Tag Archives: pedagogical

The IAS Core Curriculum: How it Works

The International Armizare Society is a confraternal association concerned with the restoration, preservation and transmission of canonical Armizare as  a complete, traditional, but living and functional martial art.

To this end, we have established both a four-grade ranking system derived from the historical fencing guilds and a modern certification process for creating Armizare instructors. This process is meant to be open and transparent, and is discussed at length elsewhere on this website.

As a body of inter-connected schools, when developing this system, the founding members felt it important to allow and encourage member bodies to maintain their own sense of creativity, innovation and expression in how they developed their internal curriculum and approach to training. For this reason, you will note that the lower grades of Scholar and Free Scholar have only broad-based requirements and are awarded internally by the member school. This has worked well for older, more-established schools.

However, our first and foremost task is to educate and since the Society “went live” we have had a number of small study-groups and “at-large” members join specifically because they are looking for a structured way to train, let alone teach.  For these folks, we have the IAS Core Curriculum, which is derived from that developed and used in Member academies and provides a lingua franca for the Society.

CURRICULUM COMPONENTS

The IAS Core Curriculum is built around a pedagogical method that embeds Fiore dei Liberi’s own within a structure derived from the creators’ experiences in traditional martial arts, modern fencing, and best-practices in contemporary education theory. The evaluation process is already discussed at length elsewhere, what concerns us here are the physical components of the curriculum, which include Solo Drills, Set-Plays and Training Sequences.

Solo Drills
Solo drills are used to teach the fundamental skills of Armizare —balance, body-mechanics, footwork, cutting, and thrusting. Examples include: air-cutting, pell-work, and slow motion and full speed footwork drills. The solo drills instill in the student the “alphabet” of historical swordsmanship.

Solo drills in the sword curriculum are comprised of two types: Cutting Drills and Assalti.

  • The Cutting Drills are designed to teach students the underlying body mechanics behind executing fendente, sottani, thrusts and how to apply them as defensive covers; each of the drills forms the basis for a set of two-person Set-Plays (see below). There are three, four-step cutting drills in the Core Curriculum. When turned into paired drills, they create the 12 longsword set-plays used in the curriculum.
  • Assalti are solo “forms” that are meant to give a student a routine for memorizing a variety of actions. The two forms used at this level include a Posta Progression for learning the various guards of the sword, and a Scholar Assalto or Universal Form which is a summary of all of the basic defenses used with the spada a dui mani. (The Scholar Assalto is adaptable to any long weapon used in the art, creating a “jumping off point” for students to take up a new arm, as will be seen at later levels in the curriculum.)

Set-Plays
Set-plays are pre-planned sequences of attack and defense, derived directly from the historical source material. They are used to teach fundamental techniques in a way that will encode them in the student’s muscle memory. Once the set play has been memorized, students can then vary the distance, timing and rhythm to further explore how the techniques can be applied. Set-plays essentially use the “alphabet” of the solo drills to create “sentences”.

Set Plays in the Core Curriculum are taken from the various copies of the Flower of Battle, and correspond to the three primary areas of training: abrazare, dagger and sword. The rationale behind each section is as follows:

  • Abrazare Set-Plays are taken directly from the single Remedy and follow-on plays left by Fiore dei Liberi. When looked at en suite, the first six plays provide a fundamental lesson of how to use and apply the Remedy, responding to pressure in the bind, adapting to changes in measure if the Companion presses in or flies-out, and a basic Counter.
  • Likewise, Dagger Set-Plays are comprised of the basic cover and response taught by Fiore dei Liberi for each of his Nine Remedies, giving students a broad knowledge of how the master conceptualized dagger combat.
  • Finally, the Longsword Set-Plays focus on actions in zogho largo, particularly how to defend in tempo from the core poste as an attacker breaks measure. As such, they derive from two sources: the detailed instructions the Master provides for each posta (the First Master of Battle), and the instructions for coming to the bind and countering thrusts found in the plays of zogho largo.

Training Sequences
This term is used to mean extended set-plays comprised of linking a series of basic set-plays using Fiore dei Liberi’s pedagogical model of Posta > Remedio > Contrario > Contra-Contrario.  There are training sequences in the curriculum for abrazare (one), dagger (two) and longsword (four).

USING THE CORE CURRICULUM

Society members have access to an extensive library of hand-outs, essays, articles and videos instructing the various components of this curriculum, at no cost beyond their annual membership fee.

You can see an example video of one of the three core cutting drills here:

As well as one of the “detail videos”, expanding upon the drill:

All IAS Affiliates are welcome to either use the Core Curriculum as “plug and play” in their classrooms, or as a foundation for developing their own. However, as the drills form a pedagogical, technical, tactical and interpretive foundations for later levels, the Society recommends that all Affiliates interested in rank-testing are at least familiar with the specific drills and essays contained therein.

Each member school remains free to grant the rank of Scolaro to its students internally, provided candidates meet the base required criteria. (Each school is free to define other requirements as they see fit.) At-large or study-group members seeking to be ranked by the Society may apply to be tested in the Core Curriculum by any certified IAS instructor, or at an official, IAS conference, and should make arrangements by either contacting their nearest instructor or by emailing the secretary.

The International Armizare Society’s First Provost Exam, Part Two: Board Examination

Once a student has cleared their school’s internal provost requirements, it falls to their instructor to arrange for an IAS Examiners Board. The board always comprises the testee’s instructor/sponsor, and then at least two other examiners. In this case, Mr. Mele was joined by Society co-founder Sean Hayes (Northwest Fencing Academy), and the board was rounded out by Marco Quarta (Nova Scrimia) and Devon Boorman (Academie Duello), both IAS Advisors. Since this was the Society’s first board, and thus the Board, as much as the Candidate, were under examination, we also asked Mr. Christian Cameron (Hoplologia), an IAS member and future candidate to join us. His experience both in modern fencing and sitting as an officer on US naval boards helped us streamline and refine the process as we went.

Candidate Introduction

The first part of the oral exams began with an introduction of the student. While this may at first seem a bit superfluous, after all, the candidate in this case was a long-time student of one of the Society’s co-founders, it serves several purpose. First, and most obviously, if the IAS is successful in its mission, there will come a time when candidates are not well-known to all, or even most, of their examiners. Secondly, questions such as Who are you and why are you here? or What do you get from the journey of mastering armizare? Why do you want this rank? give a glimpse into the candidate’s mindset, personal aspirations and how they see both the role of armizare and their lives, and theirs in the armizare community. In the end, martial arts (as opposed to simple combatives) are more than pragmatic combat skills; all the more so when the art in question involves using antique weapons: it can and should be about challenging each of us to be better, do better and challenge others to do the same.

Continue reading The International Armizare Society’s First Provost Exam, Part Two: Board Examination

Ranks, curricula, and pedagogy, Part I

This article is the first in a series of three articles that will cover curriculum building and its importance in the continued advancement and improvement of your students. I will use this as a foundation for the articles that follow, touching on ranking systems and finally, pedagogy and structuring and running a successful class and how to address different types of students by varying pedagogical approaches.fight training Continue reading Ranks, curricula, and pedagogy, Part I

Applied Armizare – Fiore’s Five Throws

Introduction

Fiore dei Liberi is known as the founder of a fully-functional, holistic system of combat, used with and without weapons, that he named l’arte dell’armizare — the Art of Arms. Grappling without weapons forms the introductory section of at least two manuscripts, and is known by practitioners as abrazare, or “the art of embracing.”

Dei Liberi is often referred to by modern practitioners (erroneously, but that is a subject for a separate article) as a“wrestling master” when comparisons are made with his Germanic contemporaries . In point of fact, there is precious little in the way of wrestling instruction in the corpus of works attributed to Maestro dei Liberi, and what is present is predominantly a repetition of techniques across a variety of weapons. A portion of this is undoubtedly due to his focus on a holistic style of combat. For this reason, not only is much of the underlying structure for a wrestling system found integrated into the dagger remedies, but also throughout dei Liberi’s self-referential work.

Continue reading Applied Armizare – Fiore’s Five Throws

Memory and Performance: Visual and Rhetorical Strategies of Il Fior di Battaglia

(First presented at the Renaissance Society of America’s Venice conference in 2010. Presented also as part of an academic session followed by an armoured combat demonstration, organized by Dr. Regina Pskai, at the American Association for Italian Studies conference at University of Oregon, 2013)

This paper is part of a larger study on medieval and Renaissance martial arts manuscripts, their art historical context, their relationship to medieval arts of memory, and the practical interpretation of the arts they represent. I will address the work of Mary Carruthers and Kathryn Starkey on medieval techniques of reading to show how a medieval martial arts manuscript makes use of visual rhetorical devices to address the problems inherent in notating fencing actions. MS Ludwig XV 13, dated to 1410 and commonly known by its title Il Fior di Battaglia or Flower of Battle, is a Northern Italian manuscript by a military captain named Fiore dei Liberi. The manuscript, currently held by the J. Paul Getty Museum, is a complex performance document which employs specific notational techniques to record for later use the elements of a physical performance.

The difficulties of understanding and interpreting historical martial arts texts lie partly with their semiotic remoteness from the present day. It is not simply that the teachers of those traditions are now long dead, or that the manuscripts themselves invariably seem to assume some prior knowledge of the arts they record, but also that they employ a literary, academic, and artistic vocabulary that is different from our own. To arrive at reasonable interpretations of the physical performance and use of these arts requires study of the complete cultural context in which these arts were performed. Only with this type of study can we begin to assign degrees of confidence to our interpretations of these arts.
Continue reading Memory and Performance: Visual and Rhetorical Strategies of Il Fior di Battaglia