FAQ

This page contains answers to your most frequently asked questions in a summary form. More details will be linked to throughout the site.

What do you offer?
Primarily, what we offer is a ready-made ranking structure and over-arching curriculum, rock-solid interpretations and proven fencing performances forming a seal of quality. Available mentoring and an IAS-specific forum for IAS members and students of IAS affiliate schools to ask questions of our highly knowledgeable instructors rounds out our offer to those potentially interested in the IAS.

Is IAS a School?
We are a confraternity or association of schools and instructors sharing a common approach towards armizare, and who exist to ensure a holistic approach towards the discipline and quality in certified instructors.

Outside of those specifics, we do not control how member instructors run their internal schools or networks of schools, other than adherence to an agreed-upon Code of Ethics and testing standards.

What Does it Cost to Join?
Membership fees are a staggering $20 USD per School, paid annually. Fees go to maintenance of the website, digital and printed materials. There are no paid positions within IAS.

What Does it Cost to Certify?
IAS does not sell-certifications, so directly, nothing. Having said that, certifying without face-to-face instruction and testing is impossible. You should assume that travel to our annual event, seminars, etc., will be necessary to gain any sort of rank within the Society. Members who choose to become Mentored Schools (see below) may incur other tuition costs with their mentor, but that is outside of IAS purview.

Testing is designed to occur at IAS events, but if you need/want to test or Prize elsewhere, then there may be costs associated with instructor travel and lodging.

What is an Affiliated School?
Affiliation means precisely what it sounds like — you’ve contacted us and said “wow, this is great! I want to do what you do, and I’d like to have your guidance on how to do that.” We decide you’re a good chap, a dedicated martial artist and you’ve paid the annual association fee, which goes towards maintaining the website.  In return, you receive:

  • The public website, which you are on now.
  • A Member’s website, which will have a repository of additional articles, videos and training materials;
  • A private IAS Forum where members can ask questions and get answers.
  • Right to attend the annual, IAS retreat.
  • Right to be evaluated and test for rank, as appropriate.

What is a Mentored/Daughter School?”
“Mentoring” basically means being a daughter a school to an IAS Certified Instructor, rather than a more casual IAS study group.

The mentoring program is a comprehensive, detailed, and in-depth relationship between the mentor and the mentee. To ensure quality, the IAS does set certain standards to which both parties are expected to adhere.

The Mentoring School will provide:

  • Complete, detailed curriculum guide;
  • Complete, detailed syllabi for each aspect of the curriculum;
  • Complete, detailed lesson plans for syllabi;
  • Video instructional resources demonstrating correct execution;
  • Regular, scheduled feedback sessions via email, forum, skype or other means;
  • Seminars, either at the school’s location or at the mentoree’s location

Conversely, the Mentored party will:

  • Follow all aspects of the curriculum, syllabi, and lessons;
  • Advance through the curriculum only as directed by the mentor;
  • Provide video footage of key lessons and exercises;
  • Travel to or host seminars with the mentor school to maintain a face-to-face relationship;
  • Bear appropriate costs for the mentoring materials and time spent by the mentor.

As this reflects a relationship with an individual school and is meant to be a traditional teacher-student relationship, each instructor sets their own policies thereby, and any fees and remuneration occurs external to the IAS.

Is it More Advantageous to be an Affiliate or a Mentored School?
As the difference between the two is how closely someone is aligned with a specific IAS instructor and their way of doing things, we can’t say that there is a right or wrong way to go about membership, and the larger IAS organization exists equally for both. Mentees are in a traditional martial arts teacher-students relationship while Affiliates are coached in a more collective manner. So if your focus is to learn a formal curriculum and have access to closely monitored, structured training, then Mentoring is clearly superior. If your goal is to just get some fine-tuning, coaching and to work with a larger community of armizare adherents, within the framework and goals expressed in this website, Affiliation is probably sufficient.

Do I have to use this curriculum?

No, but as it provides a foundation for how the IAS looks at armizare, if you are interested in ranking then learning the drills and what they are meant to teach will be important. Also, it will provide all members a common language we can use to train together. Having said that, whether you learn them and use them as the core of your program or as an “adjunct” is up to you.

I train under an IAS instructor, does this basic curriculum replace ours?

No! IAS instructors maintain autonomy in their own schools. So while they will be using the core curriculum, whatever additional material they require of students is their prerogative. This just provides a baseline for the larger Society.

Can Affiliate Members Test for Rank?
Yes, an Affiliate should be able to progress through the ranks, but obviously, they are going to have more work to do than someone who is in a direct apprentice-teacher relationship with an instructor. That is where attendance at the annual Academy and mentoring comes in.

We only practise longsword, can we be affiliates?
The short answer is yes, we’re more than happy to help you progress in your study of armizare. The long answer is that however much you may excel at longsword, the IAS’ mission is to promote a holistic approach to the Art. As such, you may benefit from our experience, participate in the forums and receive distance mentoring as an affiliate, but you will not be able to test for rank.

What is the IAS Armizare Academy?
Built off of the successful “Armizare Academy” event previously hosted by the Chicago Swordplay Guild, this annual event (beginning in 2017) is a small, private event for IAS Schools and Affiliates, run as a long-weekend retreat. The Academy has the following purposes:

  • Give Affiliates direct access to training with IAS instructors and Advisers;
  • Give up-and-coming armizare instructors a chance to teach and refine their classroom skills;
  • Do evaluations and rank testings;
  • Provide a venue for free-fencing, test-cutting, and armoured deeds-of-arms;
  • Conduct Prize Playings as needed.

Our current plan is for the event to rotate between the West Coast (Oregon), Midwest (Chicago-Milwaukee area) and Ottawa, Canada.

So you are the only licensing authority in Armizare?
Absolutely not. Firstly, no one can declare them self as such with any legitimacy — this tradition died centuries ago, and has had to be reconstituted in the modern era.

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 recognizable as “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.

In order to 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 that would make affiliation impractical, the Society from time to time issues “Declarations of Fraterinty”. Such a declaration simple 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.

Our school belongs to XYZ martial arts organization. Can I join IAS?
Absolutely! The Society does not prevent or limit Affiliates or Members from belonging to other martial arts organizations.

I am a certified instructor in XYZ organization. Does IAS recognize my certification?
Many groups (HEMAA, BFHS, USFCA, etc) have created a variety of “agnostic” (tradition non-specific) instructor certifications or exams. We respect that effort and the effort that anyone goes through to formally, but the only ranks recognized within the Society are those that the Society grants, as explained on the Certification page of our website. Please understand this does not speak pejoratively of other licensing systems.  Think of it this way: a member who has a teaching license in judo or Krav Maga is worthy of respect, and should have that rank on their resume, but it does not speak to their knowledge of armizare or what they do within IAS. The same is true of other HEMA organization licenses: we are working toward a specific approach towards creating armizare instructors, which is best represented in the Society itself.  Examples of ranks we respect, yet are not IAS ranks, can be found in our own martial advisory council (and even one of our founders holds a teaching rank that is not an IAS rank). And all of us associated with IAS have valuable friendships with recognized and ranked teachers in other martial disciplines.

What is the relationship between the IAS and the Chivalric Fighting Arts Association (CFAA)?
None, other than well-wishes. Although the Society’s three founding members are also members of the CFAA, as are several members of the two Advisory Councils,  there is neither official affiliation nor endorsement on the part of the CFAA.  Both organizations have distinct goals and raisons d’être.

I’m a competitive HEMA fighter and I win most of my fights. Why would I need your training and ranking system?
You might not – it depends on your goals. If your goal (or one of your goals) is to learn Fiore’s art and how it was used in the original context, and learn to apply it both in simulations of that context as well as other contexts (see Applied Armizare on the “Mission” page), then we believe we can help. However, if your main goal is to be a good competitive fighter, then you’re better off focusing on a competitive training program that addresses fighting in that specific context.  There are a number of excellent schools and clubs in the Americas and Europe that support this particular goal.

Why are you doing this?
This endeavour grew out of informal arrangements between Greg Mele, Jason Smith, and Sean Hayes: years ago we began comparing notes, interpretations and critiques, discussing ways to best help students of all levels and learning styles, which led to sharing of curriculum, which led to an informal alignment of training ranks, which led to a more formal arrangement, and at some point we realized we were really working to prepare the next generation of armizare practitioners, researchers, and teachers. We’ve spent a couple of years from that realization to this moment in developing our mission, goals, and approach, and no doubt we’ll find reason to further develop or modify things as we go.

What we offer is a unified approach to armizare that integrates the unarmoured and armoured aspects of the art (as of course Fiore did) that has been employed successfully at the different schools under three different instructors. We’re not carbon copies of each other – far from it: beyond the base requirements we all have different additional requirements for each of our ranks (as an example, Sean includes early medieval sword & buckler/shield as an adjunct study to the armizare curriculum, where Jason and Greg place more emphasis on Bolognese swordsmanship). Affiliated or mentored schools need not be carbon copies either.

There are lots of ways to engage, from casual interest in the publicly available materials to full engagement with the IAS curriculum as a mentored school. We hope that, whatever people decide to do, the effort will be useful to the wider HEMA community.

I feel like I’ve read material from this site elsewhere.
You probably have!  Our values, mission, goals and means are things we’ve worked on for a long time, and we’ve drawn heavily on our own websites, blog posts, forum posts, and articles in the creation of this site.