Only a couple of days to go till the 4th American Smallsword Symposium! Just a couple of last minute details.
Please come to join us Friday night after 7:30 at Baltimore Fencing Center for a bit of meet and beat freeplay courtesy of Chris Amberger.
The Saturday Evening Social will be at An Poitin Stil . 7:30 til? There are also dozens of other food possibilities in the immediate area so feel free to visit them and join us for drinks after.
Please arrive promptly on Saturday morning at Towson Dance Studio so we can get everyone signed in and start on time.
I want to make a suggestion about how I think one should approach this event in particular. The goal for us is to present you all with an opportunity to learn a very specific fencing style and method that represents the apogee of Smallsword technique This style and the method of teaching it is really the highest level of refinement before the slow evolution into a more but not exclusively recreational exercise. La Boëssière also represents the genesis of Classical Fencing before pragmatism replaced principles and a sport grew out of the art.
This weekend will provide an immersion in the this style famously practiced by the most celebrated fencer of the era Saint Georges. I am not going to say that at the end you will fence as well as he but you will understand what it means to fence like him. What principles and reasons guided the development of this style. How were these skills taught and practiced?
The best way to answer these questions this weekend will depend on your commitment to keeping an open mind and learning by teaching. The ideal approach is to suspend your prior experiences, preconceptions and training and give La Boëssière a chance.
Give yourself to the exercises and the drills and find the underlying logic, elegance and effectiveness therein. Be a good and responsible partner in order to help others to find these qualities too. You will also be asked to take the role of teacher guiding and critiquing others. This great and humbling activity is integral to La Boëssière's method. This is not a gimmick or diversion. Partners will be literally in your hands and you in theirs. Please respect their desire to learn as much as your own . Be observant and treat them as you would like to be treated.
Please do not be obsessed with competition in or outside of the tournament. Again the goal of the contest is to put into practice the lessons learned and to fence in the style taught. You should feel better losing and managing to fence a La Boëssière than winning and fencing the same polyglot win-at-all-costs style that you use back home. If you don't want to progress into new territory and increase your range and options than why did you come here?
Finally please remember that all of the organizers, staff and instructors are volunteers and provide this venue, the classes and the event as a whole at their own expense motivated solely by a desire to share their understanding and enjoyment for the art of Smallsword with you all. They are worthy of your attention and respect while you are here. A word of thanks to them would , I am sure , be gladly received.
If we keep these ideas in mind I am certain that we all will gain immeasurably as swordsmen and women from this weekend and have a damn good time as well.