The St. Lawrence Swordfighters Guild is primarily a body of martial artists that study the “lost” combat techniques of the medieval European military tradition. We seek to revive the combat systems of the age by looking to the historical record and doing our best to reverse-engineer any martial aspects that, though not evident, must have been part of the knowledge-base of most fighters of the time.
There is much speculation, supposition, and flights of fancy that populate our modern perceptions of how battle was waged up-close and personal during the Middle Ages. Most of that information is delivered to us through television, movies, and books that are geared towards entertainment and not, necessarily, a reflection of authentic martial concepts.
There are a handful of surviving texts that were written by respected and well-reputed masters of the fighting arts of the medieval period. A good portion of them generally cluster around a 200-year period between 1300 and 1500 AD. Though it does study as much of the existing material as it can, the Guild focuses its training around the manuscripts written by the Medieval Italian Swordsmaster Fiore Furlano de Civida d’Austria delli Liberi da Premariacco (ca. 1350s – 1410s), more commonly known as Fiore dei Liberi.
His masterwork “The Flower of Battle” is, as far as we can tell, a complete combat system that provides a systematic, self-referencing, and simple approach to becoming adept at lethal combat with a wide range of weapons. The manuscript shows techniques using bare-hands, the dagger, the sword, the spear, the poleaxe, and the spear and sword on horseback. Training exclusively using dei Liberi’s texts produces a well-rounded and capable warrior – which was likely the purpose of his commissions to create the book.
Becoming skilled in the arts found in the manuscripts is a long and arduous process. It takes many years of diligent study and careful practice to attain the technical, physical, and emotional states required to be an effective, safe, and productive practitioner of these ancient lethal methods.
During that time, there are bumps, bruises, and injuries. Pain is a constant reminder of the danger surrounding this practice. It is not for the faint of heart.
In June 2012, Sandy Durocher of Navigator Communications, created a short video from footage shot of the Saint Lawrence Swordfighters Guild demonstrations. Click here to see the video on YouTube.