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Maritime Sword School teaches swordplay in Charlottetown

Evan Hill, left, and Michael Smallwood, right, battle with some wooden long swords during a Maritime Sword School practice at St. Jean Elementary School in Charlottetown on Jan. 21, 2018.
Evan Hill, left, and Michael Smallwood, right, battle with some wooden long swords during a Maritime Sword School practice at St. Jean Elementary School in Charlottetown on Jan. 21, 2018. - Mitch MacDonald

CHARLOTTETOWN, P.E.I. - A group in Charlottetown is looking for anyone interested in sharpening up their sword-wielding skills.

Evan Hill, co-ordinator of the Maritime Sword School, said the group uses historically accurate wooden long swords, as well as daggers and smaller one-handed swords, to practise historical european martial arts (HEMA).

Hill, who described the sessions as a “study group with swords”, said he originally started attending since it was a fun and different way to get some exercise.

“And I’ve always been a big fan of shows like Game of Thrones and fantasy video games … To learn how to actually fight accurately with the weapons was a big draw,” said Hill.

The group’s founders started the school in 2016 as a formal structured class.

However, those founders, who were also the group’s instructors, had to leave the group during the past year due to work and other commitments.

Hill said he wanted the group to continue, so he took it over and made it a more informal session where members practise a different technique every night.

“I stood up and took the reigns, as it would have been a shame to see it shut down,” said Hill. “The hope is once we get a core group of people we can start with structured lessons again.”

Members of the Maritime Sword School include, from front left, Michael Smallwood, Evan Hill, Rafael Aguirre, Matt MacDonald, Chris Cheverie and Anthony McLennon. The group, which is open to anyone 16 and older, meets at St. Jean Elementary School every Sunday, 6-9 p.m.
Members of the Maritime Sword School include, from front left, Michael Smallwood, Evan Hill, Rafael Aguirre, Matt MacDonald, Chris Cheverie and Anthony McLennon. The group, which is open to anyone 16 and older, meets at St. Jean Elementary School every Sunday, 6-9 p.m.

Currently, every week sees between six to a dozen individuals attend to learn about the two main formats of swordplay, German and Italian.

Hill himself focuses and instructs based on a German style, which emphasizes more guards and strikes, while another member of the group teaches a more complex and technical Italian style of swordplay.

The group uses material based on historically accurate manuals written by masters centuries ago, as HEMA can be considered an ancestor to modern-day fencing.

The group meets from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. every Sunday at St. Jean Elementary School and is open to anyone 16 and older.

The group provides a limited amount of starter gear, including masks, swords and gloves.

Anyone is free to stop by and check it out, there’s no cost,” said Hill, adding that more info on the group, schedules and updates can be found on its Facebook page, Maritime Sword School.

Mitchell.macdonald@theguardian.pe.ca
Twitter.com/Mitch_PEI

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