La Verdadera Destreza — The Spanish School of Fencing

Resources and Research Materials

Don Jeronimo de Carranza

"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

The Demystification of the Spanish School - Part I

The Demystification of the Spanish School - Part II

The Demystification of the Spanish School - Part III

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

Spanish Fencing in the Sixteenth Century — Maestro Ramón Martínez examines the fencing methods of Caranza, Navarez and Thibault (The Fight Master, Fall/Winter 1999, Vol. 22 Issue 2 - full PDF)


Weapons Used With La Verdadera Destreza

Rapier (Espada Ropera)
Smallsword (Espadin)
Sabre
19th Century Rapier

Video Library

Single Rapier

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.

Unarmed

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.


Instructional DVDs

La Verdadera Destreza Volume I & II

La Verdadera Destreza Volume I & II

This 2-volume introductory video set is designed to present the Spanish School of Swordsmanship, La Verdadera Destreza, in a simple basic comprehensible form to the modern swordsman training without a master. It will provide you with the most fundamental elements of the Spanish School of Swordsmanship so that as potential Diestros, you may practice basic skills, techniques, and drills. Based upon the texts of Spanish masters Don Jeronimo Sanchez de Carranza and Don Luis Pacheco de Narvaez, and other masters of the period, La Verdadera Destreza is a two-volume instructional guide gleaned from over twenty years of research and study of the historical Spanish treatises by Maestro Ramón Martínez.
La Verdadera Destreza: Volume III

La Verdadera Destreza: Volume III

Angulo Recto y Compases - Right Angle and Footwork This instructional DVD is designed to provide a deeper study of the instructional material offered in Volumes I & II of La Verdadera Destreza instructional series. In this volume Maestro Ramón Martínez takes a more in depth technical view of the Affirmar & Angulo recto (stance) and the Compases (footwork).
La Verdadera Destreza Volume I, II & III

La Verdadera Destreza Volume I, II & III

This includes all three volumes of the La Verdadera Destreza series.
ISMAC 2009 - 10th Anniversary DVD

ISMAC 2009 - 10th Anniversary DVD

The International Swordfighting and Martial Arts Convention has brought together the finest instructors from around the world to teach the best classes in Western Martial Arts for over a decade. This DVD includes the following classes:
  • 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

Reviews

Review of MAA La Verdadera Destreza Vol. III Black Birds and Blades, 2015

Review of MAA La Verdadera Destreza Vol. I & II Cultura-Martialis, 2005


Martinez Academy of Arms Masters and Affiliate Schools teaching La Verdadera Destreza


Videos with Maestro Ramón Martínez and Maestro Jeannette Acosta-Martínez

Television Appearances

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

Interviews

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

Other Videos

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
Fencing Professor Receives Title of Fencing Master
Humboldt State University website • 2016
Fencing Instructor Kirby Promoted to Master of Arms
Fencing Instructor Kirby Promoted to Master of Arms
SUNY Purchase College Athletics website • November 2016
Interview with Ramón Martínez
Interview with Ramón Martínez
Martial Arts New York • December 2014
10 Questions With Ramón Martínez
10 Questions With Ramón Martínez
Combative Corner • June 2013
On the Fence
Black Belt Magazine • July 2012
Teaching the Art of Surviving the Duel
Teaching the Art of Surviving the Duel
The New York Times • September 2011
Riposte
Riposte
Black Belt Magazine • May 2009
En Garde!
En Garde!
Black Belt Magazine • January 2009
The Fencing Sword: The Living Tradition of European Civilian Swordsmanship by Ramón Martínez
The Fencing Sword: The Living Tradition of European Civilian Swordsmanship by Ramón Martínez
Martial Arts Legends Presents: Weapons Of The Martial Arts • November 1999
Fencing as Martial Art
Fencing as Martial Art
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:

16th Century

Carranza, Jeronimo de.
[Seville, 1569]. San Lucar De Barrameda, 1582.

17th Century

Arrias de Porres, Don Gomez.
Salamanca, 1667.
Cala, Cristóbal de.
Cádiz, 1642.
De La Vega, D. Alvaro Guerra.
Seville, 1681.
Ettenhard y Abarca, D. Franciso Antonio.
Madrid, 1675.
Madrid, 1697.
Garay, Don Salvador Jacinto de.
[1672].
Lara, Gaspar Agustin de.
Madrid, 1675.
Mendez de Carmona, Tamariz Luis.
Editor, Pedro Vindel. Madrid, 1899. (Printed from a manuscript written circa 1639.)
Narváez, Don Luis Pacheco de.
Madrid, 1600.
Las cien conclusiones, ó formas de saber de la verdadera destreza, fundada en sciencia y deziocho contradiciones a las tretas de la destreza comun.
Madrid, 1608.
Madrid, 1612.
Madrid, 1625.
Madrid, 1672.
—. Llave y gobierno de la destreza. De una filosofía de las armas.
Alcalá de Henares, 1991.
(Editor, Fernado Fernandez Lanza, transcribed and published from an original manuscript.)
Pérez de Mendoza y Quijada, Miguel.
Pamplona, 1672.
Madrid, 1675.
Tamariz, Nicolas D.
Seville, 1696.
Teruel, Pedro Texedo Sicilia de.
Naples, 1678.
Thibault d'Anvers, Gérard.
Leiden, 1630, 1668.
Viedma, Luis Dias de.
Barcelona, 1639
Vindel, Pedro.
Madrid, 1898.

18th Century

[18th century].
Cruzado y Peralta, Don Manuel
Zaragoza, 1702
De la Paz, Don Francisco Santos
Lima, 1712.
Firme, Manuel Martins
Evora, 1744.
Lorenz De Rada, Don Francisco.
Nobleza de la espada, cuyo esplendor se expressa en tres libros, segun ciencia, arte, y esperiencia.
Book 1 Book 2 Book 3
Madrid, 1705.
Mancha y Girón, Don Martín Cerón
Madrid, 1703.
Narváez, Don Luis Pacheco de
1701.
Noveli, D
Madrid, 1731.
Perinat, D. Juan Nicolas.
Cádiz, 1758.
Pona, José de Barros Paiva e Morais
1768.

19th Century

Alvarez Garcia, Antonio.
Granada, 1887.
Havana, 1892.
Jerez, 1893.
Brea, Manuel Antonio de.
Madrid, 1805.
Frias, Simon de.
Mexico, 1809.
Heraud y Clavijo de Soria, Antonio.
Manual de esgrima y duelo.
Paris/Mexico, 1892.
Cenzano y Zamora, Luis.
Burgos, 1882.
Dias de Pinna, Manoel.
Maranhão [Brazil], 1842.
Merelo y Casademunt, Jaime.
Valencia, 2003. (Facsimile reprint of Madrid, 1862 edition.)
Valencia, 1997. (Facsimile reprint of Madrid, 1878 edition.)

Upcoming Events

Future workshops, lectures, and events will be posted here.

Past Events and Reviews

Spanish Martial Arts Weekend, New York City, 2019

Spanish Saber, CombatCon, Las Vegas, 2019

Spanish Martial Arts Weekend, New York City, 2017

Review of Spanish Martial Arts Weekend, 2017

Destreza Theory Applied to the Bowie Knife, New York City, 2017

Review of Martinez Academy of Arms Academia, New Orleans, 2015 ( | PDF )

Spanish Martial Arts Weekend, New York City, 2015

Spanish Martial Arts Weekend, New York City, 2013

Review of workshop in Edinburgh, Scotland, 2012

Destreza workshop in Canada, 2011

Review of Spanish Swordsmanship Workshop in Toronto, Canada, 2010


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
  • CBS
  • 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
  • MSNBC
  • Wallace Collection in London
Destreza demo at Higgins Armory Museum Maestros Ramón Martínez and Jared Kirby demonstrate the Spanish school of fencing (La Verdadera Destreza) with rapiers at the Higgins Armory Museum

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