Saturday, 17 October 2009

Third thoughts

I've had a rethink about the nylon longsword competition which will be held at Swordfish '09 in Gothenburg this year. Basically, I decided to pull out and maybe attend Dierk Hagedorn's class on half-swording instead.

My reasons:

-I'm not very good at freeplay and my performance at the Medieval Mayhem overall, and particularly against the Mikkonator was crap. So, I'm just not ready for free bouting yet.
-Different rulesets and competition mode is different from the context we normally do freeplay.
-In terms of learning stuff useful for the practice of Fiore, there isn't much (at my current level, such as it is) that I would gain by taking part in the competition.
-I'd learn more from the half-sword class with Mr. Hagedorn.
-I started to stress about the competition and worrying if I was ready and all that crap. Yes, I do stress about things too easily, I freely admit. So, this worry was starting to take away the joy of the whole Swordfish experience, which is just daft. If the joy isn't in it, then there's something wrong. This has become my yardstick for my whole attitude to swordsmanship. It doesn't preclude hard work and regular training as these can be a joy in themselves.

Instead, if I want to have a friendly spar with people at the event, I will have more than ample opportunity to do so. I just have to be open to the experience, have a laugh, get a bit sweaty and maybe a bruise or two, make friends in the process, learn, consider and perhaps discard new stuff, then discuss it all over a pint or dram in the pub afterwards :-)

Sunday, 11 October 2009

Flappy swords

Dave Rawlings of Boar's Tooth and some other chaps are marketing plastic wasters and armour for freeplay. To see their gear in action, click the following link:

I'll say it straight up......I hate the armour, they look like robocops with swords. What's wrong with a nice gambeson or fencing jacket with a leather plastron?

The swords themselves, at least in the clip, looked rather flappy in the flat although we are assured by people from Schola Gladiatoria who've had the good fortune to try them, that it's just the top third that has the most flex. To my limited knowledge though, they still looked shinai-quick. I still think the Pentti wasters from Gothenburg look pretty good and were quite ok to handle.

Nevertheless, they don't look too bad overall and if they can really produce them at 40 quid a pop, then maybe it would be a good idea to invest in a few for our club, as they HAVE to be better than the wooden wasters we currently have. I'm looking forward with interest to see how these fare when more people can use them and write their own reviews.


It's a horrible word, isn't it? Yet I've been producing rather a lot of it all week as I've been laid up sick at home. I guess a fairly stressful and busy summer finally caught up with me and dealt me a good belt. Felt like it anyhow. While I have enjoyed the time spent at home just to sleep, rest and eat, I don't enjoy feeling weak, having headaches and mountains of tissues all around me. Basically, it sucks being sick! I'm on the road to recovery and I'll probably head back to work tomorrow but it'll only be indoors stuff this week. No diving for me!

I thought that we would be finished well in advance of the end of October so I could easily take some days off and enjoy going to Swordfish 2009. Now it seems we'll have to work right up to the last minute and into November to get all the pieces into place. We've got about 500 videos to watch and the underwater nature trail to break down for winter.
It never ends, does it?

Speaking of Swordfish 2009, there is a pretty interesting line up and I'm still looking forward to attending. I initially decided to take part in the longsword tournament but I have since decided to do something else instead, namely take part in the half-swording techniques from the Falkner manuscript, by Mr. Dierk Hagedorn. I had the pleasure to chat with him briefly last year and he was sound. Why did I change my mind? I had started to get a bit stressed about the whole thing, particularly after my rather dismal performance last year. I attended the Medieval Mayhem last weekend at the Helsinki salle (which was great fun btw!) and had a chance for a brief natter on the subject with Ilkka Hartikainen. I asked him if he intended to take part this year and he said probably not. When I asked why, he told me that he wasn't so fond of the competition-like approach and that it was much more fun for him to just have a bit of informal play with people he could choose, and that he felt he had nothing to prove. His attitude gave me a lot of pause for thought.

Perhaps I'm simply not yet ready for such a tournament? Given that the tournament rules (as in any competition) will result in a certain type of modified behaviour to best take advantage of the rule system in place, what would I actually and constructively learn about what I know/don't know of italian swordsmanship? I really don't seem to take competition-pressure too well. Ironically, the only person putting me under pressure is, myself! So, I figured I'd get more out of the half-swording class than the tourney and if I want to have a friendly spar with people while I'm there, then I'll probably get ample opportunity. The fact that I don't yet have a plastic sword for the competition, nor intend to buy lacrosse gloves for it either, because "hard" protection is not allowed, are just little contributing details.