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.
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 :)