The Whitman Foil Symposium will be a two day event hosted by Whitman Fencing and
taught by Maestro Sean Hayes of the Northwest Academy of Arms. The event will
comprise of 6-8 hours of foil fencing each day, covering a wide range of Italian
foil techniques, and a close look at the theory behind them. Basic techniques
will be considered briefly and then built upon, spending most of the time on
intermediate level actions and some more advanced sequences towards the end.
Because of this we ask that all participants have an appropriate amount foil
fencing experience, but since we will start at the basics it need not be in the
request that all fencers from outside Whitman bring their own gear, including,
Mask, Jacket, Foil, and Glove (and chest protection if desired), as we are
unsure how much loaner gear will be available due to the high number of expected
participants. Foils should be Italian or French grip and it safe practice
will be fencing from 10am-6pm on Saturday, followed by a group dinner for those
interested. On Sunday we will fence from 9am-4pm, at which point Maestro Hayes
must run to catch his flight home, but everyone else is welcome to continue
About the Maestro: Maestro Sean Hayes was born
in 1962 and raised in the Midwest region of the United States. He initially
studied classical French fencing under Maitre d'armes Adam Adrian Crown in
Ithaca, New York; and also pursued studies of rapier and dagger under Maitre
Crown. In 1995 he began his studies of classical Italian fencing at
California's San Jose State University Fencing Master's Program, under the
direction of Dr. William M. Gaugler.
Maestro Hayes apprenticed under Maestro Gaugler
from 1995 to 1999, and was trained to think critically about the details of
fencing theory and the application of fencing theory in actual practice, to
work with students closely and carefully, and to observe the most minute
aspects of their performance in the lesson and when fencing. He earned his
Fencing Master's diploma in May of 1999 after passing a rigorous series of
yearly written, oral and practical examinations, including the preparation
of an academic thesis.
Maestro Hayes teaches a strictly classical
curriculum of Italian foil, épée and sabre at Northwest Academy of Arms in
Eugene, Oregon, and through the University of Oregon and Lane Community
College. He also researches and teaches Italian Rapier, German Sword &
Buckler and English shortsword to select students.
[note: this event occurred on
April 2-3, 2005]
The Whitman Foil Symposium will be an
attempt to mimic a weekend-long seminar held by Maestro John
Sullins at the Tri Cities Academy of the Sword. The primary
goals of the seminar are to help students better understand the
Italian school of fencing by seeing how the individual actions
and sequences work together to form a complete system, and to
expose students to more of the theory behind said actions than
is usually received in the standard 1-hour lessons.
Due to the busy schedules of Whitman students we will only be
holding a 1-day session in the Fall (hopefully followed by a
2-day session in the Spring). The teaching will be done by
Andrew Telesca, who will be working from his own experience
under Maestro Sullins and using Maestro William Gaugler's Book:
The Science of Fencing as a guiding reference.
Throughout the session emphasis will be placed on careful
explanation of the actions, and all students will work with each
action briefly. However, a great deal of time will not be
spent practicing any particular action, instead moving rapidly
from one action to the next to cover all the material and see
how it relates. To work on mastery of the individual actions one
should attend the weekly lessons.
We plan to repeat this session in the Spring, but bring Maestro
Sean Hayes up from Eugene, Oregon to teach it as a full two day
The first session will attempt to build students' understanding
of the Italian school from the ground up. This means we will
start with a careful look at the Salute, First Position, and The
Guard. Next we will consider all the primary footwork actions in
the school, and cover their execution in careful detail, trying
to provide an understanding of the reasoning behind why they are
executed in that specific fashion.
From there we will stop moving for a moment to consider the
weapon itself, including such details as proper grip, the parts
of the foil, the different strengths of the blade, and the wrist
strap. We will also cover hand positions, the 4 primary guards,
the 4 lines of offense, and the 4 lines of defense. This should
be review for most participants, however, the repetition will
likely serve to fill in some blanks that were forgotten due to
lack of experience at the original teaching.
Finally, the bulk of the day will be focused simultaneously on
the attack and the defense, showing how for each action there
are effective counter-actions. This should include the 4 simple
attacks, the 4 primary types of parry, direct and indirect
ripostes, finesse actions on the blade, feints and compound
parry/attack sequences, compound ripostes, and violent actions
on the blade. In this session blade work will be done primarily
with minimal mobility.
Schedule for the Day (tentative):
Notice: unlike most events at Whitman, we will start on
time. There is a lot to cover and time will not be wasted
waiting for people to show up.
9:00AM-10:00AM: Optional stretching and warm-up (recommended).
10:00AM-10:30AM: Verbal introduction to the Italian School, its
principles, and its history.
10:30AM-12:00PM: The Salute, First Position, The Guard, and
12:00PM-1:00PM: Lunch break and Gear Selection for those without
1:00PM-1:30PM: The Weapon, hand positions, guards and lines.
1:30PM-3:15PM: The 4 Simple Attacks and corresponding
invitations (in all 4 lines), the 4 primary parries and
3:30PM-4:00PM: Finesse actions on the blade.
4:00PM-5:15PM: Feints, Compound Attack/Parry-Riposte Sequences.
5:30PM-6:00PM: Violent actions on the blade.
6:00PM-7:00PM: Optional Open Bouting and warm-down.
7:00PM: Optional Group Dinner.
[note: this event did
not occur, but the schedule can still be used as a model]