It took me about seven years to get my head round the idea of videoing the training we do in my School and putting it out onto the internet; a succession of senior students suggested that we do so, and eventually I came round to the idea. I tend to jump right into things though, so we didn’t start just by shooting the occasional drill and slapping it up online, no! I launched a crowd-funding campaign (my first) to help pay for the expenses, and we set about videoing the entire syllabus, drill by drill. The results have been astonishingly helpful to hundreds of students all over the world.
It took another 8 years to get my head round the idea of creating online courses; creating instructional videos, organising them into proper courses, and either giving them away for free or selling them.
The free courses are to do with health: knee maintenance and arm maintenance (and yes, I ought to do a back maintenance course too!).
The first paid course I created was the most ambitious: Recreate Historical Swordsmanship from Historical Sources; the entire academic and theoretical structure you need to efficiently do what it says in the title: choose a historical source, and create a working training syllabus from it. That launched in July 2016.
In contrast, the course I am launching this week is relatively simple: a complete training course in Fiore’s dagger material. This course covers everything you need to know to be able to fight with and against the dagger as shown in Fiore dei Liberi's Il Fior di Battaglia, from the early 1400s. It is based on my interpretation of Fiore's Art of Arms (Armizare), and follows the same general structure as my book, Mastering the Art of Arms vol 1: The Medieval Dagger.
The course usually costs $250, but for the next few hours it’s available at a $125 discount. You can check out the course, and sample the free previews from here.
Or if you prefer to pay in 5 monthly instalments, use this link.
These discounts expire on October 5th.
The course is organised in six sections, gradually increasing in complexity. The first few sections cover the absolute basics, such as, grounding, footwork, falling safely, and the mechanics of joint locks and takedowns. From there we proceed to learning the organising principle of Fiore’s dagger material, the Nine Masters. Each one shows a different defence, based on a different tactical situation. We then learn the five things: strike, disarm, lock, break, and throw, first against a simple overhand blow, and then against all the lines of attack, including what to do if the attacker grabs you before striking. This gives you a complete grounding in unarmed defence against the dagger, so then we move on to cover the defences against the dagger when you are also armed with one, and the defences to do when in armour. Every major element in the system is now covered, so we finish off by teaching you how to actually train with this material.
Whether you start this course with a working knowledge of knife fighting, medieval combat, or any other related discipline, or you’re a complete beginner, you will finish the course with a solid understanding of Fiore’s dagger material, how it works against a partner, and how to train these techniques to a higher level. My partner in the videos, Curtis Fee, had never trained with the dagger before; you can see how he learns the material over the course of a few hours.
Let me take you through the structure of the course in more detail:
1. Foundations, theory and footwork
This section includes:
Introduction— a brief welcome video, and the all-important safety briefing.
Footwork— an overview of the four steps and three turns detailed in Fiore’s book
Falling— from the ground up, literally. In this video I’ll teach you how to fall safely on hard surfaces; no mats required! This is a really useful life skill, especially for those of us who live in places where there’s ever ice on the ground. Very gentle, starting from a kneeling position; absolutely no pain is the goal.
Equipment— daggers and masks; I describe the primary options for equipment. This course deliberately requires very little gear; a fencing mask and a short stick would do.
2. Basics: dagger handling, joint locks
Dagger handling and basic strikes— This class will get you controlling the weapon, and give you dexterity drills you can play with anywhere.
How arms break and people fall— this covers the fundamentals of how to apply joint locks (we don’t break anyone’s arms, ever, ok?), and how the takedowns in the system work at a mechanical level.
The unarmed flowdrill— this exercise teaches you sensitivity, mechanics, timing, and gets you moving through a relatively complex series of actions surprisingly easily.
3. The System Overview
The Nine Masters— this is how Fiore organises the material, and so we cover all nine masters as a sequence, and we go over how to practice them in your mind in any situation.
The First Master, disarm and counter (1st and second plays)— the first ‘proper’ dagger technique, at last! This video shows how to do the first dagger defence in the book, and how to counter it.
The First Master, plays 3-8— this video covers the lock, its counter, the break, its counter, the takedown, and how to do the remedy differently (which is especially useful against an overwhelmingly strong attack.
The First Master, plays 9 and 10— this covers the very important principles of trapping the wrist with the dagger, and intercepting the defence.
4. Other lines of attack
The Third master: dealing with the backhand— this covers how to deal with a backhand attack, and includes a very swanky disarm and strike combination, and another application of the trapping principle. From there we look at using the third master to counter the second play of the first master… yes, it all fits together.
The Ninth master: dealing with the low blow— we cover all five things; disarm, lock, break, and of course the famous between-the-legs throw.
The Fourth master: sensitivity training— we use three techniques from the fourth master to practise sensitivity; applying the technique that will work best based on what the attacker is actually doing.
The Fifth master: dealing with the grab-and-stab— first we set up the basic defences against this situation, and then we use this set-up to look at identifying opportunities to strike, versus threats against us.
5. The Dagger Disarm Flowdrill_
This section covers a very useful exercise for learning to do the techniques outside of the completely prearranged set-ups we have seen so far. We set up the flow drill step by step, and then use it to practice alternative remedies (not aromatherapy though), and their counters, at a more complex level.
6. Completing the Base:
This section starts by completing our survey of the material, covering the plays of dagger against dagger, and what to do if you’re in armour. It continues by looking at how you can structure your training to improve your skills, and covers the most vital tool: how to run a diagnostic and fix the weakest link.
All of the videos can be downloaded, so that you can store them on your device and play them wherever you are. This is especially useful if you are using these videos in your club’s training sessions. You are perfectly welcome to use the videos in class.
Most of the material requires a partner, so everyone on the course is expected and entitled to share their access with their training partner(s).
All of the videos have transcriptions provided, because many students find them useful, especially those for whom English is not their first language, or those who are hard of hearing.
The course usually costs $250, but for the next few days it’s available at a $125 discount. You can check out the course, and sample the free previews, here.
Or if you prefer to pay in 5 monthly instalments, use this link.
The discount expires on October 5th.
I look forward to seeing you on the course!