Wow - lots to read.
I will keep this short, and focused.
And I am happy with how this discussion has unfolded, I believe lots of progress has been made.
Perhaps you, the members of the MFFG do not understand this, but I, personally, would like to see what you guys have to offer in tournament. I enjoyed watching Jay at Longpoint (although I never had the honor of cross blades) I am certain that other members of your guild could also set a strong example.
I am certain that there are many of us in the community that would like to see and experience your fights first hand.
For me its not so much about win or lose, but more about giving my opponents the best challenge that I can muster, and finding the most skillful fights that can be found. If I win, then its honor to my school, if I lose, back to the gym and the books. It is honestly is this simple for me.
I have found so far that each match in a tournament teaches me something that I could not learn in free play, nor could I learn in sparring...
As for how far we have come, Matt is right. In the last 3 years we have had exponential levels of growth, and skill. There is no comparison between what we saw in 2008 in Apelern, and what we saw at Fechtschule.
In the next 3-5 years, I can see us being that much better, its just going to take time, dedication and hard work.
Oh, and of course some fighting.
I believe having both open and invitational tournaments is a good thing. This way new and inexperienced fighters have the ability to fight the upper echelon guys, however the invitational pits the creme of the crop against each other, so that people have something to work towards. I think fechtschule america did a great job of this.
I believe that people who wish to criticize other people's fighting ability should be out there fighting with everyone else. A more important idea than winning is being out there, in the ring, and fighting to the best of your ability, publicly. I would eventually like to see a single North American event, like fechtschule, that lasts 4 - 5 days, has loads of fighting, tournaments in 3-5 different disciplines, and an invitational tournament for the top seeds. (it would be really nice to bring a rapier tournament in. )
I also hope to see more Instructors who can not only teach techniques and concepts, but can also apply them at speed, and furthermore under duress; rather than teachers who claim mastery or expertise, yet have sloppy blade mechanics and no concept of either measure or time due to lack of training, sparring, and a poor understanding of how the body works. Again, this tide is turning, and I expect that it will turn further in the next few years.
At the end of the day, the community needs people who desire to lead by a strong example. Sword and mask in one hand, treatise in the other.
Lee S. Smith
Principal Instructor, Blood and Iron Martial Arts
Director of Curriculum Council, HEMAA