CNAT Finale

I woke up with the sun Saturday morning, had a yurt all to myself. I drank some water, got dressed, and did my morning workout on the wooden floor. Went over my class notes, read a little, wrote a few brief notes. It was peaceful and quiet, I felt completely alone and calm.

Grabbed my notebook and decided to head down to the main hall and see about getting some coffee. See if anyone was up yet, or if they were all still sleeping off the beer and fire-driven craziness of the night before. I saw one or two people walking about on my way down. A few more in the hall, milling about. I said my good mornings, got my coffee, and walked over to outside deck to check out the view of the ocean. And that’s when I realized everyone wasn’t still sleeping in.

Just barely eight in the morning, breakfast still half an hour away. You could look out over the inlet and see the high green-black walls of the Sendero Diez Vistas soaring up, the morning sun just cresting and shooting rays down their faces, misty beams that are hard to look away from. In front of those peaks, Indian Arm, with waters so deep they use them for submarine trials. And in front of that, the landing and open fields of Camp Jubilee.

Camp Jubilee, packed with swordfighters. Everywhere you looked Saturday morning, there were pairs fencing. Longswords and rapiers, a lovely sabre glinting out on the dock, the archery range promising afternoon fun. How else do fighters start the morning? A glorious day just beginning.

The event was great. I got to hear the grumblings of the organizers trying to wrestle problems, but from a participants point of view it was all smooth sailing. Classes were all on time, the food was abundant and good, the beer was free and delicious. Accommodations were just right, the ferries were on time and lovely. The biggest problem people had was trying to decide which of many activities they wanted to do.

I got to watch all the tournaments except for archery, and the fighting was pretty good. Beginner rapier provided some interesting moments, when fighters so new they were still wet had to figure out how to call blows in the middle of a bout. It was all handled well. My favourite moment was Roland Cooper listening to two fighters dithering about who hit who. It was a messy bout, and I could see Roland about to ask the marshalls who saw what. But then he did the right thing, especially for a beginners tournament, and took advantage of a teaching moment. He told both fighters that the bout looked like crap, and he wasn’t happy watching it. Re-fight and make it better, he said…and they did.

The heavy tournament had combatants wearing armour and using weapons with a little more oomph, but still assumed unarmoured blow calling standards…Armour was for safety, not effect. Competition was fierce, but good-natured. One combatant drove home a blow, in his enthusiasm to hit not noticing he had been struck a substantial blow to his very good armour. I could hear his voice when the marshal informed him that he had been struck. He simply said “Cool!” You could almost see the grin through his helm… A couple of moments of pure awesome in this tourney. Roland Cooper and Greg Yoshida both displayed a tendency to put on displays of technical virtuosity. At one point Greg pulled off a movie-quality disemboweling cut after nimbly side-stepping his charging opponent.

The rapier final was stunning. Gary Spechko and a gentleman name Mattie put on an epic display of speed and compound action that seemed to last hours. You really had to pay attention to realize it was heavy steel rapiers and daggers in action, and not epees. It was absolutely riveting, and I think the two of them should be encouraged to repeat the performance somewhere with enough light for video capture.

Overall, the event was jam packed and full of energetic people who only cared about having a good time. The fighting was of exceptional calibre, and I heard only good things about every class. Personally I got to catch up with old friends, and make new ones. I got a chance to see how much my fighting has improved over the previous year, and the plan what changes I want to make for the next year. I got good gossip and feedback about what’s going on in the WMA world, and went home with the desire to train more…and maybe get some armour together…

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