|ARMA Southern Knights 2004
February, New Orleans, LA
Conceived as a small regional event (primarily for those Southern
ARMA members who were unable to make the trip north for last year's phenomenal
International Gathering), the ARMA Southern Knights 2004 workshop ("SK04")
quickly became a venue for several instructors to show their stuff in a no-nonsense,
no-frills environment at the Barristers' art gallery of New Orleans, only minutes from the
historic French Quarter.
On Saturday this stellar two-day event attended by some 30 ARMA members began with
footwork and stance exercises followed by a slide presentation on the intricacies of
manual interpretation by ARMA director John Clements. Jake Norwood, ARMA Senior Free
Scholar, took the stage next with an impressive 2-hour workshop on both the theory and the
practical execution of the Meisterhauen (master cuts) from Liechtenauer through to Joachim
Meyer. Jake's class was enthusiastically received. The material presented shed new light
on the proper application and context in which these much misunderstood techniques were
taught and used, and it gave everyone a number of new drills to practice at home.
A short lunch gave way to lessons on grappling
and pressure points led by Gene Tausk and Eric
Wagner of ARMA Houston. Stacy Clifford, an ARMA
Senior Free Scholar from Houston, simultaneously
held a workshop on the staff fighting of Joachim
Meyer's 1570 Fechtbuch in which he related and
contrasted it to the teachings of Silver and Swetnam.
For many attendees, however, the highlight of
the day was an introduction to fighting with the
rondel dagger by the respected martial arts/knife-fighting
instructor and ARMA Advisor, Professor Ron Harris.
Following insights gained from years of knife
fighting experience, Ron set everyone to working
in pairs for exercises that not only focused on
specific historical techniques, but on gaining
the skill to use them in self-defence now. Although
several planned classes had to be cut due to ARMA
Director John C. being sidelined with a temporary
medical condition, John made himself available
for member consultations and advice. The first
day's training wrapped up with more informal lessons
with longsword and messer, and free-play with
wasters and padded weapons.
Sunday greeted SK04's battered attendees with more high-intensity training. Jake
Norwood premiered the results of over a year's dedicated work on a groundbreaking
introduction to the longsword of Joachim Meyer. The workshop built upon the Meisterhauen
class from the previous day with material on footwork, additional cuts, drilling
exercises, and principles and tactics advocated by Meyer. The discipline, professionalism,
and depth of understanding Jake displayed in his presentation were an inspiration to
everyone in attendance.
The day continued with tumbling lessons from Gene Tausk and Eric Wagner while John
Clements trained ARMA members with specific core techniques for half-swording. Jay Vail
from Florida with the assistance of his son Sam finished out the day's formal instruction
with several dagger plays from Fiore dei Liberi's Flos Duelatorum. The end of classes
signaled open season for more open bouting and practice among seasoned ARMAteers, new
members, and guests. Ron Harris even gave an energetic impromptu class on basic wrestling
techniques, which succeeded in sapping the last remains of energy from those of us who had
any left. Meanwhile ARMA Director John C. evaluated and passed new General Free-Scholars:
Jay Vail, Mike Cartier of ARMA South Florida. Congrats to them!
All in all, this was one of ARMA's best workshops to date. Everyone involved went home
exhausted and happy, and with a lot of new material to work on and show the folks back