Saturday, 13 April 2013

DDS at Conpulsion

We try to do Conpulsion, Edinburgh's mega gaming convention, every year. It has an amazing atmosphere, like the Auld Hoose but with the lights up and polyhedral dice rather than beer.

So every year, we haul our swords and kit down into the depths of the Teviot Student Union, battling - in my case at least - through the phantoms of that blurry portion of our youth spent in the same place.

We fight, we demonstrate, we try to show the why and the shape of fights: if you are a gamer, you are probably more interested in why the rapier supersedes the longsword (clue: "Ouch you just stabbed my hand"!) and the kind of lethal conversation that arises when the steel sings in the dark alleys of Lankhmar than in the mesmerizing minutiae of historical fencing manuals and traditions.

Of course, it's a recruiting exercise, though not how you'd think. True, some years we pick up new members who not only stick, they also contribute to the Art and the Society. However, Historical Fencing is... mentally and physically demanding. You have to want to do it. Most of our stalwarts come and find us, rather than the other way around.  So, popping up at a gaming convention is more about reminding the world that we exist, than about grabbing new people.

However, in truth, I find the main satisfaction is in being there there, being part of that magical community of People Who Do Something Cool.

Once you finish education and get a job - or devote yourself to finding one - once your leisure time is distinct from your work time and suddenly precious, you have a choice: are you going to fritter it all away on screen time, or are you going to Do Something Cool with those few spare hours;  knit, game, craft, campaign, volunteer... fight with swords?

Mostly, we keep to our church-hall "salle", training, fighting, studying. That's fine; for use, swords are about swords, not showing off or performing. However, it's good to take our place amongst fellow travelers.

We'll be back at Conpulsion next year, but you don't have to wait until then to pick up a sword. If you live near or in Edinburgh and are curious about Historical European Martial Arts, then be one of those people who comes and finds us.

We do smite, but we don't bite.


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