Historical Exhibition Swordplay
Exhibition Combat, taught and performed by Prima Spada at public shows, displays and events, is the school's primary focus. Developed over 20 years ago by Prima Spada's founder, Maitre Keith Beattie, Exhibition Combat is a unique style of Fencing and Prima Spada is a leader in this Code of Fencing which has elements of full contact fencing such as Olympic or Modern fencing, HEMA fencing and Artistic Performance fencing.
Not only does the performance of Exhibition Combat display historic fencing techniques in a historic setting such as a duel of honour, the fencing action also has the look and feel of real combat intent without having to wear modern heavy armour which would detract from the look and feel of historic performance. Exhibition Fencing has real-time attacks, parries and ripostes without the need to choreograph the action.
How is this achieved without the need to wear heavy protective equipment?
A carefully developed progressive syllabus, based upon the fencing principles of historic fencing manuals and modern fencing mechanics is required to ensure that all aspects of real fencing actions are applied.
Initially, our students are introduced to the idea of false attacks to specific safe target areas.
Additionally, the trajectory of the thrusts and cuts are designed to not threaten vulnerable areas such as the neck and head, or below hips or arms, yet by applying select modern fencing mechanics and the principles of distancing, timing, stance and movement the vital head and upper body areas are realistically kept away from the threatening blade tip.
Prima Spada Historic Exhibition Combat can be achieved safely by adapting the techniques described in the historical manuals, which would normally target the head, and redirecting the attacks towards the upper body and waist only. This aspect combined with false attacking and out-of-distance fencing measure allows the use of historical technique utilized so as to maintain safety without compromising historical accuracy.
The end result is a fencing bout that has realistic appearance but is safe for all students without the need to wear cumbersome or anachronistic protective equipment.
The Junior ranks of Prima Spada, School of Fence incorporate the levels of Beginner, Novice, Scholar and Free Scholar.
At the Beginner rank students undertake an 8-week Beginners Course which introduces them to the basic attacks and defences employed in rapier combat.
Student skills are then expanded during their time within the Novice rank by introducing them to the use of the Renaissance side sword and two-handed sword while continuing to develop their understanding of rapier combat. New attacks and defences are taught and a greater appreciation of the basics of Renaissance fencing are gained throughout this rank. This rank is denoted by a white sash.
At Scholar rank, recognised by a red sash, the skill set of the student is greatly enhanced by the addition of a number of defensive actions and methods of attack. This expansion of possibilities during a fencing bout allows Scholar students to begin to develop a very real appreciation for and understanding of the principles of distance and timing.
At the final stage of the Junior ranks, Free Scholar students who wear a purple sash encounter a much wider variety of possibilities across the three weapon codes. Here the principles of distancing, timing and working with ones opponent take on a much more important role as students experience higher intensity in their bouting and more realistic intent.
Prima Spada, School of Fence continues to develop the skills of its students throughout the two senior ranks of the school: Swordsman and Swordsman Diestro, both of which are further divided into proficiency levels denoted by a coloured stripe upon the student's sash.
Prima Spada Swordsmen wear a blue sash and encounter a number of new fencing codes. Whereas the Junior ranks are taught to fence using only the three primary weapons of Prima Spada, the rapier, sword and two-handed sword, students of the Swordsman rank are introduced to Companion Weapons. These additional weapons are used in the off-hand and include the dagger and cape, each paired with a rapier, and the buckler which is used with a sword. A number of new techniques are introduced across the Swordsman ranks which require a large amount of control in order to execute. As students of this rank display increased levels of mastery within the Swordsman syllabus they advance through the levels of the Swordsman rank, each being denoted by a silver stripe upon one end of their blue sash.
Once a Swordsman has achieved a high level of mastery within the syllabus and acquired four silver stripes the next step takes them on to the Swordsman Diestro rank.
Only the most skilled and dedicated students of Prima Spada achieve the Swordsman Diestro rank and are awarded their silver sash. At this rank students learn the most complex techniques within each weapon code, relying upon a highly developed sense of timing and distance in order to control a fencing bout and master the fencing circle. These students are taught the highly challenging code known as Case of Rapier - the use of two rapiers at once - and are taught to employ their considerable skills to manage a bout against more than one opponent.
Much like the Swordsman rank, Swordsman Diestro is further divided into levels dependent upon an individual's skill. As a Swordsman Diestro student shows greater mastery of their technique they advance through these ranks and are awarded a gold stripe upon their silver sash. Swordsman Diestro IV - a silver sash with four gold stripes - is the highest rank which a student of Prima Spada may achieve.
Prima Spada Historic Exhibition Combat utilises period-accurate weapons in order to offer its students a broad range of training possibilities. Rapier, side sword and two-handed sword are the three primary weapon codes taught within this syllabus, with the Senior ranks also learning to employ the companion weapons of dagger, cape and buckler. For more information regarding the weapons of Prima Spada, please follow the link to the Weaponry section.
Resources and Application
Prima Spada School of Fence adopts principles from a variety of sources in all of our historical fencing. This adoption of principles and actions from a variety of manuals allows Prima Spada students the opportunity to practice a comprehensive view of swordplay which focuses on the wider, more universal aspects of swordplay for a more fully rounded development of their skills.