Autumn Exchange 2016 took place over the weekend of 19th-20th November, and was hosted by Wolfshead School of Western Martial Arts in Lincoln.
Originally there had been two other plans to host the event elsewhere, both of which fell through despite the best efforts of those concerned. Wolfshead stepped in at a late date and rescued the event, for which the BFHS extends its thanks.
The event was held in Wolfshead’s training venue, Strike Zone in Lincoln. Strike Zone has a large downstairs training area with plenty of space for equipment and socialising. Upstairs is a similar area, though the presence of low ceiling supports added a whole new dimension to rapier fencing. With an inexpensive hotel within a few minutes’ walk one way and a friendly pub just as close (but in the other direction) the venue was as self-contained as possible.
As usual, the event included a mix of seminars and tournaments, with the technical excellence of some rapier fencers being particularly noted. Seminars ranged from the highly personal (unarmed combat and the use of the straight razor) to the battlefield-ready (backsword and targe, for example). A new addition was the addition of an open slot in which instructors were available for consultation. This slot saw a sabre vs smallsword session, backsword and longsword freeplay and an impromptu knife-fighting seminar which gradually drew in everyone on that floor of the building.
Socialising in the evening was facilitated by a barbecue and buffet at the local pub, and overall the event ran very smoothly. Despite last-minute alterations to the programme necessitated by a bout of pneumonia and other complications, the cooperative and ‘family’ atmosphere meant that there were no difficulties. Comments were overwhelmingly positive throughout the event.
Developments for the BFHS emerging at Autumn Exchange 2016 include welcoming back the Sussex Sword Academy to the BFHS. We were also pleased to have both Susan Kirk and Nigel Potts, appointed this year as Regional Assessors for the IL1 programme, teaching at the event. For my own part, this was my first event as BFHS President. I was glad to see what a good show Wolfshead put on for us, and how much the attendees enjoyed it.
We have a great deal of talent within the BFHS and events like Autumn Exchange give us the chance to showcase it. It is also a chance to do what the name suggests… to exchange information, to exchange knowledge, and to exchange blows. All in all, an excellent weekend of Western Martial arts, for which once again the BFHS thanks Wolfshead School of Western Martial Arts and the instructors who made it so.
But more than anything else, we extend our thanks to the people who made the event a great success – the attendees. I had a great time; I hope you all did too.