David Farrell

David Farrell

Class: Late-Medieval Common Fencing
Level: Intro

Instructor Bio

Dave ‘Sparky’ Farrell has been practicing Historical European Swordsmanship for over 10 years, and is one of the primary instructors of Ars Gladii. His main interests are late medieval combat, grappling, and basic body mechanics. He began his martial arts training in the Armizare tradition of Fiore dei Liberi at the Chicago Swordplay Guild, where he earned the rank of Scholar, and acted as an instructor for several years before moving to the Detroit area and linking up with Ars Gladii. He has also studied American Catch Wrestling, modern Freestyle Wrestling, is active in a 14th century living history group, and occasionally applies some of his former day-job to sword-related stuff on his blog: Sparky’s Sword Science.

Class Description

The surviving fighting manuscripts from the two main late-medieval traditions (Central European and Italian Peninsula) commonly reference that their contents is not all there is of the Art. Furthermore, they often describe responses or manners of dealing with certain scenarios that they don’t elaborate on, possibly assuming their audience is aware of those details. Some even explicitly reference themselves in contrast to some ‘other’, presumably less refined, but effective, method of fighting. As we study these arts, it’s useful to consider what this ‘other’, this ‘Common Fencing’ was and how we may use it to fill in the ‘prerequisite’ material the masters may have expected their students know.

This class will briefly dive into some of this mode of Common Fencing, derived from the assumed actions and situations from a variety of manuscripts, combined with some basic combat/fencing theory and body mechanics. Specifically, it will focus on using the longsword to establish basic fencing principles and techniques, branching into basic ideas of grappling and dagger in a similar manner. It is aimed at beginniners trying to get a feel for the medieval art of arms, but may be of interest for more advanced practitioners looking for a different view on some basic underpinnings. And if I can remember, I’ll even bring some handouts.


Longsword Trainer
Fencing Mask
Set of thin gloves
Dagger Trainer
Gambeson/fencing jacket or similar
(Limited amount of loaner equipment will be available to those without)