The Western Martial Arts Workshop is the premier North American event for hands-on study of Historical European and American Martial Arts
Playing host to an instructor list ranging worldwide, and classes for all levels of student, the Western Martial Arts Workshop provides the best series of classes, collegiality and research available in the Western Arts today!
What the WMAW is About
WMAW is for anyone interested in Western fighting styles — from the Medieval to Early Modern American. Whether you are a long-time historical fencer looking to enhance your training through an in-depth class with some of today's top instructors, a newcomer just getting your feet wet, an Asian martial artist curious about the methods of your western counterparts, or a fight choreographer who'd like to add a layer of historical accuracy to your staged violence, we guarantee that this event has something for you.
Marco Quarta, Nova Scrimia Fencing Master and head instructor, will be teaching the worksop:
Italian Grappling: Hercules joins earth to heaven (or the art of projecting bodies in the air and take down heads to the ground
In the mythology, Hercules during his trials had to wrestle with Antaeus the giant, son of Gaia, mother earth who was giving him his supernatural powers when they were in contact. To beat him, Hercules had to lift him up, reaching the sky where his own father, Zeus, was watching. By doing so, Hercules deprived Antaeus from his source of power, turning him into a simple human. That made easy for Hercules to crash Antaeus in the air, returning him down to earth powerless. Neoplatonics considered this challenge as a symbol between the higher and lower principles, like in the alchemic symbology of the ouroboros where a dragon and a snakes bite each others' tails, according to the idea of a continuous tension of the human soul. For Neoplatonics, human beings tend to the Good (Gods of Heaven). However, they are unable to reach the perfection due to a constant risk to fall into the irrationality moved by instincts (Gods of Earth). The drama of "being" is then challenged constantly by the awareness of running after this unreachable condition. The myth of wrestling become then, for the Hero, a sacred practice to fight himself, elevating his spirit to heaven, standing in the fury and tempest of the fight, in the reflection of himself observed in the grappling hug with the opponent.
In this workshop, we will focus on one specific aspect of Italian grappling, originated from ancient Greek-Roman wrestling: the domain of the inside center of mass to detach the opponent from the ground, nullifying his power by taking him in the air. The gain of that momentum will grant the wrestler the power of reverting the opponent's coordinates, "projecting" his head or face down, back to earth.
We will cross-reference Fiore's work across the different existing manuscripts of the Flos Duellatorum (early 15th century) with other sources of "lotta Italiana" of the Renaissance period. For instance, we will explore commonalities of Fiore's "abracar" in other sources, such as Petri Monti's Exercitiorum atque artis militaris collectanea in tris libros distinct (a Milanese manuscript printed in 1509) or the ca. 1500 lucta tiburtyna.
We will explore techniques and tactics of the "abracar" as they were integrated in the regular academic curricula by Renaissance fencing masters. To this end, original correspondence (dated 1443) between the Bologna city council and the Bolognese Master Filippo (o Lippo) di Bartolomeo Dardi (considered the master of Master Guido Antonio di Luca, who was himself the Master of Achille Marozzo) describes how "abracar" (named in the document as "zuocho dele braze") was part of the regular martial teaching. In particular, "abracar" was included together with stick, sword and dagger fencing classes, documents from "Archiginnasio" historical archive show. Practice still alive today in several regional and familiar Italian fighting styles across the Italian Peninsula.
We will cover both ends of the spectrum, dissecting the "abracar" in the use of "Zoghi di Concordia" (plays of concord) — for the playful practice — and "Zoghi d'Ira" (plays of anger and fury) for the defense and combat. To use the words of Master Antonio Manciolino, we will study the Art (of "abracar") for "il diletto, la scienza e la conservazione della vita": the delight, the science and the conservation of life.