Euro-Seminars 2000 - Report


Munich Seminar

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Taking a break in Munich
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Covering the various Leger stances
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Detailing fundamental actions
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Instructing in power and intent in cutting
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The importance of the thrust in long-sword
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The simplicity of entering
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John shows the power of closing actions
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Demonstrating proper parrying & defense
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Takedowns and seizures
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Explaining Schwartnemen
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Instruction lessons
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Hans & Luca drilling in techniques
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Foundational understanding with Claus & Hans
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Group combat & tactics
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Closing remarks
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Class portrait

ARMA Director John Clements gave a first-ever historical fencing seminar in Eastern Europe in the intriguing Medieval city of Krakow, Poland, Sept 30 to Oct 1 (hosted by the Brotherhood of Eagles Nest). This was followed one week later by another 2-day seminar in the Bavarian capital of Munich, the first-ever seminar in Germany (hosted by the Ochs Medieval combat club). Both Medieval long-sword seminars, emphasizing the ARMA Study Approach, and were resounding successes. Without question, ARMA (at the time, "HACA") demonstrated the efficacy and validity of its long-sword and the dynamic nature of its Study Approach to historical fencing.

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Class begins in Krakow
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John explains cutting & movement
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Demonstrating powerful close actions
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Our students & friends in Krakow

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Swords & rapiers in Krakow

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A unusual collection of execution & war blades

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Some splendid samples

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An exceptionally long dagger and a finger guantlet

The events were attended by historical fencing enthusiasts from a total of 6 countries and were great opportunities to meet many of our European associates and colleagues for the first time. John was able to bring to the "mother countries" of the old world, a modern American methodology of interpretation and practice of historical European martial arts. John’s demonstration and exhibition of sword skills was extremely well-received and it was repeatedly heard how unique and distinct the ARMA style was from current reenactment and staged performance practices within the host countries. During the trip, John was also able to make profitable visits to several arms collections and museums as well as libraries containing period fighting texts. Overall, it was a superb adventure for ARMA and the exploration of our Western martial heritage. ARMA was extremely well treated by our hosts and we were overwhelmed at the welcome we received in both Poland and Germany.

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Viewing armor in Munich
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A wonderful helmet collection
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The old armory in Inglstadt
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Some fine pieces
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Molesting real mail
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Munitions swords
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A closer look
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Two blades, sword & rapier

For over 6 hours each day, 22 attendees in Poland and 28 in Germany received first-hand an introduction to ARMA long sword fighting techniques beginning with a theoretical foreword, telling about the organization and the differences between martial swordsmanship, sport fencing, stage combat and also on how underrated and misunderstood historical western martial arts are in comparison to much more popular eastern ones. The seminars got underway with material emphasizing proper handling of a real sword, the nature of bladed combat, correct fighting stances from different masters, unarmored combat preparation, group combat tactics and specific techniques from historical manuscripts. Subject matter also included portions on John’s specialty, the highly overlooked and very important close-in entering techniques of Medieval combat, and also the much misunderstood but vital elements of half-swording, another ARMA specialty. The proper manner of defense and countering with a long cutting blade was also covered in depth, leaving no doubts to each. Demonstrations of techniques within the manuals and multiple quotations showed the legitimacy of the texts. Students received information useful both for personal work and for teaching and received feedback on their form.

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Approaching a remote rural Polish castle ruin
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Playing in the keep
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Drama amidst the ruins
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Another Polish castle
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Posing in the castle yard

Wawel castle museum courtyard in Krakow
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Two fine blades
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John contains himself with an original edition of Agrippa's fencing book, c. 1556.

The events also emphasized sharing information, experiences and ideas and as always, were aimed to offer an understanding of what the old masters wanted to teach, and not to prove preconceived ideas. One noticeable element present was the participation of individuals from different groups, with differing (sometimes very different) approaches to practicing Medieval swordsmanship, join, learn, and practice together. Participants were exposed to a series of fundamental ARMA drills, exercises, practice routines, and many examples of effective, deadly techniques from German and Italian Medieval manuals as well as taught a range of dynamic training elements of the ARMA method. John endeavored to present the craft with power, energy, and a wild beauty combined with deadly precision that makes Medieval swordsmanship a true martial art. ARMA’s (at the time, "HACA") Euro-2000 Seminars were great fun and prepared the way for exciting opportunities for return events in 2001!


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