In a rural corner of County Clare there is a tiny little village (only three pubs that I could see) called Feakle, which is perhaps the last place one would expect to find a historical swordsmanship event. And yet, I have just returned from the Tempest event held there last weekend, which started off on Friday evening with some knife and axe throwing, and a slinging class lead by Kevin O’Brien (of the Turku branch of my school, no less). I taught a three-hour class on both Saturday and Sunday mornings, and the afternoons were taken up with tournaments: Longsword on Saturday, Sabre on Sunday. This was organised by Adam Duggan and Sandy Robinson of the Irish School of Historical Combat, and drew fencers in from near and far (I think Kevin travelled the furthest though).
The best way I can describe the tone of the event is this: apart from Kevin, I had never met any of the attendees or organisers before. But I felt completely at home the entire time.
Better still, they seemed to really enjoy what I had to teach, and to find my ‘consulting swordsman’ approach (where I asked them what they wanted and gave it to them) a refreshing change from attending a class with a set content. We covered all sorts of things, from how to hold a sword properly, to structure, power generation and control, and a short intro to Fiore (abrazare, dagger and longsword- nobody had horses or armour with them). My goal was to give them the kind of class that would benefit their training for months or years to come, and I’m quite sure that for several of the students, that’s exactly what happened. Once your eyes have opened to grounding, everything changes.
I can’t possibly name everyone who made the event so enjoyable, but I have to thank Hex for the proper breakfasts; Allie for the wonderful curry; Stef for being the Bard; Nick for bringing a pole lathe, of all wonderful things, to the event; Nina for the best request in class (and lending me her lovely sword); Megan for pushing me over in front of the whole class; Dennis for a great game of Audatia; and Kevin for the slings. As soon as I hit “Publish” on this post, I’ll think of a dozen more folk deserving of thanks.
One final note: tournaments often do not bring out the best in people— everyone wants to win. But at this event, the tournaments stood out for the willingness of the competitors to acknowledge hits against themselves, or dismiss hits that the judges would have awarded them. It was a delight to be a part of it.