We’ve spent a significant amount of time over the past seven years talking about experimentation. Our blog posts, our website, the event welcome letters, and Jake Norwood’s (excessively) long dinner speeches have all hit on it. Longpoint has tested and executed new rule sets, tournament formats, tournaments, staffing schemes and, what we consider to be our jewel, the introduction of the Longsword Triathlon. Historically, Longpoint has combined this experimentation with massive growth. In eight years, we went from our 30-person Mid-Atlantic HEMA Gathering in a suburban community center in 2010 to hosting over 350 people in one of the largest hotels in downtown Baltimore in 2017. We have pushed for this growth out of a desire to bring the community together and because we see the ability to bring so many together from across the world as an indicator of the community’s health.
Growth has come—as we knew it would—with a few perils. As we grow, we find it more and more difficult to maintain the familial atmosphere that we’ve worked so hard to create at Longpoint. Growth comes with exponentially higher legal and financial risks. It requires significantly more time to organize, and demands input from a larger and larger group of people. It necessitates larger divides between the core staff and our attendees. Finally, and most importantly, all these growth-borne costs have made this less and less fun, both for the organizers and sometimes for the attendees.
Over the years, our goals evolved to meet both the community’s changing scope and our own desires for HEMA internationally. Whereas we once wanted to bring all-things-HEMA together annually, we now feel that HEMA is large and healthy enough that the direct benefits of us doing so are diminishing. Being that the organizers of Longpoint are all early Kunst des Fechtens (KDF) practitioners, the event has always had an undercurrent preference for this, although we may have denied it in the early years. The Longpoint rules were originally developed for a KDF tournament format where specific-to-KDF techniques were to be rewarded; this was replaced with the “Control Point” to make the rules more inclusive. The Paired Technique tournament has never featured anything outside of KDF’s longsword, though we thought eventually it might. We’ve been having serious discussions about focusing the event on KDF exclusively as long ago as 2015, though for many reasons (such as Jake’s love of saber), we held back from doing so.
Our experiments have always meant to promote those things that we felt would do the most good, and so the experimentation continues. It is time to put a plan we’ve been cooking up since at least 2012 into action. We believe we do significantly more good for one tradition than we ever possibly could trying to focus on many. We have spent the last year really exploring what it is that we want to provide, what we want to encourage, and why we want to feature what we have chosen to feature.
So what’s coming? You don’t have to look any further than the fourth couplet of Liechtenauer’s Zettel:
Wrestle well, grappler.
lance, spear, sword, and knife,
And in others’ hands ruin.
Ringen, horsemanship, the passage at arms, longsword, and, because it’s sexy, messer. This is what our competitions and what a majority of our classes will focus on.
As mentioned above, the Longpoint Triathlon is our jewel. We have been promoting this idea of recognizing well-rounded martial artists over everything else since 2014, awarding our biggest prize, an Albion sharp, to this position every year. We will be massively expanding on this concept alongside our new focus on Liechtenauer’s Kunst des Fechtens. In this way, we hope that we can push the envelope of our understanding of Liechtenauer’s system.
With this, all competition slots will be either Triathlon or Pentathlon slots. We will no longer be allowing participants to pick competitions a la carte. Every participant who wishes to compete will choose one Meta Event (triathlon or pentathlon); no more, no less.
The following is a list of the events that will be featured at Longpoint 2019:
Longsword Paired Technique
Passage at Arms
Horsemanship Skill at Arms
All of our Meta Events will comprise of a selection of these events into several different Triathlons and Pentathlons as follows:
Longsword Triathlon - Longsword Blossfechten, Longsword Paired Technique, Longsword Cutting
Messer Triathlon - Messer Blossfechten, Messer Cutting, Ringen
Man-at-Arms’ Triathlon - Passage at Arms, Longsword Blossfechten, Ringen
Light Rider’s Triathlon - Horsemanship Skill at Arms, Messer OR Longsword Blossfechten, Ringen OR Cutting
Knight’s Triathlon - Horsemanship Skill At Arms, Passage At Arms, Longsword Paired Technique
Liechtenauer’s Light Pentathlon - Longsword Blossfechten, Horsemanship Skill At Arms, Messerfechten, Longsword Cutting OR Messer Cutting, Paired Technique
Liechtenauer’s Heavy Pentathlon - Passage at Arms, Horsemanship Skill At Arms, Longsword Blossfechten, Ringen, Paired Technique
This event paradigm will allow us to significantly change up the normal tournament structures. We will be able to re-focus our tournaments on being tools for training and development rather than a race to dominate a bracket. There will be no winners in individual events—medals and prizes will be awarded to those to perform well in their selected triathlon/pentathlon. By abandoning the bracket for other formats, fencers will be able to focus on their individual fights rather than where those fights are going to put them in the eliminations. For Cutting and Paired Technique, this might even usher in a larger change in feel, as we address the longstanding issue that these competitions quickly pare people out in search of an overall event winner. In the current format, by the third round, judges are essentially deciding who was just a bit more perfect than the others, instead of who failed and who passed. This new system may allow us to have everyone progress as far as they can in Cutting and PT, and then be awarded the appropriate number of points to their Meta Event score.
Longpoint, has always been more than just a competition. We have had the space and time to host more classes than many events with much smaller competitions, especially in this previous year. Our change in scope allows us to better utilize the space available to us, ensuring that competitions are not overlapping in any significant way. This means we have more consistent space for classes and significantly fewer overlaps. The current draft plan for 2019 removes inter-event conflicts almost entirely and should significantly free up time for attendees to attend more classes and free-fence more.
Finally, we fully expect that our change in scope will prompt a reduction in size… so Longpoint 2019 will to return to Turf Valley on March 28th, 2019. The Baltimore Hilton was a great venue. It had a lot of space, it carried with it a lot of accessible amenities both inside and outside the hotel, and was easier to get to. However, the Baltimore Hilton lacks any nearby green space and will not let us ride horses around the ballroom. We also lost something important that we completely failed to recognize in our plans to move. Turf Valley is semi-isolated. It’s hard to go places, especially if you do not have a car. This can be a pain, but it also meant that you could ALWAYS find a large group of people in the lobby. We lost this social aspect in 2017, and we are excited to get it back for 2019.
We understand that this event will be smaller. This event will inherently interest a smaller number of people in the wider HEMA community. However, for the people that this event does excite, we feel that it will be a huge boon. It will be a place for fighters who spend most of their time exploring Liechtenauer’s system, especially those who do not limit themselves to one part of it, to meet and play. It will be a place to exchange more focused ideas. It will allow us to justify hosting much deeper classes. And finally, it will be a lot more fun for everybody.
There are a lot of people who we consider a part of our family who will not be interested in this event, such as the many dedicated rapierists who have attended the last few years. We sincerely thank you for helping to make our event what it was. We also encourage you to organize some events focused on what interests you, if you feel that there is a hole to fill. Reach out to us if you need any advice or help… we’ve learned a lot in the last few years. And if you do come to Longpoint 2019, bring your rapier to spar with other enthusiasts during the increased free-time.
Longpoint will continue to set standards for how an event should be run. We hope to continue to set standards for what to expect from our martial artists. And we hope that you will be able to join us on this new adventure in 2019.
~The Longpoint Team