Last night I had my very first German Longsword class, with Fechtschule Victoria. It was two hours of tentatively and ever so gently prodding at sparring partners in a primary school gym. Until we got more comfortable handling very real, very steel, practice swords.
Slowly it became easier to tap my sparring partners on their (protected) heads, even as my arm began to tire and my feet got mixed up. Turns out sword fighting is a bit like dancing and boxing in that what your feet are doing and how you balance are everything.
More than 30 women attended the first lesson last night, from all sorts of backgrounds and ages. And little bespectacled me didn’t feel so very out-of-place. It was a matter of introducing ourselves to each other and then attempting to stab newly met people in the face. It sounds a bit Lagertha but it wasn’t. Mainly because we were so polite, it being so new and all. It was fun but oh I am sore today, not from being hit in the head, just from the work out.
We learned some phrases, like cut and parry, and void and what they referred to and put them into practice. And we will be learning more about the teachings of Johannes Liechtenauer. Yay for 14th and 15th Century German expertise!
At the end of the class two of the teachers (in full safety regalia) sparred. The sound of steel on steel of the swords echoed in the hall and it was real. This wasn’t playing, it was attacking with intent. There was grappling, and the use of the pommel, and hits to each other. It wasn’t film like. It felt as if the gym was a Danish court, when suddenly the nephew of the king must duel his enemy. Unlike Hamlet however, it all ended in happy, exhausted smiles and applause.
So now I am a Historical European Martial Artist, or I will be eventually, after much practice.