Gallaecia in Armis is born in 2014 from the merger of two collectives dedicated to HEMA research in Santiago de Compostela: the Sala Compostelá de Esgrima Antiga (SCEA) and the Grupo de Jogo do Pau Compostela.
SCEA: Sala Compostelá de Esgrima Antiga
SCEA was stablished in 2008, born from a group of people which had begun to discover HEMA in our city. The original headquarters were hosted by the Centro Social o Pichel, and the first lessons were given, literally, with brooms’ handles.
Before 2008, twofriends (Tomás Ahola and Efrén Faraldo) had discovered through the internet the existance of historical fencing manuals. With the help of our AGEA-Corunha friends (entity which would later become the Galician HEMA federation) Tomás and Efrén begun to study treatises, and soon after launched the first practical lessons on rapier and longsword.
After several demonstrations and open lessons, they managed to coalesce a groupof people who would stay to train and research.
The toughest task in those days was forming a stable group, and frequently only a couple of people would show up for training. In order to rent a space at the Pichel and to consolidate the collective, the non-profit organisation «Sala Compostelana de Esgrima Antiga» was officially incorporated in 2008.
Around 2010 comes the first major leap forward: a grant of space and time in public facilities is secured, providing a larger and more adequate space. Along with an agressive advertising campaign (posters, stickers, facebook, media reviews, exhibitions) the group grows steadily. A public scheme of lessons is stablished, and instructors are formally appointed for each weapon/tradition pair. Quality of the offered service increases noticeably.
These are too the years of growth and consolidation for other Galician HEMA groups: Ourense, Lugo, Vigo, Corunha, Narom… Slowly, european martial arts salles appear through our country. The annual AGEA «Torre de Hércules» Tournament becomes the national meeting of reference. Other events (the Cidade de Narom Tournament, the Galician HEMA Meetings) take shape. The AGEA, initially just a name for the Corunha group, becomes the umbrella organisation for all the Galician collectives and begins to mutate into a federation.
The AGEA Editora is born, a press firm to publish research on HEMA, especially from the iberian traditions of «Verdadeira Destreza». In the years to come, over half a dozen books will be published, some of them previously unknown, including english translations and technical interpretations.
In 2011 SCEA members attend some of the major European (X HEMAC Dijon) and spanish (the annual AEEA meeting, the Bilbao Armata meeting, the I Corona de Aragón Tournament) events, stablishing ties with members of the international HEMA community.
On 2013, AGEA and SCEA members return to the Dijon HEMAC Gathering, albeit this time as instructors, to deliver the research work carried on Portuguese Destreza. Other invitations to teach abroad ensue (the annual AEEA meeting in Toledo, the IV Portuguese HEMA Federation Meeting in Loures), placing the SCEA and the AGEA on the map.
2013 sees also the first HEMA lessons given to kids by SCEA members, within the context of several summer schools. A long-term project is launched to stablish HEMA training groups for underage people.
Finally, 2014 begins with the realization of another long-pursued SCEA project: acquiring a training space of our own. This circumstance promotes the merger with another collective which already had bounds with the SCEA –Jogo do Pau Compostela–. The resulting entitie inherits a name that had already been used before: Gallaecia in Armis.
Grupo de Jogo do Pau Compostela
SCEA came to know Jogo do Pau through Isidro Piñeiro in 2010. Isidro is a eastern martial arts teacher resident in Vila Garcia who set forward a project to collect and document the living experiences of Galician elders who used to train JdP and resolve their quarrels with it. These people testify that Jogo do Pau was alive throughout the whole of Galiza, and was particularly strong along the frontier with Portugal, until about a couple decades ago, when the demographic shift from rural to urban areas severed the transmission of old traditions.
Throughout Europe, around 2011 a growing interest on Jogo do Pau begins to develop, mainly because of its status as a living martial art with clear historical links –Jogo do Pau techniques can be seen in Paulus Hector Mair’s De Arte Athletica, for instance.
In this context, the SCEA organized a joint event with the cultural group A Gentalha do Pichel two Jogo do Pau seminars (2011 and 2012) taught by Isidro Piñeiro, raising considerable interest.
From that interest a small autonomous group was born, dedicated to JdP practice and research. SCEA’s Iago Fernández Otero helped them with their first steps teaching introductory classes at the Gentalha do Pichel’s headquarters during the winter of 2012 – 2013.
As the group grew and the SCEA launched its initiative to create a HEMA-oriented space in our city, the Grupo de Jogo do Pau Compostela joined the Gallaecia in Armis project.