With the Pennsic War now behind us, training begins. This October 4th, at the College of Cour d’Or in BMDL, fencing instructors from all over the Kingdom and beyond are gathering for the second Historical Rapier Schola. Come join us to learn from period styles, test yourself against fencers from all over Æthelmearc, and witness the beginning of the Defence Academy! See the event announcement for event times and details. The Facebook event page can be found here. The proposal letter for the creation of the Academy is offered herewith:
Throughout history, skilled craftsmen have banded together into ordered communities to share their knowledge and expertise, teach novices, and further refine the art and science of their trade. In this spirit, and with great enthusiasm, I am glad to more completely announce the founding of the Defence Academy at the upcoming Historical Rapier Schola in Cour d’Or. I am merely the voice of several dedicated individuals who have put great effort into bringing this idea into fruition. They have stepped forward, not only from our own Kingdom, but from the Society as a whole.
The rapier community is experiencing a time of great wealth in historical resources, advanced rapier simulators available, and in communication between historians and practitioners all over the world. There is such a wealth that one can easily be overwhelmed by it all. The Defence Academy aims to serve as a communal network, to connect questions to answers and students to teachers. Furthermore, the Academy will seek to incorporate period study of the masters at every stage of learning, to better refine our practice. As a group, we can face a world of opportunities and find the path we are looking for. In this letter, I intend to outline the structure and function of the Academy, and how it will be introduced.
- This is an additional venture for the rapier community. Participation is entirely voluntary, and there will be no social advantage/disadvantage to participating or not.
- This is not meant to challenge or replace existing conventions, such as the taking of cadets.
- The ranks within the Academy exist only within the academy. They do not reflect social standing, nor do they influence Kingdom Orders or Precedence.
- Some titles used for ranks are already in use by other organizations and Kingdoms. Distinction shall always be maintained, and Academy titles end outside of the Academy.
- The Academy is at the service of the Crown and Kingdom always, but does not seek to challenge personal ethics and inclinations. The Academy defers to the judgment of the Crown on matters of those worthy to serve as Provosts and Masters.
- Communal development of the community is the singular goal, through the group oriented study, practice, and refinement of historical research and application.
- There is no polling, and all communication is intended to be open and transparent.
Without delving to deep into history, many of the guilds and skilled trade groups through period adopted a system of ranks. These ranks denoted a general skill level or mastery of the trade. One entered as a novice, and through hard work and study, they could move to higher ranks as their abilities improved. Eventually, as their skills reached close to perfection, the guild might acknowledge them as a master and look to them as new teachers of the ranks below. The famed London Masters of Defence, along with many other schools in Italy and Germany, were skill trade schools in the art of fence, with rapier, sidesword, and even longsword. The Defence Academy will follow this example and adopt a similar structure.
The Academy will be sectioned into four tiers, each with their own requirements to enter, expectations in behavior, and goals for the next rank. These ranks serve to identify and recognize efforts made and draw attention from those that might be able to assist or seek the experience of those recognized. Each rank will also bear a symbol, so that they might recognize their fellow members. Progression from one rank to the next shall be based on clear criteria, with the intention of encouraging that growth, rather than stand as unachievable or misunderstood standards. The ranks are as follows:
This is the entry level position. It is meant for those new to fencing or just beginning to develop their personal style. Guidance will be readily available to this rank so they might develop quickly.
Prerequisite- Authorization in the Kingdom entry form. (In Æthelmearc, this is single heavy rapier.)
Expectations- Attend practices and events. Seek out the experience of others. Practice the various forms available and work towards further authorizations. Work with other scholars to practice techniques. Ask about historical masters and their legacies.
Badge- A red scarf with a central white stripe, longwise, to be worn about the arm.
Members of this tier have started to piece together techniques and concepts that serve them in combat, developing a recognizable quality to their style.
Prerequisites- As a more senior rank, more is expected for qualification. There are four criteria.
- Authorization in all forms for heavy rapier. Cut and Thrust is not necessary, although encouraged.
- Noted participation in a baronial or Kingdom level rapier champions tourney.
- Consistently displayed prowess of note to three Provosts or Masters of the Academy. At this stage, scholars should be developing successful strategies to combat their fellow scholars. Consistent, superior application of these techniques will draw the attention of the more senior ranks.
- Displayed familiarity with a historical fencing source, related to the application of fencing theory. This can take shape as a brief research paper, teaching/assisting with a class on historical style. Scholars are encouraged to seek guidance on this from more senior members.
Expectations- Attend practices and events out of your region. Work towards marshalate training and assist in the running of practices. Assist with authorizations. Assist or take the lead in teaching new members the basics of fencing. Continue to develop a personal style to your fight, seeking the advice of more senior ranks. Direct questions by scholars to more senior ranks, if necessary. Investigate different historical styles and sources to compare theories, develop technique, and draw context for the techniques. Serve the Crown and Kingdom, with and without sword in hand.
Badge- A gold scarf with a central white stripe, longwise, to be worn about the arm.
Years of practice and refinement lead the fencer to notable prowess and respected service, such that the Crown makes special acknowledgement.
Prerequisite- The office of Provost is offered to those deemed worthy by the Crown to serve as Defenders of the White Scarf (and equivalent positions if gained from out of Kingdom) and/or Master of Defence. The Academy has full trust in the wisdom of the Crown and will honor Their decision without hesitation.
Expectations- Provosts are the champions of the Academy, serving as its strength and influence. Provosts shall oversee and ensure the consistent availability of practices within their regions, such that anyone wishing to fence is met with opportunity, within the reasonable capacity of the Provost. They shall serve as mentors to the free scholars, offering the guidance necessary for growth. Take note of scholars that excel, and always consider those worthy of sponsoring as a free scholar. Maintain open and transparent communication with all ranks, sharing experiences freely. Continually refine personal ability, as combatants, teachers, and servants of the Kingdom. Continue to develop familiarity with historical rapier resources, for personal development or to assist in the development of others.
Badge- Provosts shall bear the white scarf as given to them by the Crown.
Masters of the Academy are those chosen worthy by the Crown so serve as Masters of Defence. They serve as the binding force to maintain solidarity in the community and open and safeguard friendly relations with neighboring Kingdoms. As peers of the realm, they are expected to ensure the development of the highest quality of courtesy, etiquette, and demeanor by all, such that none may bring shame upon the Academy.
Prerequisite-The office of Master of the Academy is offered to those deemed worthy by the Crown to serve as Master of Defence. The Academy has full trust in the wisdom of the Crown and will honor Their decision without hesitation.
Expectations- Members of this rank are expected to maintain the highest standards of prowess and behavior. They shall serve to guide and foster members of all ranks and ensure that the community as a whole is thriving. They shall oversee and refine the policies and conventions of the rapier community, in accordance with the appropriate Kingdom Officers. As peers, they shall continually interact with neighboring kingdoms to benefit fencing throughout the Society. Masters shall discern the needs of the Kingdom and develop strategies to serve those needs. They shall be, or endeavour to become, fluent in period styles, or be ready to refer to expertise elsewhere. They shall ensure that questions receive answers and that students find teachers, within the reasonable capacity of the individuals involved. They shall seek to find how best the rapier community can serve the Kingdom and Society as a whole, beyond matters of war and combat. They shall serve in all functions as outlined in Society Corpora for those members of a peerage. Above all else, they shall strive to ensure that the art and science of fencing remains a welcoming, enjoyable venture such that all those who wish to better themselves as students of fence are given opportunity to do so.
Badge- Masters of the Academy shall bear the regalia appropriate to the Order of Defence, as given to them by the Crown.
All fencers shall have opportunity to prove their value and worth, and skill shall be readily acknowledged. Upon first authorization, a willing fencer shall be offered position as scholar of the Academy by a Provost or Master of the Academy. As the scholar continues to grow, Provosts and Masters will look for verification of the outlined criteria above, and upon consensus of three Provosts or Masters, the scholar may be raised to the rank of free scholar. While no polling is necessary for this to occur, open discussion is encouraged amongst the Provosts and Masters, such that each scholar is given a complete evaluation.
At each of these circumstance, a prize tourney may be organized to serve as a display of the abilities of the candidate and to assist meeting more members of the community. Prowess displayed during these prize tournies is not necessarily grounds for further evaluation, although the tournies are a fine venue to demonstrate the fruits of hard practice and refinement. Comportment and etiquette are of great importance as members of all ranks, along with the Kingdom populace, may be present.
The offering of Provost and Master of the Academy are dependent on the Crown’s judgement, as outlined above. The Academy will tolerate no further scrutiny, and all reservations shall be dealt with openly.The Academy values growth and development for all, and has no room for ulterior motives.
The Academy shall be introduced with a tournament at the conclusion of the Historical Rapier Schola. All members of the populace that do not have grant level or peer level recognition for fencing are invited to participate in the tourney. The format shall be determined pending the number of entries. All who participate in the Schola and the tourney, if they wish, shall be offered the rank of scholar and the appropriate badge. During the day, those members of the Provost and Master ranks shall observe the prowess and conduct of the scholars, to provide feedback and begin evaluating those worthy of the rank of free scholar. While no free scholars will be made that day, discussion shall be initiated quickly and candidates identified within as brief a time period as possible.
The Academy shall maintain a presence on social media in the form of a Facebook group. Every member of the Academy will be given a thread, to allow for focused discussion on that member. All discussion will be open to the entire Academy, and constructive commentary is encouraged. No derogatory, demeaning, or slanderous commentary will be tolerated. Each thread shall have a picture of the candidate, along with their Society name and present rank in the Academy. Private communication is always tolerated, but it is preferred to maintain transparent intentions through public discussion. Participation and inclusion within this forum is completely voluntary, and no thread shall be initiated without specific permission by the member.
I would first like to thank the assistance of the Atlantian Academie d’Espee, that serves as a fostering sister to the birth of the Defence Academy. Members of every rank have offered support and enthusiasm for this venture, and strong ties are already being formed. The two groups shall always serve to support and strengthen the other, lending experience and a helping hand. The Defence Academy has modeled its structure off of the Academie d’Espee, and will recognize all ranks laterally. It is the intent of the Defence Academy to work closely with the Academie d’Espee in developing the rapier community across borders.
The Defence Academy wishes only for the betterment of the community through communal effort. It is our hope that everyone find a welcoming home within the Academy. The experience and wisdom of all members are necessary for the benefit of all. I, as merely a voice for the many that comprise the Academy, take great honor in inviting all to consider participation in the birth and growth of the Defence Academy.