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Thread: The Future of WMA?

  1. #1
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    The Future of WMA?

    What do we think the future holds for WMA?

    I'd like to think it is here to stay, that we have something solid which is going to turn into a recognised international pursuit.

    What do you see as the challenges facing WMA? How do you think we can best overcome them?

    Alex.

  2. #2
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    I hope to see it grow to a point where 'wma' is as generic as 'jsa' - where people can simply state what art(s) within wma that they practice. I would like to see the debate from interpretation minimised and the focus on honest and practical training is maximised.

    But most of all I want to have the various arts grow to a point where there is a ready and reasonably priced supply of good training equipment!!!

    I think the rapieristi already are quite a way down this line - I hope the medieval combat arts can catch up soon.
    Adam Roylance
    KDF International

  3. #3
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    I'll second the 'generic' perception Adam mentioned.

    I think I'll enjoy watching the rise of HWMA's profile in the public mindset. As always I'll try to do my own small and humble bit

    I do hope that WMA can skip altogether the unpleasant emgergence of the 'strip-mall dojo'......the thought of a 'storefront' (read: dodgy, fly-by-night or just plain bogus) Longsword Academy makes me shudder.

    Given the force of 'virtual-community corrective action' SFI members have been able to bring to bear upon charaltans, fakes and purveyors of tripe in the past, I think WMA is in good hands for the present.
    How may I confuse you further?

  4. #4
    Just my thoughts...

    I personally hope that the presence of WMA becomes widely known among the public, and, subsequently, that the many still living myths are debunked. I also hope that the WMA community becomes more noted among academics and especially museums. I hope that someday we can have more communication with museums, and more ability to examine (and, if possible, handle) the extant swords first-hand, not behind some glass.

    However, I would hope that the actual martial arts remain secluded to a relatively small group of individuals (larger than today, but much smaller in comparison to the many "Karate/TKD/Aikido/Kenjustsu" schools that abound. If it ever became as "generic" as JSA, we'd have tens of thousands of pseudo schools all across the USA (and probably the world) teaching watered down and generally misleading versions of the arts. I'd really hate to see that happen. In fact, if it was as generic as JSA, the entire understanding of the basics elements of the system would probably be lost to the masses as it became marketed more for popular consumerism and less for serious individuals. And, as with the JSA, we'd have more myths to deal with as it entered the cultural conscience in a different light. I'd also hate to see debate quiet down - debate is what keeps the techniques interpretations evolving and, without the discovery of a few new manuals, there simply must be continual debate and questioning to continue to push and develop the legitimacy of the techniques. For debate to die down entirely, to me, would signal a poor turn in the community away from the scientific "Hypothesis, Experiment, Conclusion" state and towards the "Theorize, Think, Accept" mindset. Of course, over time, the debates will lessen in scope, being focused on the more minor elements. But I think it must survive.

  5. #5
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    The day I don't have to explain that all martial artists do not wear pygamas will be a joy but beyond that I dont really care what happens although I have views on what will happen.

    I think all the evidence I have seen is that what we do will continue to expand. My group has nearly doubled in size over the space of two years and the number of groups in the UK is also growing rapidly. And the quality of these new groups is improving all the time. This will continue for a while yet I wager.

    There is still a mass of people who would be interested in our pastime if they knew it existed or one took place in their town. To date there are at best 6 clubs in Scotland and none in such major cities as Dundee or even Glasgow itself. (I beleive Liouse is in Greenock) We have people travel for and hour and a half to get to training each week as there is nothing in their town. When there are three clubs in Glasgow and 2 dozen across Scotland it will be time to review.

    The next stage I think is the off-shoot teachers. I can easily see former students of some top practitioners such as (name pulled at random) Guy Windsor setting up their own schools in other towns or even countries with explicite permission of their former tutor teaching their masters method. i.e. the top researchers/teachers now will actually be seen as much a source of knowledge and even reverence as the writers of the original treatise.
    Full Member of The Dawn Duellists Society
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  6. #6
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    WMA- A Big Field

    That term that Pete Kautz 'Coined' over 10 years ago was meant to include a really broad field and not necessarly limited to medieval and renaissance periods. In my journeys many of my Asian MA brothers tend to think that those two periods are what the WMA is all about. They still tend to associate some of the old SCA events with this. I've seen some surprized faces when you bring up the topic of WWII combatives and Victorian era boxing etc. This may be the biggest challange to convince people that the WMA is a really big field. I think the Historical European Swordmanship community is probably out in the lead in changing the mindset these days.

    Best
    Dwight

  7. #7
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    I agree with much of what has been said here - I think that once we have a larger core of skilled people who can spread the word things will be even better off.
    I know that I would have loved to have gotten into WMA years ago, and even as a kid with my complete medieval fascination, but there was nothing available. Now, granted, 20 years ago the field was nowhere near where it is now and I DID live in the middle of nowhere. I personally hope to help in the next 20 years as the field grows even larger. I'm doing my part to educate those close to me with what I know - not necessarily in terms of the ways of fighting, but even just dispelling general myths about medieval times.
    I think what would help spread the field around would be more study groups. It doesn't have to be formalized and instructed by someone who's had 15 years of training (though it would help but simply isn't possible everywhere currently), but perhaps if a lead from study groups in an area could work a local instructor on occasion to trade ideas and materials the art could spread further and faster. Of course this would have to be done carefully to avoid spreading misinformation. Then again caution has oft been our watchword whether while translating old MS' or simply interpreting techniques.

    Still, I don't want it to grow too quickly. That has inherent problems too.
    -John

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ian Brackley View Post
    I do hope that WMA can skip altogether the unpleasant emgergence of the 'strip-mall dojo'......the thought of a 'storefront' (read: dodgy, fly-by-night or just plain bogus) Longsword Academy makes me shudder.
    I'm afraid there already are a handful of bogus "longsword academies". I might be moving in the next year and was looking around the area where I will be going. I found one "medieval" school that is trains out of a strip mall tae kwon do school. It makes me shudder thinking the crap that this place teaches. They even do demos at renaissance faires in full leather scale armor with double bladed axes and say what they do is historic. I'm still going to have to visit them when I get out there for a good laugh.

    I think its bound to happen as our art gets bigger more BS artists will come out of the woodwork. It will just be our goal as the legit ones to attempt to inform the public what is real and what isn't. It's just too bad people will still pay these yahoos an excessive amount of money to learn something they made up.

    Mike

  9. #9
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    The Strip Mall Dojo

    I had a Strip Mall Dojo in two separate locations over a period of about 8 maybe 10 years. That place meant a "hell of a lot to me" and still does. While it's focus then was on Kendo, Kung Fu, and Knife combatives it was the place where I like so many others began to experiment and learn from the old manuals and martial arts of the 19th century. Yep, even Longsword. There was no European armor but padded swords, alluminium trainers as well as training rapiers. It was the place where we began to learn our trade. It was also the place where my first copy of Fiore,(sent to me by out dear moderator Greg) that got it's first stained and thumbnailed pages. A lot of people made a lot of sport out of us but it was the place where it all started for me and my people. It was a place of dreams that I deeply miss. We were 'Trying'. These days when I see some SCA or Mall Dojos running I often stop and watch for a while. Yep, they may be practicing foolishness, but they mean well, and are just not enlightened.

    " Yes there is always will be so much to know,
    God Bless the Boys that make the noise in the "mall Dojo."


    Best
    Dwight

  10. #10
    I like questions about the future - makes a refreshing change from hands-on archaeology ...

    Just to reinforce Dwight's point above, WMA is not synonymous with the (revived) martial arts of the European Renaissance, which are better described as Historical European Fencing or as Historical European Martial Arts. To be really anal about it, these should probably be described as "revived" or "re-invented" to distinguish them from living-lineage systems. I know that won't happen, but it makes the point ...

    In addition to revived Victorian, Edwardian and even historically later methods, the term is really an umbrella that shades the (many!) still-extant, traditional martial arts and combat sports originating in Europe. A sampling would include Juego del Palo (stick-fighting of the Canary Islands), Jogo do Pau (Portuguese stick-fighting), contemporary savate and canne de combat, English singlestick fencing (more or less), Irish stick-fighting (likewise, more or less), any of the numerous national and regional wrestling systems of the UK and the European continent, etc.

    There is also some very exciting information regarding fully traditional (living lineage) forms of Italian stick, knife and unarmed combat, only just coming to light over the Internet.

    Cheers,

    Tony

  11. #11
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    Along with fears of McLongsword Dojo does the idea of some nutter running around in combat boots and cams advertising WMA as the ultimate in "Street" self-defence worry anyone?

    Think of a slightly more serious (but only slightly) version of this guy.

    http://www.vikingfighting.com/

    What kind of time frame, if ever, will it take for WMA to appear in the resume of a professional MMA fighter?

    Alex.

  12. #12
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    Talking

    Ian Macintyre:
    I think all the evidence I have seen is that what we do will continue to expand. My group has nearly doubled in size over the space of two years
    Hi Ian...
    Great to hear your group is doing so well. Do you have any idea about the background of the students - are they fencing, Eastern MA, FMA, foriegn students, re-enactors or a mix of everything.

    wrote:
    To date there are at best 6 clubs in Scotland and none in such major cities as Dundee or even Glasgow itself. (I beleive Louie is in Greenock)
    I'm shocked that there's no WMA groups in Glasgow, you should get one of your Weegies to flee the nest! I for one would make the effort to attend.
    I currently train single-stick with a small group in Greenock but also train in Glasgow with a colleague whose teaching Dog-Brothers FMA who are heavily into full-contact stickfighting, (which gives me some indicator on how effective my singlestick training is against other styles).

    Louie

  13. #13
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    As you asked Mr Pastore...

    We get a mix. A few ex-sport fencers, a couple of re-enactors, some eastern artists and some people who are into fantasy and sci-fi and wanted to go at swords for real. Whats interesting is that people are travelling from Selkirk, St Andrews and Dunblane to come to training, on public transport. This shows some pretty strong commitment I think and I like to think shows we are doing something right.

    I think the issue now is that people used to just start a club from scratch. I think now people see whats going on out there and think they need to be tought and unless somebody is in their area to teach them they never do much about it. Its also harder to find places to train. 13 years ago when the DDS started we practiced outdoors in a park with no issues. Nowadays we could not do that.

    As to getting something in Glasgow going PM me. I'd be willing to help out to get something going in the land that soap forgot.
    Full Member of The Dawn Duellists Society
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    Instructor and Owner of Black Boar Swordsmanship School
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    BFHS Certified Instructor

    "Hating is easy, Loving takes true character" Hanoi Rocks

  14. #14
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    Pushing the SCA Boundaries

    Quote Originally Posted by Dwight McLemore View Post
    I had a Strip Mall Dojo in two separate locations over a period of about 8 maybe 10 years. That place meant a "hell of a lot to me" and still does. While it's focus then was on Kendo, Kung Fu, and Knife combatives it was the place where I like so many others began to experiment and learn from the old manuals and martial arts of the 19th century. Yep, even Longsword. There was no European armor but padded swords, alluminium trainers as well as training rapiers. It was the place where we began to learn our trade. It was also the place where my first copy of Fiore,(sent to me by out dear moderator Greg) that got it's first stained and thumbnailed pages. A lot of people made a lot of sport out of us but it was the place where it all started for me and my people. It was a place of dreams that I deeply miss. We were 'Trying'. These days when I see some SCA or Mall Dojos running I often stop and watch for a while. Yep, they may be practicing foolishness, but they mean well, and are just not enlightened.

    " Yes there is always will be so much to know,
    God Bless the Boys that make the noise in the "mall Dojo."


    Best
    Dwight
    Those of us in the SCA continue to try and push the boundaries of the study of HEMA.

    We are now doing full cuts with steel in the Cut and Thrust program.

    Also, the Historic Combat section of Arts and Sciences allows the study of any martial art form in the SCA period as long as full contct is not made.

    Allen
    Gallowglass Academy
    www.GallowglassAcademy.org

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Adam R View Post
    I hope to see it grow to a point where 'wma' is as generic as 'jsa'
    I share Adam's sentiments. In addition, I would be happy if the term "Martial Arts" would not be virtually synonymous with Asian MA in the public consciousness.

    For myself, I would love to be able to share my skills with others in the future, and make whatever small contribution I can.

    Best regards,

    -Mark

  16. #16
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    Unfortunatly as an English man I must admit Ian is a most fiecely excelent opponet / instuctor ( I have been under his cudgel.)

    I also and other club members travel up to an hour + to get to Oxford to train.( one must remember in Englang every 70 miles is a different accent!! )

    I recently fought in an MMA envirnment, in Leed the guys have severe problems getting past medoza's guard. I admit once past I was in deep poo, I am also 46.
    Regards,

    Andy

    Andy Damms
    Linacre School of Defence

  17. #17
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    Sca

    Allen: Please don't think I was 'firing' on the SCA. They just happen to be the group that I've seen a lot out in the parks and such. I think they were local 'Households' and as the Japanese sage said " They have a long way to go". Difinitely not in the same league as the ARMA guys from Virginia Beach. I too was in the SCA years back. I have too many friends and associates in that organization to hurt thier feelings. Just that some are more advanced than others. Seem that organizationly wise there are not enough guys like yourself and Bill Wilson, to name a few, to go around. I know you guys are working hard.

    Best
    Dwight

  18. #18
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    I have not posted in a while, but this topic makes me stop and the time to. Several thnigs have to chan ge if we are ever to see the day when we do not have to explain that SCA, Markland, etc is not historical or explain the origin of the term "martial arts". If we could only show the same passion in policing the "strip mall dojos" as we did tearing apart Jamie Acutt, then we could actually embrace the idea. But the WMA community has had itself hidden neatly away in our cliques, and running tournaments that you only find out about if you are part of the community. We have been reactive instead of proactive.

    We need to get out there and educate Joe Average about what we do. For 5 years now I constantly have people come up to me at various events and tell me that they never knew this kind of thing (WMA school) existed.

    The reason I started (the struggling) magazine "LIve Steel" is because there was nothing out there. And to be honest there is very little support from the WMA community.

    Instead of keeping to ourselves and fearing and hoping, eveyone needs to get off their butt and actually do something about making WMA more mainstream.
    Get behind those of us who are trying and roll up your sleeves and pitch in!

    The more people that are educated about REAL WMA, the more people will support it and embrace it. We can get it to a point where the education alone will have the phoney guys scrambling to stay afloat and secure more public respect and support for what we do.

    WMA is not going to grow unless we make it happen. I know we can do it but we have to do it as a group.
    Dave Dickey
    Founder
    Live Steel Fight Academy
    Southbay Swordfighters

  19. #19
    Speaking as a living-lineage guy (two of them, fwiw), WMA is very much synonymous with medieval and renaissance stuff in the public mind. That doesn't particularly bother me, but if it does you guys, y'all need to work on it, because I never hear the term except in a "longsword-and-rapier" kind of context.
    Mediocrity knows nothing higher than itself, but excellence admires and respects genius.

  20. #20
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    It would be nice to have WMA televised and backed by big name sponsors. I mean really, there is already golf and curling, and people actually watch that ... stuff. So what if my set of 15thc plate has a Coke logo on it? I would not have to have paid for it!
    Woodcrafter1372
    Victoria Sword School (VSS)
    VSS on Facebook (over 100 Fans!)

  21. Quote Originally Posted by D.S. Hill View Post
    It would be nice to have WMA televised and backed by big name sponsors. I mean really, there is already golf and curling, and people actually watch that ... stuff. So what if my set of 15thc plate has a Coke logo on it? I would not have to have paid for it!
    Yeah, but you'd be wearing a Coke logo. Or Pepsi. Or Mal-Wart. It marks you for life. People shun you...you hear the panicked cry of "leper!" off in the distance and the streets empty as you approach...and all you'd have to show for it is the measly 2000 cash and the tainted armor...the victory rings hollow, and you dying in the leper's colony.

    Repent, sinner!

    Sean Hayes, Maestro d'armi
    Northwest Fencing Academy

    Chivalric Fighting Arts Association
    San Jose Fencing Masters Program Examination Board

    One should never confuse the rules of a competition with the rules of an art.

    People talk a lot about speed, but not very much about control, safety, tactics, and trying to get close to the reality of sharps. When simulating sharp fights, how fast one charges in depends on how quickly one would like to die.


  22. #22
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    Hello All,

    Well, there will be growth... the question is, who are the teachers?

    I for one am forced to teach in my area, and quite frankly I'd rather be studying under someone else. I have 13 years with a blade in hand, but I'm not a "Sean Hayes", "Christian Tobler", "Greg Mele", or "Tom Leoni" though I have been in the same room with all of them ( but only 3 of the 4 have a clue who I am).

    Personally, I've trained with Paul Wagner and Christian Tobler, am looking forward to the day I get to work with Sean Hayes and do try to travel to events from the frozen North to be able to import back what I learn. I've struggled with Thomas Page the last 3 years with my interpretation that I teach and I'm currently leading a study group with Christian's interpretation of the German Longsword system... does that make me a McDojo instructor?

    I make a point of telling my students that at best I'm a "free scholar" with a backsword and only a "scholar" with the longsword.

    Right now I know of 2 former students studying with well known instructors and they are doing well. I guess we must be doing something right in the land of the frozen North.

    Things will continue to grow. The internet has brought us closer and allows us to grow as a community. I see a bright future ahead for all.

    Cheers,

    David Teague
    David Teague
    Scholar of the Highland Broadsword
    Free Scholar/Instructor -Selohaar Fechtschule
    The Historic Recrudescence Guild

    ""Yea though I walk through the valley of death, I will fear no evil: for Thou's sword art is with me; Thy poleaxe and Thy quarterstaff they comfort me."

  23. #23
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    growth of WMA

    Quote Originally Posted by Dave Dickey View Post
    I have not posted in a while, but this topic makes me stop and the time to. Several thnigs have to chan ge if we are ever to see the day when we do not have to explain that SCA, Markland, etc is not historical or explain the origin of the term "martial arts". If we could only show the same passion in policing the "strip mall dojos" as we did tearing apart Jamie Acutt, then we could actually embrace the idea. But the WMA community has had itself hidden neatly away in our cliques, and running tournaments that you only find out about if you are part of the community. We have been reactive instead of proactive.

    We need to get out there and educate Joe Average about what we do. For 5 years now I constantly have people come up to me at various events and tell me that they never knew this kind of thing (WMA school) existed.

    The reason I started (the struggling) magazine "LIve Steel" is because there was nothing out there. And to be honest there is very little support from the WMA community.

    Instead of keeping to ourselves and fearing and hoping, eveyone needs to get off their butt and actually do something about making WMA more mainstream.
    Get behind those of us who are trying and roll up your sleeves and pitch in!

    The more people that are educated about REAL WMA, the more people will support it and embrace it. We can get it to a point where the education alone will have the phoney guys scrambling to stay afloat and secure more public respect and support for what we do.

    WMA is not going to grow unless we make it happen. I know we can do it but we have to do it as a group.
    >
    Hi Dave,
    >
    As the old saying goes, 'there's more than one way of skinning a cat'. I say this in response to the various comments you have made whilst, at the same time acknowledging your undoubted passion and determination.
    >
    In the business world many companies have crashed because they outgrew their infrastructure, the mechanisms that support growth weren't in place; I see a certain similarity with the WMA 'business' now, in that there are not sufficient numbers of teachers out there to support rapid growth. David asks 'where are the teachers' and that is the nub of it; The teachers can only be produced over a period of time so any thought of expanding rapidly must be matched to the rate at which teachers are 'produced'.
    >
    I think it is great that you have set up a magazine and more power to your elbow but I think it a little unfair for you to use terms like, 'eveyone needs to get off their butt and actually do something about making WMA more mainstream', Or, 'Get behind those of us who are trying and roll up your sleeves and pitch in!' I do understand that these remarks are intended to be stimulatory rather than inflammatory but there are many of us who, in our own quiet way, got off our butts and rolled up our sleeves a long, long time ago.
    >
    My view, quite simply, is that 'forced' growth will encourage the likes of Jamie Acutt at the expense of the many selfless and dedicated teachers out there.
    You say 'instead of keeping to ourselves' whereas I believe this in fact represents the first stage of growth in that it equates to the known teachers and students getting together and 'improving the product'. Eventually there will be sufficient teachers to teach this 'improved product' at a sustainable rate. Growth cannot, nor should not, be enforced.
    >
    Best wishes,
    Terry

  24. Terry-

    An excellent description of the current state of affairs, and the dangers of pushing growth too fast. Thanks for making those points.

    Sean
    Sean Hayes, Maestro d'armi
    Northwest Fencing Academy

    Chivalric Fighting Arts Association
    San Jose Fencing Masters Program Examination Board

    One should never confuse the rules of a competition with the rules of an art.

    People talk a lot about speed, but not very much about control, safety, tactics, and trying to get close to the reality of sharps. When simulating sharp fights, how fast one charges in depends on how quickly one would like to die.


  25. #25
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    You are right Terry, my words were not meant to be inflamatory.
    I never advocated pushing or forcing any actions involved in this process, I am not sure why you thought that. I do realize that many people are now and have been out there working on this, hence my comments about helping.

    My words are aimed mainly at those who would merely sit by comtemplating the future of WMA instead of directing it. I feel that it is the responsibility of each of us involved in REAL WMA to do what they can to help promote and educate. I do not support reckless abandon in this endeavor, however, I do feel that there has not been enough done to date to ensure stability in aligning WMA with mainstream thinking. Here in the America especially it is much more difficult for "our" Joe Average to appreciate WMA and its historical roots since we are such a diverse set of cultures.

    I do understand what you are saying. As a business owner I know the pitfalls of expanding too quickly. But I am also bothered by the amount of lip service given to the concerns and worries about "mainstreaming" WMA when very little any coversation takes place about how to do it successfully.

    Look at how many views this topic has had and how many actual posts there are.....this is the type of apathy that allows the Jamie Acutts to exist.

    We can all talk about how bad it "could" be. Lets start talking about how we can pull together, gather our resources and make this happen the right way.
    Sure, it will take time but if we start now getting the public educated and involved we have the potential for success in not only policing the "strip mall dojo" but also avoiding legal issues down the road.

    Many good things can come from us working as a collective. These talks are one of them. Let's keep talking!
    Dave Dickey
    Founder
    Live Steel Fight Academy
    Southbay Swordfighters

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