Friday, August 9, 2019

Combat Con 2019: How far I have come.

5 Years ago I learned a lesson that has stayed with me. When you move from a place of victim-hood to one where you are looking for ways of reaching your goals opportunities for that growth show up. 

My sword life has been a journey from my first Combat Con to this one, in that time I have had failures, and wins, but what brought me through it all was the support of my friends and family. 

A year ago I decided that this year, I was going to go for my HEMA Alliance instructor certification. I decided that it would happen at this event. It was important because this is where this part of my sword journey began. This was really a step it was time to take, and means to me that I am recognized as someone who knows what they are talking about not just locally but by a group of my peers. 

Combat Con is a lot of things, part tournament, part classes, part self defense workshop, part panel, but it is all of these things and pulls them together well. This event does things you don't see at other events just because the net is cast so wide, but the one thing Combat Con has meant to me since early early on is family. This is not a family of blood but one of steel. I do not see my friends who come to this event often as I live many many miles from most of them, but what I do know is no matter the circumstances, they have my back. They stand in my corner when I need help, but always want to see me do well. 
A year ago, when I decided I was going to go through this process, I had friends who stood with me. I had people in my corner cheering me on, offering me advise and really invested in seeing me succeed, and that kind of support makes things easier when the motivation to go on is just not there. 

The process to reach my goal was not an easy one, but it is necessary, things that are worthwhile are often not easy. I had a panel of friends who wanted to see me succeed, but would not cheapen the event by letting me get away with less than I was capable of. Having people behind me that wanted to see me succeed makes a world of difference. I did not pass by a lot, but I passed and now I have things I personally need to work on so I can do what I do better. I had people cheering me on, and not letting me settle for less than my best, even going as far as to compliment me on my cutting and telling me that they would not let me fall back to something less in the future. 

I watched 3 of my local fighters come home with medals, I did fighting I was proud of, and at the end of the day, that is all I can ask of myself or any other fighter. Did I give it my all? Did I do my best today? If the answer is no, then it is a question of what will you do next time. In judging, are you proud of your calls, is this something you can stand behind? 

I was told at this event that at one time, one of my friends hated me when he first heard about me. I was a whiny and not willing to work for my goals. Now, he and I see eye to eye on much more. I fought, through my pools and made it to eliminations, and lost by a small margin. 

We are a family of steel. I have friends who have been there through the whole process, but the thing that makes me the most proud is when I can look back and see how far I have come. 4 years ago, I failed my cutting qualifier, 2 years I passed, but barely. I did not need to do it this time, but if I had, I would have passed handily and it showed. 5 years ago I stepped into the ring not knowing what I was walking in to. When I look back at my fighting then, I am ashamed of where I was, but in comparison I can see marked progress, but more than that, I have friends from outside my club who see it as well, and that is something to be proud of. 

This weekend was the second class I have taught at a big event outside of Utah, but I was honored to not only be asked, but to be treated as an equal by so many awesome people I have taken classes from since the beginning. Though my class was small, it went smoothly and I was proud of how it all went and would love to teach here again.

These events do not happen without the dedication of many hands. When I arrived on Wednesday I helped roll tatami so that we could be ready when we needed, but it all happened in a room full of people who were there to help because they wanted to see things succeed. I volunteered to help judge more matches than I remember and I can see things getting better with judges working hard to make the best calls they can. There are always things to work on, and that is acknowledged by the staff. Judging is a thankless job, and no matter how hard you try, some things will be missed, but what I saw this weekend was people giving it the best they had, and because of that,  it will get better. I have said for years that the cleaner the exchange, the easier it is judge and the better everyone feels about it. Clean exchanges are good fencing. I had an exchange I refused because I did not feel good about but these things should be the norm instead of the exception. 

This event is an act of love, and it shows every year I attend. It meant so much to me to be there with my friends when I took this big step. I had people cheering me on from miles away and knowing that people support you because they believe in you matters. At the end of the day, everyone is a self made man. You start with the cards you are given but you get to decide what to do with it. In this world of social media, it is easy to spout off into the darkness, and have people judge you based on how you come across, but it is what you do to prove that which makes the difference. It is not about ranking or medals or knowing a lot if you come across as a jerk, people will know you as one. 

These 5 years have changed me, but I am in a much better place as a result of it. I may not have medals on my chest at the end of the weekend, but I am proud of how much people support me even if I am not from the biggest most well known club. I am proud of where I have come, and look forward to the years to come. 

Thursday, July 25, 2019

Certified

This is not my official Combat Con 2019 review, but it is a part of why I had such a great time this weekend. 

5 years ago, I wrote a blog post about moving my thinking around sword events from "I can't" to "How can I" it was my first Combat Con in 2014 and I was standing at the precipice of something I did not even know the significance of. That was the event that everything in my sword training changed. 

4 years ago, I was talking about how much I loved the community and was amazed by the support I had at Combat Con by people who were not even in my club, people who wanted to see me succeed even if they were not near me. I talked about coaching students who were not my own, but who I adopted since I felt they needed someone in their corner cheering them on. I talked about failure, about falling on my face at cutting and wanting to do better, but not being there yet. 

3 Years ago I missed Combat Con, between a not so awesome new job, and not being sure I would be working for much longer, I decided that I could not spend the money and my family needed to come first. No matter what, family needs to always come first. 

2 Years ago, I fought well and feel like I was making improvements. I passed cutting for the first time, bought myself a new sword and though I did not come home with any new medals, at least my foot was in the door and I felt I was getting better. It was as much as anything about my family of steel, not just blood. 

Last year I moved into eliminations, and fought as well as I have in years. It was the year of the no win match, the year I realized I know my stuff and helped teach, it was a great year and at the end of it I decided that this year, I would be back and go through my instructor Certification in 2019 so I was finally reaching some teaching goals I had set for myself. 

Then I crashed my Motorcycle. 

For the better part of a month I had a hard time walking much less fighting in class. I spent time hoping that I would be back on my feet soon, but not sure how long it would take me to be there. This year though, I owned it. 
I set my mind in motion to do my certification and spent a good part of the year, working diligently to make sure my students had classes that were helpful and of a good quality. I spent time working hard to make it happen for myself, and the betterment of those who I teach. Yesterday It happened.

Before all of this 
I had been giving a lot of thought to HEMA Alliance instructor certification. Weighing out the pros and cons of what it would mean and why I should even go for it in the first place. It is a lot of work, some good hoops to go through, but that is far from a bad thing. 

There are some benifits to it for sure. If we are renting space and someone wants to make sure I am not just some kid who is teaching indoor backyard sword stuff, this at least says that I am representing the certifing  body who does the certification. It means outside of my local group or my local clubs, there are people who believe I can teach. 

Being a certified instructor does not change who I am or that I do teach. It doesnt mean that all of the people who don't do it are in any way less of great teachers. Yes, it did force me to come up with a more solid curriculum, but this is only a benifit I have seen for my students in the last year anyway. It means that whether I know it or not,  people who do not see me week in and out, believe in me and that I can teach. 

I am proud to say that after yesterday, I met that goal. The process is a good one. The fact that it happened here, at the event that was my first one, and changed how I was doing things is significant to me. Combat Con is a special place to me, and this is one more reason why. 

I have work to do, things I need to improve on, and frankly, if I didn't, a lot of value would be lost from the process. The second I belive that the things I teach and the way Ido it is the best and cannot be improved on I have stopped growing as an instructor. But the sheer joy of seeing a big goal through to completion is empowering, and there is no where to go but up. 

Friday, April 26, 2019

Rule #1 Don't Die

"There is only one god, and His name is Death. And there is only one thing we say to Death: 'not today'." George RR Martin- A Game of Thrones 

Rule #1 in sparring, and in life is and should be don't die.
Yes I know this does not work long term, every person dies, but that does not mean that you should do dumb stuff and quicken that inevitable end.
I have spent a fair amount of time as of late watching new students and it comes across to me that somewhere in their training someone has encouraged them so much to get in the first shot, that they have not given how to do so safely much thought. The thinking goes, "if I can hit the other guy before he hits me, I win" This may be so in sport fencing or in some tournaments, it may even be so that if you can hit the other guy more times than they hit you you win, but ultimately this is not the best strategy. The best strategy is to walk away if you can without being hit at all. This is harder than it sounds and I don't suggest people sit and just try to defend themselves without countering or doing anything in response, but at the end of the day, the person with the best defenses will simply be hit less and that is always a win. In this essay I will talk about sword fencing specifically since that is my area of expertise, but these things apply to other martial arts and living in general. 

So how do you follow rule #1?
There are 2 ways, the first is to be proactive, the other is to be appropriately reactive. 

Pro-activity in a fight: Get in the first shot
"Nuke 'Em, get them before they get you"- Robocop
"The best defense is a good Ofense, You know who said that? Mel the cook on Alice" Tai Kwan Leep- the Frantics 

The first way to stop the attack is to simply attack them before they have a chance to attack you. 
Don't ever assume that because you pose a threat that they will have to deal with it before they attack. Sure, a smart person with see a sword point in their face and try to do something about it, but assume that no one is a smart person. If you threaten them, they can do 2 things, they can ignore the threat and get hit or hurt,  or they can deal with it, but always pose the threat assuming that they will do nothing to protect against it. Some people are just not in their right minds, some people think they can move faster than you, are stronger than you and can take it, or that if they take a hit they can hit you harder it is worth it. If you can avoid interacting with crazy, do so, if you can't assume that they don't know what they are doing, are on drugs, or are otherwise not smart and make sure you stay safe as you deal with them, preferably at a distance. 

Throughout this lesson, I do not want to understate that this can work. If you see someone on the street who looks like they want to fight you and you knock them out cold first, at least they did not attack you right? Besides the legal implications of this, there are some logistical problems with this thinking but it can work to accomplish the task of not dying. If you don't like people living in a multifamily unit is probably not the best option. Sure shooting anyone on the street that you see with a handgun keeps them from shooting you, but you can only get away with this so long before having some legal and ethical problems. 

How do you do this in long sword fighting? If you can read their intentions from their body language you can tell where they are likely to attack, or what they intend to do and from there you can stop it. Is their weight on one foot or the other? What can they do from the guard they are holding? How are they holding their body, are they tense, or relaxed? Are their shoulders forward or backwards? What motions have you seen them make and what were the results of that? 

If you do not know the guard, ask yourself, what does this the way they are holding their sword tell you about what they intend to do. You may not know that guard but something with their point at you or generally towards your face or torso is good for thrusting, a guard with the point away is better for cutting, there are some exceptions but you get the idea.  

The truth is that you may not be able to read them 100% especially if you are just getting started, but what you can do relatively easily is eliminate what they cannot, or are not as likely to do. If they are holding their sword upright on the right side of their body with their left foot forward they are likely to be cutting from that side. (Zornhaw, or Fendente) What they are not going to do: cut from the left with a simple step on that side. To do this it takes more time and when they change, you can see them change. Something I always tell my students is that they cannot do that from here, unless they change, in which case it is not from there anymore. 

The real key here is to cut off their line of attack while making yours. If they are going to thrust, don't thrust back, rather: block their line of attack as you attack even before they move. 
Another quick and easy way to do this is to move as they are changing guards or moving their point away from you, or taking a step as they are in transition and their intention at that point is to move from A to B not to move part way then attack. 

Reactive: Be prepared 
Avoiding the legal implications of shooting the guy who has a gun before he has a chance to draw it and shoot you is really easy, just don't do it. Throwing the first punch before they get a chance to throw one, is easy, but it starts something you may not want to deal with. If the guy with the gun does nothing, you have no problem, if the guy who looks like trouble does not trouble you, there is no reason to get into a fight for nothing. 

Fiore's art is largely one of stopping the attack as it comes and responding with something of your own. This can be accomplished by controlling your reach and theirs by adjusting your measure. If you are out of reach, and they step with a cut, while you step backwards the same distance nothing has changed, they have not gained an upper hand, and you have neutralized the threat. In my class on this, I have some drills that can be done that teach this but again it is a question of watching what they are doing and responding when they move.  If someone attacks you and you respond by just defending yourself, you may not have won the day, but at least you were not hit and have thwarted their attack. This is not ideal but if you live to fight another day, it is a win in my book. 

This is not to sat that this is an easy task, occasionally I run a drill where the objective is to just defend yourself for a period of time, and it is one of the hardest things to simply defend, but it is a good lesson to work with. This does also not mean that you have to meet their strike with your parry to defend, If they are cutting at your leg and you step backwards with it they have missed their target and you have some great openings. If someone is rushing you and you can sidestep and let them run into a wall, all you did was take a step and it was them who missed you. There are drills that I teach that are in line with this and what we find is that it is a fun experience to be the one who is simply moving, and a frustrating one for the person who is trying to make a grab. 

Covering your Line: Finish it right. 
No matter which way you accomplish rule number 1, the last thing you have to do is to get away properly.  The idea here is that no matter if your attack lands well,  or your missed entirely, you still have to follow rule #1. If you cut their arm, and they cut your head just afterwards you have not followed rule 1. You hit them first, but they hit you after in the leg? Good job on being there first, but what if it was not good or it was not called, you have to protect yourself always to follow rule #1. If you see the guy in the street with the gun who is not likely a threat, but you know where he went, you are at least ready if he becomes a threat. In a tournament an opponent is not a threat when he is not a threat. If a hold has been called and you stop your defense, there is nothing to stop him from sweeping your leg and getting a penalty for example. 

Conclusion: Rule #1 in life 
Tournaments are not real life. We use weapons that are safer than the real thing, we wear protective equipment that helps make things hurt less and protects us. but that is not ALL of rule #1.  If you are sparring without a mask and get hit in the head, you could have a headache, a concussion, or die, even with safe weapons. Rule #1 however goes a step further, it is not just about the fighting floor, it is about being safe in life. If someone aims a gun at your chest and asks for your wallet, give it to them. It is not worth dying for a few cards and a couple bucks. If you can avoid the places where people are likely to start a problem with you, do so, it is not worth the time and effort to have to defend yourself if you can stay safe and avoid it. If you see someone on the street who gives off a bad vibe, walk away, maybe you are wrong but better wrong and safe than right and dead. If you are driving, this is all about watching other drivers to know with or without a turn signal what they intend to do. That split second means you can make smart decisions and stay safe. At the end of the day, we will all not be able to avoid death. I have to say Not today, to many times in the last few months, but if you can make smart choices you may be able to choose a better time than right now for your end to come and that makes all the difference. 

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

SoCal Swordfight 2019, it is about community

"The bond that links your true family is not one of blood, but of respect and joy in each other's life. Rarely do members of one family grow up under the same roof." Richard Bach, Illusions 


I threw down my gloves and mask, "I just cant do this!" I said. It was 2 days before we left for SoCal Swordfight and I was doing some free sparring in our sister club before we headed to California. I know that people were trying to help, but 2 days before an event there is only so much one can do to fix problems in your fighting. That being said, here I sat, tired, and frustrated and not sure how the upcoming weekend would work. 
Within a few more days I was in California, sharing a room with students from all of the 3 Utah clubs, and though I was still not sure how thins were going to pan out, here we were. 

Utah is a strange place when it comes to HEMA. There is a class that meets in the same space I do, we share equipment, we teach new students together with a universal curriculum, and between the 2 of us we rent 8 hours at the gym a week. The other club is 30 miles south of us but every year we all get together at least once or twice to have local tournaments and have fun as one big community. In name we are separate classes, but in many ways we are one team especially when we go out of town. 

By the end of the weekend I judged more than 80 matches, took a couple classes, the fighters in our clubs took home 3 medals and I am very proud of them. 4 of the 6 who entered Open steel moved out of it to eliminations, we had several who moved out of their pools in Singlestick and overall I am very proud of my team. They my not all be my students but when we go out of town, i feel like they are all my team. 

As for how I did, it was not as good as I had hoped. I did not do well in either tournament I entered. Single stick is a fun one for me and it went OK, but not super well. In Open steel I won 2 matches, and lost one, but because I did not win by large margins, I did not move out of my pools. I WAS able to use a technique that I have been working on, and it was not super easy, but I am very proud of it. 

After my tournament I was discouraged. I have been back in sword 10 years, and I have made progress but am frustrated with where I am. This weekend however I talked to some of my friends who I have spent time with over the years and was told that even if I can't see progress, they can. We talked about my options, I can kick my training into high gear and improve, I can not apply myself and stay were I am, I could drop sword completely, or I could step things down fight in an easier tournament and place higher. 

There is a lot of things about each one but when I talked to one of my friends about it on Sunday,  he pointed out that there is only one option. I am not happy with where I am, so staying where I am is not an option, quitting is not and never will be on the table (I may retire from fighting in tournaments in a few years but that is not right now) I can apply myself. I know the people who do the tournaments I attend and no one will let me step into a lower level tournament. This is because they know me and won't let me settle for less than I am capable of. 

Here is the thing, I have people cheering me on. They are not a huge number of people but they want to see me succeed. Some of them are local, some I just see at events, but the point is they have my back and are cheering me on. These may not all be people I am related to, but they are people I consider family. There is a quote from Its a wonderful life that says "No man is a failure who has friends." I do not see these people often, but they support me and are cheering me on. 

I judged something like 80 matches, because I feel like it is important to do. I donated the time because I want people to have a great time when they are at events, and any way I can help that I will do. 

At the end of the weekend I had people asking me when I am doing a local event, I had people telling me how they feel I am doing, and with so much encouragement it is hard to not feel loved by the community I love. If I could say that tournaments were about one thing at the end of the day, it is not just about winning prizes, though that is definitely fun, it is not all about testing yourself, because some days or weeks or months are just off. If I could say it was about one things above the others, it would be to share our love for what we study, make friends, cheer them on, and at the end of the day to come together. I know people who train because they know that if they don't someone else is, they train so they can win a medal or beat someone in particular, but for me, above all else, it is about community. 
 
I want to close with the lyrics from Just one person from Snoopy the musical:

Snoopy: 
If just one person believes in you. Deep enough, and strong enough, believes in you. 
Hard enough,and long enough before you knew it, 
Someone else would think, if he can do it, i can do it. Making it..

Snoopy and patty: 
Two! Two whole people who believe in you. And if two whole people believe in you. 
Deep enough, and strong enough believe in you. Hard enough, and long
Enough there's bound to be some other person who believes in making it a threesome. 
Making it...

Sally joins: 
Three....people you can say, believe in me. And if three whole people, why not...

Linus joins: 
Four. And if four whole people, why not...

Lucy joins: 
More, and...

Charlie brown joins: 
More, and more. And when all those people believe in you, 
Deep enough and strong enough believe in you, 
Hard enough and long enough it stands to reason you, 
Yourself will start to see what everybody sees in you. 
And maybe even you, can believe in you, too.

Thank you all for believing in me even when I am not sure I do. It means more than I can ever say. 

Thursday, December 27, 2018

2019 Live Deliberately

"I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately." Henry David Thoreau, Walden

Every year, in one way or another I have some sort of motto, something to live by and something to focus on through the year. Some years it is a mantra, usually over complicated but it starts out as something to focus on, sometimes it works for a time, sometimes not, but it is at least a good thought to start with.

So what does 2019 look like, what is my focus this time around?
Back in June, I was going camping and made a label for my camp cup that said "Live Deliberately". It was a play on Thoreau's "I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately" since I was taking it camping.

As I came into this year however I gave it some close thought. What does it mean to me?
Living deliberately means living with intention. It is about right action, and doing things on purpose. Right eating, right sleeping, right speech, right actions, it is about doing things on purpose. Intermittent fasting is like that for me, it is not mindless eating to fill time, or do something while I am driving, it is making the choice to eat, or not, but being conscious about it. Living deliberately for me is about living my intention, living in choice, millions upon millions of choices, actions on actions, all made consciously.

In the last 2 days since deciding that this was where I was going, I have written more, taken more deep breaths and generally gotten more done because I am paying attention. I am making notes to myself while I work so when I get home I know what I want to get accomplished. I changed my alarm tone from an annoying one to a bell, which reminds me to take a deep breath and be present. Sure, it is some dumb notification from some company trying to sell me something, but I am using it as a random reminder to be present, take a deep breath and be grateful I am alive.

Living deliberately is about choice and so I am going into 2019 in choice, consciously choosing where my focus is, and knowing that I get to make up the meaning of things along the way. I do not have to go to the woods to live deliberately, my life is here, and if I have to go somewhere, or do something special to get that, there is a good chance I am not bringing it home with me. Now is the only time we have, here is the only place to be. I have many things I wish to accomplish in 2019, but the only place to start them is here and now, and the only way is with intention.

Friday, August 31, 2018

Reflections on the motorcycle crash

It has been 4 weeks since my motorcycle accident.
As of yesterday I was finally cleared by my doctor to go back to work.
All of this time away from work, and sword training and mostly staying at home healing has given me a lot of thought about life, priorities, and the way in which I live.
A few insights:
When I crashed my motorcycle for a moment there was a silence, a calm, things were happening I had no control over. I could not stop the bike from rolling, I was just hanging on and going for the ride. Some days life is like that things are happening that are out of our control and all we can do is control our responses.

As I stood up, struggling to breathe, standing on the side of the road both knees bleeding, pants torn, bike laying on its side, and overall in pain, I had some insight. I hurt, but I was alive. My son was not without his father. As much as I knew that the next little bit would hurt and suck, I could debbal with it because there is something inside me that is more than the pain, and that was still here. I did not know what the damage was, to the bike or to myself but what I did know was that I was here, the part of me that really mattered was still here, and I would live to fight another day. Sometimes life beats us up. Sometimes physically, sometimes emotionally and we have 2 options, the first is to lay down and let it win, the other is to stand up and tell the god of death, "Not today".

The ride home hurt, it hurt to breathe, I felt like I could not bend my knees without pain. The nights were testing. We have a small house, but I never felt like the bathroom was SO far away. For a few days I used a walker just so I could get there. (Thank god for upper body strength.) There were trials, and I was not sure some days that I would get past them, but I was alive, so at least there was that. Pain sucks, but death meant I would not get to experience anything else, and that makes me truly sad.

In this I found allies, people who would help me. Doctors who wanted me to heal, family who were willing to help me, and yes sometimes push me to get where I needed to go. My wife brought me food for a day or so, then it was up to me to get up and walk to the kitchen to make a plate. This was not out of spite, but rather she knew that if I sat, and let myself just sit all day and night that I was not going to get better any faster. Some days were harder than others, some days I needed a cane to get around, but she was willing to care for me by helping push me to get better. My doctor had me go to the wound care clinic. The first time I went, they cleaned my wounds by cutting off dead skin and making it all bleed but that bleeding was needed for new, good tissue to grow. It was probably as painful as the accident itself, but it helped so that pain was worth it. Sometimes you have to have allies who are not just going to let you get away with things but are there to push you, or encourage you to push yourself. This includes my physical therapy team who encouraged me to push myself so I could be back 100% sooner.

As of yesterday my knee mobility is back to 100% and I will return to work on Tuesday. I am amazed at what a relatively healthy body can do to heal itself. (I am not in the best shape, but even for being overweight I am pretty good.) The last real revelation I had was this: there is a big difference between pain and discomfort. When I started doing physical therapy, it was uncomfortable. I did not want to bend my leg that way, some staircases looked hard and I was not sure I could do it but I knew that as long as I accepted those limits, it would take me longer to get where I needed to be. In the words of Richard Bach, "Argue for your limitations, and sure enough they are yours." I am now less than a month from the accident and with the exception of some healing on my right knee, I am back. I may not be as fast yet, I may not be as strong yet, but I am back, and that feels pretty damn good.


Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Combat Con 2018 Alive

This past weekend I was in Las Vegas for my 4th Combat Con. Combat Con has a special place in my heart as it was the first event outside of my local club that I ever attended and many of my favorite people in the HEMA community come to this event.

This year I was able to ride my motorcycle down (more on that later) The ride down was warm, the weather was nice and though it took longer than driving the car, it was an awesome experience. With me was my friend, and co-instructor Jack who has done this trip several times before.

I spent evenings with some of my favorite people, took classes from some of my favorite people and even assisted in teaching a class or two. I think what stood out to me was in the classes that I took after all these years, though some of the material was new, it did not take me long to understand or pick it up. In my tournaments I made it out of pools into eliminations, and though I was frustrated at the end of my matches, a really neat thing happened.

My wife watched a match that I shared on Facebook. She normally does not watch me fight but she looked at that match. When she watched it at first, she said that she noticed how much better I had gotten over the last few years. I went back and watched a few of those and she was definitely right. My form was better, my movement was better, and though for a second I was upset about how my match went, after looking at that, I felt like I have gotten better over the years. In one way in particular this struck me. At one point in time I had many exchanges when I was not protecting myself when I attacked the opponent. In my pools of 3 matches I had 0. In my elimination match,  I had 1 double. I have a long way to go, but I am proud of my progress there.

I had several fighters locally who did very well as well and I am incredibly proud of them for how they did in tournament. One of the local guys took Bronze in the advanced steel tournament, and one of our women took bronze in the women's tournament. In Salt Lake we may be 3 clubs but when we travel we are one big team and I am proud of everyone who came down, gave it their all did great. Not everyone will win everything every time, but they came down, some of them for the first time and really showed good sportsmanship and it makes me proud to call them my team.

The thing I love about Combat con is the people. Some of my favorite sword people come to this event. These people show me what it really means to be a community. There is not anyone who I have met or sparred with or taken a class with who is not willing to help you learn, or show you what they know, or help you train so that next time, you can get better.

There are clubs from all over the world, several of which are teaching historical fencing or knife work, or other things that I just do not see practiced in the community at large. I can take a class on clearing the line from a classical point of view and take that concept and use it in my fencing. Or I can take a concept taught with long sword and be shown how it applies to grappling or dagger or what have you. I am amazed at how my knowledge and comfort in these things has grown over the years and that is in large part a result of the mentor-ship, friendship and support of my peers, many of which I have met though this event.

I am alive
I rode my motorcycle down to Combat Con and it was a great experience. I have never ridden so far since learning to ride years ago so this was a very cool thing.
On the way back however as I went to stop for fuel in Cedar City, I hit the off ramp too quickly slid off the road and crashed my bike. My leathers, and helmet probably saved my life as I got some road rash on my elbows, bruised my ribs on the right side, and had to get 6 stitches in my right knee. My jeans tore, my new Chaps ripped but I walked away alive at least. My wife came down with my father in law and picked up the bike, she will need some work, but is not a total wreck. I had a very nice couple stop and take me to insta-care, then when I was discharged they let Jack and I stay at their home until my ride got there. I am broken but not dead and the last few day or so when I hurt, or have had a hard time walking (Stitches in the knee suck) I had to remind myself that I a hurting but I am not dead and that is what really matters. Parts can be replaced, I can replace the things that were messed up even if the bike had been totaled, I am alive and I am incredibly grateful for that. I am grateful that my father in law drove the 3 hours down and 3 hours back with Cindy to pick me and the bike up. I am grateful that my mother in law let me borrow her walker and cane, just so I can get around the house easier for the next few days.


I may not be sparring for a bit but I am going to spend some time making sure that my curriculum is where I want it so that in a year from now I can test and become a certified HEMAA Instructor. it has been a long time coming and I feel like it is time to do it. I may be hobbling about for a week or so, but I am alive and that is what really matters.