Modern fencing comes from the continuous evolution of how people used the sword over the period from the 1200s CE to today. Understanding where our sport is today requires understanding where it comes from and where it has been. This means that the study of historical fencing is important to modern fencers and to those interested in the study of historical swordplay in its own right.
The Center for Historical Fencing currently accepts a limited number of individual students interested in developing in depth understanding of the technique and tactics taught by period Fencing Masters as reflected in their writings from 1350 to the mid-1800s. This is not a program designed to prepare individuals for modern historical European martial arts tournaments – there are other clubs primarily focused on tournament fighting in Virginia, and we encourage those interested in modern competition with historical weapons to join those organizations. Our focus is detailed study and analysis of how the weapons were actually used in a civil context and on being able to recreate the techniques and tactics of the period.
The current focus of the Center’s work is on the Long Sword (Middle Ages to Renaissance), the great two handed sword (Renaissance), the rapier (Renaissance), and the broadsword or sabre (Enlightenment). A key current research thrust is the practice of the English Masters of Defence in the 1500s.
The Center for Historical Fencing is a member of the HEMA Alliance and maintains a study group affiliated with the Meyer Freifechter Guild. Meyer’s work represents the late development of the Longsword on the European continent, and thus serves as an analytical model for how English longsword play may have evolved from the limited surviving earlier texts. Affiliation with the Guild provides a useful connection to current specialized students of Meyer’s work and to the practice of the various German fencing guilds.
Individuals participating in this program are required to be current individual members of the HEMA Alliance, to be current members of the Center for Historical Fencing, to pay a floor fee, and to have substantive experience in modern fencing. Acceptance is at the discretion of the Center based on availability of practice time and the potential contribution of the individual to the Center’s mission. The Center uses the fencing facilities of Salle Green and stores equipment in the Salle’s armory.