As part of our series on Destreza instructors around Australia, we talked to Rodrigo Álvarez. Several BSIS members have met Rodrigo while in Perth, and we have been excited by his depth of knowledge on our favourite topic. Rodrigo teaches mostly in Kingsley, WA and has also arranged sessions in Subiaco, WA.
Why is Destreza important to you?
I actually came into historical swordsmanship through modern fencing, which seems relatively unusual, for some reason. I fell in love with La Verdadera Destreza when I stumbled upon it while researching historical topics. I have always been very interested in History, and I now consider the historical fencing traditions of the Iberian Peninsula an important part of my cultural heritage.
What is your favourite Destreza action and why?
There is only one possible way to answer this question, to avoid the wrath of Pacheco’s ghost.
My favourite Destreza action is the Atajo, “llave y gobierno de la Verdadera Destreza”.
When did you start HEMA and why?
I have always been a historical buff, and Early Modern Europe is one of my favourite periods. After practicing sport fencing as a child, I took up epee as an adult about 10 years ago, back in London, looking for some athletic activity that was a bit less taxing than rugby. This led me to read about the history of fencing, and inevitably steered me towards the 16th and 17th century masters. Being a Spaniard myself, the Spanish masters of the period immediately attracted my attention. The rest is History, as they say.
What do you enjoy about teaching?
I started teaching mostly because there were no masters in Perth focusing on the school I was interested in. I figured out that, if I wanted to have drill partners, I would have to teach them myself. This is still my main goal, although some students seem to really enjoy the lessons, and it is very pleasing to receive that kind of feedback.
Can you apply Destreza training in everyday life?
Absolutely. I can manoeuvre like lightning through a busy commuter train.
Actually, as an engineer, a lot of what I do at work – planning the best angle of attack to a problem, minimising risk, opening angles to create opportunities – is conceptually quite similar to the philosophy behind the Verdadera Destreza. If you insist in finding conceptual similarities, of course. Which I totally do.
What else do you teach?
I do impart several seminaries through the year, usually on highly technical engineering subjects. There are no swords involved, sadly.
How can you be contacted to organise lessons?
Probably the best approach would be to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Our current lessons in Kingsley are open to newcomers [Rodrigo mostly trains with the Free Company, and has trained with them for about 5 years], but I could also be cajoled into setting up sessions in a more Southerly location if a reasonable number of people are interested.
Published 20th October 2019