Founding Members

The founding members, serving as the governing council pro tempore, are:

Gregory Mele
Chicago Swordplay GuildBell_ 20141112_9362

Gregory Mele has had an abiding love for all things medieval since early childhood, melding his love of history into his collegiate studies, graduating from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign with degrees in History and Journalism. He currently focuses on the Italian martial traditions from the 14th to mid-16th centuries,  for which he co-founded the Chicago Swordplay Guild in 1999 to create a formal venue to study historical European swordsmanship and its adjunct arts. In October of that year he also organized and hosted the first Western Martial Arts Workshop as an attempt to promote these arts among practitioners throughout North America. The workshop now draws participants from three continents. The Guild itself has continued to flourish and now has a permanent, full-time sala d’arme in Chicago, as well as chapters in Wisconsin, Colorado, Pennsylvania and Texas.

He has been an invited instructor at the Western Martial Arts Workshop, the Schola St. George Swordplay Symposium, in the San Francisco Bay area, the Symposium on the Western Arts of Swordsmanship through History, at the Royal Armouries, Leeds, UK, the Vancouver International Swordplay Symposium and a number of private seminars in both the USA and Canada.

Greg has a number of publications as an author, co-author, editor and contributor including Flowers of Battle: The Complete Martial Works of Fiore dei Liberi (with Tom Leoni and Ken Mondschein),  Arte Gladiatoria Dimicandi: the 15th Century Swordsmanship of Master Filippo Vadi (co-authored with Luca Porzio), contributions to SPADA: An Anthology of Swordsmanship and two-volumes of In the Service of Mars: Proceedings from the Western Martial Arts Workshops 1999 – 2009 (2010). He authored the historical Western martial arts entries for the 2010 edition of the Martial Arts of the World: An Encyclopedia of History and Innovation, and was regular contributor to Western Martial Arts Illustrated, on whose editorial board he served. He is the co-author (with Tom Leoni) of the first volume of Flowers of Battle: The Complete Martial Works of Fiore dei Liberi (2016), a multi-volume translation and critical edition of the master’s works. Greg is also the author of the forthcoming The Art of Arms: Medieval Italian Swordsmanship (2016), the first in an instructional series on the martial arts of Fiore dei Liberi. Greg has also presented several papers on this topic, from armizare to the judicial duel at the International Congress on Medieval Studies in Kalamazoo, Michigan, and organized and co-hosted one day symposiums on the western martial arts at both the University of Chicago and Loyola University.

Sean Hayes – Northwest Fencing Academy

10428203_525528634240478_8889679785458156447_oSean Hayes is a fencing master trained in classical Italian fencing pedagogy under Dr. William M. Gaugler at the San Jose State University Fencing Masters Program, graduating in 1999.  He has studied Western Martial Arts since the early 1990′s, and is also a researcher, teacher and practitioner of Fiore dei Liberi’s L’arte dell’Armizare, including a focus on the armored aspects of medieval martial arts, actively using his training under Maestro Gaugler to assist his research in the Historical European Martial Arts.  Through Maestro Gaugler, he has a primary master-student lineage back to Tommaso Bosco e Fucile, an 18th century Neopolitan master, and a secondary lineage back to Giovanni Battista Marcelli, a 17th century master.

Hayes is a full-time teacher and practitioner of Historical European Martial Arts,  teaching six centuries of European martial arts privately through his own school, Northwest Fencing Academy, in Eugene, Oregon.  He also teaches classical fencing and martial arts at Lane Community College.  Hayes has presented academic papers on L’Arte dell’Armizare at the International Congress on Medieval Studies, the University of Chicago, the Renaissance Society of America Conference in Venice, Britain’s Royal Armouries, and the American Association of Italian Studies.

During the last 14 years he has taught and fought multiple times at the Western Martial Arts Workshop in Racine Wisconsin, the Symposium on the Western Arts of Swordsmanship through History (SWASH) at Britain’s Royal Armouries in Leeds, the Vancouver Swordplay Symposium International in British Columbia, the International Swordfighting and Martial Arts Convention in Michigan, Borealis Swordplay Symposium in Quebec, Lysts on the Lake, Longpoint 2014 in Maryland, and sat as a member of the Examination Board for all levels of fencing instructors at the San Jose State University Fencing Masters Program.

In 2009 he founded the Armoured Deeds of Arms, a tournament featured at the Western Martial Arts Workshop in Racine Wisconsin, and in 2010 he co-founded the Companions of the Seven Swords, an armored company that now hosts the Armoured Deeds of Arms in a variety of venues.  He is also a founding member of the Chivalric Fighting Arts Association.

He is the author of Memory and Performance: Visual and Rhetorical Strategies of Medieval Martial Arts Texts in Can These Bones Come To Life, a record of proceedings at the Kalamazoo Medieval Conference, and The Importance of Skill Progressions in Studying Western Martial Arts, an article featured in the book In the Service of Marsand several blog articles.

Jason Smith – Les Maîtres d’Armes

IMG_0113Jason is the principal instructor and curriculum director for Les Maîtres d’Armes. Active since 2001 in historical swordsmanship, he began his love affair with the sword at a young age, and finally fulfilled his dreams of becoming a swordsman when he discovered the Codex Wallerstein and Secrets of Medieval German Swordsmanship by Christian H. Tobler. Following on the heels of these discoveries were yet more discoveries, as the online community grew: Fiore dei Liberi and the I.33 or Lutgerus manuscript, all of which he studied to a greater or lesser degree.

Founding Les Maîtres d’Armes with Bernard Emmerich in 2005, Jason focused his studies on a single tradition, that of l’Arte dell’armizare, to better progress in his training. Since then, he has developed curricula for all the weapons of the system, as well as a ranking system which he has now aligned with the goals of the IAS.

Leveraging his experience as a teacher and his ongoing studies in pedagogy at the University of Sherbrooke, Jason continues to refine the curriculum and help give direction through qualifying the Quality of Execution (QoE) model used by the IAS.

Since the founding of Les Maîtres d’Armes, he has taught internationally at events such as the Western Martial Arts Workshop, the Vancouver International Swordplay Symposium, Borealis Swordplay Symposium, and Chivalric Weekend, and has fought publicly in both martial challenges and armoured deeds of arms in these venues, among others.