Workshops for Swordplay 2018.

You want to run a workshop at Swordplay - you know you want to. So tell us about it!
Register your workshop here

Viggiani's Sidesword - great against demons

Kyle Rowling


German Longsword - With some Hollywood stories

Kyle Rowling


Introduction to the bio-mechanics of Tai Chi

Sifu Gabe Nicklas

Tai Chi is often mistakenly thought of, in the western world, as a slow motion, "waving arms", sort of calisthenics for elderly people who "can't" work out in any other way. While Tai Chi has tremendous benefits for overall stress relief, body rejuvenation, and mental acuity, the true art of Tai Chi is nothing like those more basic stereotypes.

The origins of Tai Chi date back many centuries and focused on the perfecting of self defence techniques through slow motion practice and utilising leverage and common physics to allow a smaller person to defend themselves against a much larger opponent. When practised properly, Tai Chi, besides having incredible health benefits, is a very powerful and formidable martial art. Tai Chi also inspires one to focus internally to harness the energy that is within us all and channel that out through one's body.

Destreza Smallsword: It's totally a thing

Lois Spangler

How did La Verdadera Destreza evolve in response to changing fighting styles and weapons, 200 years after it first emerged? An anonymous author, known only by the initials A. C. O., authored a manuscript titled "Book of Arms and Doctrine for the Defence of the Followers of Said Science" with various engravings describing this very thing. In this workshop, we'll get a primer of basic LVD concepts in sidesword/rapier, if required, before moving on to examine the principles explained in the text and how they have changed -- or not changed -- in relation to those fundamental concepts. While the text itself talks only of the use of the sword, the engravings very clearly show use of the smallsword, and are, to a great extent, faithful descriptions of the techniques and rules within the text.

This recently published book will be on hand for participants to examine the engravings as we tour this guidebook written for late 18th century students of the art of defence. 

Godinho’s “Ripping” in Attack and Defence

Chris Slee

Cutting strikes are the bread-and-butter of sidesword fencing but they are obvious and easily countered with a well-timed defensive thrust.

What if there was a way to make cutting strikes more effective without trying to outpace or power through the opponent?

Godinho presents a simple technique which can by used in many different tactical situations to flow like water around anything your opponent throws at you.

(Previously presented as part of the Second Intention Sidesword workshop in Melbourne 2018)

Taking the Plunge: Attacks and Deceptions of the Sturtzhau

Daniel Pope

While Ochs is one of the four primary guards of the German system of fencing it is often neglected when seizing the initiative in sparring and competition. An effective, though often neglected, means of attacking through the Ochs position is the Sturtzhauw (plunge strike).

The technique appears in a wide selection of the German sources, finding mention in Talhoffer, Lignitzer’s Buckler and Messer, Dobringer, and, of course Meyer’s Gründtliche Beschreibung der Kunst des Fechtens. Aside from appearing by name, the movement itself is integral to a number of well known techniques, yet it is a strike which is rarely, if ever, trained in isolation by many fencers.

In this workshop we will investigate how we can practically apply this less popular technique to a variety of situations as a means of defence, attack, and tactical provocation, and in doing so surprise our opponent with attacks from unexpected angles.

Problem Solving: Fiore and Liechtenauer

Jim Campbell and Shay McAulay

While there is often seen to be a rivalry between the Liechtenauer and the Fiore Longsword schools, this does not do either of them credit. They both have great approaches to problems faced in a fight or duel.

We will be presenting a number of problems and showing the different solutions offered by each tradition. Showing both the pro's and con's of each approach to the problem.

We will then give our take's the fundamental approach difference that we see in the two styles.

Serene and Cunning Art of Vadi

James Wran

Exploring Vadi's science of fencing through the principles described in his 16 chapters.

The Art of Deception - Spanish Navaja

James Wran

Using the long knife of the Baratero in the streets and gambling dense of mid 1800's Seville.


Turn out and turning the key: an apology to John Clements

Mark Holgate

Good fencing starts with the feet. This workshop looks at the practical benefits of a much more "turned out" (aka ballet) postion of the feet: better stability, mobility in different directions, and recruitment of the hips in generating power. Applications for both longsword and single sword will be presented, building on our work in analysing contra posto in 16th century fencing.

Building confidence and skills in Longsword sparring 

Madeleine Kelly

Sparring can be difficult and intimidating to begin with. In my experience, working with much more experienced coaches is the best way to develop confidence and competence in sparring. However, these people are not always available, and so the aim of this class is to provide beginner and intermediate Longsword fencers with some controlled sparring exercises that aim to develop some basic sparring skills and confidence in sparring. 

Introduction to La canne Française – French cane fighting

Craig Gemeiner

The traditional system of French stick fighting using the gentlemen’s walking stick is called “La canne.” . Adopted into Savate salles during the early 1800s, la canne integrates skills from the saber and cut and thrust sword. The walking stick was not only an indispensable fashion accessory but in trained hands a formidable weapon.

Practiced for competition, recreation and self defence, la canne is a balance of technique, timing, distance and tactical appreciation which employs a full range of bio mechanical characteristics that are unique to this weapon.

Participants will cover the fundamentals aspects of la canne including- deplacements, coups, parades, volt, esquives , changement de main, enchainements.

La canne is fun and easy to learn and suitable for men, women & teenagers.