Guy Windsor and The School of European Swordsmanship has arranged the week-long Fiore Extravaganza seminar once a year during the summer. This summer the dates are June 29th-July 6th 2013.
How many Extravaganzas you have arranged?
– This year will be the fifth. The first, in 2008, was called “5 days of Fiore” and ran from Wednesday to Sunday; the current, longer, format is better for retention, as there is more training time, and a bit more down-time.
I suppose that it is the most important seminar of the fencing year at The School of European Swordsmanship?
– It’s certainly the biggest, and tends to be well attended. I have also found that it tends to lead to new insights and hence syllabus and interpretation developments. I think though that how important it is depends on whether it happens to generate new insights, in me or in the students present.
Earlier you have gone through il Fior di Battaglia (The Flower of Battle) written by Fiore dei Liberi around 1409. Was it the original idea of Extravaganza?
– Yes. The original idea was to go through as many sections as possible, play by play, showing the students the book first, reading out the text, and then doing the actions literally by the book. That is a critically important process, of course, but by the third year we needed to go deeper, so in the third Extravaganza we focussed on what the player (the one losing in the play) was doing that made the particular play we were working on the best possible solution. And last year we included a lot of Vadi.
On the Extravaganza 2012 we spent much of our time working through another Italian fencing master, Filippo Vadi’s, fencing theory. I suppose that you brought Vadi into the Extravaganza because you were researching his manual for your Veni Vadi Vici book (now published)?
– That was part of it, yes. The content of all my books are worked out in class, of course. Which makes the students on the one hand guinea pigs, and on the other, research assistants and even co-authors! But also, it was a natural fit because Vadi’s book seems to draw heavily on Fiore, and adds a significant layer of insight for Fiore scholars. And several students who were thinking of attending practically begged me to include Vadi. I am a sucker for enthusiasm, so thought, why not?
Extravaganza 2013 we will study Fiore, Vadi and Liechtenauer? How did you get this idea?
– At the end of last year’s Extravaganza, I was discussing the next one with the students present, and the idea came to focus on the longsword, then we thought that it would be cool to expand that into a complete look at the way the longsword was being used in the 1400s. So enter Liechtenauer, master of the German school.
There will be a guest instructor this time Mr. Stefan Dieke. Could you introduce him?
– Certainly! Stefan is an old and dear friend of mine, and also a professional HEMA instructor in Germany. He has been working on Liechtenauer for about as long as I have been working on Fiore.
This will be his third trip to teach at SES. He has a very straightforward and practical approach to the art, which I think the students here will enjoy.
Is he the first guest instructor in the history of Extravaganza?
– Indeed he is. But probably not the last! I have always had a policy of inviting instructors in from abroad, especially in areas or systems where I don’t know so much.
Indeed, there will be two more coming to Finland this year alone: Chris Chatfield, teaching a seminar on Saviolo this August 17th and 18th; then in November Paul Wagner returns, though we have not set the topic yet.
What do you hope and expect from the coming Extravaganza 2013?
– Well, firstly I am looking forward to the energy and enthusiasm that the students tend to bring to this event. It is special.
I am also looking forward to seeing how my take on Vadi squares with Stefan’s Liechtenauer interpretation. It is my current theory that the Germans and Vadi are using a longer sword than Fiore, which leads to specific similarities in the response to the zogho stretto bind.
And top-secret, tell no-one, I am also looking for ideas from Stefan about the content for a Liechtenauer module for our current syllabus…
– Mika –