Saturday, 18 April 2020

Because there's nowhere else to put this.

We're quarantined, there's shit to do.  I think I've found a great, cheap way to make a modular pell and so I go down a HEMA rabbit hole seeing if anyone has my idea and has put in the research. (Kee Klamps and car tyres- there's a good chance it will work, be semi permanent and massively modular)

I didn't find anything related to that, but I found an amusing... divergence from who I am and what I could have been.  It's wrapped up in an interview about a new club opening near the site of my old one and I kind of want to re-write it as if I was the interviewee.  It's about a school with a very special idea.

"You began your practice in HEMA with British sources, later started practicing Italian Swordsmanship and, now running a new school with a curious framework"

I did- the reason I went with English sources was because I didn't need to rely on translations. It just happened that Olde English was really easy for me thanks to endless visits to the museum as a kid.  Handwriting gives me a headache, but printed with the ligatures and everything was easy. Even with the absolute lack of editors or dictionaries. Through sheer, dumb luck, going to that category of text was no harder than reading the Hobbit.

"but it was the mid 2000's and competition... blah blah blah"

I'm shocked that competition was much of a question in the mid 2000's. A pedant would say that the mid 2000's is another 30 years away.  I was young 13 years ago and new to HEMA.  Let's assume good faith and bad transcription- There was no judge training back then, competition rules were being worked out- Hanwei Practicals were the best rapier around and the best backsword simulator was a shinai with a ballcock and Fightcamp was held at a museum.

I got roped into competitions to make the maths easier. First time I held steel, I used my biker jacket for puncture resistance. I look back at those videos and- oh god no, personal safety and technique. I tell my guys to try judging before competition because that's far more difficult. It's not a halcyon day of super skill- it's a lot of people learning very quickly.

"that might have been the end of my HEMA career until I saw one particular Italian system in use"

Firstly- Citation Needed.  Which particular Italian system.   I had 2-3 weeks on Guy Windsor's rapier before competition. Then I went to reading Cappo in the translated repro by the Thomases.  I've seen the same system used by escrima students and more English types and as much as the Escrima looks swish.

"bad student.... pester instructors"

I have troubles getting my lot to understand how difficult it is to pester me for new information.  I find it hard to have lesson plans because my guys keep asking good questions and I get derailed trying to answer them. This stuff is cool. Every instructor I rate will talk about this for hours given a beer and a good question.    There's little money or fame in HEMA- you teach to get better opponents. You talk about it because it's really interesting.

"blah blah blah...Shakespeare.. blah blah 'Italy was seen to be the sinful centre of the Christian world"

Will was a hack, he wrote satire and fart jokes for a bunch of people who would rather be whoring and drinking instead of attending "high art", his universality and timelessness is down to that. The target could be master fencer Saviolo, or it could be master singer Whigfield. He was probably taking the piss out of the fencing schools in the same way that he was using iambic pentameter and rhyming couplets to mimic the Dick Van Dyke school of cockney accents.. "Christian world"... Yeah, I'm not going to start talking about Protestants and Catholics at that time.

If you're reading this- you know the article, you know the person.

Jeez, what I could have done if I had an ego.

Wednesday, 21 August 2019

Parsing Fightcamp

My girlfriend is disabled,  She has also been sexually assaulted ("touched up") by my esteemed and honourable embezzler of funds when he was a teacher. If he wasn't a massive cunt, she would have a skill and experience at least equal to mine.

She was SG-3, she chose Middleton to be her Moriarty- she's one of us with new eyes and old memories.

She had her first open competiion at Fightcamp this year. Dropped out after her first bout- which she was happy to lose, and will be happier when she sees the video- her first bout was at the hands of a very good fencer and the eventual winner of the pool. The shit between it:

She needed a moment because she was expecting 5 exchanges, and someone said 6th. There were tears a breather and a lot of frustration with herself... and patronising bullshit from the sidelines and the "judges".

The judges made many shit calls- I was cornering for a newbie and there were no rules that allowed me to intervene or tear them a new one, I saw flat blows. Abuse of the afterblow rule (foot didn't move- it was still in time). Halt called and ignored enough times that if I had the power, I would have ended the pool and disqualified everyone who didn't.

I am angry that I told someone who left HEMA 10 years ago and only just has a tenuous grasp on a wonderful hobby, that she was right to pull out of the feder competition. 

Monday, 12 August 2019

The cost of one member

We had a bit of a crisis of conscious recently. The club has worked hard to distance itself from old associations. We didn't tell  about the new group who we saw as papercut toxic. The kinds who use gay or girl as insults. The people that define microagressions.

We're now big enough to need formal rules and procedures.  It's not enough to rely on the goodwill of members and gentlemanly behaviour. And yes, I don't like virtue signaling. You come into my space- you treat everyone in the room as if they could, regretfully, kill you.

Not going to lie. I balked at a formal code of conduct, I have to be actively promoting it. I looked at the code with apprehension, assuming that nobody would willingly break it. Worrying about if I did.

I didn't think that people would object to the rules. Let alone people we trusted. We're a club of 60+ active members, we can take walk ins, we can be idiots sometimes, but we have a principle of diversity.

So we have someone who refused to obey a code that expected people to recognise pronouns- 3 years of goodwill, equipment loans and valuable contribution lost because he couldn't learn a name or respect personhood.

I am angry it came to this. But proud that this was the decision.

Thursday, 25 July 2019

4 down, 56 to go.

It's the Fightcamp planning spree and inbetween comittee and club stuff, constantly more complicated life stuff and so on...  It has always been hard keeping the blog- But nkw harder than ever because things I want to rant about is too sensitive, so it passes without comment until it is no. longer topical. A lot of the stuff I do now has to respect the trust and some weird authority other people have given me.. Been a very long time since I was just a well intentioned idiot with a sword and a copy of Guy Windsor.

I am taking a little time to reflect about the stuff I love-

This year, 2 more of my guys have been invited to teach. We have a lass who will be ready to teach sword and buckler next year.  Another of the ladies is capable of teaching a class worthy of Fightcamp - and  would have run it at Renaissance Rumble.

On the newer end, we have competitors who are eager to throw themselves in at the deep end. My girlfriend is ready to fulfil a promise she made to herself last year and has been (almost) equally scared and joyful when she realises that it's real and a possibility. We have competitors and those who are going for the sheer joy of learning stuff they never get a chance to try.

It is hard to say how proud I am and how far we (I) have come from the uber shinai at the gunpowder mills.

Monday, 28 May 2018

I wholeheartedly support the Wessex League's actions to support inclusivity.

I wholeheartedly support the Wessex League's actions to support inclusivity. I believe their concerns are valid and I am happy with the decision they have made.

A letter requesting that a certain person of... questionable nature's name was removed from their jackets is doing the round. I've seen the screencaps, and let's just say, they are incredibly damning- lots of white supremicist dogwhistles and some that are less dogwhistly.

I am being coy, for three reasons.  You're reading this- you know exactly who and what.  There's a good chance you've already read and made up your mind.  No more oxygen is needed for his views, and I won't be surprised if there starts to be frivilous defamation suits thrown around.  The latter is more likely given the latest "response".  A non-apology that is, in my opinion, more grist to the mill and more weight to the accusation.  I'm unwilling to put my club and my team into the firing line by being Officially Outspoken about someone that I have no personal or professional interaction with- Just me and I'd like to think I'd put my neck on the line.. For now, soft pressure. I am censuring and advising people to avoid all services offered by those in question. When pressed, I will explain- I cannot, in anything that remotely resembles, good conscience, allow anything less. .

The most recent explanation is, to be fair, utter bollocks.  "I do not hold supremacist views" followed by a list of supremacist whining- how "voicing criticism of mass immigration" gets you called a Nazi (mass immigration is a canard) "Muslim Grooming scandals in England" (No mention or concern about the systemic and disgusting conspiracy that allowed Jimmy Saville and several politicians to escape justice by dying of old age- That's not a Muslim thing at all).

Calling his detractors the Thought Police. Lying about people condoning "religious or racially motivated rape" (Rape is bad, ok. Don't give a shit why you do it.  I don't care if you think it's culturally sanctioned- roofies, fucking someone incapable of consent, threatening them until they say yes... NOT OK)

Naturally preferring your own race- I can't be arsed to have a look at that study right now.  I could probably spend many posts dissecting the failures. Any nature/nurture study is either inherently flawed or unethical. Quick glance suggests it's been shaped by confirmation bias, partially with the experiment. The abstracts are.. complicated.

Accusing your detractors of fabricating evidence... Forcibly joining you to groups, photoshopping screenshots. This fails anything but cursory examination. I have been aware of this for about a year, followed the evidence as it was created- saw the removal requests made. I believe the screenshots are 100% kosher- the idea that the chain has been fouled so much is the ranting of a man trapped in a corner and firmly hoisted by his petard.

Pretty much every single sentence from the statment is utter scapegoating bullshit. Which, in my mind, serves to add to the guilt of the person making the statement. Immigrants, people of colour, people with other religions... Others. Never your actions. This is a key indicator of supremacist thinking, something that allows you to pass blame for setbacks and inflate your own success (Imagine how good I could be without all these people gunning for me)  Concern trolling about the Muslim Question.  "actual normalcy". "See Swedes getting raped because of their ethnicity" (he doesn't- it's reported to him, by people he seeks out).... etc etc etc.  Ends with a full on attack of an individual and a statement that this is all done because of some petty rivalry that extends to harming his partner.

The full context of that statement needs to be examined, and it's "yes, these accusations are true- you're worried about what I've said because you're the evil oppressors".  It does not stand up to scrutiny with any other context.

I applaud and support all those who are uncomfortable with the individual's actions and the way he has replied.

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.