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International Armizare Society Ranking Criteria

This page outlines the criteria for each of the ranks in the IAS’ purview, as well as minimum requirements for individual ranks in each schools purview, as a qualitative minimum standard. A PDF version is also available for download by clicking the link below. Armizare rank association

I. INTRODUCTION

The International Armizare Society (heretofore referred to as IAS) is an historical and chivalric European martial arts confraternal association concerned with l’Arte dell’Armizare of the dei LiberiTradition. This document describes the mission and objectives of IAS, the agreed-upon requirements for recognition of rank within the organisation, as well as formal testing requirements and mechanisms for forming the testing and governing bodies. It is a living document, and may be reviewed and revised at any time with the consent of the governing body. It is understood that learning any martial art is a complex act requiring years of ongoing study that is never fully completed.

II. MISSION AND OBJECTIVES

The International Armizare Society (heretofore referred to as IAS) is an historical and chivalric European martial arts confraternal association concerned with the restoration, preservation and transmission of canonical Armizare as recorded and left to posterity by the Founder, Fiore dei Liberi, and the work of successors determined to be within his tradition as a complete, traditional, but living and functional martial art. In furtherance of these goals, the association shall provide a common set of curricular and performance objectives such that inter-school rank recognition by signatories is facilitated. As a result, the IAS will also form a testing body and formal testing regimen for instructor certification in an effort to ensure transmission and proper preservation of the dei Liberi Tradition, as the IAS sees it.

Canonical vs. Applied Armizare

Referring to the specific instructions, tactical lessons and techniques left to posterity by Fiore dei Liberi, Filippo Vadi, and several fragmentary sources of anonymous authorship, Canonical Armizare is our historical legacy and the lingua franca by which the association understands its origins. Conversely, Applied Armizare is “Armizare in Context”, or an understanding of how to apply the principles, tactics and mechanics of the art holistically and within situations upon which dei Liberi either did not discuss, only touched upon tangentially. For example:

  • Did not discuss – sword and buckler or large shield, although it was a contemporary weapon style, closely related to the sword in one hand, which he did teach;
  • Touched upon tangentially – the use of the short stick (bastoncello) or partizan (ghiavarina).

It is our belief that the Applied Armizare applications shows an instructor’s fundamental mastery and integration of the art’s principles and teachings at the highest level, and reflects the founder’s intention that his art be holistic and synergistic. Given the IAS’ central mission to see that its understanding is refined and transmitted to the next generation, it will limit testing Provost and Master candidates in their ability to adapt the principles of Armizare to an unfamiliar weapon or environment as part of its examination process,. The establishment of, and testing in, any formal Neo-Armizare teachings (as defined below) remains the sole provenance of member body schools, and is outside the IAS’ purview.

Neo-Armizare

Neo-Armizare  is the application of the principles of Armizare to situations and weapons for which the founder could not have conceived. In practise, this definition largely means applying Armizare to modern combatives such as modern self-defence. for example:

  • Could not have conceived – the use of abrazare, bastoncello and knife defense for modern, personal protection, interpolation of known techniques from contemporary traditions.

As previously stated, Neo-Armizare is outside of the IAS’ purview, although it may act in an advisory capacity.

III. TESTING

This section relates to testing methods and standards. Testing up to the rank of Free scholar is entirely in the testing school’s domain. Free scholar testing should entail invitations from outside bodies to attend. Provost and Maestro testing is overseen by the IAS. Testing of ranks overseen by the IAS will include written, oral, technical and instructional components. Testing may be done in person, by video submission, or any other means allowing oversight. A prize play will round out the process, as a form of “confirmation.” All testing need not be done on the same day, but over a certain period. Technical performance criteria is judged based on criterion of Quality of Execution (QoE) and Quality of Interpretation (QoI).

QUALITY OF EXECUTION

Quality of execution refers to the execution of technique using proper mechanics and timing for movement and action, but may have some interpretational aspects, given that it is impossible to entirely separate physical execution from interpretation in a systematic fashion. Specifically, QoE will be graduated along a skill progression slide using an adapted model proposed by Henri Boudreault, PH.D. Our model is as follows (see appendix for more information on pedagogical progression and skills advancement):

  • Novice: rigid adherence to taught rules or plans, no exercise of “discretionary judgment”
    • Rote execution or repetition of a demonstrated technique or skill as demonstrated, often without using proper mechanics and without necessarily demonstrating an understanding of the wider context or variations in technique.
  • Intermediate: has limited “situational perception”, all aspects of technique treated separately with equal importance.
    • Applies, with help, the knowledge and skills necessary to the performance of a technique.
    • Proper mechanics are more prevalent, but secondary to the performance of the technique. I.e. the student will quickly abandon proper mechanics if the situation becomes difficult.
    • Application of technique requires concentration and conscious thought.
  • Competent:  independent evaluation of a situation, autonomy, transfer of technique across situations.
    • Executes techniques in isolation (set plays, simple phrases) against non-compliant partners.
    • Executes technique without prompting, in tempo and using proper body mechanics.
    • Capable of planning an approach (strategically)
    • Can apply tactical decision making consciously
  • Proficient: ability to apply and adapt technique and mechanics to a variety of situations.
    • Executes multiple techniques (“strings techniques) together to form complex phrases
    • Employs proper body mechanics, at speed
    • Can apply tactical decision making with little conscious thought
  • Mastery: Has a holistic view and can adapt technique to varying situations and weapons (i.e. has practised the corpus of techniques and can use them across weapons and versus disparate weapons)
    • Employs proper body mechanics with fluidity and grace (sprezzatura)
    • Applies tactical decision making intuitively
  • Expertise: Innovates building upon his mastery, is not limited by the parameters of the system
    • Has significant skill or knowledge beyond mastery in a particular sphere of research (polearms, mounted combat, etc.)

To gain any rank outlined below, a student must gain a certain skill level in the required elements. For instance, to gain Scholar rank, the student should be rated as “competent” in the required skills. Individual schools are encouraged to use the qualitative assignments with their internal ranks and evaluations.

QUALITY OF INTERPRETATION

Any interpretation must be demonstrably and arguably derived from source material, or reasonably interpolated from the wider dei Liberi tradition. This includes all four extant manuscripts, Fillipo Vadi’s manual, and manuals in the die Blume des Kampfs/Von Eyb tradition. Further, any interpretation must be demonstrably martially valid.

Furthermore, any provost or master candidate with a substantial interpretive difference or innovation should be able to submit a paper justifying their  interpretation and argue favourably in its defence before a panel of no less than three (3) judges.

IV. REFERRAL AND AT-LARGE CANDIDATES

The International Armizare Society  realizes that the grassroots nature of the larger HEMA community means that small study-groups or individual students might find themselves without a direct, higher authority to provide an established curriculum or test candidates. As part of the association’s mandate to foster and develop the larger Armizare community, such “at-large” students may apply directly to IAS for testing and certification. They will be referred to a recognized association instructor who is willing and able to act as long-distance mentor and monitor. It is up to the mentor and candidate to arrange the specific details of their relationship, whether to become personal students or remain “At-Large” members of the association. In the latter instance, the mentor will stand as the at-large student’s advocate, and will recommend them for testing in the rank of Free Scholar. Testing will be arranged and conducted before a board, and the rank will be conferred directly by IAS rather than a member academy. At-large candidates who successfully achieve the rank of Provost may apply to join the association as a member body, granting them the right to create Scholars and Free Scholars under their own authority. Note that IAS requires in-person examination and does not allow for video-testing. Further, it is the belief of the organization that a candidate for Maestro d’Arme can only be developed by direct, personal and in-person training between teacher and student, and does not confer this rank to “At-Large” students.

V. PREVAILING AUTHORITY

Each member may develop his/her own curriculum, provided the ranks meet the base requirements set forth by the association, although the individual guildmasters/principals are expected to work fraternally to share and refine their material. While this association, it procedures and methodologies may also form a model by which other HEMA traditions, schools and academies may form their own collective rank and testing requirements, such concerns are beyond the authority, scope or interest of the IAS, and it neither warrants nor refutes the ranks granted by any organisations outside its member bodies or recognized affiliates.

VI. RANKS AND REQUIREMENTS

The International Armizare Society, with its associate schools, employ a historical rank structure based upon that used by the fencing guilds of the 15th and 16th centuries.  Ranking consists of four grades, in ascending order:

The first two of these ranks can be considered student ranks (with Laurea being a junior instructor role in some organisations), while the latter two constitute senior instructor ranks. As an accrediting association and confraternity, the IAS is concerned with establishing recognizable standards and minimum requirements for all four grades, but leaves the authority for testing and granting of rank for the lower ranks of Scolaro and Laureato to its member academies. Note here that the member school may have any number of ranks before Scolaro. The ellefante symbol is reserved for these internal ranks, as the member school sees fit. Conversely, member bodies agree to external examination and certification by the association for the rank of Provost or Master at Arms, once all requirements internal to the member academy have been met. For proper rank recognition by the IAS to take place, several factors must be taken into account and evaluated. These are specified below, and form the corpus of minimum requirements that associates should adhere to.

  1. Content
    1. practical
    2. theoretical
  2. Quality of execution
  3. Quality of interpretation
  4. Academics
  5. Instructional

A simple content-based approach would not take into account the quality of the included actions and interpretation, and as such, would be incomplete. Finally, pedagogy forms an important part of the requirements at higher levels for proper transmission to take place, and as such is included and evaluated for these ranks.

Certificates (required elements)

Required elements for certificates issued by member schools include the following:

  • School name
  • Issuer name
  • Issuer signature
  • Rank name
  • Rank symbol
  • Rank colours
  • IAS logo

Testing Requirements

Although the IAS is organized on the model of the historical fencing guilds, inclusive of the four traditional ranks of Scholar, Free Scholar, Provost and Master, for the two lower grades (Scholar and Free Scholar), it only provides a framework of minimum skills and academic work that each member instructor or academy agrees to implement; testing and promotion up to the rank of Free scholar is entirely within the testing school’s domain.

Testing and certification for the higher, or teaching, grades of Provost and Magister, however,  is overseen by the IAS. All testing conducted by and within the IAS will include written, oral, technical and instructional components, and is primarily conducted in person — with specific exceptions noted where relevant. A formal Prize Play will round out the process, as a form of “confirmation.” All testing need not be done on the same day, but over a certain period.

Technical performance criteria is outlined in the general Quality of Execution specifications below, as well as on the pages for each of the four grades, or ranks.

QUALITY OF EXECUTION

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What follows are guidelines for an acceptable quality of execution (QoE). Quality of execution refers to the execution of technique using proper mechanics and timing for movement and action, but may have some interpretational aspects, given that it is impossible to entirely separate physical execution from interpretation in a systematic fashion. The points below are universal, with specific criteria pertaining to individual ranks noted in the rank descriptions, as needed. More specifically, QoE will be graduated along a skill progression slide using an adapted model proposed by Henri Boudreault, PH.D. Our model is as follows (see appendix for more information on pedagogical progression and skills advancement):

  • Novice: rigid adherence to taught rules or plans, no exercise of “discretionary judgment”
    • Rote execution or repetition of a demonstrated technique or skill as demonstrated, often without using proper mechanics and without necessarily demonstrating an understanding of the wider context or variations in technique.
  • Intermediate: has limited “situational perception”, all aspects of technique treated separately with equal importance.
    • Applies, with help, the knowledge and skills necessary to the performance of a technique.
    • Proper mechanics are more prevalent, but secondary to the performance of the technique. I.e. the student will quickly abandon proper mechanics if the situation becomes difficult.
    • Application of technique requires concentration and conscious thought.
  • Competent:  independent evaluation of a situation, autonomy, transfer of technique across situations.
    • Executes techniques in isolation (set plays, simple phrases) against non-compliant partners.
    • Executes technique without prompting, in tempo and using proper body mechanics.
    • Capable of planning an approach (strategically)
    • Can apply tactical decision making consciously
  • Proficient: ability to apply and adapt technique and mechanics to a variety of situations.
    • Executes multiple techniques (“strings techniques) together to form complex phrases
    • Employs proper body mechanics, at speed
    • Can apply tactical decision making with little conscious thought
  • Mastery: Has a holistic view and can adapt technique to varying situations and weapons (i.e. has practiced the corpus of techniques and can use them across weapons and versus disparate weapons)
    • Employs proper body mechanics with fluidity and grace (sprezzatura)
    • Applies tactical decision making intuitively
  • Expertise: Innovates building upon his mastery, is not limited by the parameters of the system
    • Has significant skill or knowledge beyond mastery in a particular sphere of research (polearms, mounted combat, etc.)

To gain any rank outlined below, a student must gain a certain skill level in the required elements. For instance, to gain Scholar rank, the student should be rated as “competent” in the required skills. Individual schools are encouraged to use the qualitative assignments with their internal ranks and evaluations.

General Body Mechanics

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As a rule, body mechanics are built on natural, mechanical efficiency, using universal principles such as the triangle, spiral and wave. All techniques presume the body is used in a way to perform maximum result with minimal effort, and to be effective across the system: in and out of harness, with all weapons, etc.

Footwork

Footwork adheres to the rules on general body mechanics and its original context (i.e. turn shoes in  medieval environments). That means weight is carried over the balls of the feet, steps are even, balanced, precise and grounded – no jumping, hopping, bobbing, etc. Footwork should be even and balanced, with the weight resting largely on the balls of the feet. Posture is upright, with weight shifts according to the guard or position and adapted to the situation. Given the holistic nature of l’arte dell’armizare, footwork should be applicable both in and out of armour, with carriage adjustments as necessary.

Attacking

Attacks (cuts and thrusts) are to be done along proper fencing lines, and developed in true times (for the purposes of this work, true times are defined as leading the attack with the weapon, with the body following after) and in a safe manner (covering the most exposed line as one enters.)

Defenses/Set Plays

Defenses should be performed in such a manner as to keep the defender reasonably safe and provide opportunities for a change in initiative in the form of a follow-on action or riposte. Said defences should be drawn from basic fencing actions or from set plays and performed within acceptable standards of interpretation as set in the following section.

Grappling

  • Any grappling actions should be done in proper sequence, i.e.: unbalance, enter, throw.
  • Grappling actions should be mindful of the context of the Art as a holistic system.

Tactical

Will be evaluated: The applicants use of tactics in freeplay. Tactics are defined as responses, in time, to a partner’s actions. Among these, we find:

  • Proper use of tempo in attacking and defending
  • Developing a prima tempo (first intention) attack in proper tempo
  • Use of second intention actions (dui tempi) and feints
  • Proper use of measure
  • Use of provocations to elicit responses, through guard changes, manipulation measure, drawing attacks or specific defenses, etc.

QUALITY OF INTERPRETATION5032385774_ddd34f7f44_z

Any interpretation must be demonstrably and arguably derived from source material, or reasonably interpolated from the wider dei Liberi tradition. This includes all four extant manuscripts, Fillipo Vadi’s De Arte Gladiatoria, and manuals in the die Blume des Kampfs/Von Eyb tradition. Further, any interpretation must be demonstrably martially valid.

  • A Free scholar should be able to present an interpretation of a play and provide a reasonable argument for his interpretation, keeping within the established interpretational standards of the IAS  as stated above;
  • Accord to the organization’s understanding of the underlying body mechanics and tactics of Armizare;
  • Work at full speed against a simple attack;
  • Work at full speed against an non-compliant opponent, or if the play “fails” naturally allow for safe secondary actions.

Furthermore, any Provost or Magister candidate with a substantial interpretive difference or innovation should be able to submit a paper justifying their  interpretation and argue favorably in its defence before a panel of no less than three (3) judges. and based on the following criteria:

  • Accord to the text in any/all of the Fiore Ms. In other words, a text might not address a point of interpretation, but it can’t contradict it;
  • The physical actions should generally accord with the illustrations allowing for: a) differences between the four Ms and b) the nature of medieval art;
  • Must be demonstrably martially valid, as specified above.

APPENDICES