Here’s a glimpse of what you can look forward to in 2016… Becca and I are working very hard to bring you more and even higher quality content for study groups, classes, and workshops. We will also be trying to improve the club’s visibility and our relationships with other local HEMA and classical fencing clubs so we can consider some cross-club events and bring in more students. The following are the highlights:
1. In-house workshop: We plan to offer a one-day workshop for our club fencers who have graduated from both beginner and intermediate classes. We have tentatively settled on a five hour seminar on February 28th, including classes in bladework involving paired drilling, adding or improving footwork, and working on advanced concepts not addressed in the first two classes.
2. Guest Instructor Workshops: Becca has hinted we may have the honor of hosting a couple of internationally known guest instructors, first for a longsword class, and second for a sidesword class later in the year. We are still working out the final details but if it happens, I can guarantee high-quality teaching!
3. Improving the study groups: I want to continue working on the longsword of Fior, and I am pleased that we now have several regular participants in the study group. Soon everyone will be up on the basics of trying to see what is going on in the Fior plates and we can work some more technique drills and form practice. Becca is working hard on the Bolognese materials and I expect she will soon be trying to start on that curriculum as well.
4. Growing the club: We will continue to offer classes through St. Charles Community College. We will once again apply to present a forum and demonstration at the 2016 St. Louis Wizard Con. We will continue to invite other classical fencing and HEMA clubs in the area to work on joint projects and attend each other’s workshops and special events.
5. Participation in the HEMA community: We will continue to try to attend events (schedules permitting) to improve the quality of our instruction and bring new ideas and weapons back to the club. Both Becca and I anticipate attending the IGX 2016 event in Boston this year, and Becca will be attending PHO in Houston and teaching at Schwertkampf Mexico in Mexico City. If you have an interest in attending any HEMA event and bringing back some information I would highly encourage you to talk to us about all of the opportunities out there!
As a teaser, our longer-term plans include developing a set curriculum for longsword, more cooperative ventures and workshops with the local community, a yearly charity fund-raiser, and I would love to see us develop a few more fencers with equipment for contact sparring with longsword. Lastly, I would like to add wrestling/Ringen to the SIF curriculum by 2017, which may entail purchasing some additional club equipment (falling mats).
Where You Come In:
These are the things you can do to help us improve the club:
1. Show up! The more people who are there to fence on a regular basis, the higher level of fencing we will all be able to attain. Competition keeps our skills sharp and attracts new students. The single most helpful thing in advancing your game is to fight more people, and to fight people who are better than you. We are starting to see a consistent turnout on Sundays, and it warms my heart that we will soon have enough people fencing to keep everyone busy during free fencing or lesson time. If you want to take lessons, even if it is just to work on one particular drill or skill set, please just ask Becca or me and we would be glad to help!
2. Please spread the word – both of our club and what you love about fencing. Whether you love classical fencing, HEMA, or just the exercise and thinking, the single best way to grow the club is to be our own advertising. Becca and I will do our best on social media and the website, as well as events like Wizard Con, but don’t be afraid to talk about this awesome hobby we share. If you have an idea for advertising, please let us know so we can act on it!
3. Be willing to participate in the classes or lessons going on. Even though you have heard me say the same things to beginners a number of times, repetition makes it easier to remember things. Repetition makes it easier to remember things. In addition, you will find yourself figuring out new levels of meaning when I revisit more “basic” (fundamental) concepts after taking time away from them.
4. Be a good example. Be on time for classes or study groups. Be stretched, appropriately equipped, and ready to get started. Have a question ready to talk about that day!
5. Ask how you can help! Among other things, if we can get some volunteers to participate in demonstration bouts at the beginning of our weeknight classes and bouting at the end of classes, we help retain students that become club members. I would love to have a student come to the Wizard Con panel to give that perspective and help with the technique demonstration. When we do the workshops, it may help to have someone available to help pick up snacks, man a camera, or otherwise assist.
6. Tell us what you like and don’t like! Tell us how you think we can do better, what you would like to see coming in 2016 and beyond, and how we can make it easier for you to be a bigger part of our learning together.
Thank you for your participation in this mutual love of the sword, and we hope to share more great things with you in 2016!