Welcome to the American School of Verdadera Destreza
A HEMAA affiliated rapier fencing club
A HEMAA affiliated rapier fencing club
We are a Historical European Martial Arts Alliance (HEMAA) affiliated study group of self-taught hobbyists dedicated to learning about the Spanish style of rapier swordsmanship known as la Verdadera Destreza.
We are located in Medina, Ohio, USA.
We are NOT a professionally run fencing or martial arts school.
La Verdadera Destreza is a historical European martial art applicable to many weapons, but primarily practiced with the rapier, or rapier and dagger, that was popular throughout the Spanish empire during the 16th and 17th centuries.
Practitioners of la Verdadera Destreza are known as Diestros.
A Diestro uses an upright stance, sword arm extended straight from the body for maximum reach, graceful footwork to circle an opponent and evade their attacks, and binding actions (atajos) to control the opponent’s blade.
A Diestro attacks only when safe to do so. In combat, the Diestro seeks to wound or kill an opponent only when necessary to accomplish the goal of self-preservation.
For a Diestro, the pinnacle of skill and courage, known as the movement of conclusion, is to end a conflict by disarming the opponent so that the attacker’s life is spared.
La Verdadera Destreza, meaning “the true art” or “the true skill”, originated in Spain in the late 16th century with the publication of a book entitled “The Philosophy of Arms” by Jeronimo Sanchez de Carranza. Carranza was a Spanish knight, philosopher, and Master of Arms of the Spanish Royal Court from around 1594 until his death in 1600.
“The Philosophy of Arms” was more than just a fencing manual and was written as a cultural guide for the betterment of the gentlemen of Spain. Carranza’s book defined a philosophical approach to life, la Verdadera Destreza, that encompasses a variety of topics including science, ethics and cultural development in addition to the martial arts.
After Carranza's death, his ideas were expanded upon by one of his successors, Luis Pacheco de Narvaez, who went on to become Master of Arms of the Spanish Royal Court like Carranza before him. Pacheco published several treatises on la Verdadera Destreza during the early 1600s and used his influence as Master of Arms to ensure la Verdadera Destreza became the dominant style of Spanish swordsmanship in his time.
In the early 1700s la Verdadera Destreza was further refined by Francisco Lorenz de Rada, a soldier and Spanish nobleman, who, in 1705, published one of the most comprehensive treatises on swordsmanship ever written, “The Nobility of the Sword”.
The rapier (espada ropera or estoque) is a long, slender sword optimized for thrusting, but also capable of effective cutting attacks. It originated in Spain in the mid to late 16th century and from there its use quickly spread to the rest of Europe where it was commonly carried by civilians for self-defense during the 16th and 17th centuries.
Rapier lengths varied greatly with different fencing masters advocating different optimal lengths for the rapier. However, there was an overall trend toward increasing rapier length over time, especially within the Italian schools of fencing. Some of the longest rapiers had an overall length of around 60 inches.
Italian fencing master Capo Ferro recommended a rapier with a total length equal to the distance from your armpit to the ground. Conversely, Spanish fencing master Pacheco de Narvaez found lengthy rapiers to be distasteful and cowardly. Spanish fencing masters recommended shorter rapiers with a length such that the cross was at the height of the wielder’s navel with the point resting on the ground. In 1564, King Philip II of Spain issued a royal edict limiting rapiers to a maximum overall length of 41 inches.
The training rapiers we use are nearly identical in weight, size, balance and construction to actual rapiers of the 16th and 17th centuries. Training rapiers with an overall length of 41 inches or less are recommended for use in the practice of la Verdadera Destreza.
Although our rapiers are not sharpened and have rubber blunts on the ends, they are real, steel swords and could easily injure someone if misused or used without proper safety gear. For that reason, it is important that they only be used as directed by an instructor. In order to train safely, everyone must treat these weapons with caution and respect.