Well, I’ve had the chance to attend both a fencing and heavy practice since I wrote my “State of SCA fighting” posts (working with a buffer can do some weird, wibbly-wobbly timey-wimey things; those posts were written last Wednesday, before heavy practice. This one is being written the following Friday), and I am hopeful. I’d like to talk about both heavy and fencing, but since my efforts in each are starting from different places, I’m going to break my thoughts up into two posts.
At heavy practice, I was pleased to see that I wasn’t the only one feeling the itch to drill. Although it was a small practice (four fighters, including me), we started the night off with some of the Oplomachia drills from the previous weekend. My knight had had a chance to go through the corresponding DVD, and while I intend to as well, ran out of time before practice. In fact, it would be safe to say that what we did was based on Oplomachia, or at least what we could cobble together into something resembling coherence.
We started off the night with a basic sequence, going through the Warm-Up Motion (the arm motion used as the base of all shots) and three basic stances (Bladed, Box, and Square). We did this with both right and left hands (another tenant of Oplomachia). From there, we moved to pell work, then some basic targeting and combination practice with partners. Most of the rest of the night was spent fighting, generally around ¾ speed, and attempting to implement some of the new techniques. Again, we all fought both right- and left-handed.
I think it was a great start, and was extremely pleased that I wasn’t the only one wanting more training. There was some light structure to the night, which will likely be a good way to ease people into the concept. It was still largely self-led, but this is likely due to the fact that all of us were struggling to understand the new concepts. After all, one can’t teach effectively if one doesn’t understand the material.
One point I would like to improve on (aside from getting more comfortable with the material) is that we ran out of time for free sparring. While I love to learn, sometimes I just want to hit something, or have a good bout with someone more (or less) experienced than me. So that part of the night left me a little unfulfilled. I think that if the training was more focused, that could free up time for the sparring we all expect at practice. Maybe an hour or so of training (including basics, drills, and slow work), leaving at least an hour for sparring. For instance: the gym opens at 6h30. If training started by 7h, and wrapped up by 8h, that would leave at least an hour for fighting (minus breaks, of course) before I would have to leave.
So all in all, a great first go at things. And I’m glad that there might not be as much resistance as I feared.