Wednesday, October 13, 2004

The Human Fellowship Gentlemens' Fencing Club

The Human Fellowship Gentlemens' Fencing Club

An interesting weapon sparring class had its first meeting in Stratford under the tutorlidge of Richard McMahon, the former editor of Underground Martial Arts and lead worker for the much missed Martial Arts Support Group

I had the opportunity of attending this first session and felt quite proud that, due to three years of my nagging, I had finally convinced probably one of the most gifted Martial Arts teachers I have ever known, to get away from the “masters” who were holding him back and step into the limelight and teach on his own account.

The Martial arts are full of great fighters, there are, however, very few good teachers. I rank Richard at the top of the “good teacher” list. I would argue that as the holder of many teaching qualifications myself (including language, swimming, fitness, kettle bells. Olympic weight lifting and low level martial arts) I am qualified to make such a pronouncement.

Richard teaches weapons, based on his experiences in Kendo, Serrada Escrima, Rapid Arnis and kalis Ilustrisimo. What he does not bother with is the fussy padding, the numerous dull locks and disarms that passes as weapons training almost every where else. What he teaches/insists on, is learning through sparring.

This was the first weapon lesson that had me on the go all of the time: there were no prescriptive blocks, just stop it or move, or both: find out what works and what is nonsense.

"Don’t take my word for it, find out for your self: This is experiential, not hypothetical“ was one of the great quotes I got. In this one session we demolished numerous assumptions, the core one being the nonsense of an overriding style that you should master. Techniques enthusiastically learned in the past, work for some not for others

It was great not to be jabbered at by a self appointed guru insisting that if I held my forearm at 32.5 degrees from my naval, I would block everything, including a cold.

A fantastic night that covered one-on-one, group knife battles and an open exchange of ideas and teaching based on feedback.

What makes this class unique is Richards’s development of a padded stick, which combined with safety glasses, means that you could spar hard but safely, but still with enough of a pain feedback to retain authenticity.

Keep your eyes open for this group and see if you can get yourself invited to one of their sessions. The name, just to annoy me I’m sure, is the “The Human Fellowship Gentlemens’ Fencing Club”

Posted by Andrew S on 10/12 at 09:49 PM in