Updated: Dec 13, 2020
Think outside the box. That’s what they say, but where can that concept take you? In this case, we’re gonna think of the box as our own sandbox of community and getting outside of it is going to find other sandboxes of community.
It’s best when there are lots of sandboxes all a little different in their focus, but connected by threads...or ropes...or rope bridges...like suspended between trees let’s say on a lush, green forest moon that’s inhabited by warlike little teddy bears who live in a tribal society.
Perhaps I digress.
Really what I am trying to say is that building relationships with groups not in your wheelhouse is beneficial for cross pollination, cross training, and visibility. There are some obvious match ups for HEMA such as other martial arts practices, all being siblings in the combat field, but what else applies that could offer new opportunities?
These folks are athletic, artistic, and dedicated. Sound familiar? It’s a great match up that may not be readily apparent on the surface, but give those people half a chance and before you know it, they will be creating sword focused trapeze acts. Amazing and unexpected collaborations can pop up out of these relationships flowing both ways. Swords might inspire a new artistic flair and circus training may provide insight in body mechanics. This and a chance meeting at a stuntman workshop between respective founders is what sparked a relationship between AHWG and Laché Movement Co. In a few weeks, we will be hosting a Daggers and Wrestling Workshop there and it’s an exciting mashup of physical pursuits. Laché offers everything from parkour to pole with a mentality physical outlets are for anyone who wants to try. Feel you’re not strong enough for something? Do the thing even if it’s hard in the beginning because you will be training -just- the right muscles to keep going. The owners, teachers, and students are all in on the welcoming environment that encourages people to do their best while having fun.
HEMA students all come with their own backgrounds, but when it comes to swords, they’re all, for the most part, doing the same things. So as a teacher, it can be a chance to have eureka moments when you experience a student from an entirely different training set up, drawing different aspects out of your lessons. It shakes things up and offers growth. Pretty darn valuable in this HEMA loving lady’s mind.
That’s more of a mechanical approach to expanding experiences and soaking up new information. There are reasons to seek out neighbor sandboxes other than training and that’s about good ol’ fashioned accessibility.
What’s a keyword when it comes to accessibility? Inclusion. Oh, yes. That magical word that means making space for any and all who might want to give your activity a whirl. So beyond crafting a culture in your own set up that encourages that, seeking out other events that -also- focus on inclusion is a great idea. That brings us to…
Everyone, take a breath. I know...it sounds AH-mazing.
This is an event was first produced in Vancouver in September of 2018 by the Valkyrie Western Martial Arts Assembly. Austin resident, Connor Craig, read a blog post by Guy Windsor about the event and was inspired. He reached out to the folks at Valkyrie Western Martial Arts Assembly (VWMMA) about hosting his own and they were receptive. The original intent of Big Gay Sword Day at Valkyrie WMMA was to showcase up-and-coming LGBTQ+ instructors in the American North-west and that really resonated for Craig. He wanted to bring something new to the ever-growing and vibrant LGTBQ+ community here in Austin as well as expanding interest in Western Martial Arts. How better to do that than by creating an event that encompasses silly fun, inclusion, and giving people a chance to break out of their normal routine.
Sound familiar? Yeah, he gets it. I asked him what his aspirations for the event were and he had this to say, “My dreams for the event are to bring people together in a safe and non-judgmental place where we can all have some fun with swords. I want to introduce the exciting study of swords to people who might not have had the opportunity to study swords and related movements before. Fantasy and medieval-themed stories have become mainstream and I want to give people the chance to try for themselves what they see on Game of Throne and The Princess Bride, and see how reality is different from Hollywood. As a certified personal trainer, I’d also like to show people other ways of getting out and getting exercise - you’re not limited to weight-lifting or jogging!”
Once AHWG heard about this, it was a no-brainer to participate. The chance to share in such a fun, socially important event was too good to pass up and the purple is proud to support Connor in his dream with lending gear, teaching, and volunteers.
The Venn diagrams of awesome that HEMA can create are endless. So many opportunities to branch out, expand, and infiltr- uhhh...share. Yes, share. This doesn’t just apply to HEMA, of course. This is good advice for anyone with an idea they want to get out into the world and are perhaps a little unsure how to do so. Look for the nearby sandboxes. Check out what they're building and see if you can forge a path their way.
But if you see any short, furry guys with spears...look out.
HEMA on, Wayne.
HEMA on, Garth.
- The Fearless Nymph