Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Now then, to business

Alright then.  Now that I've laid out a bit of exposition, here's what to expect:

  • A journal of my training on each day that I train
  • Thoughts and reflections on swordsmanship
  • Questions and ideas on what makes a good martial arts school from an aesthetic, business, scholastic, physical, and community standpoint.
Is there anything else that's worth keeping track of that I'm not thinking about?  I'm open to suggestions for training techniques and avenues of research.


Ever since I was a little boy, I've loved swords.  It started with seeing the Sword and the Stone on TV when I was little.  Nintendo followed shortly after with Dragon Warrior and The Legend of Zelda.  My favorite books had knights in them, my favorite TV shows had swords in them, my favorite video games starred swordsmen.  All through my youth, I played with sticks and pretended they were swords.  My best friend and I LARPed well before we could even conceive of a name and community for it.  In high school, the sword was relegated to thoughts and dreams, doodles in the margins of my notebooks.  And even when high school ended, and the doodles stopped, and I stepped into the first stages of adulthood, the dreams of the sword remained.

Life brought me to Vancouver after a few years of misspent dithering in Manitoba.  It was on a fateful day three years ago that I saw a little sandwich board on Richards Street that read : Academie Duello - School of Modern Swordplay.  LEARN TO SWORD FIGHT!  First Lesson Free.

Learn to sword fight?

I went in.

There was a cute girl behind the desk smiling brightly as soon as I walked in.  She had me signed up for the lesson in short order, and about ten minutes later I was on the floor of the salle for the first time.  It was near the middle of the month, and on this particular day in the beginner program, they were doing longsword.  I grabbed one of the club swords from the rack, drew it in front of me, and held it like the knights I remembered from all those years ago.

I'd never felt so right; so complete in my entire life.

I went through the drills with about as much grace as could be expected.  I signed up for the course immediately.  I was excited about what I could learn, and about all the other people who had that same look in their eyes.

School came and went, careers, jobs, successes and failures; wine, women, and a couple of songs.  Things got tough and I found myself broke.  "Swordsmanship isn't a career.  It's a place where I go and dick around with some friends, and maybe I take in some neat plays and mechanical knowledge.  It's an expense, and it's gotta get cut."

Christmas would come around, mom and dad would buy me a couple of months of classes.  Gifts ran out, money had other places to be, and I either lamented my lack of funds, or grew frustrated with my poor skills, and lack of progress.  Open sparring was depressing, because I couldn't advance my training, and I found myself getting left behind by people who I had joined up with.

Things didn't go my way overmuch for the next couple of years.  Without the gory and highly unnecessary details, I was in a bad place.  I was unhappy, losing myself, and wasn't sure what to do.  I wouldn't have figured out what to do, unless I spent a fateful night with a friend of mine.

She asked me what I wanted to do.
"Easy.  I want to open my own Salle.  I want to teach others about swords, and spread the art and the community."
"Well then do that, silly."
I started to protest, got a train of thought going, and decided to do it.

About a week and a half later, I found myself so sick that I couldn't move.

A week after THAT... was the start of training proper.

I hit the salle three times in that first week for solo training, and sparring with anyone that had spare time and the will to go at it with me.  The next two weeks I was there four times.  And since then, 5 times a week.  As money was available, I've been to class for the proper lessons.

The story (such as it is) has been told, and the journey has begun in earnest.

Welcome to my site.  Welcome to my story.