Brian Stokes, born slightly after the death of Fiore dei Liberi, started his practice of the sword in 1972 in the world of collegiate Olympic fencing, earning spots on the West Fencing Conference’s 1st team in both foil and epee and 2nd team in saber. (HEMA? What the heck is HEMA?) Finding that the course of Olympic fencing was changing he started training in the Japanese way of the sword and this year celebrate his 40th year in the Japanese martial arts.
After spending a few years looking through some of the books then accessible for study Brian started his formal training in the western arts in 2002 when he ran across the horrid then available microfiche of the Getty manuscript Fior di Battaglia by the great master Fiore dei Liberi. In 2004 he founded the Schola San Marco whereat Fiore’s art is the sole focus of his efforts.
Brian is also the consummate researcher having had the opportunity to sit with and study a number of the original manuscripts. Additionally he has built up a moderate library of HEMA books, including original copies of Agrippa, Marozzo, Capo Ferro, Thibault, Gerard, and Angelo amongst others. Studying from some two dozen original printings now fill his free time.
Along with Fior Thibault is also a primary focus of his group’s study. Having access to an original copy of Academie de l’Espée has led to a number of discoveries and deeper understandings of this great master’s methodology and fundamental principle of fencing.