The reactions to the classes themselves were all positive although there a mention that they ought to have been in a different order. This time we will pay much more attention to place basic and intro classes on the first day. Perhaps we will have a class specifically to transition Olympic fencers to the historical mode and a "square one" class for the really new to fencing.
There were comments that the classes focused too much on things which were "not French" This was in some part intentional I was lucky enough to have the services of two of the top smallsword instructors in the world who were willing to come and show the diversity of smallsword styles. These were opportunities to introduce Americans for the first time to those styles i.e., "Early"and "Late" Hope, from dedicated experts in those styles. That was too important not to do as most Americans have not had an opportunity to venture far from Angelo.
There was considerable justified criticism of the Tournament. It did not go as smooth as I had expected. People complained about the calling of hits, being forced to rush, not understanding what to do and so forth. What works well with a small group people who have practiced a situation does not necessarily work with a larger group. After much soul searching however I do think it important to keep the general concept of the "Unexpected Encounter with Sharps" intact. There are numerous events and venues where one can try ones skill at what approximates salle play or dueling for a prize. There is not, as far as I know any other "contest"where the emphasis is on the self defense aspect of the weapon.
That is not to say that we will not do some things differently. Time as a metric of performance is I think a valid one. Speed in sizing up a dangerous situation, planning and effecting a successful response is unquestionably a test of skill and training. It is just not one that many adepts seem to have practiced. Reviewing the video it is clear that the winners saw what the others did not. Namely that "Run and Gun" was not a good strategy. Instead winners moved aggressively yet methodically not rushing and not taking excessive risks. This is the kind of behavior that this contest was designed to elicit. Therefore this year we will have a class specifically on dealing with the scenario to be contested and how to "win" it.
There was some confusion with hits and near hits. This Year referees will call the hits and the clock will pause on every hit. Players will then reset. The scoring will be the same with hits incurring time penalties which will be added to the elapsed time required to complete the scenario.
Keep in mind that this "tournament" is a game, an "exercise with a prize". It is not a reconstruction of street combat but it does test the same skills one might need if one was placed in that situation. The objective is not to compete with others but to test oneself against an obstacle.