Drills of the Week #2: November 1, 2018

At this week’s practice, we had a larger turn-out than usual. Galen, Verena, and Finn are the usual crowd, but Ayisha was visiting from out of town and we have a new person named Clark who recently started school at the University. This meant that the drills for the evening needed to be divided into […]

Core Italian Rapier Drills: Drills of the Week #1

The popularity of historic martial arts has exploded over the last few years, but learning how to fence from historical fencing treatises can be difficult.

One of the most common errors I’ve seen people make is to fail to become proficient with the core actions and drills of a historic fencing system before plowing ahead […]

How to avoid being one-shotted

Step 1: Form a Counter Guard. Step 2: There is no step 2.

Walk Like an Agrippan: Part 4 – Stance and Footwork

The previous 3 sections (1, 2, 3) of this series on Agrippa have focused on dissecting the framework of the stances and motions found in Agrippa’s fencing manual. Starting with these may have seemed an odd choice, as typically one introduces a fencing system by describing how to perform the basics. However, in my opinion, […]

Agrippa Part 3: The Controversial Lunge

The presence of a lunge in Agrippa’s system is a somewhat controversial topic. One of the earliest historical fencing scholars, Edgarton Castle noted in his 1885 book, Schools and Masters of Fence from the Middle Ages to the Eighteenth Century, that while some of the positions shown in Agrippa’s manuals appeared to be lunges, that […]

Agrippa part deux: Movement

In part 1 of my discussion of Agrippa’s fencing system, I focused on the positions that are described in the manual. Importantly I extrapolated a set of “degrees-of-freedom” based on the ways in which the various positions differed from each other. In this posting, I hope to demonstrate the importance of those degrees-of-freedom by describing […]


Giacomo has a funny story he’ll tell. It goes something like this:

Determined to broaden his skills, one evening Giacomo decided to sew a seam on his pants. His wife set him up with a sewing machine, gave some basic instruction, and left him to it. Manfully, Giacomo applied himself to the task. He held […]

Rambling: First Blood Part 2

It’s been a good year.

At the start of it, I pursued physical therapy to correct a twenty-year-long issue with my left shoulder, and experienced firsthand just how difficult it is to access tiny muscles you never knew existed, and re-learn common movement patterns by telling other, bigger muscles to shut up. Shortly after, I […]

Rambling, Part 1: Plate 32

I’ve not posted here in several weeks. This is not reflective of a lack of things to say, or even a lack of free time. Instead I am motivated by the thought that I should be spending more time doing things, rather than merely writing about it, particularly since every week brings some new insight […]

Unless Your Opponent has Studied His Agrippa… 1: The Positions

I recently finished reading Ken Mondschein’s Fencing: A Renaissance Treatise, which is a translation of Camillo Agrippa’s Treatise on the Science of Arms with Philosophical Dialogue, published in 1553. As someone who is most accustomed to the writing styles of the later Italian rapier treatises, I found Agrippa’s approach somewhat difficult to understand at first. […]