Archive for WMA

That's what it means to have Jesus in your heart

Today we had the last training with our bullyproof group. It has been a great term and we have seen some of the kids grow tremendously in confidence and prowess.

We had the pleasure of grading four students (which means that we put a black stripe on their white belts to signify progress.) Both Anja and Angelina got their first stripe.

After the grading we had a short elephant rumble (which is a playful sumo wrestling challenge) in which all the students participated. There where wins, cheers, losses and tears.

As we where changing clothes later Anja said:

At first I got sad when I lost but then my heart said “come on, you can do it”. She looks at me and says, no it wasn’t my heart it was Jesus. He said “come on, you can do it”, and I did! that’s what it means to have Jesus in your heart.

The greatest honour

First I read it on facebook, then I read it on twitter, and then a whole blog post describing how I got beaten in the Schola at my own game (ground fighting). I get a bit bewildered at this, what’s the big deal?

But I realise that I have been there to, when you are no longer a beginner in martial arts and you can roll with the best and suddenly you score a few wins against a trainer, a black belt, and it is a big deal. I remember my first win against Gabriel ..

Truth to be told, it should be a big deal! For me to. Understand me correctly here, I get beaten by my students all the time, in fact I have never had a serious student that has not beaten me! This either means that I am that lousy at fighting or that I am a really good instructor, and I will let my students be the judge of which is true. I fight my students all the time, I put no prestige in winning or loosing, as long as I win or loose well. It is important to always fight to your ability, to never perform badly. I do fight at the level of my students (this does not mean letting them win), I pace myself according to their investment in the fight. I match strength and speed when I can (I have many students who are stronger than me) And I may allow a student to gain an advantage (like a mount or a guard) to allow them to practice their skills. But I never let them win, if they win it is because they executed the right technique at the right time and I could not have stopped it at the time.

Why do I say all this? To make Mackans win less important? No! But to try to get a cross our philosophy: winning or loosing matters little, it is how well you fight.

I am not ashamed when I am beaten by my students. It is the greatest honour I know. It is a testament to all the time and effort I have put in training and coaching them. If I where afraid they would beat me one day I would have to keep a secret bag of tricks (black belt techniques) that I don’t teach in fear that they might win over me. No, I teach every trick I know regardless of the level of the student, I give away all my secrets, hoping that one day they will get all the little bits together and beat me at my own game.

So Mackan, to your victory VIVAT! May there be many more!

The Warriors Path

I have long been peeking at Crazy Monkey Defence, as any faithful reader of this blog will know. I am attracted to CMD as a martial system not only due to it’s effectiveness but mostly due to its philosophy. The founder of CMD, Rodney King have just posted this article on the way of the warrior and the The Warriors Path. Although I would contend that the way and the path of a warrior are inseparable, the points he makes are well made.

I especially like the stages of the warrior

Stage 1 – Conventional Slumber: Here you have to recognize and go beyond the conventional. One is required to wake up from what is seen as the traditional. Most people are seeking some kind of experience of being ‘alive’. They may feel their life is no too dissimilar to a hamster running the wheel. Their life is in other words seen as conventional and ordinary. In seeking for what is missing in their life, they need to answer a call, that will set them on an adventure.

When we talk about martial arts, you may have decided for what ever reason, that training in it, will answer or help you capture something you feel you really need in your life.

Stage 2 – Call to Adventure: Once you begin to awaken from your Conventional Slumber you now find yourself having to either choose to go towards the change you desire (Or feel forced to embrace), which will with any risk, bring about uncertainty and fear. At this point you have to decide if you will move forward or retreat to what is seen as the familiar (Go back to what is seen as Conventional Slumber).

Stage 3 – Discipline and Training: Once you are on the road of Adventure, you begin to realize that hard work lay ahead. You now have to accept teachers of various kinds. Training and lessons are hard, requiring discipline. The training, the lessons- tests you emotionally, physically, mentally, and in social settings.

At some point when you or your teacher feels your training is complete, you now want to test those skills you have learnt.

Stage 4 – Culmination of the Quest: This is where you test yourself (Or may be forced to test yourself). This is where you step up and see if you really have what it takes to do what you trained for or have been trained for. This is not necessarily the completion of the path, but it does represents a breakthrough, and will include insight and understanding about oneself.

Anyone who understands the WAY Of The Warrior would have likely progressed through Stages 1 to 4. But just because you are on the PATH of the Warrior does not guarantee that it will be one that will positively inspire your life and those around you.No one is born a gang banger, a mercenary or a criminal. Even they have to awaken from what is seen in their environment as Conventional Slumber.The young teenage boy who has been born into a rough, impoverished neighborhood, realizes that if he just stays where he is at he will become a target and a victim to the gangs in his area. He awakens from his Conventional Slumber to the realization that he has to make a decision, to join or to live a life of subjugation.Joining the gang for better or for worse is the Call to Adventure. Adventures don’t have to be positive to be ‘Adventures’. Once this young man has decided to take up the Adventure, he is subjected to Training and Discipline. He is taught the way of the gang. How to be a gang member.Finally he has to put all that he has learnt into practice. He is required to bring his Quest to Culmination, either by stealing that car or beating, killing a rival gang member. This is his initiation into becoming a fully fledged member of the gang.
In the same way someone in the modern martial art world who seeks to compete will move through a similar path. He will answer the call, go on the adventure, be taught how to fight, and ultimately culminate the quest by fighting in the cage.

The same can be said for the mercenary and the criminal.All of these above have learnt through the Path to develop the Way. The traits necessary to use the ‘martial’ for what ever end they seek to create.But one thing separates all of the above from a true, virtues Warrior. All true Warriors after their Quest has Culminated, will Return and Contribute. In fact it is only in Returning and Contributing that he or she becomes a Warrior.

Stage 5 – Return and Contribution: The seeker, who is now the Warrior becomes the knower. In a sense the student becomes the teacher.

A Warrior returns to community. The “I” that began the Path becomes the “we.” The return shifts the individual, the Warrior from merely taking to contributing. Proceeding from this their is a loss of egocentricity. The Warrior unlike the others, the mercenary, the gang banger, the criminal, and the competitive martial artist who fights merely for his own ego, for his own glory- the Warrior brings back what he or she had learnt on the Path to POSITIVELY uplift those in his community (Or his gym).

The realization is that the journey was never about the Warrior, it was never about ‘him’, but had always been about the “we”. It was always about connection and contribution to something greater than himself. As Tick pointed out earlier, “[The] warrior [becomes] devoted to causes he judges to be more important than himself or any personal relationships or gain.”

This fits nicely into Ranger-Warrior-King that John Eldredge paints in “Fathered by God”.


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).

Why do I need sword fighting?


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Originally uploaded by gilbertdeschamps

Last week I was asked by one of my students, why do I need to sword fight? The question was asked with the implication: as a Christian, why should I spend my time on this.
The short answer was of course ‘You don’t!’ but as with everything, there is more to it than that. So Why do I need to sword fight?
I like it, it makes me a better person.

Physically, it keeps me fit. It helps me to develop and keep a healthy posture (Crucial for me as I have a bad back). I get to movce and work out, but since it is so much fun I forget that I am exercising.

Mentally, It is my outlet, my two hours a week where I do not have to think about essays and theological reflections.

Spiritually, the schola is the training ground and the testing ground for chivalric virtue. It functions as the crucible where impurities are forced to the surface and cleaned away. It is the mirror where I truly get to see if my life reflects truth, grace and justice in the microcosm of the martial art.

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. 

WMA Camp report by Colin "Gabriel" Hatcher

WMA CAMP – JULY 12, 13, 14, 2007, IN RIGA, LATIVIA

SPONSORED BY RIGA SCHOLA SAINT GEORGE (SSG) STUDY GROUP (GROUP LEADER PATRIK OLTERMAN); WARRIOR SELF DEFENCE (WSD) RIGA (FOUNDED IN 1999 BY PRINCIPALE PATRIK OLTERMAN) AND GENEROUSLY SPONSORED BY THE SALVATION ARMY IN LATVIA AND SKANGALE SCHOOLHOME, SKANGALE, LATVIA


Instructor:

Mr. Colin Gabriel Hatcher – Instructor Schola Saint George

Instructor’s Assistant:

Mr. Patrik Olterman (Compagno SSG Riga, WSD Founder & Principale)

Participants:

(Note, Mr. Olterman’s WSD Riga is a contemporary martial self-defence and survival system built from Fiore’s grappling, dagger and sword fighting system, which employs similar ranking titles to SSG, so read carefully below!)

1. Representing BOTH SSG Riga and WSD Riga

Ms. Erika Kozlovska (Zugadore, SSG Riga; Scholara, WSD Riga)
Ms. Karina Kozlovska (Zugadore, SSG Riga; Scholara, WSD Riga)
Ms. Darta Seso (Zugadore, SSG Riga; Scholara, WSD Riga)

2. Representing SSG Riga alone

Mr. Arturs Baltacis (Captain, Salvation Army, Zugadore, SSG Riga)
Mr. Vitalij Kirilkin (Zugadore, SSG Riga)
Mr. Tengiz Pruidze (Zugadora, SSG Riga)

3. Representing WSD Riga alone
Ms. Anna-Marta Sveisberga (Compagna, WSD Riga)
Ms. Anette Vasarja (Compagna, WSD Riga)
Ms. Linda Silina (Compagna, WSD Riga)
Ms. Astrida Kozlovska (Scholara, WSD Riga)
Ms. Marika Kozlovska (WSD Riga)

4. Representing themselves
Mr. Dimitrij Karol (Riga)

5. Representing Mr. Guy Windsor’s School of European Swordsmanship (SES) in Finland
Mr. Ilkka Hartikainen (SES)
Ms. Maaret Sirkkala (SES)
Mr. Jukka Salminen (SES)
Mr. Daavid Vaananen (SES)
Mr. Joell Takala (SES)

6. Honorary presence
Ms. Hanna Olterman (Instructor, WSD Riga), who attended the camp but did not train, and instead generously dedicated herself for the three days to caring for the Oltermans’ two very young children, thereby freeing up her husband Mr. Olterman to fully participate and assist Mr. Hatcher in instruction. Ms. Olterman’s self-sacrifice and extreme generosity was not unnoticed, as Mr. Hatcher knows how much she loves to fight.

PROGRAM – subjects covered

1. Fiore’s Abrazare (Grappling), footwork, basics, concepts, guards
2. Falling, locking and binding safely
3. Abrazare (Grappling) basics
4. Dagger v. Dagger basics
5. Fiore’s Segno discussion and presentation
6. Longsword basics, footwork, guards, concepts
7. Fiore’s Zhogo Largo basic concepts and plays
8. Fiore’s Zhogo Stretto basic concepts and plays
9. Chivalry discussion
10. Tournament preparation and rituals
11. Mini longsword tournament at half speed
12. Free play opportunities throughout

In the beautiful setting of the Skangale Schoolhome in Skangale, Latvia, SSG Riga and WSD Riga played host to three days of Fiore, chivalry and fellowship, under the instruction of Colin Gabriel Hatcher, of SSG, flying into Riga from San Francisco, California, USA. Five members of Mr. Guy Windsor’s SES also flew in from Finland to make an enjoyable international mix. SSG Riga is isolated geographically from other SSG groups, being the only SSG group to date outside of the USA. Therefore it was with great pleasure that Mr. Hatcher was able to attend and preside over the three day camp.

Mr. Hatcher’s mission was to provide some basics tuition in Fiore’s system, including Abrazare and Dagger/Dagger (specifically requested by WSD Riga) and for SSG to review the Elephant and Tiger courses of SSG Riga (basics and Zhogo Largo) culminating in an examination of the Riga SSG group for their yellow belts (Elephant), and to examine Mr. Olterman for his SSG blue belt (Tiger). Mr. Hatcher also looked at Fiore’s Zhogo Stretto basics, illustrated by several Zhogo Stretto plays (first, second, fifth and thirteenth Remedy plays of the Scholar of the First Master of Zhogo Stretto).

First day
The Fiore basics class began on the first morning with footwork drills of Fiore’s basic x-pattern footwork – the two forward steps and the two rearward steps. From there the class looked at the Four Magistri de Battaglia (Four Masters of Battle), the three tempi (duo, mezzo and stesso), coverta and rebattimento (covering and setting aside), Fiore’s seven swords (7 attack directions) and the concept of moving inside or outside the attack line. From there to the falling and locking basics, the class practiced simple backwards and forwards falls, and looked at how to apply and receive locks safely, given their destructive capacity on the joints. The afternoon’s two hours of classes were Abrazare basics – looking at the basic body holds (prese, or clinches) employed and the throws that come from them; and then the class looked at some simple dagger v. dagger drilling to understand the Four Masters of Battle and two of Fiore’s four attack directions for dagger, drilled in both duo tempo and mezzo tempo. Very high quality food was served for breakfast, lunch and dinner. In the evening Mr. Hatcher gave a powerpoint presentation of Fiore’s Four Animals, and the class discussed the meanings of the Segno and how they might be applied to sword-fighting.

Second day
The second day was a longsword day, in which the class played for four hours or so with tactics, concepts and plays from Fiore’s Zhogo Largo, and thereafter with some Zhogo Stretto plays and concepts added too. In this Mr. Hatcher made sure to include the Elephant and Tiger syllabuses of SSG. Students were all diligent, attentive and dedicated, and Mr. Hatcher saw much drilling of high quality.

Next came the grading of the Riga SSG group. Five students were testing for yellow belt. Testing consisted of theoretical discussion, practical demonstration of Fiore’s poste and basic plays, sparring with each other and then Mr. Hatcher sparred with each student to see how they performed their form under a little pressure. Mr. Hatcher found their performances to be superlative, which came as no surprise to him given that the five had been faithfully taught the SSG program by Mr. Olterman and given that they have been training with SSG for one year. Mr. Hatcher did in fact test the students on both the SSG Elephant and the Tiger syllabus, and was personally satisfied that these students have competence, attributes and understanding at the blue belt level.

In the evening Mr. Olterman and Mr. Hatcher held a chivalry discussion, talking about how the chivalric values might be important in the modern world and why. A very good discussion with many excellent contributions from the group. Once again the meals provided by the Skangale Schoolhome were extraordinary in their high quality.

Third day
The third day began with an outline of tournament ritual, a discussion of how the chivalric values applied to the tournament, which ones the instructors were particularly looking for in the tournament (courage, prowess, generosity, courtesy and humility) and why SSG as a school loves to tourney. A shower of rain drove the class into the big hall (all prior training had taken place outdoors). Due to the hard wooden floor, and the instructor’s emphasis on safety, the tournament was to be played at half speed and half impact, using modified bamboo shinai bearing the excellent hilts made by SSG’s own Scott of Ardenwood Forge in SSG Bay Area, California. As always these shinai being so well balanced by Scott performed very well in their capacity as simulated swords.

The tournament was played with great courtesy and ritual. It began with a calibration exercise to get everyone used to fighting at half speed and half impact. Thereafter teams were selected, with Mr. Hatcher and Mr. Windsor’s SES students being the Tennans (holding the field) while SSG Riga and WSD Riga were the Vennans (challengers for the field). Teams having been selected, the Vennans were invited by Marshall Mr. Olterman to step forth and issue their challenges. Despite the fact that the Vennans were facing a much more experienced team (which was of course the point), challenges were boldly and courteously given, and humbly and courteously accepted. An excellent tournament spirit was created simply by this challenge ritual (which is why it was done).

The tournament began. Everyone (including Mr. Hatcher!) struggled to keep things slow and soft, given the adrenaline rush, and ultimately everyone succeeded. Overall the group displayed good Fiorean form and great spirit was seen from all, both warrior spirit and joyous laughter. The tournament was played to three good blows, and had a Marshall (Mr. Olterman) judging the strikes of the participants. All fighters had fencing masks, elbow points, gorgets and padded gloves. Much mirth was generated as Mr. Hatcher interrupted several engagements to respectfully request the point be replayed slower, due to him being an old man and his eyes having been damaged by the speed of the fight. The fact that there were no injuries proved that the competitors all displayed more than adequate control of the sword. Much amusement was also generated as several competitors sought to apply the thirteenth Remedy play of the Scholar of the First Master of Zhogo Stretto. Mr. Hatcher had the day before offered a prize of $100.00 to anyone who could apply that play at speed (Mr. Hatcher calls this sword taking play “the Clock”), and $200.00 to anyone who could do it on him. Mr. Baltacis did in fact manage to perform the Clock twice while fighting Mr. Hatcher in the tournament, but generously refused to take Mr. Hatcher’s money on the grounds that Mr. Hatcher had said “at full speed”, and the tournament was fought at half speed.

One of the highlights of the tournament (for Mr. Olterman at least!) was the defeat of Mr. Hatcher by 14 year old WSD student Ms. Anna-Marta Sveisberga (or as Mr. Olterman publicly and loudly announced it with a huge grin “the demise of an old man at the hands of a 14 year old girl.” ) Young Ms. Sveisberga smiled. Mr. Hatcher smiled too, for Ms. Sveisberga, all 14 years of her, had earlier stepped up to M. Hatcher in the challenges and boldly challenged him to fight, which all present agreed was a feat of great courage, not least because Mr. Hatcher is more than three times her age, with 30 years of martial experience.

The tournament concluded, Mr. Olterman and Mr. Hatcher discussed who should be chosen as the day’s Champions. Three were chosen.: Mr. Baltacis was selected for his prowess at performing the Clock not once but twice on Mr. Hatcher, and for his generosity and courtesy in refusing the prize. He was awarded Mr. Hatcher’s personal waster, a pair of SSG light sparring/training gloves and a copy of Mr. Windsor’s excellent book The Swordsman’s Companion. Ms. Karina Koslovska was chosen as a Champion for her extraordinary Lion qualities. Not only on the previous day when sparring Mr. Hatcher had she rushed Mr. Hatcher before he had time to rush her (no mean feat given Mr. Hatcher’s love of rushing his opponent), but she continued her boldness of spirit in the tournament by challenging opponents she thought had the most prowess and then consistently attacking aggressively in the engagement. Ms. Koslovska was awarded Mr. Olterman’s personal copy of Raymond Lull’s Book of Chivalry, for the chivalric display of courage, boldness and warrior spirit (Mr. Hatcher named her “The Lion of Riga”). The final Champion of the day was Ms. Sirkkala of SES, whose perfect posta forms performed at half speed while fighting, resembling a beautiful Fiorean Tai Chi, earned her the prize for loyalty (to the Fiorean system and to the aesthetic of the tournament), courtesy and generosity towards her opponent. Ms. Sirkkala was awarded Mr. Hatcher’s personal copy of Raymond Lull’s Book of Chivalry.

Next came a non-SSG event: a knighting ceremony, in which Mr. Hatcher was given the great honor of being the person knighted. He is now a Knight of the Order of the Disciple Knight, having been so knighted by Salvation Army Captain and ordained minister Mr. Baltacis. The Order of the Disciple Knight is a Christian Order created some time ago by Mr. Olterman to preside over the implementation and application of the chivalric virtues to day to day life, through the mentoring of squires, that is persons applying to participate in the Order’s chivalric mentoring program and dedicating themselves to leading a chivalrous life. The Order’s squire-mentoring project is named, appropriately, Knight School. Mr. Hatcher becomes the first Knight of this Order, and while testifying that he felt unworthy to be so honored, pledged an oath to meet the great obligation placed upon him, in being a role model for all those squires in the Order’s program. It should be noted that Mr. Olterman, who created this Order and who is running Knight School on a weekly basis as a teacher and great role model himself, has humbly placed himself in the program as a squire. Such humility does not go unnoticed by Mr. Hatcher, who has known Mr. Olterman for fifteen years and knows well the mettle of his character.

In the next ceremony, also a Knight School ceremony, a group of Riga squire-aspirants were presented to Mr. Hatcher to request admittance to Knight School as squires. The squire-aspirants were duly accepted and continue their studies and practices, under the highly qualified eyes of Mr. Olterman.

Finally in a third ceremony, Mr. and Ms. Olterman’s younger daughter Anya was officially dedicated to God (the Salvation Army equivalent of baptism) and Mr. Hatcher was officially (and proudly) appointed her Godfather.

It should be noted that while all attendees at the SSG/WSD WMA Camp were invited to attend and bear witness, all participants were informed that the Knight School ceremonies, Anya Olterman’s dedication to God by her parents and Mr. Hatcher’s appointment as Godfather to Anya Olterman were not in any way Schola Saint George events and were separate from the Fiore WMA camp. While it has many Christians in it, SSG is not a religious organization. It was however a pleasure to see that all WMA attendees chose to witness the ceremonies, regardless of whether they were Christians or not.

And so, regretfully, the three day Fiore camp was over, and it must be said that in the opinion of Mr. Hatcher, it was extremely well organized, great fun, and extremely successful. Indeed, Mr. Hatcher even managed to get a little time with Mr. Windsor’s students who kindly taught him a few things about Mr. Windsor’s current approach to Fiore. Thank you SES students for your great courtesy. Both Mr. Hatcher and Mr. Olterman enjoyed the company of the Finns, who were very good role models for Mr. Windosr’s school.

And so, full marks and congratulations to Riga SSG, who all easily qualified for their yellow belts and who clearly demonstrated that they are far above that rank in their ability and knowledge of the SSG system (they have been training diligently for one year). Congratulations to Mr. Olterman for all his dedication and hard work in making this great event happen, for his superlative assistance in the instruction and for easily qualifying for his SSG blue belt (and of course for his excellent instruction of his SSG students). A big thank you to our hosts – Salvation Army of Latvia and Skangale Schoolhome. And a special thank you to Hanna Olterman for watching over the kids, no mean feat considering the kids (who are delightful and much loved) are like Fiore’s four animals gone wild! Ms. Olterman: you were seen, not forgotten and much much appreciated.

And to all of our new found friends, we look forward to a repeat event next year. Let us all continue to train and fight in the chivalric manner and continue to develop fellowship through that fighting!

WSD celebration!

CIMG5600Today we finished of the WSD instructors course and ended our WSD – Womens self defence course with a graduation of our students. they all exceeded my expectations and showed unprecedented feats of warrior spirit, prowess and plain old whoop *ss! (pardon my french)

CIMG5623So today I prodly present three new Compagnos, one new Scholar0 minore, three new Scholaro maggiore and four newly appointed instructors whereof three will run the Riga WSD Schola when we leave Latvia.

The course has been great in itself but the graduation today really hit the spot. These Latvians turned from Martial arts students into amazons within the course of the test. Warrior spirit flowed and all the students performed excellent. This is the first full class I have graduated since we ran a Guardian Angels dojo. In the Angels Warrior Spirit was a nessesity and it came naturally in the training because it was needed to survive on the streets. I really didn’t know how to teach this to a non Angel class. The transformation from martial artist to warrior just happened and these amazons fought just as well as any angel I have ever trained.

I am now convinced beyond the shadow of a doubt that these amazons are ready to take on the task of running the schola and instructing the WSD classes.

Why is this blog not updated?

I am in the middle of preparing three summer camps and finishing of a complete martial arts manual. It is four huge tasks and therefore I have little or no time for anything else. I will continue posting the Knight school material and maybe a sporadic post here and there.

The blog will spring to life again in august when  I have finished the move to London and hopefully have a whole new culture to bash (just kidding, gosh you britts take verything serious :P) and my first steps as a Salvation Army Cadet to report on.

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