Should probably add a few words here about last weekend, it was tons of fun (though exhausting). We had Dr. John Lennox over at the school, teaching a weekend “Pirates!” seminar on historical naval boarding actions (with a side excursion into stage fighting). Ten hours in all, five each day.
Saturday we first took a look at the combat theory of that time, which included drawing a grid on the floor with masking tape, and visualizing cubes in the air. This was followed by unarmed basics, then knife use, then tomahawk use, and then double weapons (tomahawk + knife). The tomahawk is a quite impressive close-quarter weapon, and paired with a knife it’s pretty devastating.
Sunday we shifted into playing around with the cutlass, then combined that with the other weapons (so we’d do cutlass + knife, cutlass + axe, and other fun combos). Around the midpoint we played around with stage fighting for a while; how to stage combat scenes so that it looks real, is not actually dangerous, and is at least somewhat martially sound. Fun, if a bit tricky. At the end of the day, we did a full ship boarding simulation (with the class split in half), and went for each other at reasonable speed. The “mortality” rate was…. high. The weekend ended with a debrief, where we went over impressions of the stuff and gave some feedback.
I really liked the seminar, and Dr. Lennox proved to be a very good teacher. The style he used here was very different from Guy’s usual one; where Guy tends to go into technical detail and set drills (in the beginning at least), John was more about finding the flow of the weapon, figuring out “what it wants to do”. This difference is much due to the styles and weapons being taught, of course: John was teaching semi-military close-quarter techniques with varied weapons and combos, whereas Guy usually teaches dueling weapons. Vast difference in how those are typically taught. You can easily spend years honing dueling technique, but military combat needs to be straightforward and something you can teach to relative newbies quickly. John’s organic teaching style suited this seminar very well.
The seminar had a group of theatrical stage fighters attending, people I hadn’t met before. Some were actors, one guy was a professional stuntman… they were from all over. Fun guys, and they were very competent and quick learners. At times I felt they did better at some stuff than us “real” sword students did. Of course, most of these guys had a lot of background in various types of acrobatics, martial arts and whatever, so it’s not all that surprising…. but still.
John’s t-shirt was amusing. On the front it had some text about “Naval Historical” stuff with a logo, and the text “Boarding Party” (in large letters). The back had the text “The only party with a 50% mortality rate!”… and then the “50%” was crossed out and 90% written underneath, with a side note in Latin that had something to do with rum…