The Sword Experience

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The Sword Experience

My latest adventure

In January, I wrote down my top goals for 2019. Attending The Sword Experience was on that list and I can now check it off as complete. Watching the tour dates, I saw they booked a Texas event at the Austin Comic Con 2019. It was the perfect weekend getaway I had been looking for. I bought a Comic Con ticket and booked the event.

Picking up a sword was new to me. I am always looking for ways to enhance my fitness journey and I wanted to try it. I’m glad that I did. The experience made me recognize some areas in my life that I have been struggling with for 6 years now.

Check-in

I checked-in at Adrian’s booth at the Comic Con as instructed. The team delivered all of the promised benefits for the Gold level of The Sword Experience. (Autographed picture of Adrian Paul, armband for the event, a picture with Adrian Paul, and my bokken autographed the 2nd day.) I had the pleasure of meeting Anise and Beverly, as they revealed that they are amazing and bring a high level of customer care to the table. It is evident they take pride in Adrian and his work.

What is The Sword Experience?

Adrian founded The Sword Experience, as a way to pass on some of the knowledge he learned while working with world renowned action stars, stunt choreographers, and sword masters. To date, the testimonials speak for themselves. Not only has it given people a chance to receive the best sword fighting tips and techniques, training with some of the best sword experts around, but it has also given people a chance to do something different, to improve their fitness, their communication skills, their abilities, along with the chance to do something they may have only dreamed about.

The Sword Experience website-click to read entire about us page

The Event

It was exciting and nerve-racking to be in a room full of people swinging bokkens (practice swords). I was feeling a sense of empowerment as we practiced the Attack Numbering system and the Defense Numbering system. Adrian Paul (the founder of The Sword Experience and The Peace Fund, Actor, Director, Martial Arts Expert) and Anthony Buonomo (Teacher from Austin Historical Weapons Guild) were guiding us on our form and footwork.

There were many age groups and many different personalities in the room. The large diversity of the attendees and spectators was surprising. Each one of us had personal reasons for being there. Mine was to step out of my comfort zone and investigate the adventurous side of myself that I have tucked away.

Practice

We learned choreographed moves that were based on a scene out of Batman Returns. There were different moves in each of the 4 groups. We split up into practice groups and practiced our moves with an attacker coming at us. The feeling of Empowerment shifted to fear. It was a totally different experience with someone coming at you, which changed my frame of mind completely. I now feel exposed and uncomfortable.

The attackers learned the choreography for all 4 groups. They would alternate between attacking a person in each of the groups.

I continued to practice my moves off to the side as they shuffled practice groups in and out. I kept walking through the routine knowing how challenging it was to face off with someone. Anthony was a big help and guided me through my struggles with form and footwork.

Filming

After learning and practicing for 2 1/2 hours, it was time to film the scene. I am looking forward to seeing the results of the footage. We all lined up in 3 rows, down on 1 knee. We followed the command to stand, step out and present our bokkens. That was cool to see a group of people work together as a team and perform those moves as a group. Keep in mind we had 2 1/2 hours to learn it and practice it.

Oh, by the way, we were all dressed as Ninjas, except for the attackers. After shooting the opening entrance and the presentation, the attacks began. I had a great time and watching the filming process was actually like working on a movie set.

What I learned about myself

I have been trying to rediscover myself again for some time now. After the event, I did some soul searching and dug into some things that Adrian pointed out to me. He mentioned that I am holding onto stress and tension and instructed me to loosen my grip to let the bokken move with the hits. That stress and tension were holding me back. I wanted to know how and why I went from being confident, and outgoing to becoming a weekend recluse and homebody.

I can trace it back to 2 life-changing events. The accident I suffered 6 years ago affected my outlook and personality in many ways. I no longer trust myself or my decisions, I let fear hold me back which restrains my inner self (click to read about my accident). I have a friend and mentor that reminds me to let my inner Catherine out. Recognizing why I am holding back has been a struggle for me. This experience has helped me piece together the why’s which should help me overcome it.

Thank you

The event ran late and The Sword Experience team asked the Gold Experience attendees to come back to the booth at the Comic Con the next day to have our bokken autographed as promised. This would give me the opportunity to thank Adrian, Beverly, and Anise.

I arrive at the booth with bokken in hand and thanked Anise. She handed me a certificate that stated that I had crossed swords with Adrian Paul and survived. That was a cool certificate. I approached Adrian and handed him my bokken. He asked me if I enjoyed the event and I expressed that I was disappointed in my performance. He seemed confused and asked, why? I started talking and tears started pouring out of my eyes.

Remember, I have been holding back for a long time. Crying is one of those things I hold back on. I try to control my emotions and not let my emotions control me. I felt absolutely mortified by my actions. Adrian was gracious and understanding. As he reassured me, I regained my composure and thanked him and Beverly.

From a fitness standpoint

I have been teaching fitness classes for over 30 years. It was my 1st career and is now my “hobby” career. Before my accident, I taught a kickboxing class 2 to 3 times per week. The bag was a great place to let out the tension from my daily, high-stress job that I held at the time. After my accident, returning to kickboxing was difficult and I eventually gave it up. I currently teach PiYo and Turbo Kick. Both are great workouts but I enjoy trying new things to kick it up a notch.

When Adrian pointed out that I was holding on to tension, it brought me back to my kickboxing days. Punching and kicking that bag resulted in letting all that tension out. Adrian grabbed the bokken, started moving it and instructed me to let it move with the hit to let the tension out. He later told me, during my emotional moment, still embarrassed about that, to use the bokken as a tool to release the tension. In my mind, I went back to the boxing bag and how I used that as a tool for stress relief. Each piece of the puzzle is helping me understand myself better.

By the way, that was an amazing workout! The warm-up started with holding a squat for a minute. Everyone was like, yeah, I can do that. Adrian chuckled and said, “you say that now”. Within 30 seconds the room started erupting with loud breath releases and groaning. It was awesome! By the time we were done with the learning and practice sessions, everyone was sweating, red-faced and in disbelief of how challenging and invigorating it was.

Will I do it again?

Yes, I want to participate in this event again. I am going to continue to practice the attack and defense numbering system and maybe find a local teacher that can help instruct me. Now I know what to expect and it won’t be the first time having a bokken swung at me. That should boost my confidence.

One more thing added to my “Been There Done That” list. Whoop Whoop!

Catherine Bares

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