All of which was why I was so excited to discover recently that Vancouver has its very own swordfighting academy. Academie Duello, tucked away inconspicuously on West Hastings Street, is the world’s largest centre for the practice of historical European swordplay. In other words, they teach you how to fight with swords and shields, rapiers, staffs and knives. Now, how cool is that?
Academie Duello seems to be set up kind of like a gym or a fitness studio. You can choose from a range of classes that best meet your swordfighting needs and fitness goals. Novices might start with Taste of the Renaissance, an eight-class intro to the rapier, sidesword and longsword. From there, you work your way up the ranks to becoming a master swordsman (or -woman).
Or maybe you’re just interested in getting a good, calorie-burning workout involving swords. That’s where Swordfit Bootcamp comes in – a six-week course to “help you develop the strength, fitness, and agility of a medieval warrior,” while also really toning your gluts and abs. Here’s a video clip of a class from YouTube:
Classes take place inside a big open studio in a restored heritage building. Students wear protective gloves and, for full action drills, scary-looking full-face helmets. Actual swords are used (really heavy ones, in fact), but blades are unsharpened and the tips are dull.
And there’s a whole host of other quirky, irresistibly interesting classes on offer, as well. Perhaps you’ve always wanted to learn how to defend yourself with an umbrella. Umbrella Self-Defence would be just the thing. A special Knight Camp has been designed for kids, and there are even horsemanship courses for the fine art of combat on horseback.
A little tip: If you mention their website, you get one free swordfighting lesson.
Has anyone enrolled in a course at Academie Duello? I’d love to hear about your experiences. Please leave a comment below.