This is something we have been working on for about a year now. I am going to write a formal article about the idea we've been developing with my buddy Payson Muller in York, so I don't want to get too far into details right now before we've got it all strait, but here is a little summary.
We have come to believe, as a result of research, that many fencers were also members of the craft Guilds. The craft Guilds used this system wherein, while learning a trade, you go through the steps of apprentice, journeyman, and finally master. This tradition actually continued in much of continental Europe right up to this very day in certain industries. For example, stone-masons and carpenters in German-speaking Europe (esp. Germany and Switzerland) and in France, do the 'journeyman years' as part of their Guild training.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Journeyman_years
This has been recognized as having a major benefit for skilled labor in the economies of these places, to the point that England is now looking into reviving the practice as wellhttp://nds.coi.gov.uk/content/Detail.as ... wsAreaID=2
With regard to HEMA, we believe even a limited implementation of the old practice will have great benefits. Travelling to another club and training with other people will help with the cross-pollonization which has clearly been so beneficial to our process of learning from these old books. We also think it is a useful compliment to the growing tournament scene since it will help foster humility and friendly sense of fraternity and brotherhood between groups.
Real journeymen go on the road for a fixed period of time, usually 1-3 years, during which they have to stay away from home (usually more than 50km) and have to follow various other rules like not using public transportation, and working for their lodging and so on. We aren't all quite ready to jump into it that hard-core yet but we do believe ultimately, in the long run, this could be something cool for young people to do in the HEMA wold as well at some point.
Right now we are adopting a few of the traditions of the real journeymen, who in turn follow the old medieval traditions to a large extent. Each journeyman should have a wanderbuch, which should be stamped by the school visiting, and the "Master" (or in our case, just an instructor) of the club should write in this book before the journeyman leaves, evaluating his visit and giving advice on his training. The journeyman is not supposed to read the book until he is at least 50 miles away from the school he stayed with. The journeyman himself will also take notes in the wanderbuch.
Visits should include training in the local style, and the young journeyman should also, I think train the people he or she is visiting with in techniques he or she has learned back home or in other travels.
Journeymen should not be apprentices, they should be experienced fencers, if not necessarily Masters in their own right (do we have any of those? Personally I don't think so). Each club is putting it's reputation on the line by the person they choose to send. Journeymen should follow a code of good behavior. The club being visited should provide room and board. The network of journeymen visits should be based on personal relationships between club members, on the basis of trust and respect between the clubs. The hosting club is also putting their reputation on the line that they will be a good host. I think each club should make sure they have a budget to handle the visitor and make sure that they have enough time to do a proper visit. I think our club is going to offer 3 slots per year, one fall, one spring, and one winter. Nobody should really come here in the Summer
Christians software will act as a central meeting place for this system, which we hope will continue to grow and expand. We have contacts with the real journeymen and compagnons from France and Germany, and will be gradually introducing more of the ancient practices into this system as we begin to flesh it out.
So this is the general idea anyway, at least so far.