When in Forest...
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Entirely too much time had passed since my last attempt to visit my friend Stefania in Bruxelles, so we both agreed that the
Medieval Fair in Forest (a district of Bruxelles) would be a good chance to finally pay a visit.

If you have been to a similar event you know already what to expect: stands selling thematically-appropriated wares, people walking around (some in costume, but most casual visitors went for normal clothes), live music, plenty of food and drink.

So, why is this under the Aikido section, you may wonder? It looked more like something that should belong to hobbies, or maybe travels and excursions

Well, read on and you will find out.
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Most people opted for more-or less “realistic” costumes… this lady here, instead, went for the “are satyrs and gyraffes interfertile?” look.

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And this is me trying to blend in.

Having planned the whole visit around getting there, and considering that my partner had already a very nice outfit for the occasion, I went for a minimalistic but still acceptable outfit - mostly thanks to cheap props bought on Amazon.
Except for the shoulder bag (I bought it on an impulse 5 minutes after having entered the faire area - maybe it was the mead that I had quaffed 3 2 minutes before).

So, apart from running around in costume, food, alcohol and the occasional chance to get a shoulder bag, what else was I looking for here? Well, in recent years there has been a sort of “rediscovery” of European Martial Arts, mostly based on trying to re-interpret the works of Fiore dei Liberi, an Italian fence master born in 1350 and who left a large quantity of detailed explanations about armed and unarmed combat.

As expected, the faire had an area devoted precisely to that: a local association of medieval fencers had set up a tent and brought an impressive amount of hardware, offering everyone the chance to try their hand at it.

Western-style sword techniques are really too different from what I study, so I asked if I could see techniques against daggers. It was just me and another guy (a 25-years old with some previous experience in Karate, but not much training with weapons).

I was slightly disappointed because the instructor showed us just a pair of techniques then he suddenly disappeared (I am not really sure if this meant that we were doing fine by ourselves, or if he had found more interesting students elsewhere).

Left to my own devices, I had to improvise a lot. I am happy to report that tanto-disarming techniques works perfectly well, at least against people who do not have much training with blades, but I am also a bit disappointed that I basically just used a lot of Aikido, but did not really have the chance to learn much new or even just compare the two “schools”.

I also had to take some extra precautions because my partner, albeit younger and fit, wasn’t obviously an expert, but on the other hand this is something I have already encountered a lot when practicing with beginners at the dojo.

Well, it was fun overall, and the rest of the day was also very nice (marred only by my decision to conclude the drinking part with a very unusual smoked beer which was definitely too salmon-y for my taste) so I think that I will definitely see if I can get a second chance at it next year.

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More Aikido…

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Still Aikido… well, maybe next year.