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Interested in practicing with us? See here!
Thursday, September 18th, 2014
9:16 AM
Metairie, LA
Forum Posts: 230
Member Since:
Sunday, March 31st, 2013
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So, you're interested in seeing what SDA NOLA is all about. We often get questions from folks interested in coming out to one of our practices about what to bring and what to expect.

Most importantly is our waiver. We do practice a full contact martial art using techniques that were meant to cause serious harm with the weapons used. Bumps and bruises are common, in some cases fractures or broken bones are a possibility even with everyone trying their best to keep a safe environment. Signing the waiver helps ensure everyone is aware of the risks involved and helps us keep the insurance that allows us to rent space for what we do. Please note that we are not equipped and do not allow anyone under the age of 18 to participate in our practices, we are sorry to say.

As an associate club in the HEMA Alliance we also follow the HEMAA Safety Policy and some discussion below is meant to suggest the ways we expect folks to follow that policy.

You can find when and where we practice on the calendar to your left. Just click on the three bars in the upper left corner to pull out the sidebar and on the calendar you find there just click on the entry for that day's practice for more details and directions to our practice locations. On rare occasion we may change practice time or location and that calendar will always be kept up to date with those changes. We'll also tend to post on this site if a practice is canceled if we can determine it should be beforehand.

We have a thread about some of the kinds of equipment we use in our Discussion forum. If you have any of that kind of equipment then please do bring it. Of particular importance would be a 3-weapon fencing mask if you have one, but if not we do have spares you can borrow. We also recommend a gorget (hard throat protection), knee pads, elbow pads (hard shelled if you have them) a cup for men and a plastron/chest protector for women, along with shin guards and forearm guards. Some of that we have available for loaner use, but certainly not a cup or plastron (and you wouldn't want to borrow those anyway!) Long-sleeved shirts and pants are recommended if only because some of the practice weapons in particular will get burrs during use that can cause minor scrapes on exposed skin. Closed-toe shoes are required but the type of shoe is up to the individual. Many folks seem to like shoes with thinner soles such as wrestling shoes or barefoot running shoes but some members of our club have been known to prefer wearing steel toed boots. We leave that up to your personal discretion. For most percussive weapon styles we require at least a lacrosse style glove, but please understand that experience tells us that those gloves are still not good enough protection in some situations. There are a few HEMA suppliers that have clamshell or finger gauntlet style gloves that work well for that purpose. For most thrusting styles most of us prefer a padded fencing glove but even standard fencing gloves or any glove that you find comfortable can do in a pinch.

It's also important to remember that New Orleans is a semi-tropical environment and even when practicing at our air conditioned indoor venue fencing can be a rigorous and heated activity considering the equipment we wear. Please bring plenty of water and stay well hydrated.

SDA NOLA is currently organized as a study group, not a school. On the plus side, this means that there is no charge for attending SDA training, except for the $10 hall fee on the gym day to pay for the gym. Park days are free. On the down side, it means nobody in SDA is obligated to conduct formal training classes for beginners. That is not to say we never do, but we can't guarantee that a beginner class will be available on any given day. That is up to individual SDA members, and depends on what is going on in the club. Certain times of the year for example we are preparing for tournaments, on some other days we are only sparring, and on others we may be focused on developing new technique interpretations from the manuals. However, it also means you are likely to get more one-on-one instruction rather than having to deal with a class environment and gives you the ability to work with those folks whose instruction techniques seem to work best for you. Don't let that discourage you, however, as most of us are often very willing to help show newcomers the ropes.

Everything here is strictly voluntary and if we have one rule it is that anyone may say "No" at any time for any reason, no questions asked. So if someone offers to work with you or spar with you or whatever and you would rather not do so with that person for ANY REASON, please feel free to just say you'd rather not at that time, and work on what you would like to. This may be a less structured environment than some folks might be looking for but it works well for us. It may also work well for you, or it may not, but we want to make sure you have some idea beforehand if that might be the kind of environment for you.

That said if you are interested in historical fencing you are more than welcome to attend and see if what we do might be something you're interested in.

If possible, please do let us know that you are coming, and come prepared for a physical workout. Probably the best way to contact us is to get onto our Rocket.Chat site and post on the #general channel or join and post on the appropriate #practice- channel for the day you might be coming out. (It's better to post an intro like that publicly rather than trying to contact any individual member directly in case any of us are not available.) Once you sign the waiver, any club member who has the time to do some training with you can do so, and on most days somebody will almost always be willing.

Welcome to SDA NOLA!

Lenny Zimmermann


"A soldier uses arms merely with skill, whereas a knight uses them with virtuous intention." - Pomponio Torelli, 1596.

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