Tournaments Illuminated Issue 185: How to Teach Fencing

The following is an excerpt from How to Teach Fencing by Ken Mondschein as included in issue #185 of Tournaments Illuminated, a quarterly publication for subscribing members of the Society for Creative Anachronism. You can download the full article using the attachment link below.
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Estimated reading time: 1 min

This article is intended as a more formal presentation of the fencing classes taught in the “WMA (Western Martial Arts) in SCA” track at the 2011 Pennsic War. My intent was to introduce the SCA to modern fencing pedagogy, which, besides having a lineage going back to the 16th C, is a very efficient method of internalizing a system of swordsmanship. I hope it will prove useful to SCA fencers, no matter whether their goals are strict historical recreation or successful competition. The method is, of course, not original to me, but found in most modern coaching handbooks.

I will mainly be applying this method to actions common to late 16th and early 17th C. rapier treatises, though of course, any source for any weapon, be it historical or living tradition, will do. For a fuller explanation of the actions described below, see Tom Leoni’s translations of Giganti’s treatise of 1606, published as Venetian Rapier: The School or Salle (Freelance Academy Press, 2010) and Capo Ferro’s treatise of 1610, The Art and Practice of Fencing (Freelance Academy Press, 2011). PDFs of the original treatises, with illustrations, are available from William Wilson’s historical fencing page at

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