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If you think swords are cool, wait till you read about this.

If you're ever passing by Keong Park in Stafford bright and early on a Saturday morning, you may very well spot a group of people fighting each other with swords.

Fortunately for you, it won't be that you've lost your mind or that Renaissance-era duellists have been suddenly been transported through time to the modern day.

What you'll be seeing, in fact, are the members of the Stafford-based Brisbane School of Iberian Swordsmanship (BSIS) out practising their skills. Historic swordsmanship is actually a thing and quite a lot of people do it for fun and exercise.

Historic swordsmanship is actually a thing and quite a lot of people do it for fun and exercise.

Who knew? Nobody at Village Buzz at any rate.

Keen to learn more about this arcane pastime, I went along one morning to meet some club members and find out what they do. It turns out that Iberia, which consists of Portugal, Spain, Andorra and a small slice of France, evolved its own distinct style of sword fighting called La Verdadera Destreza or The True Art. Its techniques were described in the writings of Jeronimo Sanchez de Carranza, who died in about 1608, his pupil Luis Sanchez Pacheco de Navarez and many others.

The style fell out of favour but was revived in the late 20th century sparked by the growing interest in learning and practising Historic European Martial Arts. The techniques of La Verdadera Destreza are gradually being reconstructed as the manuals of arms are translated and the knowledge shared around the world.

La Verdadera Destreza is based mostly on the use of a rapier – a thin sharp-pointed sword used mainly for stabbing – on its own or in conjunction with a cloak, dagger or small shield. I need hardly add that the weapons in use today are blunted and that the participants use suitable protective clothing.

I asked everyone why they are so keen on learning this historic martial art and the members were unanimous in saying they think swords are very cool. I have no trouble in agreeing with that point; a sword lying around somehow seems to tempt you to pick it up.

The club members also came up with the fact that sword fighting is a complex skill which keeps you interested because there is always more to learn and it’s pretty strenuous which keeps you fit. It motivates some members to keep going to the gym to develop the strength and endurance they need to progress in their study of The True Art.

Another factor in common among the club members is their love of history and the detective work required to piece together the techniques of an art which were last practised seriously many hundreds of years ago.

In addition to BSIS there are six other sword fighting clubs in Brisbane including Brisbane Swords and the School of Historical Defence Arts. These groups are part of the worldwide Historic European Marshall Arts (HEMA) movement which has a major competition on the go in Brisbane in September.

The BSIS meets on Wednesdays from 7pm to 9pm at St Clements Church Hall, Eudunda Street, Stafford, for training. Visitors are welcome and all you have to do is pitch up and have a go.

The cost depends on how many lessons you book but never cost more than $12. Weapons and protective gear are free for pupils although the more experienced members usually choose to buy their own swords. I’m amazed at the thought that there are still people out there making swords for fighting with but there are and you can pay USD350 and upward for a good rapier. I think you’re definitely going to want your own sword if you go along so you might as well start saving up right away.

Pictured: Having a rest from fighting in the park are, from left, Jacob Schofield, John Chinn, Sean Reichmann, D’Artangnan Reichman, Greg Carey, Kate Hickey and Lois Spangler.

 

Links

BSIS on the web: https://iberiansword.wordpress.com/

BSIS on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/IberianSwordsmanship/

 

Written by Allan Jackson.

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