Tuesday April 1, 2013
Friday April 4, 2013

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1425 J Street
Arcata, CA 95521

Driving Directions


Benjamin Arms
(707) 633-9216


Dueling School

Antiquated, uncivilized and illegal; popular thought so often labels fighting broadly & dueling expressly. The duel, however, was an important check & balance for an individual's personal honor & quality amongst peers. Demonstrating prowess, knowledge & restraint is foundational to martial artistry, and is the lesson gleaned by training in swordsmanship today. Insights regarding the lethality of dueling is an element of training lamentably vacant within our art in our present age. Dueling School is an attempt to educate the participants on the sanguinary nature of this grim ritual combat. By creating mock duels the participants can experience as close as possible the actual event within the realm of safety.


Dueling School takes place Tuesday, April 1st through Friday, April 4th. Group instruction begins each day at 5pm with a one-hour lecture followed by a two-hour practicum. Private lesson & small group classes are available for reservation Tuesday through Thursday prior to instruction. The school culminates in pre-arranged mock duels throughout the day friday with case weaponry provided by Benjamin Arms.

Sunday, March 30th

  • 1:00 – 3:00pm: Elective Pistol Dueling Class

Tuesday, April 1st

  • 9:30 – 11:30am: Private Lessons by appointment
  • 1:30 – 3:00pm: Private Lessons by appointment
  • 5:00: Arcata Veterans Memorial Hall Opens & Student Welcome
  • 5:30 – 6:30: Lecture - Dueling Laws & Etiquette
  • 6:30 – 8:30: Practicum - French Dueling Sword I -or- Italian Dueling Sabre I
  • 8:30 – 10:00: Open Fencing & Mock Duel Negotiations
  • 10:00: Building Close.

Wednesday, April 2nd

  • 9:30 – 11:30am: Private Lessons by appointment
  • 1:30 – 3:00pm: Private Lessons by appointment
  • 5:00: Arcata Veterans Memorial Hall Opens
  • 5:30 – 6:30: Lecture – History of Dueling & Dueling Weapons
  • 6:30 – 8:30: Practicum - French Dueling Sword II -or- Italian Dueling Sabre II
  • 8:30 – 10:00: Open Fencing & Mock Duel Negotiations
  • 10:00: Building Close.

Thursday, April 3rd

  • 9:30 – 11:30am: Private Lessons by appointment
  • 1:30 – 3:00pm: Private Lessons by appointment
  • 5:00: Arcata Veterans Memorial Hall Opens
  • 5:30 – 6:30: Lecture – Health & Psychology of Combat & Martial Arts
  • 6:30 – 8:30: Practicum - French Dueling Sword III -or- Italian Dueling Sabre III
  • 8:30 – 10:00: Open Fencing & Mock Duel Negotiations
  • 10:00: Building Close.

Friday, April 4th

  • 7:00 – 9:00am: Mock Duels Session I
  • 9:30 – 11:30am: Mock Duels Session II
  • 1:00 – 4:00pm: Mock Duels Session III
  • 7:00pm: Free Champagne Dinner


Students choose between two weapons to study during the week: either French dueling sword (a.k.a. Epee) or the Italian Dueling Sabre. Pupils will only be paired up for their mock duel with an adversary studying the same weapon. No previous background in each weapon is required.

French Dueling Sword

[From the Martinez Academy of Arms website] "In the last quarter of the 19th century some masters believed that training with the foil had become overly academic, much to the detriment of those called to the dueling ground. A new approach thus developed to rectify this problem. Many aspects of rapier and early small-sword fencing of the 17th century were revived and infused into this new system..."

Italian Dueling Sabre

[From the Martinez Academy of Arms website] "The Italian school of sabre is based on the dueling sabre, not the military sabre. Its foundation is the study and practice of the molinelli, which are types of circular cuts..."


Dueling School Laws & Etiquette. This first lecture introduces the Irish dueling codes, or code duello, that pupils will be adhering to for the week's negotiations. The class will detail how duels were arranged from beginning to end, and pupils will be given the names of their seconds and the adversaries they will face. Students will also receive their Dueling School Journals at this time.

History of Dueling & Dueling Weapons: This lecture will discuss where dueling originated, how it fell into obscurity, and the diversity of combatants, weapons and outcomes.

 Health & Psychology of Combat & Martial Arts: This lecture will detail how to maintain overall health, flexibility & stamina required for martial artistry, as well as the specific concerns raised when facing an upcoming duel. We'll discuss what it takes to mentally prepare for a duel and the responsibilities, implications and ramifications of injuring someone or taking their life.

Mock Duels

Mock duel time slots are available all day in 30 minute scheduled increments. From these time slots mock duels are reserved with the Headmaster. Pupils are required to attend two mock duels on Friday: their own and their principal's. These duels are outside in the forest regardless of weather conditions.

Maestro de Armas

Maestro de Armas Ramon Martinez will be the primary instructor of dueling school. His biography is available here at his website. Maestro de Armas Jeannette Acosta-Martinez will also be available for private lessons.

Instructor Benjamin Bowles, owner of Benjamin Arms will be the school's Headmaster and responsible for the continuity of class material and logistics. He will also be serving as an assistant instructor as needed.

Arcata Veteran's Memorial Hall

The Arcata Veteran's Memorial Hall is an American Legion of Honor post for veterans and service members. The main level consists of well kept bathrooms, lecture room, and main hall. The main hall is furnished with cinema seats around the perimeter, wrought-iron chandeliers and beautiful hardwood floors.

Champagne Dinner

Participants are treated to a free champagne dinner for themselves and a guest at the conclusion of school on Friday night. Last year's dinner was a catered affair with delicious local pasta, salad and champagne; perfect for relaxing after a week of serious training and successful mock duels.

Last Year's Dinner

  • Fresh local greens salad with choice of dressing and additions.
  • Pasta made by Luke's Joint of Arcata: Homemade 2-ingredient semolina pasta with chicken-apple sausage, local shiitake mushrooms & kale, caramelized onions and walnuts with your choice of either a tomato sauce or light herb & cream sauce.
  • Flutes of various champagne for a participant's toast.

Sunday Elective - Pistol Dueling

Eventually sword dueling fell out of fashion in favor of pistols. Although pistols in duels were favored for their perceived ease of use when compared to the sword, that same ease guaranteed a riskier gamble. A swordsman has a chance to take control of the duel and his own defense with training but pistol dueling changed this. Although there were pistoleers who were lethally accurate even with smooth-bore pistols (required by the dueling code) many individuals believed that with the firearm there was an element of chance. Even with a steady hand, nerves of steel and cold resolve fate was alway present with both participants thus somewhat equalling the odds.

This Sunday elective class will detail the specific differences of pistol duels vs sword duels. We'll be discussing the operations of muzzle-loading, flint-lock and percussion pistols as well as the construction specifics of dueling pistols over other more ornate, traveling pistols. Students will have the opportunity to arrange themselves in mock duel scenarios to reenact the entire ritual of arranged single combat with pistols.

This class is free with Dueling School registration, but is also available to community members for $50.00. The class is 2-3 hours long (depending on student numbers) beginning at 1pm Sunday, March 30th. Location TBA. Benjamin Bowles of Benjamin Arms will be teaching this elective. 

Private Instruction

A critical part of training for a duel was the traditional master-student relationship away from group classes. Pupils have the opportunity to reserve throughout the day private lessons, small group classes or plastron lessons in a weapon & subject of their choosing. These lessons are an additional expense and are on a first-come first-serve basis. Contact us early to reserve in advance.

Private Lessons: Private one-on-one instruction. $120 per hour, $60 per half hour. Two people: $75 per hour per person.

Plastron Lessons: A short, high intensity lesson in a weapon and subject of your choosing. $20 per 10 minutes.

Small Classes: Find a friend or friends and split the cost of private instruction in a weapon & subject of your choice! Maximum 4 people. $40 per person per hour. 4 or 6 people only. Must be an even number of students.


Immediately after Dueling School is Humboldt State University's annual tournament, the Redwood Coast Assault of Arms. If you needed another incentive to attend Dueling School, this classical tournament is an immediate opportunity to test your freshly-tuned abilities.

Rules & Proper Attire

Black and White: Great reverence and respect for life is adopted by Fencing Masters due to the lethality inherent in their profession and art. Because of their willing acceptance of this macabre trade it's traditional for a master to wear black. Dueling School will be strictly enforcing this policy. No pupil may wear any black clothing with exception to socks, and while in the salle the master should be addressed as Maestro or sir.

$50 OFF New Weapons for Dueling School!

Upon registration Dueling School pupils will also receive an e-mailed discount code for $50 off any customized & tailor-fit dueling sword or sabre from BenjaminArms.com.

All equipment must be in good condition and safe to use. Pants and shoes must be worn. No exposed skin may be shown with exception to the back of the head and unarmed hand.

  • Fencing Mask – Wire mesh with fabric bib covering the neck. No additional protection for the back of the head is required.
  • Fencing Jacket – Fabric covering both arms to the wrist, waist and back.
  • Fencing Glove – For the weapon hand only with cuff covering the wrist.
  • Shoes – Non-marking shoes only. Comfortable for extended use. Instruction and fencing will occur on a hardwood floor.
  • French Dueling Sword – Classical French dueling swords only. No electric or dummy electric points. Aluminum guards highly discouraged. Dueling swords must have point d'arrets affixed to their points to simulate a sharpened weapon. These points are available for purchase with registration or at Benjamin Arms.
  • Italian Dueling Sabre – Classical Italian dueling sabres only. No electric wiring or aluminum guards. S2000 blades are acceptable, but Darkwood or Hanwei sabre blades are recommended.


Hotel Arcata Link – The Hotel Arcata is within 10 minute walking distance of our studio, across the street from our participant’s dinner venue and two blocks from our brunch venue. From their website: Located on the town square of historic Arcata on the coast of Northern California, Hotel Arcata is convenient to all of the attractions of Humboldt County, within steps of a wide variety of quality restaurants, fitness facilities and other services and only minutes from the regional airport and downtown Eureka. Within a 5 minute stroll of Hotel Arcata is Redwood Park with its walking trails through a majestic and inspiring redwood forest.

Best Western Inn, Arcata Link – A few minutes drive from the studio and social venues and is high in customer satisfaction. From their website: Welcome to the BEST WESTERN Arcata Inn, a family friendly hotel located close to a variety of Northern California activities and attractions. This Arcata hotel offers well-appointed guest rooms with cable satellite television with HBOŽ and high-speed internet access. This hotel also features a variety of amenities including a complimentary continental breakfast, heated indoor/outdoor swimming pool, hot tub and limited business services. Pets are welcome!

Student Housing Extremely limited! If you’re a student looking to attend Foil Camp, some Humboldt State University students or local fencers may have couch / extra bed space available. Please contact Benjamin Arms early to make these arrangements.

Refunds & Cancellations

Full refunding of school tuition is available up to two weeks prior to the event. Sorry, but no partial refunds or discounts are available if you miss portions of the school; the instructors for group classes have to be paid whether you're there or not. The event organizers also reserve the right to cancel the event within two weeks of Dueling School in the event of abysmal registration numbers.