Returning from The English Sidesword Open is always a melancholy affair, but 2019 really emphasised this feeling. Hosted in Oxford, the ‘City of Dreaming Spires’, we fought in the centre of an old and venerable city at one of the few major European events dedicated purely to the use of the sidesword and its companion weapons. The sidesword really seems to have developed a dedicated following, and this event brings a great community together.

(Stock Image)

Every year there is a line-up of familiar faces and committed newcomers, and this year was beyond a doubt the toughest field I have met to date – as it should be, representing the best Europe can offer. Special mention goes to Rob Runacres and his elegant footwork, Devis Carli the monstrous animated Italian blending machine (lovely chap though!), Ton Puey the Spanish Ninja and everyone who travelled in to be a part of what makes this annual gathering so special.

OMG… (Image courtesy of Francesco Fua)

We had feedback on some improvements that we shall be considering over the protest rule and ringside coaching (and banning young, fit people…), but also – again – received universally positive acclamation on the fairness and quality of our judging. This is a big deal in a sport that is completely reliant on honesty and impartiality in its judging staff, and reflects on the continuous development of our training standards.

(Image courtesy of Francesco Fua)

Long may this continue.