How does European martial arts differ from the other martial arts like aikido, karate, taekwondo, and so on?
The term Martial Arts is a 16th century English term for the study of warfare; the Arts of Mars (the Roman God of War). We study the Italian and English martial arts. The more common Asian martial arts such as Aikido, Karate, Tae Kwon Do, etc. are similar to what you will see in our classes. The biggest differences are in that we are looking at the use of tools (swords, daggers, sticks, etc.) as they would have been used to preserve your life in the past. The actions we study are sometimes ‘soft’ and sometimes ‘hard’ depending on the opponent and our own choices of how to react to the situation.
Unlike the common Asian martial arts, Western martial arts uses a tool and therefore we have an extra joint that can increase the power of the strike.
I’m interested in European martial arts and am not sure which one to pick or which one would suit me. How do I choose/what would be recommended?
If you aren’t sure whether you should start with the Medieval track, the Renaissance Track or the Modern track, you can try out each of the classes by registering for the three free hours trial.
Let’s say that you were going to sit down and watch a movie. You had three movies to choose from. Lord of the Rings/Game of thrones, The Three Musketeers/Princess Bride or a modern action movie. Which would you watch first?
Lord of the Rings/Game of Thrones – try out the Medieval Track
The Three Musketeers/Princess Bride – try out the Renaissance Track
Modern Action Movie – try out one of our classes in the Modern Track
How are the classes set up, and what are in the 3 different tracks?
Our classes have the curriculum set up in such a way that you can step into a class at any time. Just wear comfortable clothes and shoes. If you have gloves, please bring them as well. The gloves are for weapon control, not for safety or padding. We have weekend workshops on the second weekend of the month. On the 2nd Saturday of the month we have a four hour longsword workshop and on the Second Sunday of the month we have a four hour specialty weapon workshop.
For weekly classes we have three tracts available for you.
rapier (into rapier and dagger)
side sword (into sword and buckler)
sword and shield
firearms training (we use air soft simulators)
women's self defense
Italian stick fighting and open hand fencing
Our classes are set up for payment by the hours attended per week.
What should I bring to my first class?
When you come to your first class bring a water bottle. You do not need to bring anything else. Wear comfortable clothes and shoes and bring a pair of gloves; any kind of gloves will work. The gloves are for weapon retention, not safety.
How should I dress for class?
Wear comfortable clothes and shoes. You will be moving around on the floor and we start every class with stretches. Shorts, sweat pants and cargo pants are appropriate. You can wear jeans but make sure that they are loose and will not restrict your movements.
How many hours a week can I train?
When you pay the tuition for classes, that payment includes a number of hours per month. You can choose to attend one hour per week, two hours per week, three hours per week, four hours per week, or unlimited hours per week. If you know you won't be able to make a class one night, you are able to attend a class on a different night so that your training can fit into your schedule.
Is there a set curriculum for the classes?
We have a full curriculum for each of our classes. Whether you choose to take the Medieval Track, the Renaissance Track or the Modern Track, you will be taken though a series of levels that will build on each other to help you prepare for the next level.
At the successful completion of a level, the student receives a Certificate of Achievement with a wax seal in the Medieval style that is suitable for display.
Is there a different curriculum more suited for girls?
All our students work together. We don’t separate male from female, nor do we separate the different levels of students. We all have something to learn from each other and working together allows us to improve our own skills and help our fellow students improve as well.
Do I need prior martial arts/weapons handling experience?
You can join our classes regardless of your experience level. Whether you have never done a martial arts class in your life, or you have decades of experience. Our curriculum is set up to take you from ‘This is a sword, and these are the parts’ to using a weapon by itself, in conjunction with other weapons and how to change the parameters of the fight at a moments notice.
Do I need to be a certain level of physical fitness?
You do not need to be at a specific fitness level to participate in the classes at our school. As you practice, the act of practicing will help you to improve your fitness levels.
While participating in our classes you will work out your whole body, but more importantly you will also workout your mind. Our instructors are able to work with students of all fitness levels and tailor the curriculum to their level to help push them, but not hurt them. Studying the martial arts is a workout that is a lot of fun, trains muscle groups in a useful activity and is more fun than walking on a treadmill watching Oprah.
How do I use my Groupon voucher?
Now that you have the Groupon, you can go to the schedule and pick the class that you want to try. You can use the Groupon for one type of class, or you can use the Groupon as a ‘Taste Tester’ of the different classes we offer at D.E.M.A.S.
When you have found the class you want to start with, you do not need to reserve a space, you can come in and join us for the class. Please come in a little early so that you can fill out the waiver; also bring a printed copy of your Groupon Voucher so we can keep it with your waiver.
Are students expected to provide their own equipment such as helmets and/or practice swords?
You do not need to provide your own equipment. When you start classes, the school has loaner equipment that you can use. You do not need a sword and mask to start off with. We have the equipment for you. You will need to purchase your own mask and gorget to complete the first level of the curriculum. There is a $10/mo maintenance fee for the use of school equipment. Once you have your own sword and mask, the maintenance fee is removed from your membership.
Where do I get a practice sword?
We have a few different vendors we suggest for purchasing your practice sword.
Longswords - Rapiers - Side Swords - Basket Hilt Swords -
How much does a sword cost?
The cost of a sword depends on the manufacturer of the sword, and the material it is made of. Metal swords can run between $200 and $900.
Wooden swords and synthetic swords run between $100 and $130 depending on the style you are looking for.We do not use stainless steel swords, and all swords must be historically accurate. There are different manufactures of wasters and steel swords, and you can choose the style that fits you best.
How long before I can use a real sword?
In the longsword class, you will need to complete the first level of classes, called Giocatore (Old Italian term for Player) before you are able to start using a steel sword. In the intermediate class, you can drill with the steel sword but you are not allowed to fence with steel until you have the appropriate safety gear.
What is the difference between a sword and a feder?
The word feder means 'feather'. It is a training sword that was used primarily in the 16th century German fencing schools once the serious dueling of the longsword was no longer as common because of the rapier. At our school, we use the sword in the Italian tradition. The width of the sword at the guard allows us to use the geometry of the sword in the control of the opponent's sword. As you progress in your training, you may find that you want to compete in tournaments. Many tournaments require that feders be used, and you may find yourself needing a feder.
What safety equipment do you use?
Safety is paramount in our school. We require certain minimum requirements for the safety of our students. When practicing drills students are required to wear an AF HEMA fencing mask and either a fencing jacket or padded gambeson. Men and women are encouraged to wear a plastron to protect the chest and men are highly encouraged to wear a cup. Leather gauntlets with high cuffs for the rapier class and longsword class drills. Students are required to have at minimum either hockey gloves or lacrosse gloves for free play with the longsword.
All students are required to have a mask and gorget to complete the first level of the curriculum.
How old do you have to be to take classes?
Students in our school can start taking classes at the age of 8. Our children's class is called the Dragon Slayers. This class is for children between the ages of 8 and 13. If your child is 13 or over, they will be in the regular classes.
Is it safe for Children to study swordfighting?
The Dragon Slayers study the same curriculum as the adults, but on a different schedule with more emphasis put on learning from games and exercises. There are 3 benchmarks in the Dragon Slayers.
At the beginning they use customized foam swords that are designed to allow them to practice safely. As they develop their skill and control, they move to the 2nd level swords which are padded like LARP (Live Action Roll Play) swords. In the 3rd level the Dragon Slayers move to wooden swords called Wasters. The adult class starts with the wooden Wasters.
As the Dragon Slayer moves through the curriculum, they are preparing to move into the adult class and will only need to review the 1st level of study with the waster.
Am I too old to start studying martial arts?
We have a variety of people from all walks of life and all ages in our school. Our students range in age from 8 years old to their 70s. The oldest student we have in our school is 77 years old.
Do women do this?
This is not restricted to men only. We have women taking classes, too. We have female doctors taking classes, high school girls and younger girls. Gender is not a barrier to learning the heritage of European martial arts. We are about 30% female in our school.
I don't think I can hit people; can I take your classes?
There is a psychological element to learning martial arts that many people don't think about. People are taught, from a very young age, that they cannot hit others; even in the process of defending themselves. Understanding the psychological reasons behind people's hesitancy to hit others allows us to better train students. In our school we are not trying to hurt others, instead we are learning how to keep those others from hurting us.
How heavy is a sword?
Popular myth will tell you that a sword is very heavy. This is not true. A longsword only weighs in at about 3.5 pounds, and a rapier is only around 2.5 - 2.75 pounds. If a sword weighed 15 – 20 pounds as popular belief says, then why would you risk your life by using it. If you are in a battle that lasts for two to four hours, and your equipment is too heavy to use, then you will not be able to defend yourself. These are tools, and they are meant for a specific job. They are not just pretty, that is only a matter of choice.
When can I join a class?
The way our curriculum is set up, you can join a class at any time. All of our students work together. If you are of a higher rank, when you are working with a newer student you get the opportunity to review. If you are working with someone that is of a higher rank than you are, you get the opportunity to see what your future of training is. That way when you reach that skill level you will have already been introduced to it.
Do I need to fill out any forms or anything?
When you visit the school and try out our classes you will receive a registration form at the end of the class. We hope that you have a good time in the class and will want to continue the classes. When you sign up online, you will sign an electronic waiver for your trial classes. When you continue, we have a more complete registration form for you to fill out.