2 Saturdays ago found me braving the (admittedly very short) snowfall and making my way to Ealing to attend the British Sabre Level-Up Day hosted by Schola Gladiatoria.
I'm new to Sabre and HEMA in general so, apart from giving me something social to do, I felt like I really needed some focussed instruction, beyond the once-every-two-weeks I'm doing at the moment. I was not disappointed.
We started off with an introduction and a refresh of the basics of Sabre - nothing new here, being new I practice this stuff a lot in class.
Next up was some work on feints from Waite and Hutton's books, again nothing I haven't done before, but it was really good to spend some serious time on them. - I feel like I can now convincingly feint a cut number 1.
The next session was footwork with Colin from the Bradford branch of Schola. Colin focusses on Roworth's work, which is from an earlier period than the Waite and Hutton that I'm used to. This was a pretty interesting session, the footwork was surprisingly similar to the Tai Chi/Taiji footwork I've done in the past. The idea seems to be to fight from what I'd call a cat stance and transfer your weight entirely to the other foot before moving.
Next up we learned the first part of the 1st Practice from Hutton's Cavalry Swordsman - essentially a partner form/drill where one partner cuts, the other parries and counters, Partner A parries and counters and so on. This was fine apart from one parry that we don't normally use which took a little while to get into my brain. Also always a PITA co-ordinating hands and feet.
Taylor's 10 lessons: This was great, though I think we only did the first 3. Taylor is, as I understand it, this mysterious figure whose 10 lessons are included in some versions of Roworth's book. They are broadly similar to Hutton's Practice, except that they are written in a rather "picturesque" fashion. They seem to work on a call and response system, something like "Cut at my head, defend your own, cut at my leg, defend your head".
Last up before the mini-tournament and hometime we did some closing and grappling techniques. Short, sharp and to the point - I felt like my FMA experience gave me a bit of an advantage here, since I'm quite used to using my left hand for checking. My takeaway from this is essentially "grab the handguard and stab him".
Mini-tournament - this was a fun little round-robin thing scored to 4 points (head 2, everywhere else 1, afterblows negate score and doubles count 0). Everybody got 5 fights and wrote their points down, at the end the points were added up and the top two got to fight it out for the glory of first place. I impressed myself by winning one of my fights, the others I lost 2-4,2-4 and 0-4 (this was against a fairly terrifying German gentleman, who I learned was also a fellow FMA practitioner).
Here is a picture of me masquerading as a badass: