Humanity has always been a warring type animal. We have been bashing each other’s heads in with rocks, stones, bronze and iron. Most of our technological advancements, whether we care to admit them or not has been because of warfare. However, even though, the modern weapon of choice today is a firearm, there is still something primal, something embedded within our DNA that prefer hand-to-hand combat.
Those who opposed violence in ancient times would have still learned to defend themselves as even Plato said, “He who is only an athlete is too crude, too vulgar, too much a savage. He who is a scholar only is too soft, to effeminate. The ideal citizen is the scholar athlete, the man of thought and the man of action.”
Enter Adrian Paul, a British-born theatre actor who is most known for by Fantasy and Sci-Fi fans in his roll as Duncan MacLeud in the smash hit series Highlander. Now Paul is using his martial arts and acting skills in a new way, that of The Sword Experience, a choreographed sword fighting training seminar, was started in a winery in Temecula, CA and eventually created a theme with green screen to capture on camera for a filming experience in Houston, TX.
“We did one just outside of London in a 12th century barn where the Knights Templar set up. I’m trying to put them in really interesting places. This week we will be in Stuttgart (Germany) and that’s in a 12th century music hall, it’s very ornate, a very different style,” said Paul about some of the various locations where The Sword Experience has taken place.
What makes The Sword Experience unique is that all skill levels are welcome, from the person who has never picked up a weapon in their lives to the expert who wishes to see how sword play works in a non-combative setting. All the weapons used are wooden swords as so no one gets unnecessarily cut, but don’t be fooled, a wooden sword can be just as deadly as one with a real blade. The key is to realize that the weapon is an extension of your hand and not a toy, but needs to be handled with care and respect.
The Sword Experience itself is a half-day’s worth of training with Paul himself and limited to roughly 20 plus students in order to get an intimate setting for an in depth instruction. After several years of being asked to give sword seminars, Paul broke down once it was affiliated with a charity event. To his surprise, more than 30 people has signed up within a few days of event’s announcement and decided to do more than just teach but to make it a full on experience.
“You’ve got Game of Thrones, you’ve got Into the Badlands, Assassin’s Creed and so many cosplay people and I thought it’s not a bad idea. I like to have fun with it. Yes, I have a massive martial arts background, yes I have done a lot of sword work, but I can also show people something of my experience rather than just teaching…That’s why I called it The Sword Experience, I wanted to give people an experience in what the difference between what it’s like on film and the reality, because it is very different. Then there is the factor of how the sword moves and fitness as well, it’s a teamwork thing because you have to work with the other person. There were a lot factors that interested me,” said Paul about the evolution of The Sword Experience.
Each The Sword Experience is different from city-to-city based on the setting and the environment in which they are provided. The important factors are that no matter what, safety is first and teamwork is a must. Everyone will be taught various forms, movements and sword play that will be unique to how a battle would be choreographed in the place where they are training.
“Culturally people are different. The English are different than the Americans, but the avid want or needs or desire to do something of this nature is pretty much the same. I think I found this doing Highlander and liken it to the actors who wanted do it. No one wanted to have a stunt actor, they all wanted to be the guy holding the sword. It’s in our genes, we spent thousands of years with weapons in our hands and has been passed down from generations. We have only been into guns for the past hundred years. When you look at human history, it is gangrened in our blood. Even if it’s just a fantasy, yes you can get hurt but it is more pleasurable to being in combat and facing your opponent, it is the same,” said Paul about the differences in how The Sword Experience has been received in the United States versus the United Kingdom.
The next American leg of the tour will be at the Museum of Commerce in Pensacola, FL on August 19, 2016.
For more information on The Sword Experience, click the highlighted link. Follow Adrian Paul on Twitter @AdrianPaul1 and make sure to sign up for the seminar when it comes to your area as you will not want to miss out on a once-in-a-lifetime training session.