Swords clashed and sparks flew as the students of Saint Louis de Montfort Academy began the La Valette Fencing Tournament on May 19. The Academy and its Call to Chivalry camps highlight the forgotten virtues of Catholic knighthood.
After a prayer, the fencing master calls out:
“Judges ready? Fencers ready?”
Students nod and the order is given: “Then fence.”
Thrusts, parries, lunges and ripostes fly in both directions as each fencer attempts to land a red tipped point on his opponent. Now the grueling hours of practice for good form, quick and clean movements and pinpoint precision pay off. Concentration is on full throttle as each fencer analyzes his counterpart’s rapid moves, using skill, self-control, technique and timing to successfully place the perfect thrust and win the bout.
It is a battle of intellect and doggedness more than brute strength. Circling, swinging, blocking and cutting with long wooden swords, the senior Academy students battled using the same methods young squires and knights learned in the Middle Ages.
Surrounded by colorful banners and flags, under a vine-covered arbor and overlooked by a large Cross, one felt transported to another epoch of history. Horses galloped around, their knightly riders carrying standards and swords as Mr. Roark Mitzell, the fencing master, paced up and down in a kilt and tammy, directing and judging each fierce yet chivalrous and respectful engagement.
Under the maternal gaze of the Blessed Virgin Mary, medals and other prizes for those who had fought best lay among swords and shields of all sizes. Pictures of Jean Parisot de la Valette, the Grand Master of the Knights of Malta, who valiantly repelled 40,000 Turks in one of the greatest sieges in history, the Siege of Malta in 1565, were awarded to the winners. To the overall champion – James Donlon – was given the McBane Cup, an award he will have to defend at sword point during the next tournament!
Request more information about the Call to Chivalry camps for boys here.