September 26, 2023

Donation-Based Virtual Classes In Bid by World’s Largest School Of Swordplay To Survive COVID-19 Lockdown

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VANCOUVER, British Columbia, May 18th, 2020—Academie Duello Centre for Swordplay, the largest school of Western Martial Arts in the world devoted to teaching the traditional martial practices of Europe, today announced the official launch of live by-donation online swordplay classes in an effort to keep their doors open. The sword-fighting academy, located at 412 West Hastings Street in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, has been closed since March 18, 2020 due to the Coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic. Additionally, a GoFundMe campaign is taking donations to help keep the Canadian-based academy afloat.

There is power in history. In the midst of the Coronavirus COVID-19 Pandemic, health officials and citizens alike are looking for answers. Whether the Spanish Flu of 1918 or to a, thankfully, lesser extent, the black Plague of the 14th century, some answers may be found in the past. The programs at Academie Duello harness the history of medieval traditions with a focus on mastery of the arts, team-building, youth leadership and even more relevantly right now, personal fitness and growth. Though Academie Duello is the largest centre of its kind in the world, it lies dormant while still having to pay overhead – including keeping its employees salaried. By-donation virtual Swordplay classes will be available 4 days a week in order to help the one-of-a-kind academy with its financial obligations. A GoFundMe has also been set up in hopes of raising $75,000 to cover staff expenses, operating costs, and rent during the closure and Vancouver’s staged reopening.

“Our hope is to use this crisis to popularize our art and see how many potential swordplay enthusiasts we can engage worldwide.” Said Devon Boorman, Founder and Master Instructor, Academie Duello. “Throughout our 15 years of operation, we have earned a reputation as one of the best facilities of our kind in the world with thousands of people taking our courses. Academie Duello is not just a school but also a community of like-minded and passionate people, preserving and reviving these arts for current and future generations.”

Academie Duello was founded by Boorman in the summer of 2004.  Boorman has been actively studying Western martial arts for 26 years with his first taste of western swordplay coming through involvement with the Society for Creative Anachronism (SCA). The Academie’s first location was an outdoor, defunct skating rink but its reputation and student base quickly grew. Today there are over 250 active attending members of all ages across all programs as well as hundreds more who attend workshops and seminars at their 5000sqft center in the heart of downtown Vancouver. 

Swordplay has quickly gained in popularity through pop-culture with books and movies like Game of Thrones, The Witcher, Lord of the Rings and even the storied lightsabers of Star Wars. Having to adapt to the confines of the COVID-19-imposed lockdown, Boorman and his fellow instructors will now offer online classes geared towards all ages and levels, serving as a welcome respite to those stuck at home. Using a combination of yoga, tai-chi and swordplay, any at-home tool will do – even a broomstick. Whether the two-handed longsword or the duelling rapier, both solo and partnered sword classes are available and no experience is necessary; beginners are encouraged to give it a try.  Classes for youth aged 8 to 14 that explore knightly virtues, epic stories, and swordplay are also included in Academie Duello’s online virtual class selection.

“It makes me very sad we didn’t get to finish our spring break camp this year.” said instructor Benjamin Davis. “It was a huge blow to a lot of us who were excited to teach this spring break and this summer. Our award-winning Children’s Knight summer camp is central to our school and is considered one of the best adventure camps in Canada with thousands of graduates and hundreds of children attending it every year throughout its twelve-year history.”

The GoFundMe campaign was able to raise $15,000 in its first 24 hours but it is still short of its $75,000 goal. The new live online classes will be delivered through the online platform, Zoom, and are available with suggested donation of $10 per class. Descriptions and a full schedule are listed on the GoFundMe webpage. 

“You can use whatever happens to be handy in your house.” Says Boorman, “It’s really about learning to move powerfully and gracefully in your body while connecting with an exciting historical art. Every donation, no matter how small, will help ensure our survival – We anticipate not being able to return to full attendance or services until widespread testing and vaccination are available.”

Programs at Academie Duello span multiple disciplines including use of the rapier, sidesword, longsword, pole arms, wrestling, axe throwing, archery, as well as mounted combat at their stables in nearby Langley, BC. In addition, Academie Duello is also offering a Gift Card Sale and creating branded swordplay merchandise available through Redbubble:

A life-changing pandemic sweeping across the globe is a serious and ever-changing situation. 

As long-gone knights and battle-hardened warriors fought in the time of plague so, too, will Boorman and the Academie Duello team keep fighting to stay open and serve their community by offering a way of keeping fit, enjoying face to face virtual contact, and opening a window onto the past from whence hope can emerge. 

About Academie Duello

Since 2004, Academie Duello has specialized in teaching the traditional martial arts of Europe including swordplay, archery, mounted combat, cane fighting, and wrestling for students ages 8 to 80. Academie Duello programs empower students to meet fitness goals, build martial skill, and engage their mind and body in a fun and unique way. The Academie Duello International Centre for Swordplay is conveniently located in downtown Vancouver at 412 West Hastings street and is directed by Devon Boorman, a veteran scholar and martial artist with more than 25 years of experience in practice, competition, and instruction. 

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