Saber Fights at Fort Vancouver!

The National Park Service and Fort Vancouver National Historic Site, in partnership with Academia Duellatoria, would like to announce a 19th Century Military Saber Training Course, Beginning and Intermediate levels. This course is open to the public, ages 12 and over. The training course lasts seven weeks, and takes place on Sundays, Oct. 1 through Nov. 12, from 4 pm to 5:30 pm, at the Pearson Air Museum Historic Hangar (or outdoors during good weather).

In 1854, troopers with the U.S. Army’s 1st Regiment of Dragoons arrived in the Pacific Northwest. At that time, dragoons (mounted infantry) were the only U.S. Army enlisted-rank soldiers that were issued sabers as part of their personal weaponry. This training course will focus on the saber techniques adopted by the U.S. Army in the mid-19th century. There will also be information provided related to the history of Fort Vancouver, the dragoons and their weaponry, and saber-driven military tactics. Once a certain level of expertise has been achieved, there will be reenactment opportunities for trainees during events at Fort Vancouver National Historic Site.

Unlike sword work seen in the movies and media, true sword training is similar to many other martial arts—requiring physical discipline, mental control, and the development of muscle memory. Beginning Level training will start with basic footwork, then move into solo and partner drills on offensive cuts and thrusts, and defensive guards and parries. The drills provide a good sense of what sparring is like. Intermediate Level training (for those who have previously participated in a Beginning Level training), will consist of additional solo and partner drills focusing on perfecting form and more advanced interactive sequences.

The cost is $100 per person for the seven week training course. Training sabers will be provided. These training sabers have dull edges and rubber covers on the tips. Safety glasses will be provided. To sign up, contact Elaine Dorset at 360-816-6254.

Above image: saber students at last year’s Canterbury Faire in Silverton, Oregon. To see more cool pictures of sword fights and other duelling fun, visit Academia Duellatoria’s Facebook page.

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