Right, part one of my recollections of Cascadia North. First up will be my raw notes, taken at various points in the weekend and only edited for spelling and grammar. Read at your own risk!

Friday Night
It’s one AM and I’m completely smashed. I helped myself like a greedy pig to the public keg. It didn’t seem like a lot at first, but one cup after another, and the conversations flowed.

Devon made a great speech about responsibility and/in swordplay, and I’ve asked him to write a guest post on it. He talked about putting faith and responsibility on the practitioner, trusting each other to fight with valour and integrity and still keep a sense of responsibility towards our fellow fighters. Powerful stuff. I can’t recall it, because I got into the bourbon afterwards. I know I look forward to nagging him about that post!

Good people here. David Teague and his wife, salt of the earth…in that crusty-languaged (David, not his wife!), deeply talented way that we dream of Americans being. We put down the country for their crazy excesses, but we forget that the other side of that excess is people that embody the best of what it means to be a modern human…profane, enlightened, educated…and amiable. We should all be that way.

My expectations of everyone have been thrown out the window. All my slight prejudices are shot. I wander through the campfire talking to an old SCA acquittance. I meet a fight choreographer, a fellow personal trainer…I like these people. These are my kind of people.  I made a brief speech tonight about how Devon and I founded AD in order to find more good fighters, more people for us to fight. It was a selfish and selfless beginning. It took a twisted path but it has really come true. What we set in motion has resulted in what we dreamed up…a solid group of well trained, technical fighters with a deep love and understanding of what swordplay means.

Devon’s put the final work in, it’s truly his child now, but I can’t help but feel a bit of pride in being part of the birth of this thing. These are good people, doing a good thing.

So drunk. Wound up in the inevitable kitchen party, talking about swordplay, can-native culture, sexuality, and orientation…the kind of conversation you can never seem to have while sober. …Dammit. I need to sleep. Gotta teach in a few short hours. Didn’t expect to have to teach a Sunday class a well, had nothing prepared. But the base of the course has been in my head anyway, shouldn’t be hard to do.

Time for bed. More tomorrow.

Sat 18 Aug 2012 07:37:21 AM PDT
Up early. Slept well. Had a great night. The ferry was cool and refreshing, and I caught the briefest of naps instead of enjoying the scenery. Hot day, but that’s never an issue when you are cruising under cover close to the water.

The camp came up quicker than I expected, and so did the good memories. I had a great time the year before. This year looks like it’s going to be more of the same. Ran into Gary Spechko already, I’m looking forward to getting some fights in with him. Over the last year I’ve caught the odd video of him, and read his reports of travelling all over and getting his fights in. For my money he’s the rising star of the fight game right now. A dark horse always known for his speed, with an underrated technical game. He’s really been bringing it the last few years, and in the last year he’s added in the critical factor of speed/power fitness.

David Teague brought his wife this year. Lovely woman, another fibre artist. Why do the smart women gravitate towards the fateful arts? It’s a beautiful, consistent mystery to me. I like Teague, I forgot how much I enjoyed his salty and honest speech. He keeps the atmosphere going. He’s a fidgeter, but like the rest of us has managed to turn it into a martial arts fidget. Probably gets more practice standing around talking than most people get in a weekly class. It’s interesting to see what we can turn into if we don’t have spouses nagging us to stop fooling around and just sit still…

Tapped the keg last night, and I suspect it got drained. I gave up after a while and moved up to Fordham hall with friends, and got into the bourbon. Good night, good times. There was lots of fire work happening down at the beach for a while. Terri Grassick was doing fire spinning, and giving lessons. I love watching professionals at work. The confidence of purpose is a great thing to see. The aspect of performance is missing from WMA. It’s easy for martial artists to denigrate that, but the honest truth is we don’t move correctly unless we understand, and embrace a little bit, the exhibitionist in all of us.

Sat 18 Aug 2012 06:28:26 PM PDT
Dinner was good, better than I expected. The weather has cooled off, and is threatening rain. I dunno, it might. Probably later in the night, but no for the next while. Hopefully I can get more fights in tonight.

Taught my class on posture and movement this morning. It was good, but a real stretch for me as a teacher. The focus of the class was getting students to listen to their own body and build a reference structure for future self corrections. The hard part for me was there was no feedback. Normally I can watch and see how students are building on the material I’m teaching them, and make whatever corrections I need to the pace of the class. This was more like a lecture, with students moving about while I talked. I think everyone got what they needed out of it, but it was hard for me to tell.

I skipped the afternoon workshops in exchange for getting extra fights in, and it was a good call. I got a warm up fight in with Philip van Humbeck, and it was going pretty good. Philip is a good technical fight, but has been on a break from rapier for about a year. I enjoyed the bout more than I expected, but was feeling a little physically shaky.

The fighting area was mostly empty, but Gary Spechko and Devon Boorman were there. I had some brilliant fights with them. I fought some of the best fights I’ve ever given anyone, and did very, very well…which is not to say I didn’t get my ass kicked, because I did. But it was like old days. So much awesome that you just have to smile and enjoy the pass, even when it winds up with a sword in your throat. Thank god they aren’t sharp!

After the old boys club had our mutual fun, a few other people started to sneak over. I fought a new fighter named Anton, who later won the beginners rapier tournament. He was fighting single sword, so I dropped my dagger and met him with single. My single sword needs work…Anton has a great guard and extension, and he got repeated lovely shots on me. I pulled off some fun tricks, but mostly I was content to keep things hard for myself and really enjoy a good challenging bout. (Note the featured photo above, in which I find I can still pull off an old favourite move…)

Mike Miller and I had some super-fun passes next. Mike has a solid guard and a boxers sense of evasiveness and footwork. I dropped back to my unarmed combat timing for our bout, and was able to screw with his tempo and land some really sweet shots. It was another all-grin bout. The pace was intense enough that when I bobbed instead of weaved I took a blistering shot that seriously rocked me…time for a break!

Before dinner I did manage a few short passes with Phil Persad. I can’t remember if I fought him before or not, but he’s on my dance card for future bouts. Another grinning fight. Very fun style.

I’ll try to grab some more fighting tonight. If I do I’m going to make them short bouts out of respect for my aching neck and head, so I probably won’t remember names. C’est la vie!

Sun 19 Aug 2012 01:18:07 PM PDT
Sunday afternoon, suddenly. Goddamn evil coincidences…my yurt-mates cel phone died without setting off the morning wake up alarm. And my phone died too. With clouds rolling in, I woke up to a grey light and assumed it was six am, went back to sleep. Checked my phone later and noticed it was off, turned it on to see a bare charge, and a time of nine am…slept in 2 hours, just barely had time to cram food in my mouth and run off to teach my class.

My pains were compounded because I had a lovely night last night. Great party, more beer and fun company, but I ducked around to miss a low-hanging stair, and accidentally brushed against the metal bottom corner of the next step…and took a half-fingernail sized chunk of skin out of my head. Didn’t hurt, but I got to spend the rest of the night keeping pressure and ice on my head to stop the bleeding.

Mon 20 Aug 2012 10:25:20 AM PDT  Final Overview
Well the rest of my day was somewhat fucked. Sleeping in, I never got to deliver the promo for my class, so all people had to go off of was “cutting” which sounds kinda lame. Gary and Phillip showed up. I’d worked lots with Phillip before, and Gary was too torqued out from a day of fighting to do heavy wrist work…so Gary took mental notes while Phillip got a two hour masterclass on mechanics and tactics of the edged rapier. Gary also helped out with the heckling. It was fun!

After that, my grumpy mood and a weekend of overeating and more alcohol than I’d had in probably a year started to really catch up to me. And I couldn’t fight, since putting a mask on might mean re-opening the bleeding head wound. I was feeling surly and a bit sorry my myself, but some things made up for it. Hell, honestly, the whole weekend made up for everything crappy that may have happened over the last month…a win all around.

The stand outs for Sunday, though…slow work with Kaja Sadowski, and seeing the edge start to come in her cutting game. We really need to do more cane fighting! Slow work with Jordan Both. We’ve worked long enough with each other to be able to hit a real “volley” of plays back and forth, and slow work starts to feel like a drill where you get a chance to pull of, and receive, all the cool stuff. I tried to find other people to do some slow work with, but no takers. Not a lot of fighters around, I think they were happily absorbed in classes elsewhere.

But I can now share the happy news with the world that David Teague is the true Kaffeefechtmeister…Photos are floating about the Twitter-sphere…That aside, after a year wait I finally got a chance to do some slow work with him and “taste” the art he practises. I can see that the longsword will grow to take larger part of my training in the coming year. I’m going to dig back up all my German material, and look at trying to find a middle ground between the German school and the Marozzo material I am more familiar with. Regardless, absolutely one of the two fighting highlights of the event for me, paired up with the back-to-back bouts between me, Gary, and Devon.

Great weekend. Tomorrow I’ll post my overall thoughts.