Whitman College Fencing





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Whitman Foil Symposium

[note: this information can be used in case we plan a similar event]


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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 Italian school.

We 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 condition.

We 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 fencing.

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 Saturday/Sunday event.

Session 1

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 Footwork.
12:00PM-1:00PM: Lunch break and Gear Selection for those without it.
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 corresponding ripostes.
3:15PM-3:30PM: Break
3:30PM-4:00PM: Finesse actions on the blade.
4:00PM-5:15PM: Feints, Compound Attack/Parry-Riposte Sequences.
5:15PM-5:30PM: Break
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]