The International Armizare Society is extremely pleased to announce a Declaration of Fraternity with the Academy of European Medieval Martial Arts, which can be seen IAS-AEMMA-Smith-Hayes-Mele-Signature_signed_mar18_2016.
With chapters throughout eastern Canadam AEMMA is one of the first North American HEMA schools, and the group whose presence made the first Western Martial Arts Workshop (1999) in Chicago an “international” event, and long-time promoters of armizare taught in its fullness: from grappling to polearms, in armour and without. In particular, they have placed a strong emphasis on the importance of armoured combat, hosting the first HEMA-inspired armoured tournament (2000) in Toronto. Greg was an early collaborator on AEMMA’s efforts to create a viable system of historically-inspired armoured tournaments, and a decade later, the AEMMA system served as a model for a system developed by Greg, Sean and IAS advisor Bob Charrette, which is now known as the DeKoven Conventions. Furthermore, in 2008, AEMMA provosts Brian McIlmoyle and David Murphy stood as challengers at the first Chicago Swordplay Guild Free Scholar prize, where they and the CSG declared mutual recognition of each other’s ranks. “Your Scholars are our Scholars,” Brian said. This new Declaration is a natural outgrowth of that long-standing recognition.
What is a “Declaration of Fraternity”?
This Declaration also allows the IAS a chance to clarify how the Society views its role vis-à-vis the larger armizare community. Shortly after we formed, a few folks inquired with concern that we were trying to present a single, possible way to approach the recreation and promulgation of Fiore dei Liberi’s art. This couldn’t be further from the truth. We realize that there is more than one way to skin a cat — or recreate a lost martial art — and this goes beyond mere interpretation, to how many components of the art one recreates, for what purpose and how they choose to teach it. IAS represents one of those approaches.
A good analogy can be found by looking at a modern, wide-spread and rather famous martial art: aikido. Morihei Ueshiba, aikido’s founder, only died in 1969, and yet there are many sub-traditions of aikido, from the mainline (Aikikai) some more aggressive (such as Yoshinkan Aikido), some very soft, almost “movement as meditation” (Ki Society), some including forms of free-play and competition (Tomiki), and so forth. All of these main branches derive directly from the Founder’s teachers, and all are “aikido”, yet each has adapted and modified the curriculum to fit their particular goals. Further apace, some modern “aikidbudo” schools have taken their aikido and combined them with other, Japanese fighting arts, old school weapons training, etc., creating something that is related, yet distinct enough that it is no longer “aikido” as Ueshiba-sensei would have known it.
This is a clear parallel with the armizare community. There are groups whose approach to armizare is similar to our own, but have a long-established pedagogy and methodology different enough from our own that the “flavor” of the art is somewhat different, and it would be both ludicrous and pretentious to suggest they change what they are doing to conform to our standard; or vice-versa. Conversely, there are schools interested only in the unarmoured aspects of Fiore’s art, or others who have blended armizare into a larger, “Italianate” curriculum. There is nothing wrong with these paths, they simply lead to someplace different than the Society’s stated goals.
What Determines these Declarations?
Well, it really isn’t so formal as that — it isn’t as if a school comes to us, it is more like we come to each other! But, yes, there is a method to the madness beyond “hey, xyz studies armizare and they are nice people.”
A Declaration of Fraternity, allows the Society a way to formally recognize the work of established academies, societies or schools whose approach is generally similar to our own (armizare-focused and inclusive of all weapons), but with long-established curriculum and ranking requirements of their own. This declaration means that there is broad congruity in what is expected of students at “x” rank, so that they should be able to easily interact when visiting each other’s schools. Furthermore, and more importantly for the long-term health of our Society, it means that instructors from fraternal groups can be invited to sit on examination boards, creating a healthy diversity to the board and providing an outside critique in evaluating Provost and Magister candidates.
We are extremely excited and pleased to have AEMMA as the first organization with whom we have such a relationship, and look forward to exciting days to come!