En ma qualité de témoin, de compagnon et de modeste père, je tiens à signaler la noblesse et la droiture de l’Académie, de ses Maistres et de ses Escholiers. Je suis reconnaissant et ému par le talent et la maestria des éducateurs et des mentors qui ont fourni les conditions maximales permettant, en un dense mélange de rigueur et de camaraderie, à une recrue de 16 ans de devenir un Escholier de 18 ans. Je pense à ces personnes de haut savoir qui ont donné généreusement de leur temps et de leur ascendant, notamment (la liste est incomplète): David, Brian, Frank, Kel, Aldo et notre merveilleux Homme aux Trente Arts Martiaux. L’Académie a établit indubitablement la preuve de sa capacité et de son désir de former des adolescents et de leur faire découvrir, articuler et mettre en forme, avec solidité et rigueur, leurs rêves et leurs aspirations. Quand un Art, via ses Artistes, atteint un objectif de cette nature, il se prouve, pour son propre bénéfice et pour le bénéfice de ses futurs adeptes, qu’il est moins un Vieil Art qu’un Art Éternel…

Ventre Saint Gris,
Que trépasse si je faiblis,
Audace d'abord, Prudence après...

As a witness, a companion and a modest father, I want to point out the noblesse and credibility of the Academy's leadership and scholarship. I am thankful and touched by the talent and skill of the educators and role models who created a rich environment which cultivated a rich mix of rigor and camaraderie facilitating a 16 years old recruit to become a 18 year old scholar. I think of persons of scholarly influence who shared generously with their time and mentoring such as (the list is incomplete): David, Brian, Frank, Kel, Aldo and our wonderful Man with the 30 Martial Arts. The Academy proved clearly it's capacity and willingness to train teenagers and make them discover, articulate and give a solid and rigorous shape to their dreams and aspirations. When an art, through it's artists, reaches such an achievement, it proves to itself and to it's future students that it is not old but eternal...

Ventre Saint Gris,
May I die if I weaken,
Audacia first, Prudencia after...