Our Credo
- the ARMA "Code of Conduct"

Whether as fighting disciplines or self-defense skills, the martial arts of Renaissance Europe were not taught in an ethical vacuum.

Cliché as it sounds, the modern practice of historical European arms and the study of their close-combat teachings can indeed be a pathway to personal growth: you are exercising, increasing coordination and balance, learning about history, appreciating your heritage, developing self-defense skills, improving self-discipline, and socializing with like-minded fellows. Yet, it is by doing so not just with a mutually accepted approach and standards, but with shared values that makes all the difference.

In the earliest formation of our association it was realized that in the course of our study we preferred to associate with and have as fellow members individuals of good character. Each new member we select, in essence, changes our community to some degree. After encountering in this subject more than a fair amount of flakes, fakes, deceivers, and insincere role-players over the years, we sought to express those values that we ourselves follow as a club. Thus, we came up with a list of five elements we felt expressed this as a credo. The ARMA's credo was instituted as a code of conduct; a way of acknowledging the moral or ethical component of historical European martial arts study.

Our Credo of Renaissance Martial Arts Studies:

- Respect for History and Heritage
- Sincerity of Effort
- Integrity of Scholarship
- Appreciation of Martial Spirit
- Cultivation of Self-Discipline

This credo is something we try to promote in our relations with our collective members and colleagues, and that we also try to express whenever educating others about the martial arts of Renaissance Europe. It is both a way of thinking about and a manner of operating within a community of like-minded Renaissance martial arts practitioners. These ideas define who we are and guide our efforts. They serve as principles and ideas we find uplifting and inspiring for our collaborative exploration and resurrection of Renaissance martial arts.

Central here is the ideal that each of us may consider how through our studies our strength of character as well as our strength in arms is being forged. What is conduct other than the way we behave toward one another and the way we behave when they are not around to see? What is a code other than an affirmation of a set of values? Although the five points above are self-explanatory, some clarification and elaboration is certainly worthwhile.

Respect for History and Heritage: History is not a starting point of inspiration or an inconvenience to work around, but both the source and the subject. It is our past, our ancestors, our civilization, our origin, our guide. Reconstruction and revival, recovery and resurrection, is our challenge. The worst thing we can do is mock it or show it contempt through triviality, frivolity, and ignorance.

Sincerity of Effort: Developing martial discipline and real skill comes first and foremost from being honest with yourself and with your own capabilities and motives. It doesn't come from role-play, from escapism, or doing things purely for entertainment or display. Skill only comes as a result of earnest, committed effort combined with understanding and appreciation. Self-deceit, pretense, arrogance, and false pride are ruinous to progress in martial arts. It also means that petty politicking and selfish cliques have no place in martial arts study.

Integrity of Scholarship: Honesty in research does not just mean looking at data for or against your thoughts and notions, or not intentionally omitting contrary evidence, but not plagiarizing others' material or misrepresenting ideas and teachings that are not your own work. As this craft's revival requires considerable scholarship, academic credibility also means avoiding rigidity and obstinacy. To some degree everything should be kept tentative, open to further interpretation, and continually subject to amendment.

Appreciation of Martial Spirit: Recognize that this craft is about violence, and know that it existed as the domain of warriors, soldiers, fighters, knights, duelists, and others. Whether in the form of fighting arts or martial sports, you should respect veterans both past and present, and all those who share in a warrior code of struggling justly against adversity. Pay them homage by continually challenging yourself to improve your strengths and diminish your weaknesses, whether physical, mental, and personal.

Cultivation of Self-Discipline: Controlling movement and range and timing as you execute techniques is only a physical part of the craft. The rest involves mental and emotional control. Along with the prerequisite necessity of courage (the ability to act in spite of fear), Medieval and Renaissance warriors prized wisdom, fortitude, audacity, and prudence. These elements were often expressed in chivalric virtues. Wisdom consisted of knowledge and rationality. Fortitude was physical strength or the strength of mind that allowed one to endure pain or adversity with courage. Audacity meant boldness and decisiveness, and Prudence meant caution and discretion. Today we express this in good conduct and decorum toward our fellows. But the necessary discipline to achieve this is developed through practice, training, study, exercise, research, interaction, participation, growth, and learning continuously.

The ARMA believes that martial art training does not just build character, its reveals character, such that, for higher progress a certain ethical and spiritual component is inherent to its serious study.

It has been said that knowledge in itself is not virtue, the knowledge must be virtuously applied. As with any tool, the knowledge can be abused. Neither martial arts nor fencing can in itself change a person's character if they are unethical or despicable to begin with. But with proper guidance the honest nature of such martial activity can offer them the grounds and opportunity by which to improve character. It forces an individual to confront who they are, what they are made of, and push the limits of what they expect of themselves and what they can do through sincere effort.

In the 16th century, Martin Luther said all education is the education of character. Yet we should not confuse education in self-defense and tactics as being permissible instructions to freely deceive and always seek to fight. There is a self-truth revealed through fencing that can compel the fencer toward wanting to be a person better than they are by virtue of their own merit and accomplishment. Thus, there is a view that in any form of fighting, it is not only our strength of arms alone but our character that is also being tested. There has long been a view that the art of fencing (or training in martial arts) promotes positive moral and character-building qualities. Part of this also draws supposedly from the view that a person who in practice fighting might delve so low as to lie about a hit in order to "win" a bout was capable of far greater deception and duplicity in life itself, where actions go largely unobserved by one's peers. To deny a palpable hit during bouting, or claiming one in bad faith, or making a strike after a halt is called, thus called a person's greater integrity into question. 

This was even more important in the violent world of historical combat training in the Medieval and Renaissance eras where a man offended by his partner's attitude during practice fighting might then demand a real fight with sharp swords. So it is not too much to ask that as we study this craft we all have consistency of words and deeds. That can mean examining your preconceptions and being wary of holding emotional investment in beliefs about weapons and fighting that are not supportable by reliable evidence you can offer.

We are all more than just subscribers in the ARMA. Our membership means more than just paying a fee to access information and advice, it means we are fellows of a community who follow a certain common Study Approach and Training Methodology as well as accept mutual motives and objectives. We also try to promote and uphold certain standards of skill. So, even if someone is not regularly participating physically or actively involved in research, and not seeking certification in our Ranking system's curricula, that's okay. But, if they are going to be a part of us then their energies and time really cannot go toward another historical fencing effort or other martial art studies, or pledge to a different set of standards. Both our subject and craft deserve and demand a certain minimum effort that can only be made with integrity and sincerity.

The ARMA has always advanced the idea that exploration and activities in this subject is something that should enrich a person's life, not offer escape from it. We therefore embrace a set of ethical values in our efforts. This component of historical European martial arts is derived from the chivalric, Christian, and classical humanist elements featured within the historical source literature of our subject. We fully appreciate this may be anathema to a very large portion of the assorted role-players, stunt fencers, charlatans, and flakes doing various forms of historical fencing or stunt fighitng today. Individuals who cannot accept these values in their personal character are therefore asked not to pursue membership with us. Because our members represent us, they represent our values, our teachings, and our training efforts. And each represents our subject on the whole. 

So, while there's a lot of good reasons to become involved, there are several reasons not to take up study of this craft: don't do it just to add another belt to your martial arts collection, or to sell products and make a buck, or to distract you from a bad job or unhappy marriage, or because you are looking for a hobby to escape an unfocused life, or merely to lose weight to find a romantic partner, or because the thought of power over a local study group makes you swoon, or because you're seeking validation through association with an authoritative source, or simply to augment your existing martial art. Instead, be a part of our community because you sincerely want to learn from the best, because you share our values, and because you share our love for the subject.

These forgotten skills are after all not ones that are needed for our survival anymore. So as we pursue them for different reason than did those who once depended on them for protection, we must find higher reasons for doing so. Our warrior ancestors who defended their persons as well as their honor and valor attempted the same when they strive toward the ideal of a Noble Science of Defence.

Given this, it is common sense that we should all behave with common courtesy, politeness, decorum, and mutual respect toward one another in our public discourse or personal interaction. But our club in general has rules as well, such as not revealing curricula or sharing materials with non-members or former members, not allowing ex or non-members to participate in practice sessions, and making full disclosure of your intention to publish instructional or educational material in the future. These go hand in hand with not displaying tantrums or hurling insults but generally behaving online as you would in person, acting with sincerity and good faith. There is no need to even ask how doing otherwise could possibly uphold the spirit of camaraderie and loyalty the old Masters of Defence prized.   Every student of the martial arts must live with the real consequences of how they train, and with whom they train, not the good intentions of either.

While we are just an association, our shared love of the subject and our commitment to pursuing it with a credo of shared values also makes us a family of sorts. Which is exactly why certain incidents can strain relationships among the friends and colleagues that we make together.  It is not just about mastering techniques and developing martial spirit. There are bonds of camaraderie that require mutual respect, trust, loyalty, and honor.  These directly influence what you are ultimately able to uncover in reconstructing this craft as well as how you can practice or teach it. It all ties together. But it is the common values our association upholds that should bind us as brothers and sisters of the sword, not mere local ties to who we might practice with.

The ARMA essentially emulates a fighting guild in the style of the historical Renaissance masters. Being a part of the old fighting guilds and studying under a teacher in a Fechtschule was about much more than having the martial spirit and physical conditioning to skillfully execute techniques. It was also about shared values --- camaraderie, respect, trust, and loyalty. These are issues of character. Experiencing these things is as much a part of exploring and celebrating our Renaissance martial heritage today as is learning combat moves. It is no less an aspect to revive and recover than the fighting skills themselves.

Because we are a club of principles, and approach our studies in just such a way, we want individuals of principle who uphold principle.  In a world and an age where it is far too easily to forget values and the need to do the right thing, hard as it may be it is all the more important we make the attempt to stand for something.  But note there is nothing overtly religious or theological about this code (nor will we permit it to be turned into one, as that matter is up to  each person alone).  Our credo can in some ways be summed up as essentially: show good manners with loyalty and don't be a jackass. 

We hope every ARMA member (and anyone else) considers this credo seriously and tries to forge these ideals into their own effort within historical fencing. No member is required to follow the training material we offer, but everyone has to abide by our credo and the rules of decorum. It's a simple matter: Our curriculum is optional. Our code of conduct is not.

"seek to thoroughly understand this art and learn
to apply  a true honorable earnestness"
Master Joachim Meyer
Kunst des Fechtens,

Terms of Service
The ARMA Membership & Non-Disclosure Agreement

    The ARMA is a private subscription-service club functioning as an online virtual school of individuals with shared values collectively working in the same craft from shared materials under a mutual study approach with a common motive, method, and objective. No member is required to follow the training and testing program offered, but everyone has to abide by our credo and the standards of appropriate decorum. Our curriculum is optional. Our code of conduct is not. Everyone is expected to uphold the spirit of camaraderie and ethics of respect and loyalty the old Masters and fighting guilds prized.

    Acceptance of ARMA Membership constitutes: recognition of our code of conduct (Credo), pledge to maintain confidentiality of club resources, neither reveal nor share ARMA curricula or materials with ex or non-members, nor permit their attendance at practices and training sessions without approval from the Director. Members also acknowledge that the ARMA Director has sole authority on all administrative matters and policies concerning membership, and further understand that violation of the membership agreement or code of conduct is grounds for immediate dismissal. Members also consent to inform the Director if they are preparing or developing separate material or curriculum on European martial arts / historical fencing for either publication or public instruction. Members acknowledge that compliance with the above Membership Agreement and Terms of Service is a condition of membership.

see also:
Why A Fellowship?


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