Sword fighters from 9 states compete
Participants use historical longswords and techniques from 15th and 16th century manuals
L’Arte Della Bellica, a historical fencing school in Kutztown, hosted the 2nd annual FlowerPoint Longsword Tournament at the Kutztown University Student Recreation Center on March 24.
“Swords are fun. And there’s something about being able to use a sword the way it was intended to and the way it’s been done historically,” said Patrick McCaffrey, of Kutztown, co-instructor and organizer for L’Arte Della Bellica (Italian for the art of war).
Part of the Mid-Atlantic Re-
gion Longsword Tournament League called the Longpoint Historical Fencing League, the tournament attracted about 85 competitors from 21 clubs across nine states to compete with historical longswords and techniques resurrected from manuals written in the 15th and 16th centuries.
“It’s a lot of fun. It’s very safe,” he said. “You’ll see people anywhere from 18 years old to mid 60s fighting today, men and women. All body types fight. People with disabilities fight. It’s really a great community, and it’s really about community more than anything.”
McCaffrey talked about the camaraderie shared by the fighters who participate in clubs across the region.
“It is a very giving environment. It is intended to foster friendship. A lot of these people will be friends for years afterwards,” said McCaffrey. “There are people who see each other once a year and just give each other great big hugs because they’re just so happy to see each other.”
He said that the tournament itself focuses on the principle of not allowing yourself to be hit while trying to hit your opponent.
All competitors are placed into pools of five fighters, where they will face everyone else in their pool for three exchanges. An exchange is a quality hit as determined by judges and the director, he said.
The fighters may score points by hitting their opponents with the blade of the sword, or by taking their opponents sword, or throwing them to the ground.
“This is done with the intention that the techniques found in the manuals we study will be performed on an unwilling opponent,” McCaffrey said.
After two rounds of pools, the top 25 competitors who have been hit the least move onto an Elimination Pool, and the top five of those fighters move onto the finals pool where the winner will take home a brand new, hand-forged sword.
“Historical European Martial Arts has been a thing for the past 20 or 30 years. In the past six years, it’s really exploded,” said McCaffrey.
L’Arte Della Bellica was established in Kutztown three years ago. At that time, there were two other clubs within driving distance, located in Philadelphia and Maryland, so they started their own club. In the past three years, four more clubs have been established in the region.
McCaffrey said there are fencing clubs also in Bucks County, Philadelphia, and Harrisburg, to name a few located within two hours of Kutztown.
The local fencing club in Kutztown consists of about 15 members who live locally and as far as Lancaster and Philadelphia. Classes are held three times a week.
McCaffrey encourages the local community to come check out L’Arte Della Bellica.
For more information about L’Arte Della Bellica in Kutztown, visit http:// artedellabellica.com/.
The KU Medieval Renaissance Club sponsored the FlowerPoint 2018 tournament.
Competitors used historical longswords and techniques from 15th and 16th century manual at the 2nd annual FlowerPoint Longsword Tournament hosted by L’Arte Della Bellica, Kutztown, at the Kutztown University Student Recreation Center on March 24.