I’m working on a new description of classes for students interested in training with the Valkyrie WMA Alliance. It’s not a difficult thing to do, but it is an opportunity to re-examine a lot of my base assumptions, and maybe redefine what it is we do. When swordplay is your life, and has been for years, you sometimes lose perspective. Passion can shape your language into something that doesn’t speak to the curious. Which doesn’t help attract new students at all. I need to think less about the keen people with some experience, and more about the person who just saw someone with a sword. They might want to take classes, but need to know what to expect.

It’s a difficult bit of writing. I want to ramble on about all the cool things. I want to encourage, to entice, to share my passion…but what I really need to do is inform. And to inform, I need to make sure that the actual writing is interesting enough that someone wants to read all the way to the end. It’s easier with the blog, because I feel like I’m sitting in a pub, having just had enough to drink that I forget to stop myself from rambling. I can let myself go a little freer, being in the company of friends…people who will forgive me for the eccentricities.

But for you, the person I met on the bus? You asked me about my sword and we talked a little, but time was tight so I told you could come here, to this blog, for more information. “Box Wrestle Fence” is pretty easy to remember, and a google search should lead you right here. But now that you are here, not a lot of my writing is going to interest you just yet. You want to go click on the “Valkyrie WMA Classes” link in the top right hand corner. On that page, the “What We Do” button should answer most of your questions. Or it will, when I get it written. I’ll try to answer those questions you were asking.

Western martial arts is usually what I call what we do. The more accurate description is Historical European Martial Arts, or HEMA, but that’s a bit wordy. I like WMA because it covers the important bit of information…we aren’t like the more common Asian, or Eastern, martial arts. Someday that distinction might not matter as much, but right now it’s a pretty good place to start from.

The main difference is we train with swords. We fight with swords. Full speed, full contact, real metal weapons. We make things safe by wearing the right training gear, and fighting with a bit of care and caution. There is a lot to learn. The art is built up from the actual training manuals written hundreds of years ago, and it takes real dedication to build technical skill. There are also tournaments to fight in…local and international, and lots of very talented local fighters to test yourself against. You can fit yourself in wherever you like. Lots to study if you want that, serious competition if that’s your thing, or a little of both.

We think the best way to be good with a sword is to enjoy your training, and to make the training as a well-rounded as possible. We teach a full martial art. Box Wrestle Fence isn’t just the name of the blog, it describes our whole training philosophy. A complete martial art involves striking, grappling and weapons work. Fencing is a fight for your life with weapons…It’s Boxing when there are no weapons, and Wrestling when you can’t strike. Fencing includes boxing and wrestling, boxing includes wrestling. And boxing involves elbows, knees and feet, not just hands.

And all of that requires a pretty high level of fitness. Every class starts with fifteen minutes of conditioning work. It’s short on purpose. We do some brisk exercise in that time, exercise that might seem incredibly difficult, but the short time frame makes it seem much easier. We follow that up with movement drills…balance and footwork exercises.

That covers the first half an hour. The next half hour we cover the boxing and wrestling portion of class. We tend to alternate days. The practice is mostly drills with a partner, and for the first while you will mostly just work on learning the drills. Otherwise we teach different techniques and strategies, building up the students technical repertoire. Light sparring happens whenever we have time. Our techniques are a blend of historical material and more modern methods. We want students to be effective and capable fighters, as this area has significant practical application.

The last hour is dedicated to weapon work. The rapier is our main weapon, but we will also be teaching cane, longsword and quarterstaff. The first half hour is drills or teaching, the last half-hour is sparring. You can either dive into the fighting on your first night, or spend the time working on technique or getting some extra instruction.

Got any questions? Fire away!