In the past, our front page posts have been about a wide variety of happenings and changes. We could talk about welcoming in our latest round of beginners (Welcome!) or thank veteran members for their support and help in bringing those beginners quickly into the fold (Thanks!)… even announce an Armizare seminar we’re giving in Turku on 3/12 (more info on Facebook!)… but there’s one big piece of news overshadowing everything else right now.

Early this year, we began the process of adopting a formal curriculum in our two main disciplines, I.33 and Armizare. We even implemented a simple system of ranks, to keep track of where a given student falls within that curriculum and where they might best focus their next efforts. In short, a new student is a Novice for about 3 months, after which they are accepted into the club as a scholar; a proven student and training partner. From here, over the course of a few years, a Scholar passes through four ranks before he might have the opportunity to become a Free Scholar, at which point he’s beyond the need for any curriculum. This mirrors the medieval academic system used across Europe in the past.

The Passage at Arms is a big deal. Every four months, as in three times per year, the Passage will be held to celebrate and acknowledge those students who are ready to move between the Scholar ranks. At a public event for the whole club plus guests, participants will fight for the right to their new rank by demonstrating skill and bravery in free play.

It’s not a test, or a competition; if an instructor has invited you to play for rank at the Passage at Arms, you’ve already passed. You’ll fight three matches, arranged by the board or instructors, at the next Passage at Arms event. We don’t care if you demonstrate unparalleled finesse and trounce your opponent; what matters is that you show the courage, respect, and good nature that we expect from our members.

If you’re invited, prepare your equipment for inspection at the start of the event. When all members and guests are seated and any introductions are made, we’ll announce the names of participants and the rank they’ve achieved. Then, presided over by an arbiter (who doesn’t count points), matches will be held in turns until all participants have demonstrated their tenacity under pressure. When all rank-related matches are finished, the floor will be open to exhibition matches for the remainder of the event.

Thereafter, we’ll take a couple of hours to get cleaned up, and meet for a well-deserved meal somewhere.

This first Tampere HEMA Passage at Arms will be held during our usual training hours on Sunday, 4th of December, 13:00-17:00. We’ll be in our usual location, Tampere Stadium Sali 1. ALL current members of Tampere HEMA are invited to attend, and may bring 0-2 guests… family or friends. Others may be allowed on a case by case basis, such as members of other area clubs or interested newcomers. We’ll make dinner reservations at Plevna restaurant beforehand, according to the sign-up sheet (google doc) attached to this announcement on facebook.

Instructors will informally check eligible participants over the next week and confirm their invitations to play for rank! Take a look at the curriculum guide for your rank, notably the Academic section for those who’ve been putting it off. Don’t cram; there’s no testing day to pass. You need to internalize it and be able to train with confidence every time you salute in. Know the material, absorb it in whatever way is best for you… and if in doubt, just ask.