Based originally on a tradition of Western European Swordsmanship, Aegis Academy of Swordsmanship has combined old traditions and modern techniques to form a new martial art. Drawing inspiration from styles from all over the world, Aegis has combined the best of multiple styles including jujitsu, street fighting, and karate to create a truly American Martial Art Form.
The Aegis Style of sword fighting was originated in the city of Sanfratello, Sicily over a thousand years ago by the Sanfratello family. Since then, all male children have begun training at the age of 8. Sal Sanfratello, founder of Aegis Sword Academy began training in 1980 according to family traditions. During the next ten years, he expanded his training to include other fighting styles, ranging from jujitsu to akido to street fighting. At 18, he began heavy weapons fighting with the Society for Creative Anachronisms (SCA) and soon began training their new fighters. As he trained various students, he noticed limitations in each fighting style that could be resolved through techniques offered in other styles in which he had been trained. He began to integrate fighting techniques to form the Aegis style of Swordsmanship, still based in ancient traditions, but updated for the modern day.
Aegis Consulting LLC (Ann Arbor) opened in 2001. Despite early setbacks, Aegis thrived thanks to its dedicated staff and students. Located in Ann Arbor, MI, Aegis’s training facility is easily accessed from Ypsilanti, Lansing, Jackson, Howell, and Brighton. Students commute from as far as Kalamazoo to attend classes. Aegis Academy of Swordsmanship LLC (Iowa) launched in 2011. Located in Maquoketa, IA, Aegis’s training facilities can be accessed from the Quad-Cities and Dubuque area.
Aegis Academy is dedicated to helping students improve themselves. Through their swordsmanship program, they teach self awareness, confidence, and control, as well as hard physical skills. Observation exercises teach students to be aware of the world around them and help break the “victim mentality”. By teaching awareness, Aegis prepares it’s students for situations by identifying potentially dangerous situations before they happen and not placing oneself in them. A fight avoided is a fight won.
Aegis believes in honor, respect, and community. Students form tight bonds within their classes, often referring to each other as sword brother and sisters. Classes choose a class name and create a class banner together, learning to work together in the process. They encourage each other to attend class, stick with the program, and work through problems. This form of support makes the Aegis Academy an ideal environment for those people who have trouble sticking with fitness programs on their own.
Classes are divided into 5 sections. The first part of every class is devoted to stretching and mental preparation for the class ahead. Next: mental exercises including observation, deduction, and self awareness. This section prepares students for the mental portion of battle; strength analysis, terrain evaluation, etc. Following that is the lecture portion of class. Direct instruction is provided by the instructor as new skills are taught. Students mimic the instructor to achieve proper form of movement. Accuracy and control are emphasized over speed to ensure proper form. Aegis believes that speed comes with time and that control is more important to learning the style and preventing injury. All movements are designed for maximum efficiency and minimum impact and injury to bones and joints. The next portion of class is open kata. Here, students practice the motions learned in class while instructors walk around working with each student to achieve correct form. Aegis’s small teacher to student ratio allows for individual attention and adaption of the fighting style. The final portion of each class is a review and cool down. This is a chance for students to share what they have learned and to ask questions.
All Aegis Academy instructors have been in the Academy for at least two years and undergo an evaluation process before being trained as instructors. Instructors undergo a year of dedicated training in the teaching of the Aegis style before they teach their first class on their own. Every instructor assists with at least one class under Head Instructor Sal Sanfratello to ensure knowledge and comprehension of forms, philosophy and material. Aegis strives for a 7:1 student:teacher ratio to ensure one on one attention.
Aegis recognizes the differences of each individual. They custom tailor their program for each individual’s psychology and body type to help them to develop their ideal fighting style. Towards this end, Aegis had developed it’s own women’s fighting program. Men and women have different body types with distinct differences between the genders, ranging from center of gravity and angle of wrist to adrenaline curves. Aegis had found that women need to be taught to fight in ways that maximize their natural tendencies and work with their physical makeup rather then against it. Through scientific evaluation, Aegis had systematically worked through these differences to allow women to learn to fight without the confusion and frustration normally experienced when taught in a style that does not recognize these differences.