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Ottawa Medieval Sword Guild
Camping Weekend 2003

Extreme close-quarters knife grappling from a high tie-up position

When Anton Cvet, head of the Ottawa Medieval Sword Guild (OMSG), first mentioned the idea of a camping weekend to me, I felt right away that it was a good idea. Being a country boy at heart, I prefer being outdoors and find being in big cities for all these training events kind of claustrophobic and unnatural. Don't get me wrong - there are cities I love to visit (key word being visit, meaning I get to leave back to my swampland home in a few days) but there is just a special feeling when you are training in nature that can't be replicated indoors.

The location that was selected for the event was a horse riding camp about 45 minutes North of Ottawa, Canada, up in Quebec. (For those unfamiliar with Canada, Quebec is a french-speaking province that for years now has tried to become an independent country.) We met up with our traveling companions in Ottawa - members of the Young Forest Kwoon - and in short order left the big city behind and entered the countryside, greeted by beautiful green woods and rugged rolling hills.

By the time we arrived on Friday night, the campsites had already been established by the OMSG and AEMMA folks, and they were out in the field, fighting with longswords. We knew we had the right place!

Dave Cvet (AEMMA) hooks Tod Creasy (Young Forest) with the rondel
Jacky Duck (Young Forest) plants her rondel into Tod's chest as they wrestle for control

After the takedown, you are on top,
still holding his right wrist

Pin his right arm with your left knee/shin,
strike him to the face with your left hand

Transfer the rondel to your left hand,
You have bargaining position

Saturday morning started with about an hour and a half of running and calisthenic conditioning training. We went over the correct body mechanics for efficient cross-country running and then put them to work, running the dirt trails and hills at the campsite. We just went about a mile or so - not enough to be any serious problem, but enough to see if folks were doing things correctly. Running barefoot over different surfaces gave participants a chance to further develop their skill.

The calisthenics were a mix of upper body, torso, and lower body exercises designed to build strength, flexibility, and endurance at the same time. We did many variations of classic exercises, like 2-man pushups and sit-ups, as well as a number of trail drills where participants ran on all fours, carried each other while crawling, crab-walked uphill, and so on. By the end of the workout, folks were ready for some "cold water therapy" in the nearby creek. This was all part of our plan, as Anton had been chuckling all morning about doing "something cool" after the workout...

The afternoon saw us all gathered in the upper field for the main class. Having discussed things long into the night with Anton, we decided to focus the training on extreme close-quarters knife grappling. This situation, where both men are armed and in a wrestling situation, is especially common in the medieval armored fighting at which the OMSG excels.

We started with a few drills designed to emphasize the hooking pass and basic entry pattern of the German school, and then worked into a few common finishes, such as the medieval "scissors hold".

From here, we started to work into the situation where your move is countered, and now you and your opponent are both holding each other - locked in mortal struggle. We spent several hours on this, examining how to work from various tie-up positions while standing and on the ground. "This happens all the time - and now I have things to try!" exclaimed one participant.

After lunch, it was time to yield the field to the armored fighters. Pole axes and longswords replaced daggers (for the most part) as the OMSG and AEMMA fighters "got it on". I even got to have some fun playing longsword! The aluminum weapons these guys use are quite nice as a balance between safety and performance, though hand protection is always an issue (no different now than in the middle ages).

Saturday night saw a fine feast spread out, complete with a sausage-stuffed whole pig! Good eating and laughter ensued and could not be put off by the sudden rainstorm. A crew of "stout men" quickly assembled another large tarped area and the party continued unabated...

Sunday saw more rain, but the Young Forest crew and I went running and trained outdoors anyhow. As we ran, we practiced the various sinwalli stick patterns to build coordination. We focused on the Filipino martial arts and spent several hours working on dos manos, reverse grip stick, double stick combat drills, and single cane vs. double cane prearranged sparring.

By the time we all left late Sunday afternoon, there was already a lot of buzz about "next year"...all I can say is "I can't wait!"

Visit the Ottawa Medieval Sword Guild Here
Visit the
Academy of Medeival Martial Arts Here
Young Forest Kung Fu Here

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