Interview about Smallsword on Razmafzar TV with Dr. Manouchehr M. Khorasani
I had another opportunity to chat with Dr. K, this time on the history and principles of smallsword (this past Thursday/24-6-21). The first segment is live and available at the link below. I was joined by my friend and colleague Mr. Ken Jay, a long-time fencer with experience in KdF, Italian sabre, and over the past year or so smallsword.
Ken is a reserved chap, and while kind to help me with the demos was even less keen to be on screen than even I tend to be. His reserve, thus, is natural and not due to any desire by me to hog the scene 😉 [on a related note, Dr. K asked me, post interview, if Ken was okay, and, remarked that he seemed more German than American in demeanor (Dr. K lives and teaches in Frankfort, DE). When I told him that Ken’s mother’s family was German, than he spent his first eight years in what was then West Germany, Dr. K said “Haha, I knew it!”]
Humor and caveats aside, I am extremely grateful to Ken, who is very busy, for joining me and making that interview a lot better than it would have been had I been on my own. My thanks too to my friend Dr. Khorasani for the chance to chat about smallsword.
Part I: https://youtu.be/GE3CFZlIxDE
News, late June 2021
Despite record heat and the lingering spectre of Covid, we’ve been increasingly able to mix in the world again. The first Youth Fencing Class was a success, and we should be launching another one soon, probably August.
The broadsword group, one of several study pods of my friend Mike Cherba’s club, Northwest Armizare (Sherwood, Oregon), continues to meet and mine the Insular corpus. I’m there as a friend and to advise, and have enjoyed working with such a great group of people. Many of us eagerly await baskethilts built by the excellent Mark Howland of Shrike’s Forge (https://www.shrikesforge.com/). Eagerly, not necessarily patiently 😉
Individual Lessons–these have continued over the course of the pandemic, albeit in restrained conditions, and are picking up again now that more and more people are vaccinated and leaving quarantine. For the younger set working with me, we will likely shift things around so that we meet as a group–this will allow me to work with each student individually, but also give them others to drill and practice with at the same time.
Youth Fencing Class is Back
The introduction to historical fencing class is back at the Aquatic Center/Chehalem Parks & Rec. Due to Covid concerns the class is small, and will meet outside as weather permits; in inclement weather we will meet in the main gym as it’s large enough and well-ventilated. This class meets for 5 weeks, May 17th to June 16, each Monday and Wednesday from 6-7pm.
There are a few spots left: https://apm.activecommunities.com/cprd/Activity_Search/aq-youth-fencing/30256
I’ve added a few new items to the “Links” page. These include a few newer sites, and, some I somehow bizarrely forgot to include:
- American Bastone Project
- Broadsword Academy Manitoba
- Česká Zemská Šermírna/La Salle d’Armes Praha (Ars Dimicatoria/Barbasetti Military Sabre
Interview with the excellent Dr. Khorasani, Rafmafzar TV
I had the great honor this month to chat with Dr. Manouchehr M. Khorasani, noted researcher and martial artist, about my tiny corner of historical fencing, martial arts in general, and the community. This first installment of the interview is now up on Youtube:
Hopefully the world will be in a better place in re the pandemic come October than it has been to date. The excellent Michael Kznako of Ars Dimicatoria/Barbasetti Military Sabre in Prague, CZ, has made the announcement on fb and I am honored to be among those slated to teach (cf. https://www.ars-dimicatoria.cz/en/home-2/)
April 2, 2021
Individual Lessons: until further notice will continue to be outside, masked, and socially distanced as much as possible.
Parks & Rec Class: reviving the parks & rec class is in the works! The likely start day is sometime mid-May. Initially, I believe, this will be the younger cohort, but in time I’m hoping to re-add the adult course (16+). In good weather we’ll likely meet outside the Aquatic Center; in poor weather in one half of the gym.
Broadsword Group: restrictions about meeting size mean that for now this small group must remain small. This group also meets outside, at the moment in the backyard of one of the members, and regardless of weather. If interested contact me and as space and pandemic restrictions allow we may be able to add additional people.
Covid Vaccination Update: I’ve now had both inoculations in the Covid-19 series. In most respects this changes little in terms of how we conduct lessons–we’re still outdoors, still wearing masks within masks–but moving forward this may free us up either to return indoors or more safely run small-group classes.
We are continuing with lessons much as we have been since June. Thanks to Covid-19, and the spikes in the holidays, lessons are still held outside and students and instructors are still required to wear masks under their fencing masks. The science is increasingly supportive of these measures and until the data suggests otherwise this is our policy. This being the PNW rain is a fact of life, ditto cold, so students should come prepared for both. To the degree possible we work under cover, but that is not always possible. If you need suggestions for how to train in the rain, let us know and we can provide some ideas both for dress and for equipment maintenance.
As of 1-8-2021 I started the Covid-19 vaccine course. Among the various hats I rotate on my pate is work as part of the Clinic Reporting Team for a long-term care pharmacy. Most of that work is remote, but depending on future needs (such as the arrival of more vaccine) I may be tasked with other duties, including helping out with the mobile clinic which is vaccinating the elderly patients for whom we provide prescriptions and physical therapy. The good news for students is that it will make me that much safer to work with in time. We will still observe the proper protocols for safety, but as an added measure this is a plus.
Now that the fires have left my immediate area and the smoke has cleared we can once again train outside. Individual lessons remain the safest way to navigate the ongoing saga of the pandemic, so for now we will not be meeting as a group. For those interested who have not yet scheduled lesson times, contact me so we can arrange that. Also, keep drilling!
Individual Lessons & Covid 19
As of late June/Early July SdTS is offering individual lessons again. These have changed in light of the pandemic, and it’s important students be aware of how these changes will affect the nature of the lessons and their training. As of June 28th there is increasingly more evidence that face-masks help reduce particulate in the air, a major vector by which Covid-19 spreads.
In light of the science the instructor and students are required to wear face-masks. All lessons, for the time being anyway, will be held outside. The first half of the lesson will consist of exercises run in tandem, e.g. student and instructor both perform molinelli, footwork drills, etc. but at an acceptable distance (6-10ft away from one another). Much of the focus in the coming weeks will be on the advanced target, so wrist and arm. There is historical precedent for this, but it will also help maintain a healthy distance.
Please contact us with any concerns or questions!
SdTS, as of June, 2020
Despite some of the changes in the county we remain more or less in quarantine. First, the rise in cases is a cause for pause, but also our host, CVDA, is not yet completely open for business. I’m working on starting individual lessons again for advanced students, but the beginners’ class will have to wait until we no longer need to distance ourselves as much or find alternative methods to teach.
Hang in there, drill, and read!
Quarantine & Training
All practices at CVDA, Chehalem Aquatic Center, and at various locations for individual lessons are on hold at the moment as we wrestle with Covid-19. This is going to get a lot worse before it gets better, and the best thing we can do is stay at home and help prevent the spread of the illness.
I’m happy to discuss solo practice drills, answer questions, or ruminate on the future of our program, so feel free to contact me.
SdtS Practices in light of the Covid-19 Pandemic
Our hosts, Chehalem Valley Dance Academy, are closed for the Quarantine and naturally this affects our practices too. Individual lessons will continue as people are comfortable, but though late to do so the national movement to stop the spread of this latest bug is wise and NO one should feel pressure to show. In the meantime, students should read (I’m happy to give you a list 😉 ), practice their footwork, and make their molinelli a daily practice.
Introduction to Historical Fencing (Adult class)
March 7th, at 11am, the first class of the five week long Intro to Fencing I (for adults, 16 yrs +), begins! No experience necessary, any level of fitness fine–the focus is on learning and fun. There are a few spots left for those interested. All gear provided.
Register at: https://apm.activecommunities.com/cprd/Home
New Classes via CPRD! [Feb. & March 2020]
The next session of Youth Fencing I starts Feb. 18th at the Aquatic Center (via Chehalem Parks and Rec). This is a class for kids 9-15; we meet Tues and Thurs at 530, for five weeks.
For those kids who have taken this class at least once, a new class, Youth Fencing II, will start Feb. 18th and meet directly after YF 1 (so 630).
Lastly, thanks to inquiries from adults we’ve added an introductory class for adults that will meet Saturdays at 11, starting March 7th. Space is limited so if you’re interested, contact CPRD soon (at least check they hadn’t added the class yet, but it should be up shortly).
If you have any questions, feel free to contact me.
Introduction to Youth Fencing (Jan-Feb 2020)
Tuesday, Jan. 14th, at Chehalem Parks and Rec’s Aquatic Center. There is limited space in this class designed for children 10-15. A second session begins February 18th.
This class introduces children to fundamental movement, basic technique in foil, and a quick look at spada/epee and sabre.
For more information, visit:
Coming up in 2020!
August: Minneapolis, MN, USA
I’ll be teaching a class entitled “Radaellian Molinelli for the Non-Radaellian Fencer, A Primer” at SABR – Sabre And Broadsword Retreat, a two-day event covering various aspects of sabre and broadsword.
October: Prague, Czech Republic
K.u.K. Military Fencing Tournament: sponsored by the Barbasetti Military Sabre School and Ars Dimicatoria School of Historical Fencing; I’ve been invited to teach a class about Italian sabre, and–injuries permitting–participating in the tournament half as well.
Description from the fb page of one of the organizers, Michael Knazko:
“K.u.K. Military Fencing Tournament, Prague 2020, an annual event dedicated to fencing with weapons taught at the K.u.K. Theresian Military Academy in Wiener Neustadt – foil, sabre, bayonet – continues the tradition of eleven succesive Austro-Hungarian army fencing tournaments „K.u.K. Armee Fechtturnier“ which were held alternatively in Wien and Budapest in the years 1898 to 1914. The first „K.u.K. Armee Fechtturnier“ held in 1898 was part of the jubilee celebrations marking the 50th anniversary of the accession of the Emperor and King Franz Josef I to the throne.”
Coming in November!
Introduction to Bayonet Fencing, at Sala delle Tre Spade, CVDA; days/times TBA. This class introduces the basics of fencing with the bayonet as practiced in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Covering bayonet attacks, bayonet fencing, and bayonet vs. sabre, students will gain an appreciation for this unique form of combat and how it relates to more traditional fencing. [There was more interest in smallsword, so I’ve pushed this back]
The Smallsword of PJF Girard (Sept./Oct. 2019)
In the last weekend of September we’ll begin examining the Traité des armes (1740) of Sir Pierre Jacques Francois Girard. Smallsword is one of the weapons we dabble in and with new people and new interest, seems a fitting time to dive in and see how it differs from its more familiar descendants like foil and epee.
Introduction to Historical Fencing (Oct. 2019)
I’ll be teaching a four week introductory course on traditional Italian fencing for some middle-schoolers at Trackers Forest School in Portland [https://trackerspdx.com/forest-school].
In keeping with their theme we’ll be meeting at a park for practice–hoping the weather will hold out!
CPRD Intro to Fencing (Sept./Oct.; 2nd Session Nov./Dec.)
Introduction to Fencing (Foil), via Chehalem Parks & Rec., Chehalem Aquatic & Fitness Center ( 1802 Haworth Ave., Newberg, OR 97132 ); for ages 10-15, gear provided.
The second session of this six week class begins Nov. 5th. It meets twice a week, Tuesdays and Thursdays, into December. An introduction to fencing and foil, traditionally the weapon students start with, this class will cover a little history, safety, basic rules, and fundamentals of movement, offense, and defense.
Here is the link: