Archive for England

Rent-a-Don 2009

Long time ago (I believe it was at Double wars 2004) I decided I must go to Rent-a-Don. Unfortunately it has never been possible, until now. I live in England what could possibly stop me from going to an event here.

So last week I resolutely packed my bags and picked up my tickets (Sponsored by my friends Andreas and Mackan) I had a bit of run in with the british anti terrorism force that stopped me and searched my bags at Victoria rail station.

- What is in the bag sir?

- Swords ….

Arriving on site and quickly settling into a room my excitement starts to build. Renowned fencers from near and far starts arriving to the site and the ever present oohing and aaawing over new swords and armour begin.

The Saturday starts after a brief sleep (I was awoken at 6 am by nature) After a few authorisations and breakfast (Thank God for Crispin and his brewed coffee) it is time for classes, a brief introduction to Giganti, Capo Ferro and Fabris.

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After this we had to pick our style, I went for Fabris, which I thoroughly enjoyed (even if my legs hated me for the choice) The Fabris class with Master Logos was fantastic and I enjoyed it immensely. Master Logos was a fantastic teacher and the style fit my way of thinking even though it hurt my body to find the proper stances (I still have pain in my back leg five days later).

After a fantastic meal and an Academy meeting it was time for the prize playing. Two where fighting for free scholar and I was fighting for Provost together with his excellency the Viceroy of Insulae Draconis. As I got all armoured up and ready to play I suddenly realised that I was not only fighting in my own Prize fight and one of the Free Sch

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olar fights I was fighting in all of them. The fight started at eight o’clock as I fought Single rapier, Rapier and dagger and Rapier and buckler with the two free scholars. As dusk was settling in properly I then started my own prize fight in all five rapier form s (single, dagger, case, rigid, non rigid) against my three most worthy opponents, Antonio (whom I also fought in my Free Scholar prize playing at double wars 2004), Cernac and Don Caleb.
After these 30 bouts I was called on to hold the field for 30 minutes against a never ending stream of fresh fighters. My body was complaining vividly against this kind of extended torture and requested

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that I immediately ceased this folly. There were many times during this evening that I questioned the wisdom of my choice to go through with this prize fight. And I remember a moment just before where I wondered aloud if I should proceed or if I should in fact not go through with it.

Very tired I stepped off the field and started to prepare to faint towards bed. But only after receiving a neck massage to salvage what was left of my neck and arms.

The next day of course I was supposed to teach a three hour class on Fiore and my plan was to not only do the Longsword but to show of the Fiore system as a complete martial art with grappling and dagger to. IMG_2640.JPG The workshop went really well ad I think I might even have taught my very best Fiore seminar ever. Much owed to the enthusiastic audience but also due to the fact that it has been my dream these last few years to bring Fiore and the Longsword into the SCA. With the new Experimental Cut n Thrust Longsword rules, this has become a possibility.

We whizzed through the Fiore system, and the three hours passed like it was mere minutes and I hope a good time was had by all. I enjoyed myself thoroughly at the very least.

The classes where then concluded to prepare for court and feast. For me this would be the first time in the SCA that I would be called up in court (the only other time was when I was picked as the crown princess guard by Honour at double wars 2004).IMG_2691.JPG

This time I was not called in front once but twice, both as a teacher at Rent-a-Don but also to be awarded the rank of Provost in the Drachenwald Academy of Defence. I was awarded a beautiful braid made by Baroness Kambreda the Quiet. Although it was hard to let go of my Free Scholar braid lovingly made by Gytha North of Brighthelm, I am now proud to bear this new braid.

After court followed a fantastic feast with plenty food and good company. As the shadows grew longer we assembled a makeshift stand and had the opportunity to do some cutting with a sharp sword. For me it was actually the first time I got to try and for a brief period of time I actually felt no pain as my body was saturated with endorphins and general happiness (Like a child on Christmas eve/morning).

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There were many spectators wishing that they had abstained from alcohol that evening as they longingly watched the few of us that did cut our way through an army of milk and water bottles.

It is amazing how easily a proper cut just glides through an object with little or no resistance, a bit like cutting through air.   

As excited and exhausted as I was I could not possibly just totter of to sleep but got caught up in a late night story telling session that ended well into the small hours of the morning and limping back to my bunk I realised there were precious few hours until breakfast.

Monday morning started with slow breakfast packing and the joyous news that I have finally transcended my eternal MIT status and had now been made a Period Fencing Marshall and on top of that authorised as a Cut n Thrust Marshall to enable me to follow my dream of integrating my Love of the Longsword with my commitment to the SCA.

All in all it was a fantastic time and I hope to be able to come back to Rent-a-Don soon and maybe even return for a visit to Raglan (I hear it is a fantastic event and possibly the best sword fighting event in the known world).

A day on the beach

Angelina flying a kiteToday we went to Brighton. It was a day out with Southwark corps and after a bit of confusion regarding buses (and no trains running out of Denmark Hill) we ended up taking the train from Victoria to Brighton.

Brighton pier was just beautiful and alltough it was rather cold and really windy it was nice to spend a day on the beach with food and friends.

Angelina and Anja went on the merry-go-round and truly enjoyed a day out in the fresh sea air. We also got to walk around Brighton and see something very different than London for once.We also managed to fit in a visit to Wesley Owens.

All in all it was a brilliant day out and we all loved it.

Weapons and Worship

The last six months have been a desert experience for me, it seems that every time I am in any kind of spiritual training this is what happens, I feel completely cut off and dry spiritually.

One thing I have realised lately though is that one of the reasons I feel so dry is that  I have not been preaching and preaching for me (I have recently discovered) is one of my greatest times of worship. To boast and rave about how great God is. It is not singing or playing an instrument it is lifting up God’s name by telling people how great he is in a sermon.

Therefore I figured if I could just perfect my sermons I will be given the best worship ever, if I like Brengle could be the absolute best speaker ever I could then lift God’s name to heights I have not yet known myself and by that I would get out of this dry patch.

Then last week God spoke to me, not through the bible or a quiet time in prayer but through Terry Brown. Terry has been a Martial artist for 40 years and been doing Western Martial arts for more than half of that. He is over sixty but that didn’t stop him from playing with me like a cat plays with it’s meal, bare fisted, with single sword or longsword.

Terry told me this:

“The body must be the servant of the weapon.”

So in my context, I must be the servant of the message. I thought I could perfect the message to lift up God’s name but God was telling me that through my worship he would perfect me!

It is such a simple thing really, it is so obvious, that it is not my message, not my meeting, not even my worship…. it all belongs to him, I am just offering back what he has given me.

Living by the sword

Hanna and the kids have been in Croatia for Easter break and I have been in London trying to pick the brains of some of the best WMA instructors around. It has been a week of many bruises long hours on busses and trains but oh so worth it!

The Exiles

The Exiles is a renowned group and I really looked forward going there and see what they where up to. They have their core training in Barking. On the Sunday training I had the good fortune to be driven by some friends who where heading that direction.

Mark Lancaster who holds the training is an extremely skilled martial artist and very good with the fiore system. I had hoped to meet Rob Lowett (Marks father) as I had learnt so much from him in Dallas, but it turned out that I learnt just as much from Mark as I had from Rob.

The Exiles seem to have a dual focus on staying within the Fiore system and applying that to modern day self defence much like what we are trying to to in the WSD school. So I really liked the take on Fiore that I was presented with.

My second visit to the Exiles was equally fruitful as I was treated to Fiore’s dagger system in a very compact, comprehensive but most importantly applicable way.

The most important bit I take with me from the Exiles is the fora dela strada (stepping out of the way or of the line). A concept that I have been struggling with and not quite gotten to work properly within Fiore’s plays.

The other thing was the introduction to Terry Brown and the recommendation on Mark for me to see him.

Terry Brown

I was Incredibly lucky to be invited to train with Terry Brown, who can only be described as the grandfather of WMA. I doubt that I would have been welcomed so readily if I had not been introduced by Mark Lancaster.

Terry has been a Martial artist for 40 years and has been doing WMA more than half that time. So I was in for a treat. His immaculate grasp of MA principles carrying over from unarmed to dagger and sword both single and two handed, made it possible for him to teach these principles independent of treatise and form.

I think the most important thing I take with me from this meeting is the “Red light / Green light” concept coupled with a much deeper understanding of silvers true times, false times and governors.

Schola Gladiatora

Schola Gladiatora offered a very different training than what I am used to, higher tempo (SG – 4 trained by Gordon Hart at Muswell hill) and a lot more sparring (SG – 1 trained by Matt easton at Ealing common). While I like sparring (a lot) I also think that to much sparring distorts technique, just like when you train BJJ or any other Martial Art to compete. You start scoring points instead of learning how to defend yourself or how to subdue your opponent.

Hear me right, I am not slacking the training in Schola G at all the training with SG – 4 quickly showed me how out of shape I am and that our training at Denmark hill have lost out by training with unweighted shinais. We really have to get back to training with metal swords or at least weighted shinais to keep up. I also picked up some extremely useful warmup and half swording drills that fit neatly in with our sticky hands system. At SG – 1 I also learned a lot especially from fightiing people with A LOT of more helmet time than I have. I have to keep reminding myself that I am only at level 2 (scholaro minore) in our own curriculum and even though I have much martial arts experience I do not have a lot of longsword experience.

But having visited a group which focuses heavily on sparring (at least from what I see) I am more resolute than ever to stay the course and keep our curriculum on modern self defence application of the medieval European martial arts. What am I saying? We will never train wrist cuts or light hitting but to always be coiled for striking full power blows, even if that costs us a little time and even if we may lose out in the sparring against groups such as SG.

The SG are a great bunch of people though and by far the most welcoming and friendly bunch I have ever had the privilege to train with. I look forward to much interaction and plenty visits to and from SG in the future.

The Schola Irregular

As I had been invited to attend the schola Irregular, an internal sparring event where SG were going to announce the new King of London I had to reshuffle my schedule to make sure I could attend.

The format was simple, we divided up in two teams SG – 1 against SG – 3, SG – 4 and SSG (represented by yours truly). The tournament held a fast and furious pace and the one hit bouts were judged by Matt Easton. The winner of each bout collected a garter from the other player and so the tournament could crown the most successful fighter as well as the team with most wins (each win earning the winning team a card from a standard card deck) The tournament lasted for 52 bouts, the numbers of cards in the deck of cards.

I loved the fact that we crammed so many fights into what was just over 45 minutes, we did however loose all the ritual and chivalry that I usually associate with longsword play. There where no heralding, winning the favour of the gallery or grand gestures of chivalry. And while there were many oohs and aaahs following a particularly good exchange, there was precious little interaction between the combatants. We also missed the opportunities to challenge one another as per the pas D’armes which gives such a colour and flavour to the list. The fact that the bouts where marshalled also took away some of the opportunity to display chivalry. I think I would rather have fought a tournament where the compagni call their own hits, this will give the greater opportunity for chivalry to be displayed.

Having said that, it was a furiously fun fight that rewarded yours truly with many medals of honour (bruises) and a fat lip. I realize that I really need to work on my quarto magistro dell’entrata and gain some speed on my buttare la punta. 

Easter and essay madness

Armyguy-014-2008 As time marches on we struggle to meet deadlines on essays and collectaneas and other assignments. If we are not working on an assignment then we are preparing a sermon or a meeting plan.

The assignments range widely between biblical studies, pastoral care and mission studies. Because of the difference in subject the styles of the essays differ greatly. And for us who have never written any work at this level (and doing it in a second, or in Hanna’s case, third language) It is really hard to differ between a critical evaluation, personal reflection or a theological reflection.

The last two weeks have been the most pressured since we got to WBC and that is saying a lot. To add to our workload we will be organizing Easter at Woking.

As placements go we have been extremely fortunate.

We had a fantastic time during our social placement at Springfield Lodge. Our Sunday placements are going well at Lewisham and we have been asked to do our summer placement at Southwark corps here in London. The next placement apart from Easter at Woking is going to be our corps placement in Catford. Please pray for us so that we can get as much out of this even though we will have to juggle the children between usfor the week.

I am an alien!

It is so frustrating to be in a foreign country. We are trying to sort out some internet connection and mobile phones which is proving to be extremely difficult unless you are a citizen.

You cannot get a phone without a credit rating, you cannot get a credit rating until you have had a bank account with incoming salary for at least three to six months and to top it of the banks I been into today tell me I cannot get a bank account until I lived in the country for six months. 

So, no internet for us until summer 2008. Which means no Skype, no phonecalls to Croatia or America. No contact with friends ….. The worst part was the phone warehouse who let me return with all my proofs of identity the second time and after three hours of processing (and I am standing with my new phone in my hand and already memorizing my new phonenumber) when they tell me oh sorry, no we can’t do this unless you have an English bank account.

I am an alien, I am a legal alien a Swedish man in London! 

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