Workshop on Thibault's "Academie de l'Espée" by David Rawlings

In the weekend of 26 and 27 January 2013, the School for Historical Fencing Arts, in association with the London Longsword Academy, organised a workshop focussing on Girard Thibault's very interesting "Academie de l'Espée". The workshop was a two day event, so there was a lot of time to really dive into Thibault's work, and take a unique look.

When the Antwerp-born Girard Thibault returned from a long stay in Spain, he brought with him a system of fencing that he himself adapted from La Verdadera Destreza. La Verdadera Destreza (The True Art) was a Spanish system of fencing that was developed by don Jerónimo Sánchez de Carranza and his student don Luis Pacheco de Narváez, based on the ideas of Italian Camillo Aggrippa. When Thibault presented his system at a fencing masters gathering in Rotterdam in 1611, he won first prize. This also won him an invitation to the court of Prince Maurice where he demonstrated his system to the Prince (who was a great supporter of the art of fencing). After several years of traveling and demonstrating his system, Thibault settled in Leiden where he wrote his treatise, and had stunning engravings made to illustrate it. His book, the "Academie de l'Espée" was published by Elsevier in 1630, a few years after Thibault's death.

As in Destreza, Thibault advices keeping the arm and weapon fully extended at shoulder height. Furthermore, in contrast to most rapier fencing systems, he advocates a fully upright position, with the feet held together. From this position, natural steps and control of the opponent's blade are used to safely close into measure, and wound the opponent. Thibault was further known as a great longsword fencer, and a lot of the ideas he presents do indeed carry over to longsword fighting as well.

David Rawlings is the founder and chief instructor of the London Longsword Academy, and the Boars Tooth Fight School. In addition to teaching I.33 (Sword and Buckler), German Longsword, Dussack, and dagger, David has been researching and teaching Thibault's "Academie de l'Espée" for several years. During the workshop, David Rawlings will share his interpretation with us, and will show us what Thibault's "Academie de l'Espée" is all about.

The workshop was open for all people interested in Thibault's "Academie de l'Espée" and rapier fighting. For more information please send an e-mail to Thibault ~at~

A selection of photographs taken during the event can be found here.

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