To allow everyone to experience the wonders and history of
European martial arts
To offer a safe place for everyone
To help each individual find their path to personal growth
When you tell someone that you study martial arts they ask
'Cool, Eastern or Western?'
I recently hosted a corporate team building event here for 15 people and everyone had an excellent time. The administrative process leading up to the event was a bit lengthy, as I had a lot of questions prior to securing approval for the event but once we got that out of the way everything was smooth sailing.
We chose the medieval sword fighting event and two teams of participants were taught a short choreographed fight, similar to what you might see in film or theatre. They used wooden practice swords and were given a few moves at a time with the opportunity to practice a bit before the next section was added. At the end they could add their own bits of dialogue and drama and each pair performed their short skit for the rest of the crew.
I stayed to observe and it was a lot of fun. The team enjoyed themselves immensely and the instructors (Steaphen and Jonathan - sp?) were helpful, generous, patient and extremely knowledgeable.
Parking is limited, so keep that in mind, but otherwise I think this is a really fun and unique event and would sign up again without hesitation.
I went to Davenriche with a group of fellow writers to talk to Steaphen about writing believable fight scenes and I was very impressed at how generous he was with his knowledge, attention, and time. The man is a walking encyclopedia about weapons through the ages and battle strategies. During our time with him he went through the type of weapons historical characters would use and we were allowed to (carefully) handle replicas of them. Davenriche has a huge collection of weapons going back to the Aztecs up through the ages and includes a whole wall of airsoft weapons.
This information session was incrediably helpful to me as an author and I can't recommend it enough to anyone else trying to write a compelling fight scene.
If you want to learn "sword fighting" (not "fencing") then your choices are extremely limited geographically. In general the sport is known as "Historical European Martial Arts (or HEMA)" or "Western Martial Arts" and is not taught in too many places - only a handful of schools are in California.
We in Santa Clara County are _extremely_ lucky to have one of the top names in the field teaching right here (Steaphen Fick). The school is a stone's throw from the San Jose Airport and easy to get to from the freeway. The school is in a light industrial area (roll-up doors) and parking is abundant and right off a "main" road so you don't feel too "off in the boonies" at night.
The inside of the school is set up with two separate large floors, a pretty extensive library room (with some recliners to hang/chat/watch a sword fighting video), a couple of bathrooms and a moderately sized changing room where many student leave their jackets on racks.
The head instructor (Steaphen Fick) is there just about every night. Another 4 or 5 assistant instructors are there for different classes on various nights. His attitude is CLEARLY focused on the students' progress in a pretty low key way. Nice that he tries to keep the program individualized for each person (rather than ALL students doing the SAME thing regardless of level).
I have been doing Asian Martial Arts (Karate, Aikido, etc.) for quite a while and have been to a number of schools over the years. This school and it's atmosphere compares very favorably to the best of the other schools / dojos / academies I've worked out at. I especially like there's no "status" element. Since people aren't walking around with anything visible showing off their "level" (eg, colored belts), it really does seem like a bunch of friends that happen to be there to sword fight (which, pretty much, what it ends up being)... The head instructor is especially personable.
I went to the school a bit hesitantly thinking it might be an extension of the SCA / Renaissance Fair and, while it's obviously related because of the time period and common to see people doing both, it's definitely NOT the same. A whole lot more people come from Olympic style fencing (a third?).
Rotating classes for each night, so for a given weapon you might attend 2 or 3 nights a week. The most common (2 handed long sword, side sword, and rapier) are all grouped together so you do the same nights for all.
As for the negative... really nothing to complain about... though you're going to want to buy your own sword sooner rather than later (lots of "loaners" are available, but you'll still want your own as soon as you can afford one)...
Love coming here. The instructor are great, and always willing to make sure you're understanding "whatever" you're trying to learn. They keep it loose and friendly too. Highly recommend for any one trying to get into the HEMA or other combat related training.
Davenriche European Martial Artes School (DEMAS) is a veritable treasure trove of all Medieval and Renaissance martial arts. The staff here are respectful and highly knowledgeable, and work hard to help their students gain functional mastery over the various swords and hand to hand styles. It is an environment where questions are welcomed, and fundamental understanding is stressed rather than rote memorization of form. Highly recommended for anyone who wants to learn the European sword.