For the past couple of months I have added another weapon to my arsenal: the Longsword.
My main martial art remains Shinkendo, but for a while I have been looking for another style to act as my "minor" art, something I could use to counterpoint and put into perspective the skills I learn in the Japanese sword style.
I tried Iaido with my son under Michael Kazmer Sensei, and he has an excellent group here in Lancaster who take their art very seriously, but there is something about kneeling on a hardwood floor for four hours on a weekend that just didn't work for me. My knees just didn't handle it all that well. My "old" is beginning to show more these days.
Quite by chance I found Shay Roberts and his German Longsword class being taught in Van Nuys. I figured that learning a western style would be a good choice, and I'm very happy with how it has gone so far.
It has been something of a culture shock for me. I have been going to Shinkendo three days a week on average (seven days a week if you count home practice), so my body has learned to swing a sword in that style. In western longsword those moves just don't work, at least not the way I'm doing them. I swing a beautiful kasumi block and find a German sword pointing at my nose.
While Shinkendo is a comprehensive sword style, it doesn't include free play sparring. German Longsword does. We have to get protective gear (similar to fencing, but heavier) and eventually will be facing an opponent in an unscripted battle. I won't likely be qualified for free play for another couple years, but the idea of it makes me work harder. I can't wait.
This sword geek is moving upward.