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Donnerstag, 29. Oktober 2015

A most extraordinary weekend with Martin and a bunch of other quality people - The sword - form and thought

 
So, many of you might have wondered, what this guy´s about not posting that long. ;-) Now, apart from new challenges, this is mostly due to this post. I postponed it again and again, so to say ;-), for it has been one of the most intense weekends of the last years, and a real reality check for me and my art as a bladesmith. But, first things first, Martin from Ireland had contacted us and we invited him along for the opening event of the exposition "The Sword - Form and Thought", to which we made our humble contributions. Now the translation we had offered did not find its way in into the catalogue and the exhibition, but simply having part in it was great enough. We were absolutely enthused to have part in it and watching it a bit from the inside, and as I said to Martin, "it´s a great adventure for us", and this has not at all changed with a bit of contemplation. So Martin arrived at Cologne railway station and we went to fetch him. 
We arrived a bit early and so we had an opportunity, or should I say, we had the privilege to watch the homeless persons and the drunkards begging for money at the station. While some of them were really disgusting drunkards, one really gave me a teaching in humanity, and I mean what I say. The story goes like this: We were standing there, and I had already given one of the more decent - looking ones some cents, when we were approached by another. There were too many beggars to even provide for, and this particular guy was particularily nasty and annoying. I was like "No, I haven´t anything to spare now, sorry", but he insisted and violated my personal sphere constantly, so I turned to ignore him. He left. In no time whatsoever, another one came up, begging for money again. Still in somewhat of a sour mood, I did not even react. It was then when he gave me a valuable lesson (I mean it). He said that while it would be okay for him if I could not spare any money and said so, ignorance would hurt his feelings, for every human being deserved a minimum of respect. Aww, run through with my own rapier, he actually was right.

The lesson I have learned (again) by it was, not all of them are disgusting drunkards. On the other hand: I can´t provide for all of them. And there is something very wrong in our society, when there are that many of homeless and bone poor people. Even if someone is a drunkard, there is a reason for it. Oh no, it is not that society in itself is responsible for everything, but, being bone poor myself (it´s safe to say that many of those beggars have more money than I do), I can safely say that even though I do a lot for society (and everyone should), society keeps give me a right kicking up my spine, not in spite of me doing a lot of voluntary work, but BECAUSE of it. This can make a man a drunkard or a wizard. I prefer the latter, but I understand that not many make this choice.
But actually we DID have a great time in the impressive shadow of the dome.


Did I mention already that I love this crazy person?;-)

Looks cute, does she? Trust me, she´s not. *ggg* Looks harmless, eh? Trust me, SHE´S NOT!!!1!11!*ggg*

 
We then met with Martin and welcomed him to Taj Mahovel in Hagen (sorry Jacquie, for stealing the name, it´s just soooo fitting for my home;-)).
 
We chatted the night away, and suddenly were faced with THE day. We had a coffee and a tea and some buns for breakfast and off we were to get the train... erm... at least we got one train....;-) to Solingen, where we were most warmly welcomed by Ms. (ph.D.) Grotkamp - Schepers of Klingenmuseum Solingen for the opening speeches of the exhibition. While there was a load of political gibberish going on, one thing became abundantly clear: It has not been easy for the staff of the museum to acquire money for something like the exhibition and the quality events around it. Culture is next to impossible in our time without donations of private sponsors. I sincerely hope the staff can always find the motivation required to carry on and all the while keeping their passionate approach towards teaching. I mean it in the truest sense of the word when I state that "culture is next to impossible". Monetary evaluations destroy every cultural asset when not controlled properly. We have to redefine the importance of money and its substitutes, if our species is to survive.   
 


Anyway, all too soon we were on our way home. One night´s chats and in-depth philosophical discussions later, and the next day saw us off to the sword expo that took place on Saturday.

We passed through the beautiful village of Gräfrath...

Missus...;-)

At the entrance to the museum we saw this demo by ars gladii, which gave valuable insight on medieval martial arts.
Far removed from the Hollywood turmery fighting styles, Herbert Schmidt, master of the Ars Gladii school explained how it really looked like.





Enjoy this sequence:






 
There also was this delicious demonstration why some Hollywood images make no sense. The demo was full of insights like this, and all of the people were nice and laidback and always willing to answer and discuss questions. We also met with Stefan and his absolutely great and highly gifted son and had another nice chat before we went inside. 

I must admit I did not manage to see all of the swords properly and maybe I have not done everyone of those really great persons justice. I cannot but apologize, but there were so many of you! It was most impressive that I met with a bunch of pacifists. Wait? Pacifists at a sword expo? You tugging our beards, I hear you say? In this picture you can see Martin talk to Claus Lipka, best friend of Stefan´s from www.seelenschmiede.de. Stefan is a master of several sword arts, both Japanese and European, and one of my idols in swordsmithing. And it was funny to hear him calmly talk about the techniques of making mincemeat out of opponents only to conclude that this was not the option. BECAUSE he knew how to, he would never do it. BECAUSE he knows war, he emanates peace, I cannot put it any other way. He is one of the nicest guys I have met so far, and that means a thing. We immediately talked for hours on end, and I cannot but say it was a great privilege.
Those are examples of his work. I do not want to go into detail here, and I daresay the pictures, even if they are as lousy as they are, tell the story.

This is Stefan and his son, who is currently learning the trade from him, in deep conversation with Dr. Grotkamp - Schepers. My deep respect also goes to this lady, who did a great job in spite of all the difficulties the museum is faced with.
The next booth was that of my favourite photo model... always willing to trade a weird joke, but one of the most accomplished masters in spite of his always calm and laidback manner, JT showed no surprises, but great swords with a kind of flowing aesthetics.


 
I was delighted to meet with Lukas (I made an article about his works already here), who might as well be the next shooting star of the swordsmithing community. Super-friendly and laid-back, he is a master of MMA no less.


I also was intrigued to meet with James Elmslie, who had some replicas of medieval grosse Messer on display. Most interestingly, the one second from the bottom shows a somewhat inverse configuration, as the edge is on the side with the Pandur tip. We had a very intense, albeit brief discussion, for it was already closing time.

Then we all were off to dinner in the Gräfrather Klosterbräu inn. Outside we were delighted to meet with Petr, who had put on his adult face;-),


with Jake and Peter and Owen Bush and Jul Loose. We were absolutely intrigued to have a talk with Peter Johnsson who is and stays one of the nicest, weirdest and most intelligent and passionate human beings in the universe. Coming to think of it, they all are. I have still not worked out the finer threads of this experience, for it has a spiritual dimension that freaks me out a bit. But as is, it feels like a wheel that has set to turning. Can´t put it any other way, but it has started to turn, and it is gaining momentum, rolling ever faster. It is as if we all were part of a movement, and we all have tasks to fulfil and deeds to do. Individually, but not alone. It is as if a moment in history is becoming self - conscious. We might reclaim the blade that is lost and find the answer that is given from far beyond.
 
It´s all a big adventure, but not one to be lived through with idle romanticism, but with purpose and responsibility.
 
I am glad to have met all these people. Period. Might be I will be able to call some of them friends one day, but that´s not the culprit and not the issue here. The wheel is rising up. The tide is rushing in.
 
I welcome it. 

 

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