We say Classical Fencing a lot. What do we mean? Specifically, we mean a “gold standard” of instruction based upon proven technique. Very academic in nature and focusing on the non-fighting weapons, sometimes referred to as the conventional weapons: foil, epee and sabre.
In this way we think of classical fencing not as an end, but the means to the end. We use classical fencing as a pedagogical approach. Added to this concept is our own flavor of “perpetual training”. We do not offer classes. After a probationary 1 year period (the novitiate) novices become fencers (fencing students) and continue to train much as they had before, albeit with expanded privileges and more knowledge and skill. This process never stops. Some of my training partners who have been with me for over 7 years now continue to work with the same material as those 3-4 years their junior.
We have no ranks other than senior and junior. When you walk in the door for the first time everyone is your senior. You know that you can count on everybody there to help you out. The next person who walks in the door is your junior and you realise the reflexive obligation to help them, too.
Fighting Style is where we are headed. For us the academics and conventions and histories are very lovely and necessary; and yet at the end of the night we are left with the nagging question that haunts every fencer at some point in time – how is this practical? how can I best achieve an applicable technique with a sword and not just academic/technical proficiency with a training instrument? For some, this is not an independent question and they have gone so far as to start the carping at us for attempting to answer it at all. Others find adequate answers in the Classical pedagogy. Some people delve even further into the history and look for the answer among heavier and older weapons. We just try to look more closely at the body movement, blade efficiency and strategies that work consistently and practically. Applicable technique. (Example, in the CF world there is a slogan beat to death, almost to the point of meaninglessness – to fence as though the blades be sharp. But how many fencers train with sharp blades? How many fencers have ever seen one? Broken blades don’t count.)