Episode 11

Setting Fire to Nunneries, Fiore’s Wrestling, and more. With Kimberleigh Roseblade

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Kimberleigh Roseblade photograph ©Kristin Reimer/Photomuse

Kimberleigh Roseblade is a historical martial arts instructor, specialising in Fiore’s Art of Arms. She teaches at AEMMA in Toronto, and has taught at many international level events including Swordsquatch, VISS, and Longpoint. In this conversation we discuss many things, including setting fire to nunneries, Fiore’s wrestling plays, and even head protection for fencing.

 

GW: Hello, everyone. This is Guy Windsor, also known as The Sword Guy, and I’m here today with Kimberleigh Roseblade, an instructor at the Academy of European Mediaeval Martial Arts in Toronto, familiarly known as AEMMA. She has been seen at event teaching at events like Swordsquatch, Longpoint and VISS. So without further ado, Kimmie, welcome to the show.

KR: Hi, thanks for having me.

GW: It’s nice to see you. So just to get us oriented, whereabouts are you at the moment?

KR: I am in Toronto, Ontario, in Canada, sitting in my lovely garage that was converted into a laneway house where I’m very lucky to live.

GW: I imagine you’re locked down like everybody else.

KR: You’d better believe it.

GW: So what made you want to start historical martial arts and how did that happen?

KR: So when I was a teenager, I started training with a different martial arts system. And at first, our particular club bounced from location to location, which is not uncommon for any budding martial arts school. Eventually, our club joined forces with a bunch of other clubs in Toronto in order to share rental space. And one of the clubs was a historical fencing club, actually, AEMMA. I was pleasantly distracted by them during my other martial arts classes over and over again, and always had the idea that, you know what, especially since we’re sharing the space, I should eventually join up with these folks because that looks really interesting. Unfortunately, though, that never happened because I left martial arts for pretty much a solid eight or nine years after one of the instructors at my very first martial arts school sexually assaulted me. I was one of many women that he targeted. He was an adult and he primarily targeted people like me, who were young teenage girls. Unfortunately for young femme-presenting women who get involved in martial arts, this is not an uncommon story. So for years, I completely avoided anything involving that until I, you know, fast forward many years later, move across the country, I’m living in beautiful Vancouver, British Columbia, and I’m walking downtown and I pass by these beautiful huge windows. And I see a bunch of people fencing in there and what looks to be a falcon on a perch. Well, you know, all of a sudden I’m like, well, I need to go in here. And that’s when I discovered Academie Duello. And it just felt like the right time, the right environment. Completely new city too. I’d really missed studying martial arts. And I was like, you know what? Now’s the time to begin again. And that was in 2010. And this being 2020 would be my one decade HEMAversary. I’m really glad I came back.

GW: OK, so what were you training there?

KR: At AEMMA or at Academie Duello?

GW: At Academie Duello.

KR: At Academie Duello, my big secret is I actually started with Rapier.

GW: That’s a good place to start.

KR: Actually I really, really enjoyed it. But I also wanted to learn the longsword. I really liked the dynamics of some of the other programmes that began combining things like wrestling and dagger as well. Also, after I became sick with lupus, one of the things I began noticing very quickly was a lot of the more one handed and single-handed sword arts were becoming a lot more difficult and harder on my joints.

GW: They are. A one and a half kilo long sword in two hands, versus a one kilo rapier in one hand.

KR: Yeah, exactly. So I began shifting my focus away from the Rapier and into primarily Fiore. And I found a lot of happiness there. What I learnt with the Rapier definitely helped me with a lot of the principles that are going to come into any sort of martial art.

GW: I wish I could get more longsword people to do rapier!

KR: Just even once! Do one class and you never have to touch it again.

GW: But you learn so much about blade relationship.

KR: And absolutely, that’s how I started, actually. But I’m also really happy with where my path is now and finding a lot of satisfaction.

GW: OK. So you segue way more towards the Fiore side of things. Tell us a bit about that.

KR: So around the time when I began really focussing specifically on Fiore and Academie Duello’s what they call their longsword track. It’s a little bit different than how other historical martial arts fencing salles will sometimes develop their curriculum, though it’s quite good. I was also starting to transition into a new life or an old life back in Ontario when I decided I was going to be moving back. Long story short, the province of Ontario has much better free or socially subsidised health care for someone like me with autoimmune diseases than British Columbia did at the time. So it was just a smart thing to go back. But I had been developing a relationship with the folks at the Academy of European Mediaeval Martial Arts after they had moved locations to a new place. And I was like, you know what? They were not the problem. When I left martial arts and I knew that I wanted to keep studying when I made the move. And I really liked how their programme and curriculum really incorporated early on in their students the wrestling and the dagger aspects of Fiore, which was exactly where I was feeling I really needed to start rounding out my knowledge of his system. So it was it was extraordinarily bittersweet leaving Vancouver. But to come into a space here in Ontario where I had other folks to learn with, especially where I felt I was lacking, was invaluable.

GW: And so what are your main research interests and historical inspiration periods?

KR: So in regards to the swordplay that we do, my main interest is Fiore, plain and simple. Out of the different books and manuscripts that we have on AEMMA primarily uses as our main resource the Getty manuscript. But we absolutely compare stuff with some of the other manuscripts as well. The Pisani Dossi is probably the one we’ll compare with the most, but sometimes the Florius. It’s just sometimes very interesting when you’ll see the illustrations differ from maybe what the text says, but you see it one way or the next, or as martial artists that are recreating something that has a lineage that was broken. So a lot of the time, what we have to do, I got to do a little wrestling nerdy talk with you, my friend.

GW: You go as nerdy as you like.

KR: Oh, good. So I believe it is the counter to the 11th play of abrazare where you see the elbow push. In the Getty manuscript, he even says something like, you put your right hand under their left elbow. But the illustration clearly shows the opposite. So, you know, we had to sit there and break it down and also look at the Florius and look at the PD, where the illustration mirrors what the text does. So we tried out both.

GW: I think you’re referring to the sixth play where there’s a push coming into the face.

KR: No, no, no, I know what you’re thinking.

GW: So it’s not that one?

KR: It is… This one here.

GW: Yes. OK. So the leg lift.

KR: Yes. So, yeah, it’s got the elbow push as well. And it’s the counter to the eleventh. Although I know that in some transactions they say it’s the counter to the 13th. But anyway, we sat there breaking it down, looking at, OK, well let’s the text says this, these illustrations show this, but in the Getty illustration, it shows the opposite. Let’s try both. When we tried both, they do both work. But when you actually go to the left elbow of your opponent, what you’re allowed to do in that position is, the way in which you are stopping the left elbow is also simultaneously stopping the opponent’s right hand because you’re pushing it back into them. Whereas, if you only go for where the illustration shows with the right, you are still able to push but they have their left hand available out to grab you or potentially do a counter. So what we were able to do in my opinion, I was able to do is say, OK, this is one of the examples where we’re going to venture kind of away from the Getty and as martial artists when we tried out both, both work. But one is better. Let’s go with that. Sorry for going about a little nerdy.

GW: You know, you are amongst friends. Anyone listening, I would imagine, is a sword person and if they’re not interested in Fiore wrestling they damn well ought to be.

KR: I love it. It’s one of the things I definitely miss the most. But the Getty is our primary source, and it’s where I’m usually getting a lot of my stuff from. But again, especially when in the wrestling section and later on in the spear and poleaxe, I’m really referencing some of the other stuff as well, or at least I have found I need to round out my own knowledge. But as for like other historical figures, as you know, it’s June and it’s Pride Month. As you also know, I used to be a professional singer who toured around before discovering this lovely thing called HEMA. And there is an amazing woman known as Julie D’Aubigny, who was a bisexual, red haired, opera singing, fencer. And the moment that I discovered that this woman existed, it was like fireworks went off. I was like, oh, my goodness.

GW: Are you actually a reincarnation then?

KR: I would like to think so. And if anyone is listening and has any inkling of a hope to maybe create a movie or an autobiography or something of her life, I volunteer as tribute.

GW: Tell us something about her.

KR: She was the only child of one of Louis XIV secretaries at the time, and her father was also known as a very, very good fencer. And with Julie being his only child, he actually allowed her to take up fencing with the boys and whatnot at court, which at the time as well was very unusual. So I guess her first sort of like, sordid love affair was actually with one of her fencing instructors in which she took off with him when she was a teenager. And her life from there, like just seems like such an incredible, bardic tale of this woman that goes from town to town, taking on many lovers, men and women. At one point she even seduces a young woman whose father says, you know what, this is wrong. And as was done at the time, sends his daughter off to a convent. We’re just going to numb this out of you and take away the embarrassment from our family. And she Julie d’Aubigny, who is also known as La Maupin, breaks into this convent. And this story gets like super crazy from here. Apparently, one of the elder nuns had recently passed away. So in true cartoon storytelling here, they grab the body of the dead nun and put it in her lover’s bedchambers, you know, pull the blanket on top. And now what they have to do, though, is sneak out. So they start a small fire in the convent to, like, distract people as she whisks her lesbian lover away into the night. So, of course, she gets into trouble for things like, you know, arson.

GW: Not necessarily a role model!

KR: You know, stealing a dead body. Like all these wonderful things. So she’s supposed to show up for court. But what ends up happening is the talent of her singing voice. She has become well-known within the Paris Opera Company as a phenomenal singer. And she gets the Paris Opera Company to petition the king to pardon her from these charges so that she can continue to sing in that particular season that they were doing. It’s just so full blown and wonderful.

GW: Was she successful?

KR: Yes.

GW: The French do love their opera.

KR: They do!

GW: Fabulous. That is definitely a movie in the making.

KR: Oh, it needs to be. It absolutely has to be. We need more bisexual representation.

GW: True that. So if there are any other historical inspirations like that, you’d like to tell us about, please do.

KR: How do you top Julie d’Aubigny? Between Fiore and Julie, I’m good. My main man and my main lady.

GW: So one question I’ve asked pretty much all the guests on this podcast so far. They all tend to have some pretty strong opinions. What are your thoughts on protective equipment, training tournaments and events, that sort of thing?

KR: All right. I’m taking a sip before I get into this.

GW: No, we’re happy to wait, building the tension. We’re now expecting something of an explosion.

KR: I think one of the first things I have to say is that we should not be relying on equipment alone to do the job of protecting ourselves and protecting our partners and our opponents. One of the things that I try to drive in to my students’ heads is that we are the stewards of our training partner’s safety, as well as we are the stewards of our opponent’s safety when we are engaging in sparring. I feel in general that this attitude is often completely dismissed from a lot of competitive HEMA circles. And on top of that we have people who seem to equate power with better technique. We also seem to have a culture that has developed in the larger, we’ll say, HEMA sphere, that I believe is very toxic around “Well, don’t get in the ring if you’re not willing to get hit by a sword.”

GW: Do you know what that is? That’s just neanderthal stupidity.

KR: And you know what we’re getting from it? Neanderthal-style concussions. On top of that, the equipment we’re using now… I do use sport fencing masks, absolutely, because guess what? It’s what we have and it’s better than nothing. Those are not designed to take the sort of blows that we use as Fiorists or as people studying KDF using weapons like a longsword or God forbid, a poleaxe. Yeah, these are meant for thrusts with a one-handed weapon.

GW: An eight hundred gram very flexible one-handed weapon.

KR: Yes. And again, I’d rather be using that than not using anything at all. But considering the attitudes that I’ve seen, the equipment that we don’t have readily available, unless you’re doing harnischfechten specifically, we need to have a complete and utter culture change around how we are, as to what we are allowing and not allowing at events in regards to heavy blows, protective equipment and really not being afraid to call people early on aggressive, overpowering hits and to make actual penalties associated with that. I’ve started to see more of it. And when I do, I’ll also say that I’ve also seen some of the better, more cleaner fencing bouts at events that I’ve gone to.

GW: You can fence safely with longswords and fencing masks if you understand it’s a fencing mask your opponent is wearing, not a helmet.

KR: I can do, with certain people that I really trust and at a speed that I know, I can very easy do the equivalent of blossfechten with certain friends of mine, because, one, we know each other; two, we’re not going to – while doing these sorts of things – go for crazy things like style. When you’ve sparred with certain people who are trained with certain people for a while, you’ve had lots of very good conversations, hopefully about consent when it comes to what you’re willing to do, like, hey, let’s fight. You know what? My back’s bothering me, so no take downs to the ground today or whatever. And then there’s some people that after you’ve worked with them for so long, you can dance with them. And there’s a language of consent and asking and telling that doesn’t necessarily have to be verbal. But that comes after a long, long, long, long time of building those relationships. But again, I’ve been able to do this with certain people who’ve taken on a much healthier attitude about what we’re doing, what we’re trying to prove and why we’re doing it.

GW: Yeah. So you would be pleased to see an improvement in the fencing helmets available?

KR: Absolutely. That’s the other thing. We mentioned that we don’t have this equipment available yet. Let’s change that.

GW: Well, we do have some I mean, like the Terry Tindall fencing mask is the only thing I ever use for longsword because it has a suspension system. You know, thanks to miscommunication with a student once, I did stand there completely still and got hit in the head as hard as he possibly could. Whilst demonstrating. It was just a miscommunication. I was demonstrating in front of a class and what I meant was, you know, throw a fast blow and stop it. And what I actually told him to do was just hit me in the head as hard as he could. And he thought I was going to do something about it, but I didn’t. And I was wearing my Terry Tindall fencing mask and I felt my neck compress slightly from the force of the blow, just slightly. And that was it. There was a sense of pressure on my head. And of course, the mask rang like a bell. But I’m not suggesting anybody tries this at home. I’ve literally had the back of a fencing mask caved in and my skull split by a blow that wasn’t nearly as hard.

KR: I have a fencing mask with a dent in it from just that as well.

GW: I’ve got this scar here. Many years ago when I was young and stupid. So I think that the technical problem of getting decent head protection is possible. But as soon as you protect against that sort of impact you’re not necessarily protecting yourself so well against thrusts to the face. So with rapier I wouldn’t use my Terry Tindall mask because it acts as a lever. So I mean, there is no perfect system, but I think we can do a lot better things technologically.

KR: Especially if we take this from two different directions, which I really believe is the problem. We have a cultural problem around how we deal with heavy hitters and lack of control vs. the problems that we have with the sort of equipment that is not only readily available, but that is being commonly used in fencing like, you know, fencing salles that aren’t sport fencing salles.

GW: How do you feel about the hand protection that’s available? That’s the other thing that people tend to talk about a lot.

KR: I think we’re seeing a lot more stuff being developed now. As someone that doesn’t do a lot of competitive tournaments and stuff like that I don’t necessarily have the same sort of opinions as other folks on a lot of the stuff coming out for like the, you know, the pro gauntlet, even though I’ve tried it on and it’s very lovely. I was using a pair of Darkwood Armoury metal gauntlets, slightly articulated as well as a bit of a clamshell. But a lot of tournaments won’t even allow…

GW: That’s the crazy thing, they won’t allow steel gauntlets, but they allow concussive head blows.

KR: So if you’re going to close in on me, into gioco stretto and I’m a five and a half foot tall fencer and you’re a six and a half foot tall fencer, I am going to use my other weapons against you. I find it ridiculous that we will let each other swing three and a half foot metal rods at each other’s heads, but I can’t even do an open palmed hit straight to the head or to your body?

GW: That’s nuts, isn’t it? But I really feel for the people organising the tournaments though, because they they have an impossible job of balancing, you know, restricting things that they think people aren’t trained to do safely. Like, for example, falling. And sometimes when we do have a tournament where it is explicitly stated in the publicity for the tournament, this is to encourage wrestling at the sword. And somebody executed an absolutely beautiful takedown and gets lambasted across the Internet for dangerous fencing, when in fact, he was doing exactly what the organisers of the tournament and every competitor knew was kind of the point of the whole thing.

KR: And again, I mentioned about consent earlier. Anyone going into that tournament when in going, hey, the point of this is to do wrestling at the sword. Therefore, I am consenting to maybe have that done to my body.

GW: With my spine, there’s no way I can do wrestling at that sort of level because the chance of an injury is practically certain. So I wouldn’t even enter that tournament because I’m trained to fall and what have you, but I wouldn’t enter that tournament because I am you know, I’m not a good enough wrestler that I can be certain not to be thrown and I’m pretty certain that a throw is likely to do damage. So, yeah, I think we could do a lot better with, with tournament rules for sure. But this is one reason why I’ve never run an open tournament.

KR: As someone whose primary study is Fiore, the few tournaments I’ve done, I’m seeing more of it now, but many of my first tournaments, I would be the only Fiorist in the longsword tournament. I’ve still managed to medal without being able to do things like pommel strikes or wrestling or grappling. But a large portion of the competitive HEMA scene was founded and run by primarily KDF folks. I like to see more variety for us Fiorists. Let us do the things we’ve been training to do.

GW: Speaking of variety, a lovely tournament format that we’ve done in my salle many times is the basically everyone fences everyone and the competitors can choose their weapons. So you can have spear, poleaxe, longsword, or wrestling. The honour is gained by taking a harder fight. So for example, if an experienced student takes a spear against a beginner with a dagger, the beginner is getting lots of credit and the experienced student is getting none. I actually saw a relative beginner, their opponent had a poleaxe, they had a dagger and they won.

KR: It can be done.

GW: We had two prizes. There was a prize for the person who won the most bouts and a prize that was done by secret ballot of everybody present, including the spectators, for us to choose the person who best expressed the spirit of the art. The bigger prize went to the one who won the vote because, yes, it’s important to win fights, but it’s for the tournament as a training perspective it’s even more important, to, you know, take the risks. And do you do the interesting things you’re going to learn from rather than the take the short wins.

KR: Yeah, I’m with you there.

GW: So what has been your proudest moment in historical martial arts?

KR: There’s a few. As an instructor, one of the biggest, proudest moments was being able to teach at Longpoint. That was that was amazing.

GW: You’ve got one over on me, Kimmie, I’ve never taught at Longpoint.

KR: Longpoint is dead, long live Longpoint! But another really big one was, as we mentioned earlier, that I just celebrated my 10 year HEMA-versary. And where I got started was in Vancouver at Academie Duello, and about every two years, although this year they actually did it a year in a row, Vancouver hosts the Vancouver International Swordplay Symposium and I got to go and teach this year. In fact, it was the first and only event I’d taught at in 2020 before the world shut down. And it was on the eve of my tenure anniversary and it really felt like coming home. To come back to where I first started and then to come back to be able to teach and share and collaborate with others that felt really phenomenal.

GW: Excellent. So you mentioned the shutdown and the corona madness. So what effect has that had on your training and where do you see things going in a year or so?

KR: Even before the shutdown, AEMMA was putting a lot of precautions in place. So usually our curriculum rotated between in the week we do dagger, longsword, wrestling, longsword, dagger, longsword, wrestling, longsword. All dagger and wrestling classes were cut. Then in all of our longsword classes, any partner drills were only with gioco largo. We wouldn’t even go into stretto plays. And after that we did have to close down officially. I think when we first start opening up, that might be exactly how we start things off again.

GW: My school in Helsinki is doing that.

KR: We aren’t even looking at potentially opening up until September. And that’s looking like we might even push that even further based on how the second wave and stuff hits. The other thing is, is we need to be careful. Someone like me is immunocompromised. A lot of our instructors are in their 50s as well. We have a lot of high risk members at our group. Not only that, even if we didn’t, the responsible thing to do as someone teaching martial arts and talks about being the stewards your partner’s safety.

GW: Yes, that includes not infecting them with viruses.

KR: Absolutely. Exactly. I don’t know why, but I’m thinking of that one sneaky poleaxe play where the poleaxe explodes. Even when respecting social distance, you can still get it. I laugh because it’s very interesting to think of, because I think until we get some sort of vaccine, it’s really going to change how all martial arts are done for a while. The knowledge that we’re getting about the coronavirus is changing day by day, week by week. I think as we learn more about it as well, we’ll be able to make more solid plans as to what our training or whatnot will look like. Currently, I’m teaching classes over Zoom. I know some folks of mine who also teach martial arts classes. A friend of mine who primarily does like Wing Chun. He started opening up spear classes in the park because it’s outdoors and they can work on things from a distance. People are trying to be as adaptive as possible, but we have limitations. It’s hard. It’s something I’m unfortunately used to as someone with an autoimmune disease when it comes to limitations that greatly affect my training. You know, there are times when I do weightlifting, I do swimming, I do cycling, I’m an historical fencing instructor. But I also have Lupus, which is an autoimmune disease, which means my immune system can’t recognise healthy cells and organisms from foreign ones or problematic ones. So my body will attack itself. This can come very typically in lots of inflammation, joint, muscle pain. But this can also affect any organ or system in my body from my central nervous system to my heart, to my lungs, which also makes me extraordinarily prone to coronavirus. One of the things that we’ve seen with coronavirus is those that even survived the initial aspects of it, which are the respiratory infections, we’ve seen a lot of cases where if a person’s immune system takes a hyperactive response to it that’s where we see a lot of the long term organ damage and other stuff coming. Someone like me, we already know that my immune system’s initial response is to go, “Oh, no, there’s a problem. Well, we better strap on the flamethrowers and kill it with fire!”

GW: That’s probably the best description of Lupus I have ever heard.

KR: It’s like I only needed that small, like, mosquito, you know, taking care of my immune system. Like “Look at the good job I did buddy.” Now my house is on fire. But thanks. So it’s something I have to very personally be very worried about the long term effects of. I’m used to having to change my training around whatever dice roll I managed to get that day and what my body is capable of. And it’s difficult, especially on some days where it’s hard to believe sometimes that I’m the same person who one day was like I squatted my own bodyweight and then I taught a fitness class and then I sparred with my friends. And then the next week, brushing my hair feels too painful because the joint inflammation is so intense. So a lot of my career as a martial artist, because I got diagnosed within the first four years of me picking up historical martial arts, has been learning how to adapt around very unpredictable restrictions.

GW: Do you have any advice on that, for people might be listening, who may have similar things?

KR: First bit of advice is talk to your own ego and let yourself know that you cannot be the sort of martial artist other people can. It doesn’t mean you cannot do this. It does not mean you cannot succeed and do very well, but you cannot train the same way other people can. And that’s OK. Listen, learn how to listen to your body. It doesn’t have to be all or nothing. There are days where I can teach a class, but I know that just afterwards, sparring is not on the table. I can teach what I know, but I’m already noticing a reaction with my body, my emotions aren’t responding as fast as I would like when I think. So that’s OK. It doesn’t mean that I don’t have to not do anything. It’s learning to understand that, and this is hard for all of us to learn how to say no, especially to ourselves when we want to do something. Figure out what training looks like for you on a bad day. What do your individual limitations look like? Because everyone’s got different things. Do you have arthritis? Do you have Lupus? Do you have a cognitive disability that can affect motor control? Figure out how you respond to things and what potentially changing the focus of your training might look like. If you’re fortunate enough, find an instructor or coach at your club that’s willing to work with you to figure these things out.

GW: I would hope that every coach or instructor would be willing to.

KR: Yeah, you’d like to think. You’d like to think.

GW: Is that’s not the case?

KR: I think that in martial arts and historically, European martial arts and fencing is not necessarily exempt from this. There is this idea of only the baddest asses. I don’t want you as a student if I can’t eventually have you winning gold medals.

GW: The trophy hunter coaches.

KR: Not just the trophy hunter coaches, a lot of coaches and teachers end up in that role by accident. It doesn’t mean they’re not talented fencers. You can be very good at a thing and be horrendous at explaining and teaching it. So now take someone who has an issue, maybe arthritis. So they’re having trouble with how to grip their sword or they’re having issues with certain ways they have to move their body or dealing with very heavy percussive blows and how that feels on their joints on top of maybe being a beginner. A lot of coaches will just get frustrated. Not because they hate the student, but because they this is not an easy answer. They can’t say, well, just do this or that’s the way it is. And so because of that, a lot of the time students with disabilities either drop out or kind of get pushed to the sideline. It’s also the coach’s understanding that, you know what, that might not be your gold medal student, but you can still, over time, progress them through not only different ranks in your school, but ask them, why are you doing this? Do you want to be a gold medal student or did you just decide that you would like to do something physical in your life now that you’ve turned 40. You’ve played Dungeons and Dragons since you were a teenager and the idea of twice a week showing up to swing a sword around feels like a great way to do this. You have just as much value to me. And that pursuit is just as noble as wanting to eventually open your own school or winning medals or what have you. At least I think so.

GW: I agree.

KR: I have opinions, Guy.

GW: Yes. And I’m very glad you’re willing to share them. Not that that has ever been an issue.

KR: I know, right?

GW: Okay. All right. So there’s a question that I had to finish up with, just to see how people think. Everyone seems to have an answer for this. Somebody gives you a million pounds. Dollars. Pick some enormous sum of money to spend improving historical models worldwide. What would you do with that cash?

KR: Oh, what I would do with that cash. So the first thing I would do is I would try to buy some sort of property where there is like little cabins or whatnot so that I can start hosting HEMA retreats but also have an ongoing school there. One of the things I’d love to be able to do is to bring in instructors for up to maybe a month at a time. Give them room and board. Sort of like a retreat centre and constantly have people able to show up to whether they’re travelling, and again, they can rent these little kind of like bunks and cabins and constantly be able to have the money and the ability to bring in instructors of different historical martial arts to teach, have ongoing classes, regular students who might be local, but also the ability to bring in different students from different places from around the world. To me, the best thing that we can do as martial artists is collaborate and learn from as many others as possible. I don’t want to learn in a vacuum and I don’t think it’s good to learn in a vacuum.

GW: OK, so you would create a centre somewhere in the countryside with cabins and presumably training halls, and loads of weapons.

KR: Absolutely. I’d want to have a scholarship programme to bring in lower income folks. If I also had a bunch of money, I would love to contact a bunch of my favourite schools around North America and Europe and be like, hey, guess what? I am buying you about a dozen of these sorts of masks, these sorts of swords, these sorts of this, so that you have these available for brand new students who come in and just any way to make him a more accessible excites the heck out of me.

GW: That would be money well spent. I think you might need a bit more than a million quid, though.

KR: You did say any other exorbitant amount, so I completely went off the deep end with that. Okay, give me an inch and I’ll take a mile.

GW: So you’d start with like a retreat centre for training Historical Martial Arts, which has a visiting instructor programme. So people can come and find a scholarship programme as well. There are there are places like that for other things.

KR: I know. So I know it’s possible.

GW: Even for woodworking for instance. I like the sound of that.

KR: Me too! Of course.

GW: OK. Well thank you very much for your time today, Kimmie. That was really interesting.

KR: “Interesting” – I’m glad that was the descriptor you used!

GW: It was fascinating and insightful and all sorts of other things as well. You know, setting fire to convents, I mean, I know not everyone goes there. So are there any last words you’d like to send out to the listeners?

KR: Yeah, I’m going to use this moment. Happy Pride, folks. Black Lives Matter. And HEMA is for everyone.

GW: I agree on all three counts. Excellent. Thank you very much, Kimmie.

KR: You’re very welcome.

GW: I hope you enjoyed my conversations day with Kimberleigh. Remember to go along to www.guywindsor.net/podcast-2 for the episode show notes and for your free copy of Sword Fighting for Writers, Game Designers and Martial Artists. And tune in next week when I’ll be talking to Rigel Ng. Who is the president of the Pan Historical Martial Arts Society of Singapore. So subscribe to this forecast wherever you get your podcasts from. And if you’d like to do us a favour, please review and rate the podcast so that other people are more likely to find it. I will see you next week.