Welcome to The School of European Swordsmanship syllabus. This wiki is intended to help you orient to school life, and to track your progress through the training curriculum. All students joining the school need to know a few basic facts about what the School offers, and what it requires.
The Art that we practise at the school comes from two main sources.
• All technical and theoretical material regarding the Art of Swordsmanship comes from one or other of the historical treatises in our library. These books were written by masters of the Art during the time that training in these weapons was a matter of life or death, and so we defer to them. All guard positions, blows, defences, etc that are taught at the school can be traced to a specific historical source. A list of our primary sources is at the back of this booklet, and all of these books are held in the library at the salle for all students to study.
• The training method itself has been developed by the School’s founder, Guy Windsor. It includes drills and forms combining techniques from the treatises, conditioning exercises, and some additional martial practices. As a matter of intellectual honesty, the source of any given practice is usually stated in class by whoever is teaching it; “this drill comes from Fiore”, for example, or “this exercise is a variation on the first play of plate 7 from Capo Ferro”, or simply “I made this up”.
Serious students are expected to check the website for downloadable articles, by Mr. Windsor and others, on various aspects of the systems we train and our general training methodology. They are also expected to purchase their own copies of the books on the recommended reading list.
As with all martial arts schools, and indeed any social organisation, there is a general code of conduct which students are expected to follow. The two basic rules are:
1) Safety first: for your fellows and for yourself.
2) Respect: for each other, for the weapons, and for the Art of swordsmanship. This is demonstrated by courtesy, and leads to safe practice.
There are a host of other customs that derive from these two rules:
• What do I call the instructor? It is normal school practice to address the person leading the class as “sir” or “miss”, or if you know their surname, use that preceded by Mr/ Miss (e.g. Mr Hartikainen, Miss Sirkkala). If the person leading the class is not a qualified instructor, and you know them personally, then it is acceptable to use their first name.
• Uniform: the school uniform is simple and inexpensive to acquire. On the beginner’s course we expect dark trousers and a white t-shirt with no logos. Once through the beginner’s course, we require all students to wear white t-shirts and black training trousers, both with the school logo. Thin-soled training shoes are also required. Students are expected to be reasonably clean and neat at the beginning of class.
• Punctuality: it is rude to be late. If a student is late to class (i.e. come to the line dressed and ready to train but have missed the opening salute), they are required to do 20 push-ups before joining the class. If they have missed the warm-up, they have missed the class, and may not join in. They may however watch.
• Salutes: all classes begin and end with a salute (for details of how to do it, see The Swordsman’s Companion). All pair drills with weapons also begin and end with a salute. The Helsinki salle has an icon, which represents, among other things, the higher goals of training. You will notice the instructors and senior students saluting the icon whenever they take a weapon of the rack; this is an optional custom, which reminds the student that of swordsmen, more is expected.
• “Of swordsmen, more is expected”: while at the salle, all students are expected to comport themselves in a civilised fashion. This includes things like drinking out of glasses, not from the tap, using polite language, doing minor salle chores like cleaning the floor before class, washing the dishes etc. Look to the senior students for examples, and expect to make at least a few etiquette mistakes in your first few months. These will be pointed out, usually sanctioned with push-ups, and then forgotten.
• Cameras: if you wish to take pictures or video of any part of a class, it is absolutely essential to ask first, though permission is almost always given. Pictures taken during class must not be made generally available (such as on a website) without further specific permission.
• Visitors: if you have friends or relatives who wish to see what we do here, then they are welcome to come and watch. Introduce them to the senior person present, show them round, and offer them refreshment (tea etc.). While they are here you are responsible for their conduct.
Gradings at the basic levels are not examinations so much as skill-level assessments, which are conducted by assistant instructors and above only. The idea is to go over the syllabus with the student, and see what needs to be taught next, and whether the student has completed the requirements for their next level or not. More than anything else, they are intended to give the student a clear idea of how far they have come, and a picture of the road ahead. Formal examinations are reserved for the teaching grades (class leader, assistant instructor, instructor).
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