Got back from Swordfish 2010 this morning early. I feel strung out and absolutely knackered for some reason. Must be getting old but the event really took it out of me this year and I was taking it wasy.
In a nutshell the event was a blast! Well-organised, interesting and diverse workshops and competition events, excellent people and discussions and well, the time goes by all too fast!
I had the car this year so I took along 10 slings I made and a bucket of tennis balls. I had suggested to a few people I met for the first time that they might like to come along to one of the halls and try it out. Not a class per se, more of a brief intro and then just let them get on with it. We started off doing underarm casts, and I just added a new cast style in front of everyone every 20 minutes or so. I showed underarm, Greek (2 variations), and the figure 8. Some people came up with their own style. In many ways I think it was most fortunate that the first people that came to sling were a group of germans. They showed a natural aptitude and after 30 minutes of fun were asking to buy the slings!
This got the ball rolling. We left the door to the training hall open so passersby could see what was going on and I actively invited them to take part if they looked interested. After a brief instruction on how to hold the sling and a basic tutorial of 2 or 3 minutes, the newcomer was whizzing tennis balls with everyone else. It was really cool to see how the first tentative or totally misdirected shots started to improve after 10 minutes practice. A very few took to it naturally and could generate power and a good degree of accuracy. There still people slinging 3 hours later!
I sold or gave away all of the slings, even my "old faithful", the first woven pouch sling I made earlier this summer. I made sure they were cheap because it wasn't about making money as such (although it was welcome beer money :-) ), it was about spreading the word on slings and slinging. As I write this, my slings are in England, Germany, Sweden and Norway! Result!
Finally, it was most gratifying to get such great feedback from people at the event, even suggestions that I offer a slinging class next year! Well, I don't know about that, because I think that the infomal nature of the slinging this year (along with a beer or two) was an integral part of making the whole experience most fun. Who knows what may happen next year?
I gave out the slinging forum address, (i.e. http://www.slinging.org/) to as many people as I could, so that they could also get more info and start to make their own slings. As I left the event and said my goodbyes, I was told by one of the visiting instructors that he had really the enjoyed slinging and that before he started he was just about to go to bed. He was still slinging an hour and a half later! He also reckoned that the fun slinging could be incorporated into an upcoming international event in Texas. Another German chap reckoned that something similar could easily be organised when next his club visited another HEMA club in Denmark.
So, Swordfish 2010 was a very good event for me in many ways. Kudos, thanks and continued respect to all the organisers and in particular, the fine people of the Gothenburg Historical Fencing School.
Tack för allt! Vi ses nästä år! (hope that's correct :-) )