Ten or so months into my HEMA journey is a drop in the ocean compared to many of the practitioners I admire, and yet it feels like much longer as it’s quickly become such a big part of my life. I’ve always been the type of person to dive headfirst into a hobby, then quickly get bored and move full-throttle into something else. Even to my own surprise, not this time.
For a well thought out article about the impact HEMA has had on someone’s life – self image, general fitness, mental health – I’d recommend reading “I fight like a girl? Tell it to my sword” written by a fellow female HEMA practitioner. My experiences are very similar to hers, and the idea of becoming a better fencer motivates me as much as the sheer fun of spending my Sunday evenings with swords. 2016 hasn’t been the best year, but looking back it hasn’t been as terrible as I thought it was at the time. I’ve made some great friends, had some great experiences, and actually made some pretty good decisions – most notably recognising the deterioration of my mental health at the beginning of the year and taking time away from university to get myself back on track. And, y’know, taking up sword fighting.
I’ve done paid work in the field I hope to go into after graduation. I’ve travelled to and taken part in events for both HEMA and Steampunk and had a great time in both communities, and I’ve got plans to do even more in 2017. The year ahead is going to be full of changes and looks pretty daunting, but hey, I’ve got a sword. Bring it on.
A Splendid Day Out October: Smaller But Perfectly Formed was pretty much exactly what it said on the tin. Although, of course, it was a Splendid weekend rather than just a day. University timetables meant that I didn’t manage to make the Friday evening event and screening of the BBC feature in June’s event, but Saturday and Sunday were full on and full of lovely people and lovely things. And a phrase I never thought I’d say once, let alone multiple times over the course of a weekend: ‘oh no, I’m stuck to my sugar tongs!’
To many undergrad students, the third and final year of university means one thing: the dreaded dissertation. Or not so dreaded, depending on who you are. But a big deal. Luckily as an art & design student there’s less focus on essays and assignments and more on actual design projects, so a 10,000-word essay isn’t on the books. Instead we’re required to write a 5-6,000 word Critical Research Paper. It’s me. I’m writing about Steampunk.
I’m starting writing this with a cup of tea on the veranda of Newham Cricket Club listening to Queen, which is a good situation to give the feel of how this bank holiday weekend’s been; especially when you factor in the fact that it’s just started raining and if I look up there’s two zombie targets fifty or so metres away.
And now I’ve finished that sentence the sun has come out again.
It’s exciting times for Virtus Sword School Cardiff – we’ve been talking about expansion and improvement for what feels like forever (though it’s probably been a few months) and finally things are starting to move. Expect a lot of updates on what’s going on, because shameless not-quite-self promotion is basically what blogging is all about.
The idea is basically this – get the word out, get people in, ???, profit. Well, something like that. Our core group of members is incredibly excited about what we do, and we all get a kick out of telling people what we do on our Sunday nights. When you say sword fighting, it sounds fucking cool, right? And people get interested. But we’ve never really had any way of actually getting those people to come along and try it for themselves.
Whelp. It’s been a while since my last post about ASDO – New flatmates moving in and going away meant I’ve been busy and maybe kinda forgot about this for a while. And also haven’t done anything worth writing about, I suppose. But I’ve been scheming about my plans for the future including some Steampunky projects, so I should have some good stuff to write about soon.
I have two plastic guns to steampunk mod, which I will be obsessively documenting the process of doing. I seriously regret not doing it for the first one I did, partially because I can’t quite remember what I did! The first one I have planned is a sister gun to the one I made for ASDO; quite literally – it’s the same base water pistol, that my sister bought at the same time I bought mine.
The second is going to be a more challenging project. The base is a pound shop bubble blowing gun, but besides the actual bubble mechanism, I’m hoping not to use much of the original build because it’s very flimsy plastic and there isn’t all that much to work with. I also want to make a bubble mix holster of some kind to go with it, so that should be fun.
Finally, the League of Splendid folks have just introduced me to the wonderful world of Teapot Racing. I can’t resist a challenge or a remote controlled …well, anything really, so I’m going to attempt to build my own racing Teapot in time for next summer’s ASDO. I haven’t built a remote controlled model since I helped my dad make a petrol-powered remote controlled Mini Cooper when I was about eight or nine, so it’ll be a learning curve but one I will happily embrace.
So a short post, but hopefully a longer one should be on its way in the near future.
And so onto part two of my ‘A Splendid Day Out 2016’ blog. If you haven’t read Part One it would probably be a good idea to go and read that first. Or not, it’s your choice I suppose.
Saturday was another incredibly hot day – Morecambe actually looked something akin to pretty in that kind of sunshine. I arrived a little late but still early enough to help with the set-up. For me, set up was sorting out the information tent. I was introduced to my co-volunteer for the day, Sarah, and together we got our table, leaflets and billboards set up in time for people to start arriving. We were also joined by Tamsin and her friend, whose name I feel awful for not being able to remember.
As someone who’s been interested in Steampunk for quite a few years now, finding out that a biannual Steampunk festival had started in my crappy nothing-much-happens hometown the year that I moved away for university was a slightly frustrating experience, to say the least. 2016 might have started out as not the best year, but it’s certainly getting better. Taking a year out of uni has unexpected benefits: namely, being able to hop on a train up north just because I feel like spending a weekend dressing up and ignoring the real world in a terribly splendid fashion. (And see my family, of course, ahem).
In a fit of excitement I decided to jump head first into the whole thing, so when I found out they were looking for volunteers to help out over the weekend I sent them an email straight away. I wanted to be as involved as possible, but I guess I also had an ulterior motive. It being exam season and all of my friends being still at university, this was going to be something I was going to have to do alone. (With an honourable mention to my little sister whom I dragged along with me, but I’ll get to that). Helping out meant that I could show up and have at least a few people vaguely know who I was, and ended up throwing me together with a bunch of lovely people and definitely making the weekend for me. Continue reading “A Splendid Day (well, weekend) Out: Part 1”→
So, as promised, the most recent of my recent adventures: I sparred with steel and survived the experience.
A short background for people who have no idea what I’m going on about (people who do have an idea what I’m going on about, please ignore this part because I’m sure it will be a terrible explanation). I spend my Sunday evenings learning and practising HEMA, or Historical European Martial Arts. Or, I spend my Sunday evenings learning and practising hitting people with swords. HEMA is a lot more than that – it’s a scholarly pursuit and really interesting with my historian hat on – but let’s face it: when it gets to the end of the week what you really want to do is pick up a sword, learn how you’re supposed to use it and then try and hit people with it (using those techniques you just learned, of course).
My club, Virtus Sword School (Cardiff Chapter), focus on learning German Longsword, predominantly from a translation of Joachim Meyer’s 1570 treatise. We dabble in other things, but this post is about longsword so I’ll stick to that for now.
I’ll put a couple of links at the bottom of this post for actual information about HEMA and Virtus Sword School, which is the club I train with.
Back to the freaking out over a steel sword. Again for the people who have no idea what I’m going on about, they’re not sharp. But my god they can pack a punch. And the feeling is very different to what I’ve done before, which is sparring (and training) with a nylon synthetic sword.
This is my first blog post, how exciting. I have ideas of what I want to post about, and thinking about it I really should have started this blog a couple of weeks ago. Unfortunately, however, I do not yet possess a working time machine, so this will have to do. We’ll see how it goes I suppose.
Things to look forward to from me in the near future (or now, if you do happen to have a time machine):
An account of my weekend in Morecambe for A Splendid Day Out, a Steampunk festival hosted by the League of Splendid.
An account of my weekend fighting people in a field at Virtus Sword School’s annual May Melee.
A slightly freaked out post about moving from sparring with synthetic swords to sparring with steel.
These will be in no particular order, though probably in reverse of the order that they actually happened because I’m an organised person like that.