SparBQ is a Michigan HEMA Association event held in August every year. This year Ars Gladii is hosting SparBQ IV on August 24th at the PARC venue in Plymouth, MI:

PARC-Plymouth Arts & Recreation Complex
650 Church St.
Plymouth, MI 48170.

The parking lot and entrance are located in the back of the facility. 

We have a plethora of classes offered this year; the full schedule is available via the link below.

Additionally we will be hosting the Prize Play for Ben Welch the morning after the event at our school.  More details are below.


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Event Schedule

Instructors & Classes

Instructor – Jesse Kulla

Bio – HEMA guy since before that was a term. He started with the CSG in March of 1999, and has grown up with that organization, now holding a Provost garter.   He’s trained under some great names over the years – Kautz, Hayes, and Tobler top the list of the long timers.   Jesse has attended events all over the US and in England as both student and instructor. Jesse has a side bar in JKD and has extensive training in self-defense methods. He brings a certain thug-like mentality to his Abrazare and Armizare (Fiore for you philistines). His main goals in the HEMA world are to make close quarters fighting effective and relevant to a new generation, and have a lot of fun.

Medieval Barfight!

Incorporating blows into Fiore’s Abrazzare.  While it is made clear the old man intends his system for self-defense rather than sportive use, there are no depictions that clearly indicate these blows.  This 90-minute overview takes a look at linking the mechanics of delivering an unarmed strike, will help you build confidence in the effectiveness of unarmed blows and give some examples of where they fit in an unarmed fight for your self-defense.

  • What are Fireire?
  • How to hit VERY HARD in 15 minutes of less.
  • When can I hit someone and why should I do it?
  • Linking up with wrestling and the knife.

Equipment Requirements: Dagger trainer is recommended but not mandatory.

Instructor – James Reilly

James Reilly began his study of martial arts in his early teens. His first focus was on western boxing, later moving on to Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.  At 20 years of age he joined the Armed Forces where he achieved the rating of Navy Chief after just  5 years of service. He began his study of historical swordsmanship in 2009, after stumbling across the highly acclaimed documentary “Reclaiming The Blade.” He joined the HEMA Alliance as an individual member in 2011.

James is the Principle Instructor of the Wisconsin Historical Fencing Association, Kenosha-Racine. He uses the recital of Liechtenauer as the basis for his longsword curriculum, and has gained some notoriety for his work interpreting Joachim Meyer’s text on the longsword and Rapier. He is the founder and President of the Midwest Historical Fencing League, and has taught at historical fencing workshops across the United States. He holds the Fechter rank by the MFFG in Longsword, dussack, dagger and rapier. He is a free-scholar in the Historical Fencing Affiliates.

Meyer’s Rapier as an Extension of Liechtenauer’s Art

Meyer begins his section on the rapier by proclaiming that the Germans have deviated from the art of the ancient masters.  He says that, the Italians however have created a new weapon, which relies heavily on the techniques long forgotten.  In his rapier section, Meyer sets out to revive this lost art.  The class will go over the core fundamentals of Meyer’s tactical framework with the rapier, and elucidate some of the more esoteric concepts contained within the early KDF canon.

Equipment Requirements: Fencing Mask, Gloves, and Rapier preferred

Instructor – Jerry Berg

Jerry Berg is the founding member of the Grand Rapids HEMA Society.  He has been practicing historical martial arts and participating in historical reenactments since the late 2000’s. For over 3 years he has been instructing HEMA through the local public school system, and is also proud of growing popularity for his interpretations of Aztec martial arts and reviews of low-cost replicas on Youtube. His true passion for HEMA comes from instruction, welcoming new members into the community, and getting closer to recreating history (and the stress-relief from sparring ain’t bad either!!) The Civil War and the Conquest of the New World are his favorite areas of historical research, and his favorite weapons systems in HEMA are the saber and the pike.

Saber – Combat of the Civil War

The American Civil War is often regarded as the “First Modern War” for its frequent use of firearms and other modern technologies, often pushing the representation of hand-to-hand combat training to the background despite the frequency of practice and numerous combat manuals.  This course will begin with the display and discussion about the various types of sabers that were used by the officers, troopers, and other fighters in the American Civil War.  Class will continue to learn the basics of Civil War swordsmanship from two manuals: Thomas Stephens representing the Union and CF Pardigon representing the Confederacy.  While the basics of saber usage are quickly covered, this class will put more emphasis on specific techniques of each manual in order give students a better understanding of how Civil War combat would have occurred.

Equipment Requirements: Synthetic or Steel Saber

Instructor – Scott Jeffers

Scott has been training in Historical European Martial Arts for over 8 years. He began learning Armizare with the Milwaukee Swordplay Academy and like Fiore he sought out teachers from both the Italian and German traditions. With the Kenosha branch of the Wisconsin Historical Fencing Association he learned the Kunst des Fechtens of Liechtenauer and still pursues Meyer’s contributions to the art. Currently he studies Maestro Fiore, Fabris, Marozzo and many other fencing masters through the Chicago Swordplay Guild. In 2018 he was a triple medal winner in the Midwest Historical Fencing League.

Fencing with Fibonacci

Fencing should be both beautiful and effective. In this class we will use the concept of the Fibonacci curve to explore the techniques and tactics of Italian fencing masters from Fiore to Fabris.  Just as the Fibonacci sequence builds upon itself with ever increasing numbers, we will layer techniques, strategies and tactics to achieve our goal, fencing effectively and artfully. We’ll examine the concept of wide play to test and provoke our opponent, the use of measura and tempo to exploit our opponent’s weaknesses and how to finish the fight using narrow play to gain the advantages of geometry and time to strike a perfect blow.

Equipment Requirements:Fencing Mask and Longsword preferred

Instructor – Abbey Rich

Having instantly fallen in love with HEMA, Abbey began as a participant in 2017 with Michigan Medieval Combat Association.  After joining the Lansing Longsword Guild, she was encouraged to share her knowledge and passion of sword and buckler which she had learned from MMCA.  Abbey earned the title of Captain in the MMCA in 2018 for sword and buckler after passing their test to demonstrate an aptitude for teaching, and understanding of the chosen source material (I.33).  She is excited at any new opportunity to pass on her knowledge of this weapon set to others.

Introduction to Sword and Buckler Based on I.33

This class is for beginners who want to learn the basics of fencing with a sword and buckler.  Based on the manuscript MS I.33.  you will learn eight basic wards, and how to use some of them.  

Equipment Requirements:  Single handed sword (preferably an arming sword), a buckler, fencing mask and good sparring gloves.  There will be limited loaners available.

Instructor – Kyle Randall Tansek

Captain Kyle Randall Tansek, chief instructor and founder of the Michigan Medieval Combat Association has been studying and teaching historical weapon fihting ars for over 12 years.  Currently holding degrees of black belts in traditional Okinawan weapon arts and Japanese swordsmanship, Kyle has trained under a living national treasure in Okinawa, Japan and with HEMA scholars in the UK and Italy.  In recent years, he’s been working towards bettering the HEMA community by running events, charity seminars and tournaments; For example hosting free HEMA courses at the world’s largest J.R.R. Tolkien live action event, North America’s largest LARP event, and teaching the importance of medieval manuscripts at school and public libraries.

Sickle Fighting: Paulus Hector Mair

The unscrupulous Paulus Hector Mair is one of the most important figures in the study of HEMA, having left us with some of the most complex and lavishly illustrated combat treatises.  In his own lifetime, he collected and was influenced by over a dozen manuscripts, including works by Talhoffer, Huttor, Jud Lew, Antonius Rast and the Nuremberg Group.  Perhaps the most enigmatic and thought provoking of Mair’s teachings are his seemingly improvised weapons.  In this class we’ll be teaching an overview of the techniques and tactics from his section on the fight with the SICKLE.

Equipment Requirements:  There will be limited loaners.  Hatchet, or one handed axe trainer works well.

Instructor – Lars J. Olsen

Lars J. Olsen doesn’t teach martial arts, he leads guided tours. Expect an open exploration of kinetics, biomechanics, and decision trees that is sure to provoke thought and inspire further training.

Curving Spacetime to the Close

An introduction to Fiore d’ei Liberi’s gioco stretto with an eye towards practical application, students will learn several ways gioco stretto naturally occurs as well as a few tricks to arrive at the close with more intention and possibility. Students will be introduced to a pared down ‘decision tree’ for Fiore’s gioco stretto, and given the opportunity to explore the scholars of stretto and find the ones that work for them.

Equipment Requirements: Fencing Mask and Longsword preferred

Instructor – Jim Lai

Jim started fencing in high school and has been playing with swords ever since.  He began studying Puck Curtis’ Destreza resources in the mid 2000’s and has taught classes on the system both in and outside the context of the Society for Creative Anachronism.  Jim is also a third degree black belt in Tae Kwon Do and has cross trained in Hapkido and Krav Maga.

Colleen Schuldeis

Colleen has been fencing for almost three years in the Chicago area within the context of the Society for Creative Anachronism. Her focus has been Destreza for most of that time.  She also has a four-year background in stage combat specializing in broadsword choreography.

Intro to Destreza

We will cover the basic principles of the Iberian system of civilian sword combat known as La Verdadera Destreza (the true science) and explore some drills that students and instructors can use to practice them.

Equipment Requirements: Gloves, single handed sword required.  Mask recommended but optional.

Instructor – Joe Zagroba

Joe Zagroba has always loved martial arts, and eventually that led him to Ars Gladii in Detroit where he learned in-depth about Historical European Martial Arts with a focus on German Longsword. Over the last year he has travelled across the country to many HEMA events in order to meet other practitioners and learn more about various weapons and interpretations. He is currently delving deeper into Italian fencing manuals.

Classic Italian Dueling Saber

  • This class will:
    •  Talk about the differences of North and South Italy dueling saber
    • How the weight and blade geometry as shaped the parry-riposte system of the weapon
    • Go over the basics of the lunge mechanic and the supporting footwork.
    • The different cutting mechanics of when dueling or fighting in earnest
    • How to use the Moulinet and additional fencing principles.

Equipment Requirements: Single handed sword (preferably a saber), gloves , mask.  There will be limited loans available (single stick).

Instructor – Cameron Metcalf

Cameron Metcalf has been practicing Historical European Martial Arts for almost 4 years, and is an instructor of the West Michigan School of Arms. His primary source is in the German tradition of Joachim Meyer with a focus on longsword, dagger, and wrestling. Cameron has been studying various forms of grappling for over 15 years however his primary focus has been on freestyle wrestling. He sure does love a heckin’ good wrassle.

Biomechanics of grappling

Whether you intend to deep dive into ringen, explore grappling at the sword, or want to familiarize yourself with what to do when you find yourself in a grapple there are some key structural aspects to wrestling that will universally help you in your pursuits. In this class we will explore the concepts of finding your center of gravity, understanding your opponents center of gravity, how to tie up with an opponent thoughtfully, level changing, and honing in on when are opportune or inopportune times to be grappling. (We will also briefly touch on falling, though with limited space and a non-soft surface this portion will be left to discussion only).

Equipment Requirements:  None. 

**This class will encourage students to work very closely with one another and will generally be in each other’s “personal” space. This however is not required, and if a student would prefer to observe rather than participate that is perfectly fine! Above all else, we want everyone to be happy and comfortable.

Instructor – Brian Puckett

Brian Puckett is the Liechtenauer Study Group organizer for the Minneapolis Amateur Swordfighting Association in Minneapolis, MN. He is a Free Scholar in the Historical Fencing Affiliates, and has focused for the past several years on interpretation and practice of Johannes Liechtenauer’s fencing doctrine. He is the author of “A ‘Concise’ Introduction to Liechtenauer”, and other interpretive essays addressing the key ideas in Liechtenauer’s approach to fencing with the longsword and other weapons — available online at

The Liechtenauer Toolbox: A Concise Introduction

This workshop will present a high-level survey and introduction to the Liechtenauer doctrine for unarmored longsword. The goal is to help those new to Liechtenauer gain an initial framework for reading and understanding the source so they can explore it further on their own.

If you are a beginner wondering what Liechtenauer’s fencing is like, an intermediate-level practitioner looking to dive into the Liechtenauer sources and explore what comes next after “common fencing”, or an experienced practitioner of a non-Liechtenauer source wanting to develop skills for dealing with Liechtenauer fencers, this workshop will help!

We will cover a brisk discussion of Liechtenauer and his context, how Liechtenauer’s Zettel seems to be organized and the key concepts it uses, and use demonstrations and drills to illustrate key concepts and techniques that a Liechtenauer fencer might use in a variety of frequent fencing scenarios. We will also discuss how the Liechtenauer fight offers useful tools to all manner of fighters – the strong and the weak; the tall and the short; and “Out-fencers,” “In-fencers,” and “Counter-fencers.”

Equipment Requirements: Fencing mask, light or heavy gloves, longsword trainer (nylon or steel)

Instructor – Adam Franti

Adam is a three-weapon Fechter and Research Scholar in the Meyer Freifechter Guild and a Free-Scholar of the Historical Fencing Association. He started modern olympic fencing in 2005, and has been active in HEMA tournaments since 2015, earning multiple medals in longsword and rapier. Having earned a master’s degree in history in 2018, he uses his academic skills to study the martial culture of Early Modern Europe, with a particular focus on the Freifechter tradition of Germany, and Salvatore Fabris’ rapier system.

In 2017, Adam found the Lansing Longsword Guild, and has been an event organizer and instructor for the clubs in Michigan, and was one of the founders of the Midwest Historical Fencing League. He hopes to promote deep source study and healthy body mechanics to create skillful, crafty fencers that are, above all, fun to fence.

The Dusack: “The True Source of All Combat”

Meyer’s treatise is divided into sections that explore weapons in use by Burghers of the 16th Century Holy Roman Empire.  The first two sections, the Longsword and Dusack, are described as “the true source of all combat.”  Both of these sections are deliberately truncated to provide a simple foundation for students largely unfamiliar with the martial system of “the old masters,” and to encourage fencers to think of art and craft in their fencing, instead of “peasant brawling.”  Lessons in the Longsword and Dusack provide a foundation for understanding all of Meyer’s system.

Equipment Requirements: Dusack, messer, gloves, mask with back of head protection, chest guard, and cup.  There will be limited loaner weapons available.

Prize Play 8/25 – Ben Welch!

Do you wish that SparBQ was longer than one day? Well too bad, but we have the next best thing. We’re hosting Ben Welch’s Prize Play on the morning of Sunday, August 25th! Make your one day Hema vacation into two! Explore what you learned at SparBQ by participating in Ben’s Prize Play, or watch and share the experience. 

For those of you who do not know him, Ben Welch began studying under Aaron Pynenberg in 2008 at the age of 14. Like all of Aaron’s students, he was trained largely within Meyer’s Longsword system. After High School he was one of the first to join the newly formed WHFA. Shortly after, he was introduced to the work of Gérard Thibault, and it quickly became his personal focus of study. In 2014 he was elevated to instructor and entrusted with the Appleton chapter’s children’s program. He finally obtained an Adept rank within Thibault’s system in 2018.


Lansing Longsword Guild held a raffle at last year’s SparBQ event, and it was very well-received by the local HEMA community. Ars Gladii decided to do the same thing this year. We reached out to various HEMA and WMA suppliers and event organizers for items to donate to the raffle, and let us just say that the responses have been amazing!

Look forward to gear, media, art, and more (and dare I say, something shiny) from the below Vendors and Event Coordinators. Also, keep watch on the Facebook Page for some spoilers!

Arms & Armor

HEMA Supplies

Freelance Academy Press

Purpleheart Armory

Icebreaker HEMA Tournament

To enter into the raffle it’ll be $5 for five tickets. Attendees may purchase additional tickets as desired.

Arms & Armor Table

We didn’t expect this at all, but thanks to the wonderful consideration of James and Craig, Arms & Armor will be setting up a table at this year’s event!!!

If you have not had the pleasure of handling weapons from A&A, you are in for a special treat. These guys make some absolutely astounding WMA and HEMA weapons, both sharp and blunt.

Do you want a great, historically-influenced training weapon? Are you interested in a variety of weapons that are both functional and aesthetically pleasing in equal measure? Arms & Armor will be here to help.

And just in case you didn’t see the link above, here it is again. Go visit their site, drool over their wares, and look forward to seeing some in person.