Last Saturday, 18 students and 4 instructors came together at Valkyrie WMAA for our very first Big Gay Sword Day. This one-day event was designed to celebrate LBGT people in the HEMA community. All of the workshops were taught by queer instructors, and the event was open to everyone while centering LGBT experiences in martial arts. It was an absolute blast!
Beth Hammer of Lonin taught two workshops on essential longsword skills. All About That Base taught attendees how to use footwork and posture to generate power and resistance in any fight. Grab ‘Em By The Blade was an exploration of Fiore dei Liberi’s blade grabs, and covered how to build effective techniques from a few core principles.
Claire Wemyss of Vancouver Strength Collective‘s Kunst des Funkelns program brought her personal coaching background to her first-ever workshop, Design Your Good Time. Our attendees built important self-reflection and communication skills that allowed them to build training relationships and drills that served their own training goals.
Jon Mills of Vancouver Strength Collective and Kunst des Funkelns warmed everyone up after lunch with Breathing Around Corners, and taught attendees how to breathe effectively under both physical and emotional pressure. Everyone came away with a much deeper understanding of the mechanics of breathing and the relationship between breathing and emotion.
Kaja Sadowski of Valkyrie WMAA wrapped things up with Marozzo Surprise!, an introduction to Achille Marozzo’s gioco largo and gioco stretto, or wide and narrow play. Attendees got a feel for how the tactics and mechanics of a fight change with the distance between fighters, and played a bit with the relationship between fighting and dance.
Our attendees traveled from as far as Los Angeles to come to this event, and came from a broad range of backgrounds and experience levels — from fighters who’ve been at this for a decade or more, to folks who picked up a sword for the very first time in one of the day’s workshops. Thanks to our wonderful sponsors, Team Mimosa and Rogue Fencing, we were able to fully sponsor 3 low-income attendees. Thank you so much to everyone who supported this event, and everyone who came out to play. It was a great experience from start to finish, and shows that “niche” events that serve marginalized communities can be successful, technically rigorous and challenging, and economically viable even while maintaining accessibility. We’ll definitely be hosting this event again in the future, and we can’t wait to see the movement grow!