Historical Swordsmanship

The sword arts that were practiced on battlefields and dueling grounds of the Middle Ages and Renaissance are the roots of modern day fencing. VAF is only one of a handful of schools in North America to offer systematic instruction in historical weaponry: the rapier and the longsword. Classes appeal to those with an interest in history and are not competitive nor theatrical. Students must be at least 9 years old to begin. Youth classes (9-13 years) and adult/teen classes are offered.


VAF is one of the few fencing schools in North America where you can receive professional instruction with the 14th & 15th century weapon known as the longsword.

This noble knightly weapon was a symbol of authority, power, and honor in the Middle Ages. Hollywood movies often portray this as an awkward and slow weapon, but in real life these were very lightweight and quick, as students will quickly learn. VAF's Historical Swordsmanship program focuses primarily on the teachings of the German Medieval Fencing Master Johannes Liechtenauer, whose tradition became one of the main martial arts systems of Europe at the time.

Students are introduced to the basic guards and strikes of the Liechtenauer school of fencing. They may then continue their study of longsword fencing at the intermediate and advanced levels, where they also learn related skills of fencing with single-handed sword and buckler, staff and polearms, and dagger.


The rapier was the dueling weapon of the Renaissance. It was a weapon of distinction, carried by gentlemen as a means of self-defense and honor. This style of fencing is characterized by its quickness and precision. VAF's Historical Swordsmanship program focuses on the Italian school of rapier fencing, which was one of the most influential styles. Our primary focus is on the tradition of the Italian master Salvator Fabris, whose teachings were recorded and practiced by both commoners and kings all over Europe.

Students are introduced to the basic stances, guards and techniques of Italian rapier combat. They may then go on to study rapier fencing at the intermediate and advanced levels, where they learn more advanced techniques and also study related arts of fighting with the dagger and Renaissance staff.