Historical European Martial Arts
What is L’Arte D’Armizare?
L’Arte D’Armizare is the term used by the armsmaster, Fiore dei Liberi, to refer to his style of martial arts, developed and taught in the early 1400's, in Northern Italy. This is comprised of the techniques and methods shown in 4 separate manuals in Italian or Latin, all titled “The Flower of Battle” (Fior di Battaglia, Florius de Arte Luctandi, and Flos Duellatorum, specifically). These are of variable length, but contain both illustrations and commentary on over 350 techniques, with minor variations between manuals. The manual begins with the basic principles of grappling and teaches the student specific positions and techniques. It then builds on these principles, moving on to unarmed defense against the dagger and sword, then armed defense (with a dagger) against the dagger and sword. From there, swordsmanship and the use of the spear and poleaxe are taught; with unarmored, armored, and mounted techniques. This system is laid out such that it builds on previously taught concepts and teaches new concepts that mesh with earlier techniques and contains a well-thought out, comprehensive and progressive style of martial arts.
This is a reconstructed martial system. There is no unbroken lineage of knowledge and training that stretches back to Fiore dei Liberi. All of the lessons we can take from his work need to be critically examined in light of this defect in our understanding. However, everything we add in must also be critically examined, because we only have the manuals to learn from and must do things according to them if we want to approximate Fiore’s system. We have 4 manuals that are clearly directly attributable to Fiore, his students, or copyists. These are the primary sources and form the majority of our training and systematic study.
Impromptu longsword practice. Facing off in dente di cenghiaro guard.
Who is the instructor?
Keith Nelson is the instructor for the class. He has been studying the manuals and martial system of Fiore dei Liberi for the past 15 years. He was a founder of the Rocky Mountain Historical Combat Guild and has taught long-running classes in Oregon, Colorado, and Michigan. In addition, he has extensive training in a wide range of martial arts, including 25 years in Japanese martial arts (Shobudo Jujitsu, Toyama-ryu battodo, judo, aikido and other styles of jujitsu) and experience in recreated Irish stickfighting styles, Hungarian axe, and Maasai weapons. His teaching is based on the instructions of Fiore dei Liberi as written in the manuals and he strives to keep L’Arte D’Armizare as a distinct and separate martial system, rather than a jumbled syncretic style.