Weekend warriors, Spring 2012 edition

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Martial arts for all ages

On Sunday, 25 March 2012, Janice and I attended an open house at Guard Up! in Burlington, Massachusetts. The staff was friendly and helpful, and we enjoyed the martial arts demonstrations.

The Nerf battles, role-playing, and stage combat were popular among youngsters, so I talked to an instructor about European historical combat training. I’ve been interested in swordplay for years and own several blades and wooden practice weapons, but I’m not especially familiar with the German longsword, short sword and buckler, or other fighting styles.

The kendo demonstration was impressive, but that Japanese form would probably require more energy and discipline than I would enjoy. However, I was pleasantly surprised by the fencing. I donned some protective gear and learned the most basic moves. I managed to work up a sweat, and I won in my sparring matches, albeit against an instructor who was going easy on me. The more formal classes have clear benchmarks on individual progress.

On the other hand, I’m not sure how interested I am in long-term competition. All the typical restraints or excuses apply — I’m starting in middle age, am out of shape, and am concerned about the time and expense. I also wonder how much contact there is in the historical weapons classes. I dabbled in the Society for Creative Anachronism back in college, but found myself a better archer than duelist.

I plan to attend another free session to try to decide. Both the historical weapons and fencing classes are on Wednesday nights.