Do you do any events, tournaments, or demonstrations?
Guild members have many opportunities to participate in faires, festivals, tournaments (both friendly and competitive), and demonstrations to the public in a variety of venues, big and small. Participation is completely voluntary for members and is not a required component of regular training.
One of the main purposes of the Guild is to demonstrate what we have studied with the public in order to share a more authentic understanding of the martial practices of medieval Europe, as opposed to what popular entertainment tends to deliver.
In the spirit of camaraderie which is present throughout most of the groups that practice HEMA, the Guild hosts and attends informal social events which gather martial artists from different schools and styles to share ideas and practice their techniques against each other.
What is HEMA?
Historical European Martial Arts (HEMA) is the popular term for the fighting arts stemming from cultures that rose out of Europe. It is used most often to denote the martial techniques that have been discovered (or recovered, as we like to think of it) from the Middle Ages, the Renaissance, and the early modern periods.
Though the Guild bases the majority of its practice around the dei Liberi combat system, there are other significant medieval manuscripts that it examines as contemporary combat variations that would have appeared on the battlefield during the same period.
Who is Fiore dei Liberi?
The Guild focuses its activities around the study and interpretation of the techniques of 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 true life-and-death battle techniques appear in several versions of his masterwork “The Flower of Battle” (1400/1410).
“The Flower of Battle” (Flos Duellatorum/Fior di Battaglia) is the third oldest European martial arts treatise and by far the most complete as a comprehensive combat system employing both unarmed and armed techniques using the most prominent and effective hand-to-hand weapons of the period.
The Guild primarily sources the Novati/Pisani-Dossi and Getty versions of the manuscript as they are the most complete, detailed, and orderly of the four extant versions (the Morgan and Paris being the other two).
Is this martial art safe?
Yes…as safe as you can be when someone else is swinging a sword at you.
In all seriousness, the manuscripts the Guild study depict a devastatingly effective method of maiming and killing an opponent in mortal combat. To put these techniques into practice the way they were intended in today’s society would be both criminal and suicidal.
The paramount concern for practitioners of these martial arts is safety. That safety is achieved by:
- Rigorous and incremental training, beginning with solo drills, followed by controlled contact drills, then a gradual introduction to speed and force with proper control and protective equipment.
- Specially designed body protection and purpose-built blunted weaponry at all levels of contact.
- An absolute demand for a calm and peaceful approach to the practice and application of these arts.
All martial artists are our brothers or sisters and the tremendous violence that these techniques embody is emulated in practice only as an exercise in historical interest, personal growth, and physical development with kindred spirits. Peace must reign.
If you are interested in joining the Guild or want to know more about what its like to train with us, see the Training section.
How did the Guild start?
After many years of training and participating in tournaments and public events with The Ottawa Medieval Sword Guild (OMSG), Matthew McKee decided to form a school of Historical European Martial Arts (HEMA) south of Ottawa, the city in which he grew up, to teach and practice the skills he had learned. Matthew found a perfect co-founder for the school in Dave Rouleau, an exceptionally talented instructor and gifted martial artist.
The St. Lawrence Swordfighters Guild opened in January of 2012 and is based out of Kemptville, Ontario, helping to spread HEMA to Eastern Ontario and the St. Lawrence Seaway. It strives to maintain close bonds with other schools in Canada and throughout North America in order to share knowledge and experiences as the revival of Medieval European Martial Arts grows.