Yes! The core of martial arts practice lies in a variety solo drills, and repetitions of the different drills, to make the skills of balance, stance, and movement second nature. Using video lessons in combination with live classes and video feedback from our instructors, you can learn these fundamentals successfully in a small space at home. In place of a sword you can use a stick or other sword-like object. Back in the middle ages, knights and men-at-arms often learned and practiced their skills using wood stand-ins for more expensive steel swords, and entire tournaments were fought using wooden clubs in place of swords.
Honestly, we don’t know. While Oregon is “open,” COVID-19 has not gone away, is dangerous and highly transmissable, and we operate a small studio where people work out and breathe heavily. We feel the responsible course of action is to be prudent about managing risk, which at the moment means remaining closed. We don’t want to put anyone at unnecessary risk.

When we do re-open, we’ll base the decision on the best science and public policy information available, and we will take comprehensive precautions including masks, sanitizing all contact surfaces on a regular schedule, and ventilating the school while we all work out. Stay tuned.
Martial arts, or the “Arts of Mars,” the Roman God of War, are often associated with Eastern forms.  The fact remains, however, that every culture throughout history has had its own combat style, and Europe of the medieval and Renaissance period was no exception.  Each martial art grows form its particular context, and the styles that arose out of Europe in this period are myriad. The Academy practices the medieval Italian tradition of l’arte d’armizare. It is a rich tradition, more than 600 years old and set down by Fiore dei Liberi, master of arms to the court of Niccolo d’Este. During the late medieval and early Renaissance periods, the Italian city-states were in a constant sate of flux and were defended by “free companies” of condottieri – mercenaries hired by the cities to defend and protect their interests.  (The term is derived from “condotta,” the Italian word for contract: condottieri were employed through legal written contracts.) It is during this time that we find professional masters at arms training soldiers in the art of defense, including one of particular interest to us – Fiore dei Liberi (ca. 1350-1420). 

The medieval and Renaissance eras also employed various forms of law-enforcement officials, and in the ordinary course of their duties these men would have needed martial expertise that was scalable – that could be used to subdue rather than kill. And even the use of the arts of war does not necessarily dictate an all-or-nothing “scorched earth” policy: the condottieri were businessmen who practiced war as a trade, and frequently resorted to much less than total war in the execution of their battles, the better to preserve the assets (soldiers) that allowed them to do business in the first place. Finally, these same arts were used by “policemen” of the era: soldiers attached to the office of the podesta, an investigating magistrate with wide-ranging judicial powers. Fiore Dei Liberi, the knight and founder of the 14th century Italian Armizare tradition, was at various times in his career an officer in such a “police force,” and a condottier0 engaged by Italian communes (city-states). It was in this context that he learned, practiced, perfected, and taught L’Arte dell’Armizare, The Art of Arms.
HEMA (Historical European Martial Arts) is an umbrella term that encompasses all European martial arts traditions from antiquity to the early 20th century, so yes, we do. We prefer to be more specific to the focus of our school: Medieval and Renaissance Italian Martial Arts. Increasingly, “HEMA” has come to refer to modern sports tournament fencing using a particular subset of European weapons (such as the federschwert, a long, thin, highly flexible sword used for sport in fencing schools of the 16th & 17th centuries, after the martial use of the longsword had declined). Modern tournaments with these swords more closely resemble Olympic sport fencing tournaments than Renaissance sporting contests. See “What are Medieval and Renaissance Martial Arts?”
No – it’s simply different. First, there are far more similarities than differences among various styles of fencing, or various styles of martial arts, than there are differences. All of them depend on tempo (the time it takes to do a single action) and measure (the distance between the opponents): these two elements are immutable. Time doesn’t operate differently for a kung fu practitioner, an olympic-style fencer, or a traditional Italian martial artist. Similarly, measure is still measure.

No – as with different styles, it’s simply different and the choice depends on your preferences and goals. We explain the differences in more detail in the article Measuring Success: the Role of Freeplay & Competition in Training. It is true that some people get antagonistic about different ways of doing things. We think that’s just sad and unfortunate – there’s room for everyone to follow their chosen discipline.
Nope! In the middle ages, martial arts such as Armizare were practiced with all manner of weapons, and without weapons (grappling, striking, throwing, etc). Over time, as customs and martial needs changed, what began as a single art became separated into components. Modern sport fencing, boxing, wrestling and horsemanship (specifically Olypmic dressage) all descend from the same martial arts sources. It was the same in Japan, which many erroneously view as the “home” of martial arts: the samurai and the knight had essentially the same skillsets of weapon use, hand-to-hand fighting skills, and horsemanship.