At the Isaac Walton League of America, Gaithersburg, MD


Read about our instructors here.

Lord Baltimore’s Challenge returns on October 14-15 with a new format - we’re calling it Lord Baltimore’s College!

This will be a weekend filled with opportunities to learn from and train with these top-tier teachers of renaissance swordplay:

On Saturday we will run two tracks of classes.

Track one will be all about Learning New Things. This track will be where you can learn a new system you haven’t explored, or learn techniques from a manual you haven’t had the chance to study. Track two will be all about Skill Development. This track will have classes helping you with learning to evaluate your fighting; getting better at watching others; Improving mechanics; and learning how to approach a fight with a plan from the beginning. Participants are welcome to stick with one track all day, or to choose classes from multiple tracks. See below for class schedule, descriptions, and requirements.

Track 1: Learn New Things

8:00am - Warm Ups, Bumi Fong

8:30am - Back to Basics, Justin Aucoin

10:30am - The Spanish Science and Art of Swordplay, Puck Curtis

12:30pm - LUNCH - Brownbag show and tell on customizing your equipment to work for you, not against you

2:00pm - Rapier mechanics: smooth striking, Guy Windsor

4:00pm - A Taste of Book 2 of Fabris, Tim Lyon

6:00pm - END

Track 2: Skill Development

8:00am - Warm Ups, Bumi Fong

8:30am - Giving and receiving an individual lesson, Guy Windsor

10:30am - Fencing the Unorthodox Opponent, Justin Aucoin

12:30pm - LUNCH - Brownbag show and tell on customizing your equipment to work for you, not against you

2:00pm - The 4-Gone Conclusion - Strategies on Excellence, Puck Curtis

4:00pm - Getting into Fights, David Biggs

6:00pm - END

On Sunday we will introduce a new approach to training for fights and tournaments.

We will divide those in attendance up and assign them to one of our instructors. The members of each team will then focus throughout the day on improving each others’ fighting by using a quasi-tournament structure. They will learn techniques for evaluating themselves and each other, learn how to coach better, and learn techniques for making a plan and implementing it in a match. The teams will train skills, apply the training, and then reconvene and evaluate throughout the day. Each participant will have a chance to learn and to apply the skills, with oodles of support from teammates.

Everyone will stay with their team through the full day, which will culminate in a final round of quasi-tournament - team against team. All in the name of skill development and fun!

We are offering two choices for registration - single day or full weekend. See the registration page for pricing and more details.

Class Descriptions

Justin Aucoin:

Back to Basics - No matter how experienced you are, it's good to work on the fundamentals. This workshop will review the basics of the wider Italian rapier system. Fencers will start off with the simplest of attacks and build up in complexity, working on both technical refinement and tactical decision making. Fencers will also learn how to scale drills to an appropriate challenge rating for both themself and their training partner(s).

Fencing the Unorthodox Opponent - One doesn't need to fence in the SCA or HEMA for long to realize a singular truth -- there are a lot of people that do a lot of weird stuff in rapier. And, of course, dueling against unorthodox opponents can be tricky. This workshop will provide a basic blueprint for analyzing one's opponent, their guard or posture and likely avenues of attack, and then build a basic plan for approaching the fight. This will focus primarily on adapting the greater Northern Italian rapier system to various guards & postures, but students of other fencing systems are encouraged to attend and share their own unique perspectives and solutions.

David Biggs:

Getting into fights: how to approach the first few seconds of an exchange - For those who are developing their tournament mindset and strategy. In this class we will walk through the first few seconds of a fight. We will go from entering into measure to getting the hit and getting out safely, looking at the tactics you can employ at each stage of the fight. If you find that when you enter a fight you are stuck, just guessing, or struggle to have a plan, then this class is meant to help you understand and employ tactics found in CapoFerro, Giganti, Fabris, d'allAgocchie, Manciolino, and several other manuals to confidently enter a fight and know what to do and why in the first seconds of the exchange.

Puck Curtis:

The Spanish Science and Art of Swordplay (Spanish True School) - All fighting asks the question, "Who are you?" The Spanish style of swordplay, and the science that supports it, insists on truth, self-examination, study, and dedication. The system is built with the understanding that it succeeds or fails depending on our ability to realize beautiful execution and art from moment-to-moment not in proscribed fashion but continually creating dynamic art from principles. The tradition is a mechanism of self-transformation and realization of one's better self. This class will present the system at a fundamental level, help the student's to realize execution in their own practice, and examine some high value techniques that should be applicable for a wide variety of martial encounters.

Requirements: Sword held in one hand, mask, gloves, jackets as needed

The 4-Gone Conclusion - Strategies on Excellence (Italian Rapier) - What does excellence in swordplay mean and how do we understand it? How do we train it in ourselves to produce idealized areas of excellence in swordplay? How do we shut down our adversaries and deny them their paths of excellence? What if our strongest most reliable parry... Parry four... the golden quarta we all love, what if that's our problem? Is there another answer waiting? This class will be an examination of common HEMA tournament techniques, weaknesses of habit in general fencing practice, and an exploration of paths less traveled.

Requirements: Sword held in one hand, mask, gloves, jackets as needed

Tim Lyon:

A Taste of Book 2 of Fabris - Salvatore Fabris, one of the most influential sword masters of the late 16th/early 17th centuries, presents something of a rarity in Book 2 in his seminal work, Lo Schermo, overo Scienza d' Arma of 1606: detailed theory and instructions on what he considers his most advanced techniques. These actions, which he describes as “proceeding with resolution,” are meant to unsettle opponents and immediately create tempos to wound by placing them in unremitting obedience. Normally, these techniques require a perfect understanding of the principles in Fabris Book 1, which few of us are able to achieve. Nevertheless, I believe there is value in studying these techniques even if you never intend to risk them.

We will explore several of the methods for proceeding with a sword alone and perhaps one or two with sword and dagger. This class is intended for advanced students who understand measure, line, body structure, and creating and seizing tempo. Normal protective gear is required.

Guy Windsor:

Rapier mechanics: smooth striking - In this class we will establish what moving smoothly feels like, and apply that to various striking actions, such as the lunge, the pass, and the voids. This will enable you to strike faster, more accurately, and with less fatigue.

This class is appropriate to all skill levels. Beginners will benefit from learning the basic actions from the ground up, and more advanced students will benefit from improving their striking mechanics.
Requirements: brain, sword, mask.

Giving and receiving an individual lesson - In this class we will cover how to develop your skills through individual coaching. Once you know the basic choreography of any action, you need to develop the ability to actually apply it. This requires understanding the context it is supposed to work in, and having a way to generate that context at ever-increasing levels of complexity or intensity. We will start by choosing an action to work on, and look at how the coach in each pair can help the student get better at doing it.

We will also look at the approach the student needs to take to make this work well.

By the end of this class you will have a clear process for developing skill, in yourself and in your training partners.

Requirements: brain, sword, mask, jacket or plastron (you’ll get hit a lot).