My desire to learn how to fence took a decided left hand turn early on when I fell in with fencers who were part of the SCA (Society for Creative Anachronism).  Although at the time they were using foils and epees, I have been fortunate to see the group grow to more historically accurate weapons and styles, and have myself been caught up in the physical and intellectual pursuits of learning about historical sword fighting.  I have published a few papers on the subject, and have converted the barn at our house into a dojo appropriate to teach and learn these styles.


Fabris is one of the later Renaissance Italian fencing masters.  Some of his style lends itself very well to use in SCA fencing, where the general style is a mixture of modern olympic fencing and a melange of “whatever works” based on the weight and lengths of the swords in use and the limitations imposed on the combattant and the opponent by the ruleset.  These two papers, I wrote in collaboration with Brokk back in 2002.  The writing style makes me cringe a little as I can hear my then-thicker accent come through loud and clear.  I haven’t worked out all the archaicisms from my speech yet, but I’ve worked out a lot more of them than I had by the time I wrote these.  Still, the lessons hold up well.  I am particularly fond of beating into my own head and that of my students (who are, really, anyone who wants to learn) the lesson of 3-D thinking…. that a sword need not kill on point by moving like an arrow. Lateral movement combines the strength of a parry with the unexpectedness of a killing thrust.  This, you’ll find more concisely in the Practical Fabris treatise below.

Treatise on Fencing in the Style of Fabris: IntroToFabris2002

Treatise on ACTUALLY fencing in the style of Fabris: PracticalFabris2002

Other Fencing Styles

I took to using a stick as a defensive item early in my days of SCA fencing.  This is a treatise on using a cane in a swordfight, written originally for the 2002 Knowne World Academy of the rapier.  Still, it holds up: KWAR cane

Paper on Swordfighting Biomechanics

Early on, when the SCA was switching from modern swords to heavier weapons, there was concern about people getting hurt. I ran a study on why hits with more substantial weapons can hurt more, and it was published by the American Society of Biomechanics.  I am really proud that several papers since then, from all over the world, have referenced this early paper.

Carranza’s Circle and Thibault’s Circle etched into a floor

This page (yes, really, click here) describes the floor of the fencing dojo Brokk and I created.  It includes, etched into the floor, a reproduction of Carranza’s circle and Thibault’s circle.

10 thoughts on “Fencing

      1. What I really need to do is put them on a drop canvas that I can roll up and take along with me to teaching events.

        But somehow carrying the entire floor complete with “inlay” would be something…


      2. Still, if you’ve got a video or walkthrough on plotting one or both of them out accurately, it would be a good resource.

        Are you a member of the Destreza in the SCA FB group? Little something Don Puck and I put together for discussion, instruction, posting drill and technique videos. Recently we’ve picked up a few non SCA Diestro who study in Spain. It’s been great for expanding the knowledge pool and comparing interpretations.


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