Les Maitres d’Armes offer three types of training in their core styles: Fundamentals classes (offered through the City), Companion training and supervised free training. The classes are organised according to rank and level of proficiency as well as standing in terms of membership with the group. Fundamentals classes are offered through the City of Ottawa, while the Companion training and free-training are privately run and are available as a privilege to members only.
Fundamentals classes are open to everyone from the age of 18 and up, and all levels of student are encouraged to participate. They are every Wednesday from 7:00 to 8:30. The primary goal is to develop Novices and Apprentices so as to attain the rank of Companion, where the manuscript material is studied in more detail. The focus is on basics such as footwork and posture, guards and basic skills with each of the core styles – grappling, dagger and longsword. The onus is on solo and partner drills and the practice of “set-plays,” sequences of techniques meant to illustrate different tactical responses to varying situations as well as internalise the fundamental precepts of the system. The students must memorise a series of drills, compartmentalising the basics of each weapon. These set-plays and drills are done both co-operatively and non-cooperatively, while free-play or sparring is introduced only at the more advanced Apprentice level and then only sparingly to preserve form and technique.
Companion training take place every Monday evening from 8:00 to 10:00. These periods provide the means to explore the more advanced concepts of Fiore’s Art, and Companions begin a more comprehensive study of the manuscripts, as well as being introduced to the canonical set-plays contained therein. It is at this level that the learning truly begins, and students truly learn to fight. Members are introduced to a variety of weapons, including spear, pollaxe and sword in one hand, and are asked to adopt one as their secondary focus. Members are also encouraged to contribute a project to the school or HEMA community at large, subject to approval by the group’s principal instructors.
Supplemental training is open to all members of the school having paid the requisite fees, and is an opportunity for students to put into practise whatever he/she feels necessary to his or her training and understanding. It is not a formal class, but an instructor or senior student is always present to assist and ensure safety. Study groups may also utilise this time to advance their training in weapon styles that may fall outside the school’s regular program. Supplemental training may also take the form of a directed class on occasion.
Membership is accorded after an indeterminate evaluation period. This evaluation is meant as an introductory period between group members and the instructors to see if the prospective member fits with the overall philosophy of the school and its values. It is not meant to be exclusionary, but rather as a precaution to avoid conflicts and ensure that members respect the rules of conduct and one another and are capable of training in a safe and respectful manner. Anybody not abiding by the rules of the group and the Salle will be asked to leave until such time as they are ready to do so. Membership is linked with rank in the school, since Apprentices are merely Novices that have been accepted as members within the school.
Companion training: Monday evenings, 8:00 to 10:00
Novice/Apprentice classes: Wednesday evenings, 7 to 8:30
Free Training: Wednesday evenings, 8:30 to 10:00
We currently practice at the Richelieu-Vanier Community Centre, 300 ave. Des Pères Blanc, Ottawa, in the City of Ottawa. It is a beautiful facility nestled in a wooded area next to downtown Ottawa. Be sure to check the schedule and come by for a visit!