WMAW 2015

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WMAW 2015

Postby Cosmoline » 27 Sep 2015 21:28

I don't know if anyone else from around here made it to Racine this year, but I don't see any other threads on it so I'll offer my take on it. This was my first time attending the "Hogwarts for sword geeks," and it did not disappoint. I'm nursing a bad hip injury and almost didn't get to go. With some help from pain killers and a very nice cane from Purple Heart, I was able to attend and participate. As usual the setting was the neo-Gothic campus of the DeKoven center. With the mist coming off Lake Michigan it made for a perfect locale. The formal classes and lectures were excellent. Roland Warzecha was there with his shield friends and ran a seeming 24/7 class on swordplay. I was able to spar with him a few times, and learned a lot from his lectures and classes. He's a great coach and always has new ideas to share. Also in attendance was Dr. Manouchehr Moshtagh Khorasani, an expert in Iranian/Persian sword arts and wrestling. He put on a lecture on Persian blades and showed some examples that made the finest contemporary blades from western Europe look like farm tools. Deep black crucible steel folded into mesmerizing patterns. His classes were physically brutal but also extremely interesting. The Persian separ and shamshir is similar to the sword and buckler of I.33 and later Italian S&B, but also has some distinct differences. He draws his art from a massive body of period fightbooks and literature that very few have had access to since the 70's. If you ever get a chance to see his lecture or attend his classes, don't hesitate. Just be prepared to run laps and do a lot of pushups. Also think twice before raising your hand when he asks who is "strong" in the class. More pushups for you!

There was so much on offer and my hip was touch and go, so I couldn't do nearly as much as I wanted to. But I did take a fascinating class from the great Jake Norwood on his emerging theory of what "common fencers" were actually doing during the era of Liechtenauer. I took a class from Devin Boorman but was a bit overwhelmed by the unfamiliar Italian vocabulary. Next time I'm going to bone up on my al dente so I can get up to speed faster. Tim Rivera and the other Montante Maniacs were ever-present, and actually did drills over the course of a mile for fun. It was epic. Bill Grandy was there challenging everyone to fights, all the time, in the finest spirit of martial friendliness. And of course there was a full line of courses for armored combat and a deed of arms for those with harness. Not to mention hilarious but surprisingly effective practice bouts on wooden horses. Plus all the best vendors from Albion and PH to A&A and Darkwood to take your money. You could spend a month and still not get around to all the goodness on offer there.

There was no formal tournament apart from the Deed of Arms. WMAW pre-dates the modern HEMA tournament concept as I understand it, and still focuses more on training and source-based analysis than on points scoring. Which is all for the good in my book. But they did introduce a really cool new non-tournmanet tournament where people with weapons from arming sword to spears went toe-to-toe and then voted for each other in several categories. This proved to be a big hit, and will no doubt appear again in the future.

For anyone with an interest in western martial arts, this is one to save up for. It's every other year so the next one won't be until 2017. The event would probably be overwhelming for complete novices to swordplay, but you don't need to be particularly skilled to get a lot out of it. I'd encourage anyone who has some basic training in a historical swordfighting discipline to attend. The only down side to it is the cost and time involved, but it is centrally located for those in the states, and there are ways of saving money like staying in the dorm rooms.
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Re: WMAW 2015

Postby tim_stl » 28 Sep 2015 21:11

Cosmoline wrote:Tim Rivera and the other Montante Maniacs were ever-present, and actually did drills over the course of a mile for fun. It was epic.


A total of 17 people completed the Montante Mile, many of them having never touched a montante before then. We were even able to goad Puck Curtis into completing two miles.


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Re: WMAW 2015

Postby MEversbergII » 29 Sep 2015 03:50

That would be one heck of a drive for a weekend event, unfortunately. No tournament is interesting; almost a throwback.

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When I was a fighting-man, the kettle-drums they beat,
The people scattered gold-dust before my horses feet;
But now I am a great king, the people hound my track
With poison in my wine-cup, and daggers at my back.

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Re: WMAW 2015

Postby Cosmoline » 29 Sep 2015 17:57

I suppose it's only a matter of time before there's a Montante Marathon :D Or has there been already? I'm absolutely doing that the next time. It looked incredible.

That would be one heck of a drive for a weekend event, unfortunately.


Worth it! We came in from Alaska. Others came from Europe and had to deal with lost luggage. And it's four solid days and nights.
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Re: WMAW 2015

Postby MEversbergII » 29 Sep 2015 19:31

Cosmoline wrote:I suppose it's only a matter of time before there's a Montante Marathon :D Or has there been already? I'm absolutely doing that the next time. It looked incredible.

That would be one heck of a drive for a weekend event, unfortunately.


Worth it! We came in from Alaska. Others came from Europe and had to deal with lost luggage. And it's four solid days and nights.


Maybe something I'll consider in 2019, if it's still on. 2017 I'm thinking about doing the Smallswords event in Edinburgh. Not as far a drive as Alaska, though, being in Maryland.

M.
When I was a fighting-man, the kettle-drums they beat,
The people scattered gold-dust before my horses feet;
But now I am a great king, the people hound my track
With poison in my wine-cup, and daggers at my back.

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Re: WMAW 2015

Postby Michael Chidester » 30 Sep 2015 15:17

Agreed, it was a spectacular event, one of the best experiences I've had in my *mumble* years in HEMA I think. I'll definitely be back for 2017.

Cosmoline wrote:There was no formal tournament apart from the Deed of Arms. WMAW pre-dates the modern HEMA tournament concept as I understand it, and still focuses more on training and source-based analysis than on points scoring. Which is all for the good in my book. But they did introduce a really cool new non-tournmanet tournament where people with weapons from arming sword to spears went toe-to-toe and then voted for each other in several categories. This proved to be a big hit, and will no doubt appear again in the future.

There was also a very interesting Fechtschule event on Saturday morning lead by Kevin Maurer and Chris Vanslambrouk of the MFFG. Word didn't get around very well about it, but it went extremely well. About 30 fighters, including some top[tier American competitors, participated and it was a cool exploration of the conditions of Fechtschule tournaments, based on research by the MFFG and others. Greg said it would probably join the deed of arms as a recurring event going forward.
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