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National Historical Swordsmanship Convention 2012

July 5-8, 2012

2012 Theme: The Judicial Duel

The National Historical Swordsmanship Convention (NHSC) is a 4-day special event that brings top level instruction in early-Renaissance European swordsmanship to fencers of all experience levels. NHSC will provide an integrated, focused approach that will take your historical fencing to the next level.

NHSC 2011 Participants


NHSC is a cohesive, full-immersion course. Rather than offering a “menu” of unrelated classes spanning various subjects, classes at NHSC will focus on the basics and advanced basics of early-Renaissance swordsmanship. From body-mechanics and footwork to unarmed combat, from swordsmanship to pole arms, each class builds off of the next so that students will not only gain exposure to different weapon styles, but also develop a stronger level of proficiency and competence as a martial artist.

There will also be talks on historical context, with an opportunity for participants to handle authentic period swords as well.

NHSC 2011 Pole Arms


NHSC provides top level professional instruction.

BILL GRANDY, Director of Historical Swordsmanship at the Virginia Academy of Fencing

Bill has taught historical European martial arts professionally over the past decade. He has extensive experience in modern sport fencing as well as Aikido. He eventually devoted his studies to Italian rapier and the Liechtenauer tradition of historical European martial arts. He has been invited to teach across the country for various schools and events, including at the Western Martial Arts Workshop, Longpoint and Chivalric Weekend. Bill is also a longtime collector of historical weaponry, and he is part of the team, where he is a regular contributor to articles. For the weekend of NHSC he will be teaching 15th century German swordsmanship (the Liechtenauer tradition) utilizing the langes messer (long knife), Ringen (German unarmed combat) and pole arms.

Tom Leoni

TOM LEONI, Founder of the Order of the Seven Hearts and one of the principal Historical Swordsmanship Instructors at the Virginia Academy of Fencing

Tom is one of the leading researchers of Renaissance Italian martial arts. He is regularly invited to teach all across the world at venues such as the International Swordfighting and Martial Arts Convention and the Vancouver International Swordplay Symposium. Tom’s methodology as a researcher and a teacher is strongly philological, and relies on the direct and precise analysis of the period texts within their cultural context, and is regarded as the leading researcher of the rapier system of Salvator Fabris. He has published some of the top translations of historical fencing treatises for Renaissance and medieval Italian martial arts. Tom will be teaching at NHSC 16th century Italian swordsmanship (the Bolognese school) utilizing the sword and shield, the spadone (the great 16th century two hander) and polearms.

Christian Tobler


NHSC is proud to host Christian Henry Tobler of the Selohaar Fechtschule as an instructor for 2012. Christian is a well known published author of the Liechtenauer tradition of medieval martial arts. He has been researching and teaching these arts all over the world for well over a decade, and has been one of the forerunners for the revival of historical European swordsmanship in the modern world. Christian teaches at his own school in Oxford, Connecticut, which also has multiple chapters throughout the United States. He has also been invited to teach at private seminars and public events all around the world, including the Symposium on the Western Arts of Swordsmanship through History and the Western Martial Arts Workshop. For NHSC, Christian will be teaching techniques of Harnisfechten: the art of combat in full plate armor.


NHSC is for all experience levels, from the total beginner to the experienced veteran of historical martial arts. With three professional instructors plus additional VAF coaches to assist, everyone can expect personalized attention for their own skill levels. Age 14 to adult. Minors must have signed permission of a legal guardian.

NHSC 2011 Grappling


Virginia Academy of Fencing, 5401-B Port Royal Road, Springfield, VA 22151 (just outside of Washington DC).

Registration and Contact Information

Participants can sign up for individual days, or for the entire four day event. Though each class builds off of the previous classes, the event is structured so that students can still jump in despite having skipped previous days. The registration cost is $385 for all four days (best value), $235 for both Saturday and Sunday combined, or $125 per day if registered by July 1, 2012.

VAF members will receive a 10% discount, but you must register in person at VAF, not online.

For non-VAF members, please use the following links:

To register for all four days of NHSC (best value), click here:

To register for our Saturday/Sunday two-day option, click here:

To register for Thursday (Day 1) only, click here:

To register for Friday (Day 2) only, click here:

To register for Saturday (Day 3) only, click here:

To register for Sunday (Day 4) only, click here:

For additional information, please contact Bill Grandy at

Also, please visit us on our Facebook page!

NHSC 2011 Sword and Buckler


All participants at minimum are required to have a fencing mask, jacket, gloves and practice weapons. Participants must wear long athletic pants and non-marking athletic shoes. Equivalent or additional historical clothing and protection acceptable. All necessary equipment is available for purchase or rent on site.

Practice weapons:

  • Dagger. Martial Arts dagger and knife simulators come in wood, rubber, aluminum, or blunted steel. Acceptable substitutions are a 10" long dowel rod, or rolled up magazine taped shut.
  • Single Hand Sword. Training swords MUST be the type designed for Historical European Martial Arts training. These can be wooden, aluminum, or nylon wasters, or they can be blunt steel trainers. (Examples are the "Maestro Line" from Albion Swords, the "Training Line" from Arms and Armor, or the "Practical Series" from Cas Hanwei) Note that it does not have to be a specific type sword, provided it can be used in one hand comfortably for cutting actions. (e.g. an arming sword, a messer, and a "sidesword" trainer will all be acceptable) An acceptable budget alternative is a wooden dowel rod that is approximately 35"-40" long and at least 1" thick.
  • Spadone/Greatsword. Training swords MUST be the type designed for Historical European Martial Arts training. The main ones available on the market are the steel trainer from Arms and Armor and the wooden wasters from Purpleheart Armory. An acceptable budget alternative is a wooden dowel rod that is approximately 5 feet in length and at least 1" thick. This can double as your staff. If you are a longsword fencer and already have a longsword trainer, this will be acceptable as an alternative.
  • Staff. A quarterstaff can be a specific martial arts staff, or it can be a long piece of hardwood that is at least 5 feet in length (preferably longer, but we understand travel constraints). This can double as your Spadone trainer.
  • Poleaxe. It is acceptable to use a regular staff for poleaxe training, but the ideal situation is to use a trainer designed for poleaxe play. The ideal example is the rubber headed version made by Purpleheart Armory.
  • Buckler. A buckler is a small shield held in the fist. These should be approximately 7"-10", though slightly bigger or small will be acceptable.

Class Description

All four days will begin at 9:00 AM and finish at 5:30 PM, with a 1 hour break at 12:30. There will be time for coached free fencing after classes are done. NHSC classes will cover body mechanics, unarmed combat, the use of the German langes messer (long knife) and single handed sword, the Bolognese sword and shield, the Italian spadone (the great 16th century two handed sword), and the use of pole arms. Click here for the detailed class desciptions.

Rules for Free Play

After classes are done participants are encouraged to stay and engage in free play. SAFETY IS THE #1 PRIORITY. For more information on the rules for free play after class, please click here.


Food is not provided. There will be the option for lunch delivery during the morning of each day, and there are also shops nearby. There will also be dinner at a local restaurant at the end of each day, and a dinner on site on Saturday night (more details will be posted later).

VAF has changing rooms and showers. You will need your own towel and toiletries.

VAF has vending machines for beverages and snacks.

All necessary equipment can be purchased at the VAF store.