The Western Martial Arts Workshop (WMAW) is a North American event for hands-on study of Historical European and American Martial Arts. I’ve been going for a few years now and it’s a fantastic event.
This year I was an instructor for a few classes, including “Spear, Sword, and Rotella: Homeric Combat Through Renaissance Eyes”, “Fiore’s Armored Spear: Technique, Execution, and Application!” and “Italian Sword and Rotella.” I also had a very rare privilege of conducting two mass combat actions, the “Hoplite Experiment” and the “Italian Experiment”.
The video above contains footage of the demo bouts, a wide range of period combat in a variety of styles. My bout was spear vs spear, starting at 7:45, against Davis Vader.
Deed Of Arms
I had the privilege of undertaking two deeds of arms at this year’s WMAW, the first (starts at 16:02 in the video above), was spears against Bill Grandy. The second, starting at 1:06:30, also spears, was against Shannon Hernandez.
But, please, I encourage you to watch all of the bouts – the video above is over 2 hours long and contains 25 bouts. Its fantastic stuff for any historical fiction or fantasy reader.
The Italian Experiment
This year, one of the focuses of WMAW was on mass combat. We had a unique opportunity not just to participate and learn a little about the way combat worked in the past, but to share our data with professional academics in the worlds of Classics and Renaissance warfare.
The late 14th century (trecento) and 15th century (quattrocento) show a sweeping evolution in arms and armour technology and an increased return to combined arms, as the once dominant heavy cavalry found itself challenged by improved archery, pikes and increasingly, gunpowder. Although Italy continued to make particular use of heavy cavalry, the constant warfare between the northern city-states and the dynastic wars in Naples, the use of professional mercenaries, and the growing influence of Humanist writers, put the peninsula both at the head of the late medieval arms-race, and one of the first places in Europe to look back to the Classical world for inspiration on how to train modern armies and use combined arms.
We conducted versions of late medieval infantry clash, with the front ranks in full late 14th or 15th-century harness and without shields.
Witness all of the chaos and excitement of an infantry charge in the video above.