by Meg Floyd
Jake Norwood posted an article earlier today that was originally a response in a longer Facebook discussion, but was since altered a bit to stand on its own. He said:
The Europeans have been saying we’re a few years behind for a while. That’s to be expected, our clubs are younger, or competitive scene is younger, and we’re much more fractured than they are as a community.
I also know that the Europeans overstate their case in a lot of ways. I’ve fenced in and/or judged many events in Europe, and they have beginner fencers who suck over there, too. Lots of them. And they have know it alls who can’t fence and casual fencers just like we do, too. It’s just that no one pays for those guys to come to the US, so few of us ever get to see them. But they’re out there.
What they have that the US doesn’t, though, is a culture of coaching. They don’t coddle shitty ideas the way that we do over here. They’re in better physical shape when they start HEMA, generally (because ‘murica). They train more than we do. A lot more than we do. The guys who swept PHO this weekend probably train 3-5 times a week, or at least run through parts of the year when the do. They train in large, supportive environments that aren’t angsting over whether competition is bad or not. They are surrounded by other committed fighters who give them no-nonsense feedback about whether what they’re doing is working or not.
I’m going to start off by saying that I agree fully with Jake, and that indeed, these things have been on my mind a great deal lately, especially in the process of becoming an instructor the last couple of years, and trying to build my club with my fellow instructors, both back in Florida and at our new club here in Colorado. Second, I’m going to suggest rather than being insulted by Jake’s apt words, we should instead regard his article as a challenge to rise to excellence. Jake called for responses to his article, so here’s a list of things I think we can do to improve our club culture here in the U.S.