Tuesday, September 14, 2010

The 600th - a Review

Got back last night from the best WMA event I've ever attended.  Okay, so I've only been to three, but my previous statement still stands!

The event, which was a celebration of the 600th (ish) anniversary of the setting down of Fiore dei Liberi's "Fior di Battaglia".  Hosted by the Chicago Swordplay Guild at the beautiful DeKoven Center in Racine, WI (home of WMAW), The 600th was designed to be a small (only about 50-60 people) event focused on Armizare, thus allowing the classes to be more in-depth than at a larger conference.  The instructors for the event included Greg Mele, Sean Hayes, Bob Charette, Guy Windsor, Mark Lancaster, & Scott Wilson.  Every class I attended was well taught and the students were respectful and attentive.

The even also included three "bonus events":
  • A martial challenge between the United States, represented by Sean Hayes & Jesse Kulla, and the Commonwealth, represented by Guy Windsor, Jason Smith, and Mark Lancaster.  The challenge fights were a joy to watch and were displays of both prowess and gentlemanly conduct.  Oh yeah, the Commonwealth won  ;)
  • An Unarmoured Tournament which featured three rounds, each with a different weapon - the longsword, the lance, and the arming sword.  The rounds were fought with a modified version of the Belgian rules - each bout was to 3 points, with blows to the head & sword-arm being worth 3 points, all other targets worth 1 point.  The winner remained in the lists and became the King, thus having the right to make an After-Blow (a response to a blow struck against them).  Double hits were either a) given to the higher (literally) blow or b) if there was no discernible advantage, both combatants were out and two new ones entered the lists.  That all being said, this was my first tournament of any type and I thought I fought quite well at the longsword.  The arming sword and lance rounds showed my lack of training with those weapons, but now I have a baseline from which to improve.  Just like the Martial Challenges, the Tournament contestants showed nothing but chivalry to one another and made my first tournament a happy one.
  • An Armoured Feat of Arms between four Challengers; myself, Sean Hayes, Scott Wilson & Bob Charette, against three Defenders of the CSG; Jesse Kulla, Dave Farrell, and Leo Lastre.  Each Challenger fought a bout with each Defender with one of four weapons: the dagger, the longsword, the lance, and the poleaxe.  I fought all three of my bouts with the axe (go figure right?) - twice with my "short axes" and once with the "long axe".  This being only my second tournament (see above), my first time fighting someone outside the Academy in armour and my first time fighting with axes I can honestly say that this Feat of Arms was the highlight of my weekend!  My thanks go out to the Defenders for providing me with such wonderful bouts (Sparky, my best memory is of that beautiful change through you caught me with!), my fellow Challengers, Nicole and Greg for the wonderful experience, and most importantly, to all you good folk who assisted us in and out of our armour, fetched weapons, and made sure we had water after each bout - I humbly apologize that I cannot remember each of you who by name.
Besides the Armoured Feat of Arms, my other highlights include Greg's axe class and the many wonderful conversations I had over fermented beverages.

To Greg, Nicole, the CSG who helped staff the event, to the DeKoven staff, and to both my rides - my warmest thanks!

To Jason, Dan, Bernard, JF, Rachel, Theresa and many, many others - it was wonderful to finally meet you!

To all the instructors, thank you for sharing your time and knowledge!

In the end, this event has provided some of my happiest WMA moments and I can only hope that I comported myself as well as I saw those around me do so.  And of course, I hope I didn't embarrass myself or the Academy too bad :)

    Friday, September 3, 2010

    Alright Boys! Whip 'em out & Measure!

    I hate politics.

    I mean that I REALLY hate politics.

    I hate politics almost as much as I hate the Yankees and USC.

    So it really pisses me off when things I love get caught up in loads of political bullshit.  What set all this off is this thread at SwordForum ("US puts in a good showing at Fightcamp 2010") discussing the results and aftermath of a Backsword Tournament held at that event.  If you really want to read all 7 pages of it, be my guest, but here is a synopsis:
    • Guy who ran Backsword Tournament posts to congratulate American for competing.
    • Someone makes a crack about said American being banned from SFI.
    • Moderator responds that above person does not know the whole story and to let it drop.
    This is where is gets interesting and people start makes insinuations that US instructors and certain "names" don't have the courage / balls / gumption to risk their reputations and enter into "real" tournaments.  Begin the Flame War!

    The main argument that follows is based around two camps:
    • One that says that tournaments are the closest we will ever come to a real swordfight and should be the acme of our training.
    • One that says no, tournaments suck.
    Here's the fun part, just like any religious argument, this one boils down to two extreme camps (who are actually the minority) overwhelming the middle-of-the-road people (who are the majority).  If, for instance, you say that "properly done tournaments are all well and good, but they should not be the focal point of our training, because then we risk sportifying the art" you are slammed by one side as being anti-tournament and by the other as being pro-tournament.  >.<

    Needless to say, I was willing to let this "mine is bigger than yours" crap slide by with very little involvement on my part.

    Then I saw this thread on another forum:

    SFI fucktards..

    I am not making that title up, click on the link.

    So here we have one of the main instigators of the "discussion" on SFI bitching and moaning on his own forum about the "nasty atmosphere" on SFI and how stupid the people who are arguing with him are?


    Especially because one of the people he questions as being...ahem..."mentally handicapped" we'll say, is upset by the fact that the tournament was won by a person who had never studied historical European backsword or single-handed sword techniques.

    *blink*             *blink*

    To which those who ran the tournament replied that "Well, it wasn't a 'backsword' tournament, it was a...uhhh...singlestick...no wait...a single-sword....uh....ish...tournament"  Yeah, that's the ticket.  When they are called on the fact that that original post included the phrase "Backsword Tournament" they responded by.....you guessed it....attacking the questioner and proclaiming that he had obviously never fought in a "real tournament" and that he should "put his money where his mouth is".

    Why?  Because he called you on the fact that you held a Backsword Tournament where you could use whatever style you pleased?  Remind anyone else of this?

    "Welcome to first annual Pacific Northwest Longsword Tournament where all style are welcome!  Ready?" *insert sounds of guns cocking*

    This is where I got pissed off.  I can accept:
    • You trying to asses penis size over the internet.  Whatever.
    • You trying to assert that tournaments are the "purest form" of WMA.  Okay, your opinion.
    But when you start pissing and moaning and changing your story because somebody caught you with your pants down?  When you start arguing about semantics and minutiae? When you start  arguing with people, not because of what they're saying but because of who they are?  Then:



    And now for something completely different -