Swordplay 10 Review

Let’s cut to the chase: here’s the photo slideshow.

Justin (ACA) v James (SCA)Swordplay 10 was brilliant fun. Historical fencing schools from all over the country turned up and we had at each other for three days straight with a variety of weapons. The highlights for me were the chance to bout with longswords with the guys from Glen Lachlann Estate College of Arms (GLECA) and a dusack bout with padded foam “boffer” weapons with Paul Wganer of the Stoccata School of Defence (Stoccata). The coffee van turning up each morning rates pretty highly as well.

The core of the weekend is the Open Sword Tournament run by the Australian College of Arms (ACA). This tournament is open to anyone from a recognised western swordplay school with the only entrance requirement being a known head of school willing to vouch that the entrant is competent and safe. Of the four place prizes up for grabs, each went to a different school. To me, this shows that all schools are on a level with a similar attitude and an effective understanding of historical weapon usage.

The demo longsword tournament run by GLECA was cut short due to time constraints but was huge amounts of fun. I like the “continuous fight” approach in which the bout runs until one of the competitors has had a certain number of points scored against them. I expect to see it back bigger and better next year. It’s a continuing source of disappointment for me that of the three schools teaching longsword in Brisbane there was no representation from two of them. Step up, guys.

Paul Wagner - Quarterstaff WorkshopThe special guest this year, Paul Wagner, ran a workshop (several times) on the mysteries of the English Quarterstaff, a surprisingly quick and maneuverable weapon. Being a knowledgeable and friendly guy, he was more than happy to share his knowledge and experience in other weapon systems to whomever asked. In addition to the quarterstaff workshop, I saw him showing other people through various rapier, backsword and I.33 techniques.

The ad-hoc bouts during the weekend were all great. They provide a chance to test your skills in a friendly way against people who may train very differently to you. Among the bouts I played, I fought against a guy from Prima Spada (PSSF) using a case of rapiers (that means two of the things, one in each hand) – a very difficult concept to wrap my head around yet historically well attested.

Prima Spada v ACAThe formal dinner on Saturday night at the Samford Tavern proved a great chance to mingle and chat with other enthusiasts. There was also a netbook floating about with video of a number of bouts making the rounds of the table. I saw myself fight for only the second time. It was a shock but not a bad one. I need to beg a copy of the video and work out where I can improve.

Other social events included me jumping in a minivan with the lads and lasses from Melbourne and driving to a cafe for lunch. I’m not sure what the locals made of us signing at the top of our lungs the paddy-punk classic “Bollocky Bollocky Bollocky Feck.”

All in all, I love this event. Everyone plays hard but nice and we all come away with no injuries (except maybe some bruised egos).