This weekend was SoCal Swordfight. It was my first HEMA competition event. I was suppose to hit a different event in Maryland, but couldn’t get work clearance for two long distance vacations in 2 weeks.I fought well. I learned all the things. Met all the people. Have a laundry list of equipment things I have to figure out. And all the homework already. They gave me sticks and let me judge. I finally got to wear MKDF AND Tattershall colors on a field. I learned about corners and what I need vs being a good one for someone else.
We don’t really have corners in the SCA. We have Dons and MoDs, but they are often fighting at the same time we are, and usually supporting their own students. In HEMA, the corner is the person you have with you as you fight. They are an observer, cheerleader, coach, or some combination there of. They are there to support you, through each of your matches. Everyone who fights needs different things. So identifying what you (as a fighter) need for a corner is important.
The corner literally has your back.
As this was my first HEMA competition, I’ve never had a corner, so I had no idea what my brain needed. Did I need coaching? Pompoms? Moral support? Silent observer? I quickly learned what I needed and what was going to be noise.
Turns out the best combination for me is the corner to act from a place of compassion/love, in a position of strength, and with authority to effect change in technique/headspace. Someone that can say “stop fucking doing [x], start doing [y]”, “you are in your own way… stop it”, and “you know what you need to do… do it.” coupled with physical touch to re-ground, kept my mental space clear. Between matches, going over the things that need to be corrected, was also super helpful. And having a corner where I could say “I need more [x] and less [y] right now” or “[a] isn’t working for me, can you try [b] for the next bout”, was invaluable. This allowed my mental space to stay in the void.
I also learned my value as someone’s corner. “What do you need from me in this match?” I am a good corner for some people, and not others. It’s not personal, it’s just they need different things. Some people don’t need anyone to do anything except stand there and be at their back. I think this adaptability on the part of everyone on the Tattershall fight team is what made the event super special. We all rotated through the role based upon what the fighters needed. We could trust each other with what we needed. We looked out for our team mates. And really, at the end of the day, we all just want people to fight their best.
I was proud to be part of the TSD fight team. I was surrounded by like minded sword people. I vibrated all weekend like a caffeinated kitten on catnip in a yarn factory. And it was super great.
I still have a lot of other mental things to unpack, but I wanted to start with the Corner. 🙂