wpeE.jpg (5780 bytes)The Inaugural Conference of
Swordplay Symposium International - Houston, May 27-29, 2000

The first inaugural Swordplay Symposium International conference was hosted by ARMA --at the time known as HACA --in Houston. The 3-day event, the first ever, went incredibly well. The whole weekend was a really great time of near constant activities. As the largest and most comprehensive event of its kind, SSi has set a precedent for other events to follow. The atmosphere was electric just to be around so many serious sword people with the same sense of excitement.

A lot of great demonstrations and presentations on swords and swordfighting were delivered. A lot of interesting ideas were brought up and exchanged. A lot of good sparring went on. A lot of great jokes were made. A lot of ice broken. A few bumpy spots, but overall, the weekend was terrific fun, a triumphant success for SSI for Western Martial Arts, and for ARMA (at the time, "HACA"). A highlight of the event was the short 1613 playlet, "Work for Cutlers" superbly performed by the SSI Players lead by Mark Rector. This apparently was the first time since 1904 that this piece was performed. It was so hilarious and so perfectly appropriate. One of the most fascinating parts of the conference was the interesting sense of balance. Hands-on classes balanced historical presentations. The studied scientific approach of Spanish and Italian rapier balanced the brutal efficiency of the long-sword. The focus on the methods of the past, balanced the view of SSI and the future. The groups represented were also amazing: martial artists, fencers, and re-enactors; all with an appreciation of this weapon in its many forms. The event had something for almost every sword lover. For those who wanted the physical aspect, there were hands-on workshops and sparring sessions. For those interested in the historical aspect, there were research papers and talks. For any who questioned the effectiveness of these weapons, there was a cutting demonstration. Vendors of swords, rapiers and wooden weapons were also on hand selling their fine wares.


Some sample photos from just a few of the event activities
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SSI Advisors introduced by Director Greg Mele.
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Mark Bertrand reads from Dr. Anglo's new "Renaissance Martial Arts"
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John C. shows German long-sword
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The effective entering & grappling of Schwertnemen
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John C. & Craig Gemiener of Australia do Schwertnemen
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Craig G. improvises his own closing technique
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The dashing Stephen Hand explains Saviolo
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The rapier style of Vincentio Saviolo
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The suave Andrea Sinclair of Italy
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Andrea demonstrates his Marozzo techniques with Paul MacDonald
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Lupo & Paul using "side-swords"
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The venerable Hank Reinhardt begins his cutting demo
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Hank show the effect on a replica of a 15th century barbute helm
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John C. joins in with a great sword on thick cardboard packing tubes
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Hank deals death to a foam fun noodle
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Paul MacDonald of the DDS begins his Vadi demo presentation
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Jared Kirby & Paul perform Vadi's long-sword style
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Ramon Martinez & Jeanette Acosta  Martinez
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The Spanish rapier, style La Destreza
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Practicing drills from the Spanish Style
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John C. presents appreciation to Lupo
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Ramon Receives Spanish fencing artwork
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Hank receives his own special work of art
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Sparring late into the night...Brian Price & Ian Johnson
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Hank reveals knife tricks to Brian Jones
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John C. demos exercises of spear vs. sword with Matt Hauser
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thrust & parry
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Contact Weapon Free-play Demo
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Semi-contact with wooden wasters
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Christian Darce & John C. demo an open hand vs. rapier exercise
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cool SSi t-shirts!
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A panel on training & sparring equipment
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Brian Price lectures on Chivalry & Knighthood
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Steve Hick lectures on Dom Duarte's text
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Gene Tausk of ARMA Lectures on Roman Martial Culture
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impromptu sparring
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the captivated
SSi audience
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"Sith Lord & Apprentice"
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ARMA guys
take a break
It was fascinating to see practitioners from more than half a dozen organizations and three different continents playing & fencing with wasters, rapiers, blunt swords, and even poleaxes. Overall, the weekend was terrific fun, a triumphant success for SSI for WMA, and for ARMA. The event’s highlights included:

-Special reading on Renaissance Martial Arts from Dr. Anglo’s major new book
-Schwertnemen – Medieval German entering & grappling techniques of long-sword
-Marozzo’s side-sword fighting method
-Saviolo’s rapier method
-Dom Duarte’s lost fencing book
-International Knightly Tournament Competition Initiatives
-Sword & Dagger vs. Longsword
-Filippo Vadi’s Long-sword style
-The German Dussack
-The Medieval Spear vs. the Long-Sword
-The ARMA Contact-Weapon System
-Performance of a hilarious 1613 play on the sword vs. rapier controversy
-Executive meetings on organizing and studying Historical Fencing
-The Spanish rapier school explained
-Analyzing George Silver’s method
-Test-cutting demonstration (on mail, helms, cardboard tubes, and other items with various sharp blades)
-Panel discussions on training & development of commercial sparring equipment
-Lecture Ancient Roman Martial Arts
-Lecture on Chivalric Philosophy
-Constant open fencing & sparring (rapier, poleaxe, long-sword, great-sword, spear, dagger, dussack, la cane, and more)
-Eating, drinking, fellowship, and occasional debauchery

Essentially what everyone did for three days was talk history, fighting, show techniques, spar, fence, and cut things. There was open sparring as well as demos of Medieval & Renaissance weapons, rapier fencing, swords, poleaxes, grappling, and discussions and presentations on the masters on weaponry and historical techniques. The sparring went on past midnight on Sat, and was wild. Hank Reinhardt hit chain mail and helms with various swords then cut phone books and cardboard tubes. Attendees and guests even had nametags, it was casual but formal, scholarly but martial, and all very cool.

"...gentlemen in England now abed, will think themselves accursed they were not here..." – Shakespeare, Henry V


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