Fightcamp Skirmish

Well, it’s official. We have a new website. A big thank you to our boy Ben Halbert for his sterling work.

With a new website, I figured it was time to start writing the blog again. And what better time than following the Academy running our first couple of workshops at Fightcamp Skirmish run by Schola Gladatoria. The event involved workshops, free shooting in archery, a couple of tournaments, free sparring and a black smith’s work station run by Paul Binns (I own one of his swords and they’re ace).

I ran two workshops: One on the accessing the Stretto in Fiore’s Longsword and one on shield wall combat. I think they both went fairly well despite the unrelenting and suffocating heat.  

It was a bit of a long weekend for the Academy members who attended. We finished our class on Friday and then headed straight to my brother, Ollie’s joint in a cramped van. After about four hours sleep, we were up and on the move.

We arrived and were greeted by Matt Easton and the guys who would be running the event. We greeted some of the folks who were there and I was glad to see our friends from the AHF along. It was good to see Nick kicking a bit of arse in the Melee.

After setting up the tent, Cian, Ollie, Melissa and I took part in Jack Butcher’s class on Fiore’s dagger. It was well thought out, the demonstrations and instructions were clear and most importantly, it was a lot of fun. It’s not an easy thing to make a class in Fiore’s dagger fast paced when you consider that it involves a lot of potentially dangerous locks, throws and breaks.

Following that, Melissa and I attended Jamie MacIver’s class about Vadi’s longsword whose class was similar to my own in many regards. It was a great class and gave some insight into a relatively obscure style. It was enjoyable and I learned a lot from the class. The game at the end was excellent: we were given a points system which heavily favoured the grapple. It was an interesting game and one I’ll likely steal in the future.

Meanwhile, Cian, Helena and Ollie took part in the Melee games before we broke for lunch which was superb because it was namely sweet Danishes. It gave us a chance to catch up with some people in the HEMA community.

Following that, there was an introductory class to Shastar Vidiya, an Indian Martial Art which focused on the use of sword and buckler and a type of mace. It was a little awkward for people to come to grasps with it initially as it was so different from what’s widely available in HEMA. I think some of the parts of the class went on a little too long, but I agreed with the theory overall and enjoyed discussing some of the concepts.

I ran my class last and then we moved on to the group Melee, which was a good deal of fun. Cian and I formed one group with Sam, from the AHF, and we called ourselves the Fast and the Fiore-ous. Melissa, Helena and Ollie formed The Soul Train. Both teams fought and won their first bouts, but unfortunately we then had to fight against one another. Fast and the Fiore-ous managed to beat Soul Train, but I was annoyed that we had to fight our own.

We ended up coming third, but Cian was deeply annoyed by the fact that he had been the last man standing, but was arbitrarily denied the victory. I had to keep reminding him that it was all fun and games and not something to be taken seriously. This was Cian’s first introduction to losing not by the virtue of a more skilled opponent, but due to a judge’s decision. Whether or not that decision is fair is something that veterans of a few tournaments will have learned to just sigh, nod, and inwardly vow to destroy their opponent and all they hold dear. #notbitterhonest    

That night, most of the HEMA folks went to the local pub, but most of the Academy members hung around the site and had a barbeque. That was great as I was hanging out with my best friends around a campfire, eating marsh mellows and laughing our arses off. Truth be told, it was probably my favourite part of the weekend.

The next day, we did a class on medieval sword and shield. The couple who were running it were very nice and the class was great, but I think I may have met my HEMA polar opposites that day. Where I’ve always encouraged the practitioners in my class to wear a uniform and treat what we do as a Martial Art so that anyone who encounters HEMA with an outside perspective doesn’t mistake it for Larping or Cosplay, there guys had bright coloured shields, they were handing out stickers as prizes and their hair was dyed the most eye catching neon pink and electric blue. They were bubbly, bright and charming people and in every way my antithesis.

What followed was another Melee in the woods. I’ll likely write about that in another blog as a lot happened and I’d like to discuss it in more detail. These weren’t classes; they were a variation of games with different objectives to be achieved.

After lunch (more Danishes) it was time for the mixed weapon tourney. This was a bit of fun whereby the participants were asked to pick a card and were given a weapon at random. Helena, Cian and Melissa all did quite well. I was less fortunate being given a spear (where only the thrust counted as significant blow) vs. longsword for one fight and a dagger vs. someone with a sword and dagger for the other. So buggered in both cases.

When that was done, we packed up the van and said our farewells (there were many sweaty hugs and I think I took the last five Danishes and I’m not sorry) and went on our merry.

Overall, it was a very chilled and enjoyable weekend. I learned a lot and I’m glad that I had a chance to hang with some of my favourite people and that we got to kick a bit of arse together.

As there are so many events in May, the Skirmish may not continue in the same way that it has in the last few years. I hope that it is able to evolve, though. I think that the HEMA community could benefit from events which involve more group orientated combat and that this could be a new avenue of exploration hitherto untapped by many HEMAists

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