Category: foil

Maestro Ramon Martinez answers questions about Fencing and Fencing History

In this 35 minute interview, Maestro Ramon Martinez sat down to answer questions about fencing and fencing history, which had recently been posed by Facebook members from all over the world. This discussion covers a wide range of topics, including: proper training, the use of the foil and the 18th century small-sword, the Spanish School of Fencing (La Verdadera Destreza), the survival of the rapier during the 18th and 19th centuries, fencing treatises, antiques & museum pieces, the development of protective gear and training equipment, East versus West, historical and classical fencing, and much more. The selected questions were: 

1. 3:18 “What is left out from the texts to make a complete fencer?” 

2. 5:48 “How can one be the most effective and helpful training partner?” 

3. 7:44 “What is the difference between a real smallsword (which has edges) and a foil, and how can it be addressed?” 

4. 15:42 “I always wonder about the history of the training equipment used and what timeframe it developed over. When did fencing masks come in? What were practice swords like?” 

5. 15:55 “I’d like to know about what sort of protective gear was used for training back in the 1700s and 1800s.” 

6. 19:08 “What are the “rapiers” for cut and thrust in the 19th Century (for example mentioned in Monstery’s assaults)? Were they just straight swords like spadroons or light renaissance weapons? Are there any original training or assault weapons known these days?” 

7. 21:55 “Why was Spanish Destreza abandoned when fencing (based on French and Italian styles) developed? Why did Spanish Destreza as a style disappear?” 

8. 24:16 “Did a duel ever happen in which one adversary used a katana and the other a sabre? Or mixing different styles?” 

9. 25:48 “Regarding ‘Vulgar’ fencing, or fencing among peasants and commoners from the early modern period up. Are there are any surviving records or evidence?” 

10. 27:25 “In a world where violent acts with swords are virtually non existent, where duels are forbidden, and everyone fences with padding and blunts, how do you determine growth and progress in the art and science? How do you learn defense, when there is nothing to defend against?” 

11. 30:59 “What is the future of historical/classical fencing? To where are its current practice and attitudes headed?” 

(Interviewer: Ben Miller) 

For more information on Maestro Martinez and the Martinez Academy of Arms, please visit: 

For articles on fencing written by Maestro Martinez, please visit:… 

For the article “A Short History of the Italian Foil” referenced at 17:25 in, please visit:…

Foil vs Other Swords in a Sword Fight?

How to use circular parries with heavier swords (or Foil Fencing technique used with Military Sabre)


The remarkable Captain Flora Sandes – the only British woman to serve as a front-line soldier in WW1

whats the difference between a smallsword and a rapier?

They’re quite similar! But the key differences are:

•smallswords are smaller (who would have guessed)

•smallswords came after the larger, heavier rapier, and served as a court sword (ceremonial) and as a military officers sword for quite some time.

•smallswords were easy to use because at the time, many schools taught the basics of fencing, so even greenhorn soldiers could use the lightweight, small, rigid thrusting sword effectively. It’s small size and light weight made it much easier to handle than the heavy hilted rapier.

•The rapier was designed as a dueling weapon, while the smallswords purpose was that as a backup weapon, like the landsknecht “kaltzbalger”, or the samurai “tanto”, the smallsword was often a rifleman or cannoneers last line of defense.

•Short, lightweight, and rigid, the smallsword was sort of a blend of a rapier and a thrusting dagger like a misericorde or rondel.

I hope this helped clear things up! Let us know if you have more questions or want more details!

-Mod Close-Helm

Smallswords, foils, and practice smallswords.

A look at the weights, lengths and balances of original smallswords, foils, and modern training smallswords. This follows on from Matt’s (Scholagladiatoria) video on the same subject, and discussion currently going on in HEMA groups.

Fencing Foils Compared to Smallswords & Épée

1927 & 1934 Aldo Nadi’s Sword & Dagger Fencing System-Paris-France

Film Issue Dates: 07-10-1927 & 25-04-1934
Locations: Outside (1927) School ground France. Inside (1934) Salle Lacaze- Paris -France.
Description: This film is a combination of footage from 1927 and 1934 showing world champion swordsman Aldo Nadi’s sword and dagger fencing system. It includes some slow-motion takes.

Inside the Time Capsule Fencing Club of Paris