Antone Blair, a Fencing Professor here at HSU, has been awarded the title of Fencing Master, in which he is one of five in the Nation who have achieved the level of a fully trained fencing professional. Blair acquired the skill-set to teach all levels of fencing after completing a fifteen year traditional apprenticeship though the Martinez Academy of Arms in New York City.
The Martinez Academy teaches nearly a dozen different weapons and styles from beginning to advanced levels. In his particular program, Blair was taught French, Spanish, Italian, and some German fencing systems and methodologies, gaining the ability to distinguish the commonalities and differences between them all.
Though he possesses an in depth knowledge of all the fencing styles, Blair personally prefers the traditional Spanish methodology, “The Spanish school is very unusual and different in its approach, as well as its thinking, concepts and expression. It has a distinct style,” he said. The Academy itself has a number of traditional systems that were handed down from master to student over generations, which no other academy in the world can claim.
Blair, having always had an interest in history and martial arts, started fencing though a college club at Beloit University in Southern Wisconsin. Beginning as a hobby, Blair was fascinated by the complex body of knowledge that fencing seemingly encompassed, as it was apparent to him that there is a particular methodology, logic, order, and complexity to the skill-set that is not seen in every martial art. “Its one of those arts where the more you learn about it, the more you realize there is so much more to it. Just in the weapon styles we teach, there is a history that goes back at least 400 to 500 years,” said Blair.
As a Maestro, which is the more traditional term for a fully trained professional fencing master, Blair explained his obligation to train other masters, have a thorough knowledge of the history and cultural context behind the different fencing systems, and possess a mastery of all the different weapons and weapon styles. From technical skills to tactical skills, there are numerous processes and trainings a Maestro must consistently and zealously adhere to.
“I like seeing people pick up something new and develop it,” said Blair. “It’s one of those skills where the more you do it, the more things open up for you. For many, it can be a path to personal growth, where people start developing themselves and their personalities in numerous ways; taking the analytical tools, and mental and psychological techniques they gain from fencing and applying them to other aspects of their lives. Its really fun to watch.”
Blair currently teaches a beginning fencing class at HSU, where students focus on learning the basics for establishing a foundation of fencing skills. Blair also helps to teach and guide students in the Humboldt State Fencing club and leads workshops on self-defense that incorporate concepts similarly used in fencing training.
“I hope to grow and expand my school and find students who appreciate it,” said Blair. “I think one of the main things I’ve enjoyed from the time I started teaching is the ability to pass along an understanding and appreciation for this art.”
Through his handwork and rigorous training, Blair’s unique skills have provided him the opportunity to travel all over the world, attending training camps and workshops in France, Italy, Spain, and Hungary. Next year, he will be heading to Portugal for a week-long international training camp.