Thursday, August 07, 2008

Swordfight in Detroit

My father-in-law and I went to Detroit for several days to the International Swordfighting and Martial Arts Convention. While attending, I focused most of my time on longsword sessions.

Watching someone fight with a sword and actually fighting with a sword are vastly different experiences. I’ve come to realize how much skill is involved in expertly wielding such weapons. Each series of moves is like a dance, and I’m not talented in that area. It takes a lot of concentration to do things right.

Every instructor spoke in terms of killing the opponent. Rather than "slice with an upwards cut," the instruction was to “slice through his throat.” To strike out was to “strike him in the skull.” There was no mincing of words, and even if the occasional comment was intended to be humorous, the vast majority simply pointed out the fact that we were being trained to use a tool that had been designed to kill people.

I also took a class on using the poleaxe, and I struggled to remember all of the
moves we were taught. I had no idea there were so many combinations that could be achieved with such a weapon, and I had a new appreciation for what someone armed with a poleaxe could accomplish on the battlefield.

It was an enjoyable trip, and I’ve come away with a lot of knowledge that will seep into future fantasy stories. For anyone interested in being trained to use swords, I highly recommend ISMAC. The instructors are knowledgeable and patient. I plan on returning next year.

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