Medieval martial arts
Martial arts are one way to work out, and Eastern traditions may be the most popular approach. But Western martial arts – with medieval long swords and sword-and-buckler battles – have also made their way to Guam.
Let the swords start swinging as the Association for Renaissance Martial Arts Study Group gears up for another session of classes in the disciplines of historical swordsmanship. The non-profit seeks to study and practice historical fencing, while reconstructing and exploring Western martial ways of yore – from literature and armor, to swinging long swords and blocking with buckler shields.
Under the tutelage of Anthony R. Camacho, ARMA Guam Study Group coordinator, the group’s local chapter has just wrapped up its first term of classes at the Tamuning Gymnasium.
According to Camacho, the group, which is the only one of its kind on island, formed to learn historical long sword fencing. This includes history lessons, group exercises and sparring sessions that highlight swordplay developed from the late 13th through the 18th centuries.
While modern Olympic fencing uses the épée, sabre and foil, he said, “historical fencing” uses the long sword, which is usually a bladed weapon.
“I was a longtime épée fencer in high school,” noted Camacho. “I joined ARMA in 2010 and I went to the ARMA international gathering in 2011. I was asked in August by John Clemens, he is the director of ARMA, to essentially start the ARMA Guam Study Group.”
The study group has met every weekend at the Tamuning Gym on Saturday mornings, but the schedule for upcoming classes has been amended to more convenient weeknights.
For Jason Pang, it took some urging for him to get involved with the sport.
“I never actually thought about any kind of fencing and whether or not I would do it,” recalled Pang. “My mom came up to me and said I might actually enjoy this. She was right. I really enjoy the class.”
Rich Camacho has been enrolled in this group of courses and explains the rush he feels after being involved in a sparring practice.
“You get tired,” explained Camacho. “You have no control of your adrenaline. Afterward, your adrenaline is pumping, your testosterone is going.”
According to Anthony Camacho, on top of historical and education purposes, fencing proves to be an amazing tool for physical fitness.
“This is a great sport, and a great workout. Essentially, it is great for your cardiovascular,” added Camacho. “If you’ve hit a plateau and you want to work out, this is it. It works out the whole body.”
After the entire term, Richard Camacho was more than willing to agree with his instructor.
“This is a workout, you’re wiped out,” joked Camacho. “After this man, I am almost catatonic for the rest of the day.”
Jenna Washington has heard about the classes and believes that the new workout may be just what she has been looking for.
“You have a lot of workout and exercise choices now on Guam,” said Washington. “We have the gym at Andersen(Air Force Base), the King Center at Navy, but none of those offer something like this to my knowledge.”
Washington believes this group might be able to help people that are not interested in conventional exercises or equipment.
“Whenever you take people away from the everyday stuff, you could have a hit,” she added. “Look at the popularity of Zumba. Can you imagine when people get wind of this fencing?”
Classes on the foundation of the long sword start Feb. 12 (6 p.m.) at the Tamuning Gym. Another class on training with sword and buckler starts Feb. 13.