Last-last weekend I made the snap decision to go to Cascadia North Accolade Tournament. I’ve been learning to swordfight and this annual event is a swordplay retreat organized by a group of volunteers from the Western Martial Arts school I attend. I am so glad I managed to attend; it was fun, educational and just a really good atmosphere.

On the ferry leaving Deep Cove

On the ferry leaving Deep Cove

On Friday afternoon, we arrived at Camp Jubilee on Indian Arm by ferry from Deep Cove in West Vancouver. Devon Boorman and Randy Packer started the retreat in 2007 with 40-odd attendees. It has since grown to an event with 80+ attendees and an organizing committee of 8-10 people.

Friendly sparring, violent duelling and general practising happened all weekend long

Friendly sparring, violent duelling and general practising happened all weekend long

Saturday was full of workshops in the morning and afternoon. I attended History & Intro to Archery with Patricia Gonsalez, the archery instructor at Academie Duello. It was really nice to learn the actual stance and order for shooting as well as a lot of the history.

THE RANGE IS OPEN with archery instructor Patricia Gonsalves

THE RANGE IS OPEN with archery instructor Patricia Gonsalves

In the afternoon I attended the Solo Rapier Drills workshop taught by Roland Cooper. I’m a green cord which is the first level of study after the intro course and we mostly focus on medieval rapier (think Three Muskateers). So when I can’t attend class or don’t have someone to spar with, it’s great to have some solo exercises to do.

Start 'em young!

Start 'em young!

Don’t worry! Cascadia’s organizers had strict rules regarding protection during sparring of any kind. Since heavy fighters wield two-handed longswords, they had to have full body armour. None of the swords are sharpened, and all the rapiers and daggers have blunt rubber tips attached.

Enjoying a beautiful afternoon in the Pacific Ocean

Enjoying a beautiful afternoon in the Pacific Ocean

Saturday evening consisted of three tourneys: Archery, Beginner Rapier and Heavy. At the last minute—as seems to be my style as of late—I decided to participate in the Beginner Rapier tournament. In hindsight I’m glad I did and actually shocked that I ended up in a 3-way tie for third place. I didn’t place, but that’s not the point really. We also go to watch the Heavy tourney and the Archers. It was really awesome to see the longsword fighters suit up to duel.

Duelling in the Beginner's Tourney (I'm on the right, lunging)

Duelling in the Beginner's Tourney (I'm on the right, lunging)

Fighting with longswords in the Heavy Tournament

Fighting with longswords in the Heavy Tournament

Saturday night I attended a workshop with Adam Lein on navigating the stars, intended to teach celestial navigation for sailors. After spending over an hour on the dock in the dark, I headed to the Hall for some much needed warmth. People were hanging out, chatting, jamming on guitars and singing. It was a very fun evening but the next morning definitely required coffee!

Exploring Camp Jubilee on Indian Arm

Exploring Camp Jubilee on Indian Arm

Sunday morning was the final workshop before we departed Camp Jubilee in the early evening. I chose to attend Devon’s Dirty Sparring Tricks for Rapier. While not all of the things Devon taught were exactly dirty, he did warn us that if he ever saw us using these tricks at the Academie, there’d be hell to pay.

A workshop with Luis Preto - Jogo do Pau Instructor

A workshop with Luis Preto - Jogo do Pau Instructor

The afternoon consisted of the Accolade portion of the weekend. Every attendee got to vote for two people they felt deserved recognition—be it for outstanding achievement, incredible growth as a student, gusto, or what-have-you. The eight participants then fought each other in one-on-one duels until a winner was declared.

Accolade duel: Yan vs. Matheus (Matheus won and he has only been swordfighting for approximately 6 months)

Accolade duel: Yan vs. Matheus (Matheus won and he has only been swordfighting for approximately 6 months)

All the workshops I attended were really great and the instructors were awesome. It was really great to be able to chat with them throughout the weekend and not feel intimidated because everyone was there for the same reason — to learn and have fun.