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Thread: Review: "Here they fight with Messer - God help them!"

  1. #1

    Review: "Here they fight with Messer - God help them!"

    I have recently returned from attending an event organised by Hotspur School of Defence in Alnwick in the UK aptly titled "Here they fight with Messer - God help them!" Set in beautiful surroundings and under the expert tutelage of guest instructor Jörg Bellinghausen and the watchful eye of host Bob Brooks a group of eager students from as far afield as the US and from all four corners of the UK were treated to a series of fantastic messer lessons over the course of the weekend.

    Jörg was a splendid instructor to work with and learn from. His instructions were concise and clear, he was very attentive and helpful with every member of the class and everyone left with an even greater respect for and understanding of the messer. We were guided through Lecküchner step by step starting with a series of basic fundamentals and advancing from there, and Jörg is wonderful at placing things into context for the benefit of the class. With four sessions over the course of two days there was a lot to work through but the pace was excellent and lessons were structured in such a way as to build on previous work, I for one (touch wood) seem to have retained the vast majority (if not all) of what I learned over the weekend.

    Outside of the actual lessons host Bob Brooks ensured that the event went swimmingly and there was always something to do or see. Alnwick and it's surroundings are stunning, and Bob had organised a sublime venue for the weekends swordplay in the shape of nearby Lemmington Hall, an 18th century mansion with a 15th century tower-house built on (if memory serves) foundations that pre-date this, so it was truly a privilege to have the run of almost the entire hall during both days. Friday night saw a spirited drinks reception with Bob, Jörg, and many of the students who had travelled to attend the event. On Saturday we took dinner in a treehouse, or should I say The Treehouse, a stunning restaurant in nearby Alnwick Gardens. It has to be seen to be believed, and whilst I could wax lyrical about the setting it was the company that made it special, and this holds true for the entire weekend.

    I was very sad to have to have to leave on the Sunday evening, but it was a pleasure and an honour to fence alongside such sterling individuals under such expert tuition. Amidst the clashing of swords and imbibing of drinks friendships were forged, hopefully this is just one of many truly international events to be hosted by the Hotspur School of Defence and I very much look forward to popping back up to Alnwick to train with them in the future.
    Last edited by Christopher Halpin; 10-23-2012 at 09:33 AM.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2002
    Northumberland, Anglo-Scots Border
    First off, I'd like to say thanks to Chris for his most favourable review. This really was a special, defining moment for the Hotspur School of Defence and one that I - and hopefully all those who attended - will not forget for a very, very long time to come.

    Everything came together seamlessly after months of planning and a few sleepless nights, from the world-class instruction given by Jörg and the sheer integrity of the students he taught, to the magnificent venue afforded to us by Aidan and Helen Ruff at Lemmington Hall. As Chris said, the workshop took place in a 15th century great hall which grew from an original structure built in 1127. I can't thank Aidan and Helen enough for allowing us to train there. It was simply magical.

    Jörg's class, split over four two-hour sessions, covered Lekuchner's messer in a profound way, which was both highly illuminating and inspiring. I came away from the weekend with a lot of new insight which I will certainly incorporate into my own sessions.

    As well as being an astonishing fencer and martial artist, Jörg is particularly fine company when socialising and we enjoyed a superb dinner at The Treehouse in Alnwick Garden. Of course, there were a great many discussions over drinks during the evenings over the course of the weekend.

    I'd close by saying that every single second of effort in pulling together this workshop was worth it. And I'd do it all again in a heartbeat.

    My sincere thanks to everyone who took the time to support our endeavour. I am in your debt.
    Bob Brooks
    Marshal of the School,
    Hotspur School of Defence

    "There are four D's which I never refuse: A Dinner, a Duel, a Drink and a fair Dame!"
    - Sir Richard Francis Burton (1821-1890)

    "I worship the Prince of Peace ... not the Prince of Pre-emptive War.
    - Former US President Jimmy Carter

    "May I ask one more question?" said one of my friends. "I have often heard it said that if you don't know much about fencing the best thing to do is, as soon as you come on guard, to make a sudden rush at the other man before he has time to collect himself."
    "Well," I replied, "if you wish to make sure of being incurably spitted, that is the most infallible way to set about it."

    - Baron Cesar de Bazancourt, Secrets of the Sword, The Tenth Evening XII.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2002
    near Bonn, Germany
    It was an honour and an absolute pleasure to train with Bob and his gang.
    A beautiful location situated in a blessed corner of this Earth, excellent students, sterling hospitality, what's not to like?
    I am glad to share the little that I know and like Bob, I'd do it again in a heartbeat.

    Member of Ochs

    "It is a bad teacher that does not allow his student to become better than himself" (Sixten Ivarsson)


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