Don Remy invited Devon Boorman, co-founder and director of Academie Duello to come teach a full day of Italian Rapier in Arlington, MA. The backstory is that I have known Devon (as Prospere in the SCA) for a long time when he first started in the SCA so it was delightful to be able to see and catch up with Devon as well as get into some of this new historical knowledge in martial arts that people have been working on.
It was a lot of fun and I am looking forward to taking classes again, but woah, my body is aching and my mind is full. Devon started the class with bracing and squatting as well as a warm up to get us going. Luckily I had watched his videos prior to the class so I had some pre-teaching and that was super helpful. Devon is a great teacher, extremely well versed in multiple historical masters and the depth of his knowledge is astounding. Devon is also a fast paced teacher so that it felt very much like Italian fencing boot camp as we went from drill to drill to drill, with only quick water breaks. I was able to wrap my mind around the first couple of drills on body mechanics, posture and the point goes into the other guy while keeping yourself safe. Where I started to fall behind was in making sure that I did the steps in the right order. Trying to keep the right steps, the new language and kicking my body along like a can was challenging. As I am thinking about it now and processing, I do realize there were two things going on. One, I was asking my body to do particular moves that I don't do often. The isolation of the top half of my body from my bottom half was a challenge and my body is letting me know in no uncertain terms of a flag on the play, moving violation today. Second, Devon uses all the correct Italian terms. In my mind I was trying to learn a new language in an immersion style class. My initial training was classical fencing, with all the terms in French. So as Devon would say the Italian words for what we were doing, what guard to take, such as Seconda, Terza and Quarta, I was translating in my head quickly the numbers I had been taught, analyzing the different guard and then physically trying to push my body to do the guard correctly without relying on my experience. Trust me, there was a lot of thinking, releasing the old and trying to learn the new and taming the frustration. There were times though that I needed to go with what I know. As I was taking apart a transition piece, my sparring partner said to me, "You've done that move a hundred times on me, I know you know how to do it." With some tweaks and relaxing a bit, I was able to do the move, but I struggled between doing what I know and layering on the new knowledge. This was a full body experience which lead to getting tired and overfull.
There was not a lot of down time to process the material and I left at around 4:30 before the class was to begin the last session of Rapier and Dagger which was going to last until 6 p.m. I think it was a wise decision. My mind could not keep even the simplest of instruction in my head, I kept saying to my sparring partner, "What are we doing now?" and decided that this was not pushing me forward as I would lose what I already had learned. I think over the next week I will process the parts that I did learn. I would take the same class over again in the future as that would help me acquire the original material with repetition and hopefully build a platform so that I could learn the new stuff that went whizzing over my head.
And it was great to see Devon again.
For more information if you are interested in the arts martial for rapier, look here.
Donovan was kind enough to post a glossary that I am finding incredibly helpful as it is a second language dictionary for me which you will find here: http://www.salvatorfabris.org/RapierGlossary.shtml