Joined: 17 Jan 2006
Location: Pittsburgh, PA
|Posted: Sun Jul 13, 2008 10:25 pm Post subject: Spanish Fencers? Any out there?
|[I figured that the Performance Arts section would be fitting for a sport that is sometimes described as a “dance of death.” Perhaps this will bring some like-minded people out of the woodwork.]
As a Fencer of Spanish descent, I can recall what in my past lead me to the noble sport that I love more than any other. I remember watching the television show Zorro and being excited that there was a Spanish character on television. Alright, so what if it took place in Colonial California, it still gave me a Spanish style swordfighter to look up to. I knew way back then that I wanted to carry a blade and swordfight, even if it seemed a hard dream to achieve.
Finally in college I was able to focus on fencing as a sport, which in turn led me to performing at Renaissance Festivals across the country. Performing gave me not only a chance to study various styles of sword fighting, but also to perform in public as an Asturian nobleman, a rarity in the commonly English focused festivals. Forget Elizabeth’s Court or the Three Musketeer’s, I was always about Pedro Menendez and the Knights of Santiago.
Even now I teach fencing at the local YMCA, and I make a point to cover various schools within Fencing. Eyes light up in class when they see the Spanish Circle, the dance-like fluid movements, like a wolf circling its prey. I am proud to bring the knowledge of those who’ve gone before me to my students here in West Virginia. And while each student may be from different backgrounds, each can’t help but to be immersed in the Spanish culture that begins with my red and gold equipment to the various Spanish t-shirts I wear to class each Tuesday evening. So I’m curious to know if there are any other fencers on here, those equally obsessed with the former sport of kings and nobility.
And a bit of background on Spanish fencing, for those who don’t know. In the 1500’s a new style of swordplay began to develop in Europe unlike anything the world had ever seen. That style was created by the Spanish, and while it had many influences due to the various territories Spain controlled, it was hardly a duplicate of other forms. It was a new, universal method of fighting based on Reason and Mathematics that could be taught to any student. They called the system La Verdadera Destreza, the True Art.
Much like the Italian and French schools, the Spanish style recognized three strength levels of the blade (what common fencers call the forte, middle, and foible) as well the importance of the point over the cut. However, unlike other schools, the Spanish style included both offensive and defensive circular footwork, as well as using a mixture of reason, mathematics, and various movements that modified it beyond what other schools were teaching.
When describing Spanish swordsmen, George Silver, the champion of traditional English swordplay during the Renaissance wrote that the Spanish "stand as brave as they can with their bodies straight upright, narrow spaced, with their feet continually moving, as if they were in a dance, holding forth their arms and rapiers very straight against the face or body of their enemy."
"You can pretend to be serious, you can't pretend to be witty." --Sacha Guitry