THINGS YOU MIGHT LIKE
I got tired of shuffling reams of hand-outs to my students, so I decided to put all the stuff I wanted them to know into a 12-page pamphlet. Before I knew it, it was 267 pages later.
This isn't the same old how-to manual that's been written about a hundred times. We've only included what you won't find anyplace else. Available in paperback and as a downloadable PDF file
I created this design as an homage to my cherished mentor, Maitre Jean-Jacques Gillet, about as “French” a fencing master as you could ever find. Most everything I learned about teaching fencing I learned from him, and the rest I learned from my horse -- but that’s another story. I was only going have one of these made, but then a colleague said that she would like one, and she suggested that others might like one too. So I decided to do a larger limited run.
The heraldry is that of the Academie d’Armes d’France. I’ve added the banner bearing the date of 1656, the year that Louis XIV granted those armes to the fencing masters of Paris.
If your fencing lineage, like mine, derives primarily from the French tradition (or even partly) you might like to have this as an addition to your sleeve.
Classical Fencing, above all, is to fence as if the swords were sharp. But it is also to conduct oneself with impeccable gallantry. I believe that the classical fencer’s ethos can be expressed in two very simple statements: 1) One must touch without being touched 2) One must be gracious and dignified in defeat, and humble and gentle in victory
Of the two precepts, I consider the second the most important because it expresses the soul of the sword. It takes substantial time and effort to develop excellent fencing skill, but your conduct is something that is always and absolutely under your control -- and something you can do from your very first day in the salle d’armes.
The design is based on a figure in the book, The Theory and Practice of Fencing, by Maestro Julio Martinez Castello. His was the first fencing book I ever read, having found a tattered old copy of it in the library when I was around eight or nine years old.
The female figure is an homage to Julia Jones Pugliese, an exemplary fencer and fencing teacher, who was the mother of Patri Pugliese, a scholar and dear friend who provided me with painstakingly photo-copied volumes of numerous obscure and impossible-to-find-fencing books.
We believe that the study of the sword is a quest for truth. So we created this motto for our school: IN FERRO VERITAS. (a riff on “in vino veritas”). In Ferro Veritas has several layers of meaning.
First, it means that the sword, itself, will reveal it’s true nature and character to you if you but pay attention. In the most superficial sense, it means “form follows function.” But on a deeper level it means “All things exist according to their own nature, regardless of our perceptions of them.”
The second meaning is very close to “What if they were sharp?” That is, sitting safe and comfortable in one’s armchair, or insulated from reality within the artificial framework of arbitrary and capricious “rules,” one may theorize and speculate and assert all kinds of foolish things. But when you put them to the test, the truth will be painfully self-evident. Similar in spirit to “the proof is in the pudding.”
The third meaning is that the study of the sword will teach you some truths that go beyond that skill and knowledge that is specific to practical use of the sword: truths about the nature of conflict, truths about yourself, even some truths about truth.
I put this motto on an embroidered patch for my own students as a symbol of our commitment to the pursuit of truth. If you share our beliefs, we invite you to do likewise.