I've been to a couple different Western Martial Arts conferences, and so far, VISS takes the cake. It's well planned and organized, located conveniently (once you get to Vancouver, anyway!), welcoming and inclusive, and packed ridiculously full of teachers and students and knowledge that's just waiting right there for you to engage with it.
It's remarkable, and I love it. I can sum up my excitement about VISS by comparing it to this corgi:
Classes I took included two intensive tracks:
- The Italian Rapier intensive with David and Dori Coblentz from the Decatur School of Arms in Georgia
- The Thibault's Rapier intensive with Matthew Howden from the Academia Duellatoria in Oregon
- From Salle to Street, Grappling and From Salle to Street, Rapier with David R. Packer and Kaja Sadowski from the Valkyrie Western Martial Arts Assembly in Vancouver
- Dealing with Physical Asymmetries with David Coblentz and assisted by Devon Boorman from Acadamie Duello
- Tactical Asymmetries with Devon Boorman and David Coblentz
(As a quick side note for the SCA people here, David Coblentz is David Twynham OD from Meridies, Matthew Howden is Gregorio Cristovalez de la Vega OL OWS from An Tir, and Devon Boorman is Prospere de Montsegur OWS from An Tir. There were also a few other SCA folks attending as students, which was great to see both from a cross-pollination stance as well as just making it easier to open conversations.)
Every single class that I attended had me taking copious notes, and picking up all sorts of ideas to bring home. Even in the cases where there weren't Grand Revelations, simply the way the material was structured and presented helped me make connections that I didn't have before and gave me ideas to chew on. More often than not though, there was a pile of brand new material to figure out, drill, and explore in one of the most collaborative working environments that I've been in.
While every single rapier class I took was excellent, the standout classes were the From Salle to Street workshops. (Or as I'm calling them in my wise-ass way, Adrenaline 101 and Adrenaline 102.) They left me with a lot of things that I learned about myself, a lot of areas to explore, and the tools with which to do that exploration. I'm very happy to talk about my experiences in those classes with folks, and discuss how I think they're very applicable to what we do in the SCA, both for tournament performance as well as general sound martial practice.
Shockingly, my time out there also gave me ideas for some other classes to put together. Among other things, I'm thinking that an overview of Disarms With Rapier could be fun as hell. (Spoiler: all the disarms that came up were great on any number of levels.)
I was ridiculously sad to have to leave this environment and fall back into real life, but I'm already looking forward to VISS 2019.