If you have always dreamed of learning how to wield a warrior’s longsword, duel with a musketeer’s rapier, or take down a knight in armour, you’ve found yourself in the right place.

DTV brings you high quality swordplay training that will take you step-by-step from the fundamentals of historical fencing, to advanced techniques and strategies. Become a Master of Arms, develop grace, confidence and poise, connect with history, and join a worldwide community. Join Now

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Online Courses

Coming September 2016 You can learn Italian swordplay online. DTV’s online swordplay courses will take you step-by-step through the basics (how to hold a sword!) all the way through to strategies and advanced techniques. Watch the lessons, take the quizzes and practice the actions. All of the techniques come from historical sources and use proper steel training swords, combining safety and martial authenticity. Courses Page→

Video Lessons

Over 400 video lessons, in fact. DTV’s curriculum ranges from unarmed combat through to dagger, rapier, sidesword and buckler, longsword and poleaxe. Every lesson comes right out of the programs at Academie Duello Centre for Swordplay in Vancouver, BC — the world’s largest centre for the study of European swordplay — and represents an ever-growing collection of content, so your learning never has to stop. Video Page→

Training
Blog

Good advice is hard to find. At DTV you’ll find sage and timely training guidance to keep you motivated and focused. How do you get better? What do you do when stumped by a better opponent? What strategies do you use to get through lack of motivation? How do you prevent injury and ensure a long and healthy life of fencing? All of these topics and more are explored and made clear in our weekly training blog articles. Blog Page→

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This Week’s Training Blog Article Read the Blog

Ways To Test Your Art: Triangulating on Life and Death

August 22, 2016  I want to get as close to the original martial art as possible without actually putting myself, my training partners, or my students in mortal danger. Yet that is a difficult thing. Without life and death it is difficult to not introduce excessive amounts of fallaciousness into your practice. (more)

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Who is this site for?

Duello.TV is for anyone who is enthusiastic about swords and swordplay, martial arts, or unique forms of fitness. Duello.TV students include:

  • Solo and pairs practitioners learning the art for the first time with our videos.
  • People looking for a unique and exciting form of fitness and mental exercise.
  • Academie Duello students in classes in Vancouver, BC and around the world.
  • Experienced Western Martial artists seeking to hone and expand their martial knowledge.
  • Study groups looking for a studying and learning resource.
  • Eastern Martial Arts practitioners who want to learn how it’s done in the West.

What you will need

To make the most of Duello.TV we recommend that you have a few things:

  • approaching-largo-longsword-4A sword appropriate to the videos you are following. The Academie Duello Store sells rapiers, longswords, sideswords, and more.
  • Alternately an equivalent piece of dowling or a wooden waster or synthetic simulator.
  • Comfortable gloves to provide protection to the hands.
  • Protective equipment such as a fencing mask and gorget. Important for partner training.
  • A training partner. Though many exercises can be conducted alone, having others to work with is ideal for improvement.

Structuring your training time

To make the most of your learning from Duello.TV we recommend the following:

  • Train at least twice per week following the exercises and drills from the videos.
  • A good breakdown for a 1 hour training session is:
    • 10 Minutes Warm-up
    • 20 Minutes new Duello.TV Lesson Exercises
    • 20 Minutes Drills from Previous Lessons
    • 10 Minutes Cool-Down/Stretching
    • Use additional time for slow-work, free-play, and sparring (described in further detail in Duello.TV videos).
  • Practice everyday for at least 5 minutes. Creating mental continuity for the new skills you are learning, even through a very short practice, will make all the difference in your ability to progress and build the discipline required for mastery.
  • Spend most of your time with the fundamentals and progress only once you have laid down a solid foundation.
  • Watch and re-watch the videos to help you get the most out of the content. As your strength and understanding of the techniques increases you will get more and more out of each video.

Progressing through the Ranks

You’ll notice that many of the videos on Duello.TV are organized by rank levels: Green, Blue, Red, etc. These levels denote a progression through our curriculum that we believe leads to the strongest and most well rounded Western Martial Artists.

Achieving the top level in our system is a 5- to 10-year journey depending on the intensity of your study. The ranks of the program are:

  • Apprentice Weapon studies: Unarmed, and Rapier or longsword. Principles: Familiar with body mechanics, distance, and control. Achieving the apprentice level comes with the completion of the test at the end of one of our two primary Fundamentals programs.
  • Scholar Weapon studies: Rapier track (unarmed, single rapier, rapier & dagger, sidesword), or Longsword track (unarmed, longsword, half-swording, sidesword). Principles: Angle, line, cutting mechanics, timing and proportion. On average, students progress from Apprentice to Scholar in 8-24 months of training.
  • Free Scholar Weapon studies: Rapier and secondaries, sidesword and secondaries, longsword, quarterstaff, knife, and unarmed. Principles: Timing, tempo, power generation, strategy, and tactics. On average, students progress from Scholar to Free Scholar in 1 to 3 years of training.
  • Provost Weapon studiess: Rapier, sidesword, longsword, pole weapons, knife, and unarmed. Principles: Centres and tempo. Provosts are expected to be highly proficient in the system of arms, able to diversely apply its principles, and be able to challenge its implementation to build and grow the art. A Provost completes a series of trials in the areas of research, teaching, and martial prowess to achieve their master level.
  • Master Masterful in the application of the system of arms. Able to proficiently apply their skills across all disciplines armed and unarmed. Able to pass the art on to others at a high level and to innovate and grow its practice at Academie Duello and for the Italian Martial Arts community as a whole.

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Devon Boorman, Lead Instructor

Director and Maestro d’Armi

Devon BoormanDevon Boorman has practicing martial arts for more than 20 years. Starting first with Asian martial arts, including Kung Fu and Arnis, Devon discovered western swordplay through the Society for Creative Anachronism (SCA) which connected him with a burgeoning community of martial artists and scholars studying Historical European Marital Arts throughout the world.

Devon has travelled extensively, first as a student, then as a competitor, teacher, and researcher. He has won more than 40 European martial arts competitions, and worked on both stage and screen as a stunt person and choreographer. Devon is actively involved in the translation, interpretation, and revival of Western Martial Arts from surviving historical manuals, some of which are on display at his school.

Devon’s expertise centres on the Italian swordplay tradition including the arts of the renaissance Italian rapier, sidesword, and longsword, as well as knife and unarmed techniques. He has taught workshops and seminars throughout the world on both the study and practice of historical techniques and on practical combat implementation.

Devon is the co-founder and director of Academie Duello, which has been active in the Vancouver area since 2004. Under his leadership the school has become a centre for swordplay with over 200 active students, a store, and an arms and armour museum. The Academie is currently the largest WMA centre in the world; a model that Devon hopes to help others achieve.

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Introduction to the Dueling Arts

The core martial system of Academie Duello traces its origins to the violent streets, dangerous battlefields, and duelling grounds of Northern Italy in the Middle Ages and Renaissance.The system of Academie Duello focuses on the teaching and weapons of a 300 year span of history between 1400 and 1700 and fits within a tradition that begins with the Longsword and Wrestling of Fiore dei Liberi, an Italian fight master from the 1400s, and concludes with the Italian Rapier and its masters such as Salvator Fabris and Ridolfo Capo Ferro in the 1600s.

Though our system spans a large historical period it is integrated so each discipline serves to teach core principles that relate to the system as a whole. The point oriented rapier emphasizes the principles of geometry, timing, and distance; the longsword emphasizes flow, 360-degree movement, and the blend of wrestling and swordwork; the sword and shield fuse together the cut and thrust and hone the deceptive and fluid aspects of the art; unarmed and dagger skills focus on core body mechanics, contact perception, and the skills required to survive a close engagement.

Our modern connection with these arts comes from years of investigative and martial work at Academie Duello and by colleagues throughout the world. Everything we practice has its roots in historical texts and has been tested in real world environments both with an exploratory and competitive intent. Several first edition originals of these fight manuscripts are available to view in the Academie Duello museum at the Centre in Vancouver, BC.

The Weapons

Italian Longsword
Longsword: The medieval longsword is a powerful cutting weapon held in both hands and is most commonly associated with knighthood. Longsword techniques include cuts, thrusts, halfswording and wrestling. Academie Duello’s longsword teachings are based on those of fifteenth-century master Fiore dei Liberi. Read more about the Longsword.
Sidesword and Targa
Sidesword: Sidesword technique covers the use of most single handed cutting swords. Sidesword technique is often combined with the shield, dagger or a second sword. Academie Duello’s sidesword teachings are based on the sixteenth-century Italian techniques of Achille Marozzo and Antonio Manciolino. Read more about the Sidesword.
Italian Rapier
Rapier: Synonymous with The Three Musketeers, the skills and abilities developed while learning to master the ultimate dueling weapon build a solid foundation for learning many others. The Academie’s teachings are based upon such seventeenth-century masters as Ridolfo Capoferro and Salvador Fabris. Read more about the Rapier.

Other Weapons Taught at Academie Duello

  • roland-and-walker-spearPolearms: Any weapon comprising a long shaft and a pointed head, wielded in both hands and designed to strike a distant opponent with its long reach.
  • Knife/Dagger: A common accompaniment to a sidesword or rapier, effective in close-quarter combat.
  • Mounted Combat: The martial techniques of the knight or other heavily armoured warrior on horseback, primarily with the longsword and sidesword, for use both in war and in tournaments.
  • Unarmed Combat: The unarmed combat techniques, including boxing and wrestling, taught alongside the longsword, sidesword and rapier to grapple and incapacitate an opponent.
  • Umbrella and Cane: Everyday, portable objects to Victorian ladies and gentlemen, they are equally useful as weapons in the martial system Bartitsu.

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The Italian Longsword

The Longsword includes a gamut of long and broad bladed straight swords that can be wielded in one hand or two. The techniques of the longsword can be applied both in a duelling (one-on-one fighting) context as well as on the battlefield. The weapon was largely popularized in story through Arthurian legend, historical epics, and modern fantasy books and movies such as the Lord of the Rings.

Though many often consider the longsword to be a brutish and simple weapon of crude bashing, it is in fact a sophisticated weapon capable of much of the finesse of its lighter counter-parts the rapier and sidesword.

The system of longsword fencing taught at Academie Duello shares equal time between the cut and the thrust and emphasizes circular movement, power generation, how to win ‘crossings’ of the sword, and feeling and responding to the opponent’s position, pressure, and timing.

Duello.TV students will start their learning with the fundamental attacks, postures, and movements of the longsword and eventually connect with techniques including combinations of attacks, turning defences into offences, close quarters combat, wrestling, and combat in full armour.

Benefits of Longsword Study

Red Cord Longsword 3The longsword is a weapon that unites both sides of the body, emphasizes full body movement, effective footwork, and an ability to move between combat distances with fluidity.

The Longsword is a superb teacher of combative principles including:

  • Power generation
  • Combative fluidity and movement
  • 360-degree movement and perception

Physically the longsword will challenge you to develop:

  • Fast and effective posture and footwork
  • The ability to move with fluidity, power, and speed
  • Your body into a powerful and efficient martial tool

The mental game of the longsword will teach you:

  • Confidence and decisiveness
  • Combative strategy that blends cut, thrust, and wrestle
  • How to think in 3 dimensions

Anatomy of the Longsword

The longsword is a long straight bladed weapon with a simple crossbar and grip that can accommodate two hands. The overall length of typical longswords range between 40″ and 50″ with blades varying in length between 30″ and 40″. Sword weights vary but are typically between 2 and 5 lbs.

Italian Longsword

The Nature of the Longsword

Longsword combatants take rapid steps back and forth, keeping a safe distance while maintaining threat. Opponents and blades circle tightly, looking for advantage and control of the other weapon. The tap and slide of steel on steel mixes with the rustle of of footwork until one fighter lunges, a blur, confident in his position and timing.

The longsword is a two handed weapon, one hand applies pushing force, the other a pull on the pommel to utilize leverage. Powerful movements of the entire body contribute to the tremendous cutting force, always moving in circles and figure eights. The opposing sides come together in dynamic crossings, always seeking to gain advantage.

The longsword has been described as ‘the great equilizer’; where applications of pure force can work against you, technique, speed and dexterity will triumph. Often sacrifices must be made on one thing in order to capitalize on something else. Cuts from the shoulder convey the greatest strength but the slowest speed and incredibly fast wrist cuts lack the force required to do serious damage.

History of the Longsword

During the course of the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, the knight’s sword underwent a number of significant changes that produced not only a weapon that was light, large and highly versatile, but also a new system of armed combat to exploit the new features that the improved sword—the longsword—could offer. For several centuries prior, the knight’s sword had been a single-handed, broad-bladed weapon about 36 inches that was capable of powerful slashes. New improvements in armour in the form of metal plates, however, were reducing the effectiveness of slashes, as they could turn aside a sharp edge without much difficulty. To overcome the new armour technology, both the blade and the grip of the knight’s sword gradually increased in length, resulting in a weapon about 44 inches long. Moreover, the blade’s shape steadily changed, becoming gradually thinner down its length and ending a sharp point. Thus, the longsword emerged into history, as swordsmiths pushed forging technology forwards to produce weapons capable of defeating opponents clad in plate armour, which would eventually cover almost the entire body by the turn of the fifteenth century.

The Sword and Shield

The sword and buckler was one of the oldest and most continuous combative traditions in Europe. The primary system of sword and shield at Academie Duello derives from the fencing masters of Northern Italy such as Achille Marozzo and Antonio Manciolino.

This system employs the sidesword, a single-handed cutting sword with a complex hilt to protect the hand, combined with a small metal shield known as a buckler held in a fist grip. Bucklers were typically round and frequently between 8 to 16 inches in diameter, but octagonal, square, and trapezoidal versions were also known. Larger shields such as the rotella (an 18-24″ diameter arm-strapped shield) or the kite or heater are also employed, along with the cape, dagger, and even a second sidesword.

The techniques of sword and shield blend the cut and thrust as well as control with both the sword and buckler to form an intricate and ambidextrous form. With the sword and shield you will explore how to control a fight where the opponent keeps their weapon withdrawn, the use of provocations and deceptions, as well as circular movement and combinations of attack and defence.

Benefits of Sword and Shield Study

The sword and shield is a superb teacher of combative principles including:

  • Flow and deception
  • Weapon unity and interaction
  • The blending of cut, thrust, and close play

Physically the sword and shield will challenge you to develop:

  • Graceful and effective posture and movement
  • Ambidextrous coordination
  • Finesse and physical endurance

The mental game of the sword and shield will teach you:

  • Confidence and decisiveness
  • Combative strategy that blends cut, thrust, and wrestle
  • Multitasking

Anatomy of the Sword and Shield

The sword we typically use at Academie Duello for sword and shield practice is the sidesword, though we also employ use of the arming sword.

The sidesword is sometimes called a cut and thrust rapier because it has a similar hilt design to late renaissance rapiers. They are typically between 35″ and 40″ in total length with blade lengths varying between 30″ and 38″. They are broad bladed, capable of the thrust and the cut. The typical weight is between 2 and 4 lbs.

Sidesword and Targa

The arming sword fits similar dimensional properties to the sidesword but is typically on the shorter end of the spectrum and features a hilt made up of only a simple cross and optionally a finger ring.

The Nature of the Sidesword

The sidesword is a single-handed weapon suited to both battle situations with multiple opponants as well as one-on-one duels.

Sidesword fighters meet a special challenge. Like advanced rapier students, they usually employ a ‘secondary’. In rapier it will most often be a dagger, in sidesword it will be a shield. This requires the ability to use a small shield moving with the sword to protect the vulnerable hand and forearm behind it.

What the sidesword loses in length it makes up for with versatility. Longswords and rapiers carry restrictions for proximity but the sidesword will get in much closer and can strike from nearly every direction. Cuts are diversified, like the longsword, to come from the shoulder, elbow or wrist.

History of the Sidesword

The single-handed sword is an ancient weapon, tracing its history from Bronze-Age Mesopotamia, Palestine and Egypt, and through the Classical Periods of Greece and Rome. Although sometimes used to slash, it was very often used for thrusting. Although the medieval single-handed sword that eventually gave rise to the sidesword is related to these ancient swords, it evolved primarily from the longer swords of Celtic and Germanic peoples of Northern Europe, used mainly for slashing. By the Early Middle Ages, the single-handed sword had acquired a broad blade about 29 inches long, and in time, the sword also acquired a crossguard to better protect the wielder’s hand, and developed into a cross-shaped (or cruciform) weapon. It had become the choice sword of the knight’s arsenal by the High Middle Ages, accompanied by a large shield in the other hand.

The course of the sixteenth century brought a host of new developments to the sidesword. Since it was not always convenient to wear armour, new protective features appeared on the hilt: sweeping bands of metal designed to protect the wielding hand from harm when in danger of an opponent’s attack. Amongst civilian sideswords, the blade overall became thinner and more effective at thrusts than slashes. By the latter half of the sixteenth century, this particular type of sidesword would evolve into a weapon purely designed for duelling: the rapier. However, the sidesword itself was not displaced by this new weapon. It remained in use throughout the seventeenth century, and the martial techniques associated with it changed very little since their formation in the Middle Ages.

The Italian Rapier

Description

The rapier is a long, thin bladed sword particularly suited to the thrust. It was first popularized in the late 1500s and early 1600s as the primary weapon of the duel throughout Europe. It is an intricate and sophisticated weapon ideal for teaching the fundamental swordplay principles of distance, timing, blade interaction, and combative strategy. Duello.TV students of the rapier will learn one of the most intricate and satisfying martial systems there is to learn. The diveristy of techniques presented suit all manner of body types, physical advantages, and strategic approaches. Though the modern fencing épée was derived from the rapier, the sporting form seen now in the Olympics is quite distinct from the martial duelling techniques taught at Academie Duello. The rapier is a much longer and heavier weapon suited for both the cut and thrust. The system of fence employed includes movement in the round (circling your opponent), use of your second hand to deflect and seize the weapon of the opponent, and includes use of various complimentary tools including bucklers and daggers.

Benefits of Rapier Study

“The rapier has improved me as a martial artist more than any other discipline I have pursued.” – Devon Boorman, Academie Duello Chief Instructor

The rapier is a superb teacher of fundamental combative principles including:

  • Control of distance and timing
  • Understanding how to strategically control an opponent
  • Blade interaction and sensitivity – reading your opponent through subtle blade pressure

The rapier is a superbly physical weapon that will improve your:

  • Cardiovascular fitness through its athletic demands
  • Core strength, thighs, legs, shoulders, arms, and back
  • Ambidexterity through the co-ordination of multiple weapons

The rapier is an intellectual weapon that will teach you

  • Clear language for understanding blade interaction and position
  • How to control time and distance and manipulate an opponent to your advantage
  • Confidence and intentional action

Anatomy of the Rapier

Italian Rapier

The rapier is a long, thrusting oriented weapon typically 43″ to 50″ in total length with the blade itself being between 40″ and 45″ long. Typical rapiers weigh between 2 and 4.5 lbs in overall weight. The balance point is typically 2″ to 4″ from the guard along the blade.

The Nature of the Rapier

Duelists seek positions where they have optimal leverage and cover from their opponents sword. They use rapid and delicate movements, sliding along, turning and occasionally clearing their opponent’s weapon. The threat of your opponent’s sword point is constant, pointed always at its intended target. At Academie Duello, the core strategy for Rapier in the Italian system is to constrain your opponent’s options through conscientious positioning of your sword and body. The posture for rapier involves standing in profile, leaning forward and back into the guards, proper sword and body alignment for optimal strength and striking angles and the use of the lunge as a primary striking movement. The line of the entire body moves the rapier, the thrust comes from the lunge not a movement of the arm. Your sword and movement places you in such a position that the opponent is unable to attack from their current position and must move to a more advantageous place. During this movement on the part of your opponent an opportunity is created to further improve your own position or strike.

History of the Rapier

The second half of the sixteenth century saw the rise of a new (albeit typically illegal) social practice, the duel, to curb the excesses of urban violence that had affected cities up to that point. Gentlemen and other members of the societal elite could now seek satisfaction for their damaged honour in personal confrontations rather than having to risk public exposure. As duelling conventions became more fixed and refined, so too did the duellist’s arsenal, in particular with the evolution of the rapier out of the sidesword. In turn, renaissance masters developed specialized systems of swordplay for the duel, building on the already existing systems for the sidesword. These masters and their works are now known collectively as the School of Italian Rapier. In addition to the rapier, the works of this school include discussion of secondaries like bucklers and daggers and even capes, as well as unarmed-combat.

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