Friday, 9 March 2018

1 down. 39 to go.

For the few people who are surprised that I am still active and they get notifications when I post.

One of my guys has been invited to teach at Fightcamp.

This has been a goal of mine since I became lead instructor, it's why I put in the time and money needed to keep passions alive.

I want every one of my lot to have a fightcamp worthy lesson inside (and maybe able to jump in and teach if there's a cancellation)

So proud, so happy. 1 down. 39 to go.

Thursday, 14 December 2017

Oh... Drama. goodie.

I think I'm safe in the assumption that anyone who reads this has a pretty good idea of HEMA and the politics and the drama.  Part of me wants to go on a name and shame rant but I don't want to tell the racists where to learn how to hurt people.

I feel confident in stating racism because after coming back from class today I spent a while searching for things I knew were around a few days ago and all I can find now that a fucktonne of entries have been removed from Google under the Right to Be Forgotten and a well curated Facebook post not quite pleading innocence. To my eye, it appears to be a way to hide all questionable evidence and plead persecution. He's opened up a hole in the narrative that is tanatamount to an admission of guilt.  That's what's informing my feelings, but mostly irrelavent to what happens next.

This puts me in a position I had hoped I never needed to consider.  In fact the whole structure and running of our club is so that these questions should never come up- Equality, Fairness, and all of that is enshrined in our constitution. The response to our GAGAS event (driven by the members, I just had to nod authoritively once in a while) was overwhelming. We are inclusive and I will not, knowingly, teach a bully.

As an instructor I have a duty of care, to my students foremost but it is wider than that. I do not believe that we should teach fighting arts to anyone who wishes to oppress. Our students aren't the end of our world but the beginning. If someone is less fortunate, we help. You raise up, and yes you can raise up the world by helping one person- providing that all agree to lift eachother up.

If you are strong, pause and take time to explain how the weak can win.

There is no doubt that I have to take a strong stance for inclusivity. That's how our club works. It's what we were founded on. The sharing of knowledge and spread of ideas is so key to us that the new year will see me pushing to get as many of the guys capable of running a lesson on their pet subject as possible. It would be a massive source of pride for me if they were invited to teach elsewhere or able to step in if a Fight Camp slot would otherwise be cancelled.

I'm going to have to nail my colours to the mast, and now I am having to rapidly find the best way to do it.

I've never felt comfortable wearing the rainbow because I don't own it and never should. I only use pronouns when a name escapes me. I am not claiming to fight for others because I don't know their struggles.

Friday, 7 April 2017

It's that time of year again.

Where I both curse and celebrate Matt and Lucy Easton's hard work and dedication.   Fightcamp tickets went on sale at around half 9 this morning (after a good half hour of frustrated refreshing and panicked co-ordination) and sold out before lunch.

The lineup hasn't been finalised-  there's still a lot of open slots, but in a way that's not really all that important. The instructors will be good, regardless. The people will be fantastic. Competitions friendly and intense. Beer... drunk.  And it marks a passing of time.

Last year we had to get things in place very quickly due to a bastard. We had classes cancelled, which we'd found out was due to non-payment to the venue, despite everyone paying money in and the club being, theoretically, well in the black.  Bluntly, we were chronically fucked over.

It's been a year since the great embezzelment that almost cost us the club.  We had no instructor and although the club was ours in spirit- the name was dragged so far through the mud that we could no longer use it. Hence the complete change of branding.  The club image was taken along with.. some thousand pounds which should have been used to invest in the club and other little things like pay the venue. Kit that was stored at the defrauded venue is still unavailable to us.

I am still furious about the embezzlement, but fortunately, it was only material things. In the long run getting rid of the thief was really good for us. I feel I'm going from strength to strength as a teacher.  The past year there's been so much growth and engagement from the guys. The fencing has got tighter, the questions harder to answer. It would be nice to open up some time to free study but there's not enough room and we can't really start earlier due to boring stuff like work and travel. There's talk about holding different kind of event, which I'll cover in a later post- when we have more than just an idea about what we want to do. (I'm pretty excited about it, and think it fits well with my vision of the club).

It's nerve wracking bringing people to these events as an instructor, I really care about the guys doing well (not necessarily winning, but being brilliant, difficult and fun opponents) and loving the event. Their failures are more mine than their successes.  I know they will do well, even the newbies who have managed to get tickets. But... there's always the nerves if you care about something.

Thursday, 19 January 2017

Simple question, complex answer,.

It's lovely when a simple question fires up the brain and starts making all sorts of connections. This was something that appeared in the charming Mr Kovalic's Twitter. It will be unsurprising that my path to HEMA included gaming and wondering about the realities behind the story.

The question that intrigued me was making called shots in melee. There are a lot of good ideas, but nothing that rang true to my experience of sword fighting. Let's ignore the fact that an offhand dagger should add quite a bonus to defence or that a buckler is also a bludgeoning weapon. Strength isn't the defining trait for a fencer. A fairly weak person has a lot of tricks than can counter brute force.

I haven't done P&P Gaming for ages so my knowledge of combat stats is THAC0 and memory as old as the name. Which means numbers are not my domain.

If dice rolling gets people engaged then willpower (holding when someone is coming at you) Charisma (taunting) or perception (spotting openings) rolls could be an option. This could allow effective fighters that are more than walls of meat. People fight in line with their personality.

The difference between called shots and non called  is not just missing the shield. A volte into the ear or thrust to the eye are called. Leaving an engagement with bits intact and a hole somewhere in your opponent is the no frills version.

The idea works around the patient agent. Creates an opening through distance and timing then explodes into it. Initiative becomes important, if you have the wherewithal to attack first, you can wait and attack into a cut. (Countercut or hand snipe). also framing guards in certain ways makes it more likely your next action succeds. Basically the initiative loss is you setting up for the strike.

Basic idea:

Give up initiative for the called shot. Each combat round inactive to add a bonus to initiative on the next round. Bonuses to hit based on mental skills, if gm pemits (so watching the opponent for tells would be a perception based bonus. Waiting for the last possible moment- will)

You may interrupt a fighter with lower initiative to make your called shot against them.
Effects vary against target, there's probably cripple tables or something to emulate this.

Some targets are easy than others hand sniping (assuming simple hilts) should give a bonus. Leg sniping is much harder.

A pommel to theface could be called, with lower damage (4 teeth worth of hit points) but would allow a free action\critical\backstab if successful enough.

Thursday, 22 September 2016

Feeling my way

Today was my second class since bastardgate. I am immensely proud of how the guys have pulled together, found a venue and generally been the club in a time that could have resulted in complete destruction.

I am slowly feeling my way through being the lead instructor and responsible adult. It's difficult to bring my vision into the lessons and to create a structure that provides solid growth and access for newbies. I don't have a library of drills yet.. I will.. but right now it's memories of stuff that worked for me. The principle based approach is being received well, allowing the guys to find their style without being tied to plays and manuscripts.

Don't get me wrong, the manuscripts are  important but I am taking the traditional English Approach of stealing everything that isn't nailed down, then a crowbar for the stuff that is. Hopefully I am also allowing people to know what is martially sound even if they don't have the names.

I was not happy with last week's lesson. I have had feedback that matches my feelings about what I did wrong. Which means that how I feel about today's lesson and my aims are good.

Lesson 1: Stuff about binding, general burbling. Drills that were vague and incomplete.

Lesson 2: 'bog standard volte' to start as a warm up more for me than the guys, changing partners and watching how everyone works together.
Look at where the volte didn't work.
Use of footwork to control the hit and prevent the volte from being an option.
Stage one of asymmetric distance drills vs sword (void)
Freeplay/revisit drills.

The asymmetric distance drill is going to be a staple. There's growth in there- 2 extra stages to be switched in when circumstances allow.  It allows flow work and form from the attacker and helps with kinaesthetics for the defender.

In all, I am happy with that as a lesson on distance.

Thursday, 25 August 2016

Class plans...

I am sure the reasons why the change happened are becoming well known, again not the circumstances I wanted to become lead instructor, but I feel I've been heading this way for a long time.

So cue mad panic and study for a weapon I enjoy but have no great love for. Don't get me wrong, I like longsword but it doesn't 'sing' to me like single and offhand or quarterstaff does. Maybe because I have made those my study, happily picking up everything I can, and generally hanging new ideas on that framework..

Which I guess brings me to the greatest change in class structure. I will be stepping  away from play based instruction. It's never sat right with me, the principles need to be drilled in and the plays evolve/illustrate the concepts. I don't want the guys going 'this is the fifth master, 3rd refinement' I want them to feel as if they are doing the right thing, and then have it on video to alongside the play that just happened.

It will be a complete mash up. Sword vs dagger should teach distances, sure parries and rapid closing. I shall have  to play but sword in one hand and sword in 2 should be interchangeable with the Rawlings nylons and the hiltier feders. Which will open up more options. Then be tied back to the dagger work.

As much fun as I have had with how things were... I am already seeing so many, many more  opportunities and a way to turn the rag tag misfits into an unpredictable whirlwind of blades. With strong, sure and steady mechanics behind them.

Tuesday, 16 August 2016


Fight camp was a mixed event for me. There was a massive shadow cast by my esteemed and honourable maestro. Being.. less than honourable and my having to turn a desolation into a win in 3 weeks.

It was very unpleasant talking about the circumstances, we were fucked over to the cost of hosting something. Both cash and support, by the looks of it.

Which is why it is hard to describe how I feel right now. I have been offered so much and, casually, been shown so much faith that.. I am humbled. What I have seen is so beyond testosterone poisoning that 'oh fucking fuck... Me?' is my main reaction.

And in that atmosphere. I personally awarded a medal to a stuffed toy. Because that is the right thing to do.