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Medieval Swordsmanship Building Morale in
Afghanistan, and Revival Gets to Help!

“Hi Nicole,

I am touched by outpouring of support from so many folks in the WMA community. Thanks so much for your generous donation. It will be much used and appreciated by all of us in our training group here.I will be sure to send you some pictures of us training with your gambesons when they arrive!

Thanks again,

CW3 Jeffrey Larson

82nd Airborne”

Running a small company can be all-consuming, and it's easy to get lost in your own little world. But every now and then an opportunity comes along for you to make a difference in a small way. Early this Spring, we were forwarded a letter from Jeff Larson, a Chief Warrant Officer with the 82nd Airborne, who is stationed in Afghanistan. Before being sent overseas, Jeff had been part of the western martial arts moment, actively researching and studying 15th century sword fighting. As we all know, the soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan are under a great deal of pressure, and many have been away from home for quite some time. So Jeff decided to take matters into his own hands, and try and give the guys an outlet for some much-needed morale building and R&R: he began an historical fencing club in Afghanistan! Obviously, longswords, rapiers and bucklers aren't easy to come by in a country torn-apart by decades of war, so the guys were making due with what they had: a pair of battered old fencing masks, flak jackets and sweatshirts, cut down broomsticks, a couple of foils (no, we have no idea where he found those!) and whatever else Jeff could come up with.

In his letter, Jeff wanted to get the word out that there was a new historical European swordsmanship group in the most unlikely of places, and if someone maybe had a few spare wooden wasters (training swords) or an old mask they wouldn't mind sending, it would mean a lot to the guys. Thanks to the efforts of our friend Pete Kautz at Alliance Martial Arts that letter spread from group to group and vendor to vendor, and the response was far more than Jeff had anticipated! Martial arts schools as diverse as the Chicago Swordplay Guild and Nearing School of Wing Tzun took up collections to buy new fencing masks, Mr. Kautz donated a complete set of his training videos, and the folks of Purpleheart Armouries literally sent an armoury of wasters, training daggers and bucklers.

We're proud to say that Revival joined these other fine folks and quickly sent off a pair of our cotton gambesons off to Jeff right away. We just heard from Jeff (May 06) and here's what he had to say:

&quote;I just wanted to give you a little update of our activities here and a few pictures. We have had some challenges recently with conflicts with training locations. We've worked it out now so that we train in the rehearsal hall of the 82nd Airborne Division Band. While it's a bit small, I control the building so I can eliminate any conflicts. Attendance is always in a state of flux.

Many time folks can't make it because of guard shift changes or having to go out on missions. We continue to keep going strong from week to week with those that are able to come. I'm very grateful to be able to continue to pursue HES training here. It definitely helps to keep the morale up.&quote;

We just wish that our gambeson could protect them in the field the way it will in the fencing hall, and look forward to when they can all cross swords here at home. Be safe guys, and know we're thinking of you!


Upper left: Jeff Larson, modeling one his group's new cotton gambesons.
Upper right: The gambeson and new fencing masks getting put to use as the guys train (while trying not to destroy their band equipment)!
Bottom: “We few, we happy few…”

 

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