Maestro James Loriega began his formal edged weapons training in 1967 when he embarked on a lifelong study of martial arts with Ronald Duncan. In the mid-70s, after achieving various instructor-level ranks in Asian systems, Loriega gained his first exposure to the Western martial traditions under the tutelage of Maitre Michel Alaux, a former coach to the US Olympic Fencing Team. It was from Maitre Alaux, and his assistant at the time, Ms. Julia Jones, that Loriega learned the rudiments of épée and saber. In September of 1980, Loriega founded the New York Ninpokai, the city’s premiere training academy for the traditional arts of ninjutsu.
In 1990, while conducting ninjutsu seminars in Spain, Loriega discovered the acero sevillano knife arts of Andalusia. These arts include the use of the cuchillo (knife), puñal (stiletto), bastón de estoque (sword cane), bastón de paseo (walking stick), and navaja (clasp knife). His summers from 1991 to 1996 were spent in Seville learning the intricacies of these Andalusian arts. In August of 1996, Loriega received certification as an Instructor de Armas Blancas Sevillanas, under Maestro de Armas Santiago Rivera, then headmaster of the Escuela Sevillana de Armas Blancas. At this time, Loriega also completed his first translation of Manual del Baratero. Since 1996, he has operated a recognized branch of the Escuela Sevillana in New York City known as the Raven Arts Institute of Sevillian Steel. In September of 2000, following the publication of Sevillian Steel, Loriega was formally acknowledged as a Maestro de Armas Blancas Sevillanas.
In January of 2002, Loriega was inducted as an Acknowledged Instructor to the International Masters-at-Arms Federation (IMAF), where he is recognized for his mastery of the navaja and other Andalusian edged weapons. Based in Milan, Italy, the mission of the the IMAF is “to preserve, study, practice and teach the martial arts of the western world heritage. Furthermore, it is the intention of the IMAF to function as a guild of professional teachers in keeping with the tradition and heritage of arms.” Loriega’s extensive writings have appeared in mainstream martial arts publications such as Black Belt, Warriors, Ninja, and Tactical Knives. His first book, Sevillian Steel: The Knife-Fighting Arts of Spain, (1999 Paladin Press) presents an overview of the edged weapons culture, styles, and strategies of this western martial tradition.
A second book, Scourge of the Dark Continent, (1999 Loompanics) outlines the history and martial applications of the African sjambok (a rod-like whip made from rhinoceros hide).
Loriega’s third book is the annotated English-language translation of the 19th century Manual del Baratero, published in March 2005 by Paladin Press. A sequel to Sevillian Steel, detailing the technical intricacies of using the navaja, will shortly follow.
Today, Maestro Loriega continues to travel and to train, in addition to offering instruction at the Raven Arts Institute, where courses are available in the use of the folding knife, stiletto, sword-cane, walking stick, improvised weaponry, and unarmed combatives. When not traveling to conduct seminars, Maestro Loriega divides his time between teaching in New York City and training in Seville and Nice.