La Verdadera Destreza — The Spanish School
"La Destreza" can not be translated literally but can be interpreted as "high level art and skill." Don Jeronimo de Carranza is considered the father of the Spanish School and given the title "El Primer Inventor de La Sciencia de Las Armas" ("The First Inventor of the Science of Arms") by Don Luis Pacheco de Narvaez...
"It was the belief of both Carranza and Narvaez, as well as all of the subsequent masters of the Spanish School, that science, which is irrefutable, can and must be applied to swordsmanship. Their aim was to use science to improve the art of the sword, thus proving the validity, effectiveness, and perfection of their system.
"The difficulty in understanding La Destreza is that it is a complete system with many levels. It encompasses Science, Art, Experience, Philosophy and Spirituality. These crucial elements can not be viewed out of context, otherwise the entire essence of La Destreza will be lost. The mind set, character, culture, religious, philosophical, and political aspects from which La Destreza emerged must be taken into account."
Scholarly Articles on La Verdadera Destreza
Jeronimo de Carranza's "Philosophy" of Arms — This paper was delivered on April 9th, 2005 at Cambridge, UK for the Renaissance Society of America's Annual Meeting
Weapons Used With La Verdadera Destreza
Spanish single rapier exhibition assault Escuela de Tauromaquia, Alcalá de Guadaira. MAA Instructors Antone Blair and Cecil Longino, Andalusia, Spain 2010.
Fencing demonstrations from Salle Saint-George during the 2016 Concours d'Escrime. A fencing tournament between Salle Saint-George and The Renaissance Fencing Club. Spanish Rapier Exhibition Assault begins at 2:41 into the clip
Circling with a Partner. From the instructional DVD, La Verdadera Destreza: The True Art and Skill of Spanish Swordsmanship.
This is a sample clip from the ISMAC 10th Anniversary DVD featuring Maestro Ramón Martínez's A Practical Approach to Spanish Rapier.
Spanish sword exhibition assault, Salle Saint-Georges
Tactical considerations after the blade has been deflected.
Attacker initiates, the adversary responds with an opposition, the attacker then attempts to subjugate. The adversary counters with another opposition, the attacker then escapes from the opposition, deflects the blade, and cuts to the face.
Using the adversary’s strong atajo as an impetus to throw a cut that turns into a thrust.
Subjugating the adversary’s weapon in the middle of his time and cutting to the face.
A possible counter to the adversarys' attack.
Rapier & Dagger
On September 20th, The Martinez Academy of Arms and its affiliate schools hosted an Academia at Kingsley House in New Orleans. Spanish rapier and dagger assault between Maestros Blair and Longino begins 2:32 into the clip
Spanish rapier & dagger exhibition assault for Escuela de Tauromaquia, Alcalá de Guadaira. MAA Instructors Antone Blair and Jared Kirby, Andalusia, Spain 2010.
Spanish single rapier vs rapier & dagger exhibition assault for Escuela de Tauromaquia, Alcalá de Guadaira. MAA Instructors Jared Kirby and Cecil Longino, Andalusia, Spain 2010.
Fencing on the circle with the rapier and dagger. From the instructional DVD, La Verdadera Destreza: The True Art and Skill of Spanish Swordsmanship.
Espada y Daga applications. From the instructional DVD, La Verdadera Destreza: The True Art and Skill of Spanish Swordsmanship.
Desvio by Extrano with Dagger Offensive. From the instructional DVD, La Verdadera Destreza: The True Art and Skill of Spanish Swordsmanship.
Rapier & Cloak
Spanish rapier & cloak exhibition assault for Escuela de Tauromaquia, Alcalá de Guadaira. MAA Instructors Jared Kirby and Cecil Longino, Andalusia, Spain 2010.
Knife and Unarmed
Maestros Ramón Martínez, Jeannette Acosta-Martínez, and James Loriega demonstrate how the concept of "subjugation" can be applied to the single rapier, rapier & dagger, navaja (knife), and unarmed from a fencer's perspective.
Maestro Acosta-Martínez and Provost Kirby demonstrating how the cross-parry could be applied to unarmed.
Spanish Rapier Versus Italian Rapier
Tactical choice of inviting the attack from the Italian fencer in order to hit them on their recovery.
As before, we are utilizing the same tactical choice of inviting the attack from the Italian fencer. As the Spanish rapier fencer is taller with more reach, he does not need to wait until the recovery of the Italian fencer. He can execute his response, and strike before the Italian fencer can recover.
A possible response by the Spanish rapier fencer to the attack in quarta from the Italian. This is followed by the same possible response to the attack in prima from the Italian. We are using the Italian terms for the hand positions for the benefit of the Italian rapier fencers.
Possible defense by the Spanish rapier fencer, by manipulating the measure on the parry, against a single feint attack above the sword by the Italian fencer.
- Maestro Ramón Martínez - A Practical Approach to Spanish Rapier
- "The true art and skill of Spanish fencing La Verdadera Destreza has for too long been associated with a needless mystique. This class will remove much of the mystery and adhere to a totally pragmatic combative approach. Spanish technical terminology will be dispensed with as much as possible while dealing with this subject in plain English utilizing simple direct terminology. After the introduction of a few basic tenants of Spanish swordsmanship the focus will be on practical blade techniques used both offensively and defensively, along with the corresponding evasive and aggressive footwork. This will include the concepts of timing, distance and proportion as viewed by Spanish masters of the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries."
Also included on this DVD are:
- Maestro James Loriega - Theory and Practice of the Navaja
- Dwight McLemore - The Bowie Knife
Martinez Academy of Arms Masters and Affiliate Schools teaching La Verdadera Destreza
Videos with Maestro Ramón Martínez and Maestro Jeannette Acosta-Martínez
Museum Secrets: Inside the Palacio Real, Madrid (Trailer) — Museum Secrets, 2013, Episode 17
Destreza Masters Recommend a Visit to Palacio Real's Armoury (Vlog) — Museum Secrets, 2013, Episode 17
Maestro Ramón Martínez, the art of fencing
Maestro Ramón Martínez answers questions about Fencing and Fencing History (La Verdadera Destreza is addressed at the following time codes in response to the following questions):
- 19:08 “What are the "rapiers" for cut and thrust in the 19th Century? Were they just straight swords like spadroons or light renaissance weapons? Are there any original training or assault weapons known these days?”
- 21:55 “Why was Spanish Destreza abandoned when fencing (based on French and Italian styles) developed? Why did Spanish Destreza as a style disappear?”
- 25:48 “Regarding ‘Vulgar’ fencing, or fencing among peasants and commoners from the early modern period up. Are there any surviving records or evidence?”
Pandemic Interview with Maestro Ramón Martínez. Discussion of Destreza begins at 17:55 into the interview.
Pandemic Interview with Maestro Jeannette Acosta-Martínez.
Interview with Maestro Ramón Martínez & Maestro Jeannette Acosta-Martínez at CombatCon 2016
19th Century Fencing Weapons and Memorabilia Exhibitions at La Nacionale, Spanish Benevolent Society, New York City, 2017, presented by Martinez Academy of Arms and curated by Maestro Jeannette Acosta-Martínez.
Dinner at La Nacionale held to celebrate Maestro Ramón Martínez teaching for 35 years.
Maestro Ramón Martínez and Maestro Jeannette Acosta-Martínez' induction into the Masters Hall Of Fame, a non profit organization whose mission is to recognize excellence in the Martial Arts and pay homage to talented masters and their contributions to martial arts.
In the Press:
Articles about the Martinez Academy of Arms and affiliated schools
- Fencing Professor Receives Title of Fencing Master (Web • PDF) — Humboldt State University website, 2016
- Fencing Instructor Kirby Promoted to Master of Arms (Web • PDF) — SUNY Purchase College Athletics website, November 2016
- Fencing exhibition brings slice of New Orleans history to life (Web • PDF) — The New Orleans Advocate, September 2015
- Expert swordsmanship on display during exhibition at Kingsley House (Web • PDF) — The New Orleans Advocate, September 2015
- 10 Questions With Jeannette Acosta-Martínez (Web • PDF) — Combative Corner, April 2015
- Interview with Ramón Martínez (Web • PDF) — Martial Arts New York, December 2014
- 10 Questions With Ramón Martínez (Web • PDF) — Combative Corner, June 2013
- On the Fence (PDF) — Black Belt Magazine, July 2012
- Teaching the Art of Surviving the Duel (Web • PDF) — The New York Times, September 2011
- Riposte (PDF) — Black Belt Magazine, May 2009
- En Garde! (PDF) — Black Belt Magazine, January 2009
- The Fencing Sword: The Living Tradition of European Civilian Swordsmanship by Ramón Martínez (PDF) — Martial Arts Legends Presents: Weapons Of The Martial Arts, November 1999
- Guro Dan Inosanto trains Destreza with Maestro Ramón Martínez at Princeton Academy of Martial Arts (PDF) , May 1999
- Fencing as Martial Art (PDF) — Inside Karate Magazine, October 1998
Bibliography of treatises related to La Verdadera Destreza
The following list of texts has been excerpted from the bibliography available on the Martinez Academy of Arms website, where it is organized by time period:
—. Modo facil y nuevo para examinar los maestros en la destreza de las armas.
(Editor, Fernado Fernandez Lanza, transcribed and published from an original manuscript.)
Book 1 Book 2 Book 3
Future workshops, lectures, and events will be posted here.
Past Events and Reviews
Lectures & Demonstrations
Martinez Academy of Arms and affiliated schools have held demonstrations on a variety of television programs, as well as for museums, educational institutions, performing arts centers, historical sites, and various other venues. Past demonstrations have included:
- Aston Magna Academy at Rutgers University
- Centro Español, New York City
- Higgins Armory Museum
- Historic Richmond Town
- History Channel - Museum Secrets
- La Nacional, Spanish Benevolent Society, New York City
- Lincoln Center
- Wallace Collection in London