Learn Swordplay at Blood & Iron
By Adam Tatelman, Staff Writer
A friend of mine recommended Blood & Iron to me a while back, and I assumed it was a similar operation to Academie Duello. For that reason, I never gave it a second thought until recently. After attending a class, I freely admit that my assumption was sorely mistaken. Blood & Iron is home to extremely qualified instructors with extensive knowledge of the body mechanics behind the techniques they teach and decades of proven tournament experience.
When I asked the instructor if he felt B&I had a tournament focus, he replied, “We have a fighting focus.” To paraphrase his philosophy, all techniques should be practiced with the intent to incapacitate so you can be absolutely sure they will not fail you in a tournament. You can always ease off a technique to make sure an overzealous application won’t net you a penalty. On the other hand, you can’t suddenly beef up something you haven’t practiced.
That said, B&I has a reputation as a force of nature in both local and national tournaments. Their students and instructors often win many years in a row, so their method clearly works. They are less concerned with medieval re-enactment and convention promotions than Academie Duello is, but even casual conversation with the instructors will reveal the extent of their involvement with the martial community at large.
Another difference between B&I and Duello is the facility. Where Duello has an extensive showcase of merchandise for sale, B&I has an extra room for grappling practice. Every square foot of the space is dedicated either to practice or storage. It doesn’t have as elaborate a layout or storefront, but I find that this reflects their all-business focus.
I’m the type of student who asks a lot of questions. So, when I am corrected in practice, I like to know why. I love the martial arts, but there are only so many times I can hear “just because” before I ask for something more specific or walk out. My instructor at B&I studies biokinetics, so he was always ready to discuss the physical processes that make a technique work or fail as he demonstrates it. Thanks to the conversational tone of the class, I never felt the material was dry or boring.
If you’re interested in learning the medieval and renaissance methods of German swordplay, you won’t go wrong with the highly qualified instructors at B&I. Blood & Iron offers training in longsword, dussack (German cleaver), hatchet, buckler shield, rapier and dagger combo, and contemporary knife fighting. They are located at 739 Carnarvon Street New Westminster—only a block from Douglas College.