FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
What kind of swordplay do you teach?
At Ottawa Swordplay, we teach a system of swordplay based on the teachings of a medieval swordmaster named Johannes Liechtenauer, who lived in the 14th century in what is now Germany. Liechtenauer developed a complete system of fighting for the knightly classes, which included how to fight with the spear, sword, knife and dagger, and wrestling. The longsword, or sword for two hands, was the central weapon of Liechtenauer’s system, so that is the first weapon we teach. More advanced classes describe how to extend the fundamentals of longsword to other weapons, including the sword in one hand, wrestling and dagger, polearms, and others.
Where can I learn more about the historical sources?
Our curriculum is based on research and interpretation of primary sources. Our core source for the longsword is the Jud Lew Fechtbuch, closely supported by the Ringeck and Von Danzig manuscripts. Our core source for the sword in one hand is Johannes Lecküchner’s
Kunst des Messerfechtens. Other core sources include the Gladiatoria series for armoured combat, the works of Ott Jud for wrestling, and the Walpurgis Fechtbuch for sword and buckler.
Copies of the Jud Lew Fechtbuch and the Gladiatoria series are available from our store; other manuscripts may also be available, but our stock can vary. If you are interested in ordering a particular manuscript, please speak with an instructor. We also maintain a library of sources at the swordhall, which students are welcome to read. Many manuscripts are also available online through resources such as the Wiktenauer.
Do you use real swords?
The swords we use in our training are as close as possible to historical examples, but are blunt so that we can train safely.
While we strive to remain as historically accurate as possible in our teachings, we teach in a modern context. Safety is a top priority for us, and we make use of modern safety gear such as fencing masks.
For our youth classes, we primarily train with foam weapons, for added safety.
What is the culture like at Ottawa Swordplay?
At Ottawa Swordplay, we are strongly committed to inclusiveness and safety. Please see our Code of Conduct, and our Freeplay Safety Policy. We believe that everyone should have the opportunity to learn swordplay in a welcoming environment. We offer a women’s only longsword class, taught by a woman, for those who would prefer it to our open novice courses.
What class should I take first?
New students should start with our Novice Longsword class, which teaches the foundations of technique and the terminology we use at Ottawa Swordplay. Students who have completed our Novice program can take our Core Longsword class to expand their repertoire of longsword techniques, or branch out into another weapon such as the sword in one hand or wrestling and dagger.
What ages do you offer classes for?
Exceptions are sometimes available, such as when parents and children would like to take classes together. Please speak with a staff member or email firstname.lastname@example.org if you are interested in this option.
What should I wear to class?
Students should wear clothes they are comfortable moving in, such as athletic pants and a t-shirt. Students should also bring indoor shoes to keep our floors clean - running or court shoes are a good choice. Finally, students will need a fencing mask to take our classes - we offer these to buy or rent, or students can bring their own if they own one in good condition.
What should I do if I miss a class?
If you miss a class, you can make it up by attending another class of the same course offered the same week. Our instructional week runs Tuesday to Saturday, and all classes in a week offer the same lesson for a given course.
If you cannot attend another class offered that week, or none are offered, you can arrange a make-up lesson by speaking to an instructor or emailing email@example.com. Catch-up time is usually available in the final week of a term. You can also attend a workshop in place of the class you missed.
Where can I buy gear? What gear do I need?
The only specialised gear students need to begin taking classes at Ottawa Swordplay is a fencing mask, which can be bought or rented from our store. More advanced forms of freeplay require more protective gear, much of which can also be purchased from our store. We also offer training weapons such as swords and daggers.
Any gear bought in our store is safe for use, as we review gear for safety before offering it for sale. Gear purchased from other sources may also be safe, but an instructor may ask to review it before you use it at our swordhall. If you are thinking about purchasing gear from another source, it is recommended to discuss it with an instructor before you order, to make sure it meets our safety requirements.
A list of required gear for different forms of freeplay can be found on the Freeplay Gear Requirements page.
What is my rank?
Students who have not yet completed the Novice Longsword class do not yet have a rank and are usually called novices. Once a student completes the Novice Longsword class, they can obtain the rank of Schrankhut, and will receive their first rank badge. Subsequent ranks can be obtained by passing a skills demonstration, which you can schedule by speaking to an instructor or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
The current list of Ottawa Swordplay ranks are:
How do I earn a higher rank?
Higher ranks are earned by successfully completing a skills demonstration. The first skill demonstration to achieve Schrankhut rank is included as the final week of the Novice Longsword class. Subsequent skills demonstrations should be arranged by speaking with an instructor or emailing email@example.com. The final week of term is usually available for skills demonstrations, or sometimes other options are also available, such as on our open training nights or Friday fight nights.
What are your memberships and what do the different levels mean?
Adult students who have completed the Novice program can take classes by signing up for one of our monthly membership levels. You can see information about this on our main page, or by editing your member profile.
Adult students who have completed the Novice course can register for classes by signing up for one of three different monthly membership levels:
When you sign up, you will be prompted to select which class you are registering for. If you ever want to change, just let us know!
For students who signed up for one of our previous membership levels before our signup model change in April 2020, please contact us if you have not already had your previous membership converted.