Mastering a dance with swords

 Kyle Powell unleashes a strike with his katana

Kyle Powell’s day started off with an unusual test of strength.  His martial arms group would be starting soon and he had forgotten the keys to open the room. This didn’t stop him though.

The room also has a giant metal door that overlooks the adjacent badminton court in Carleton University.  He decided to simply scale the wall of the badminton court and open that metal door from the outside.  This metal door, by the way, is at least one story off the ground.

Similar feats of strength would be on display for this meeting of the Ottawa Martial Arms Society. The level of agility and acrobatics that the more advanced members of this sword fighting group exhibit is something that would fit in nicely with an epic martial arts movie.

Today the class would be split in two.  Powell primarily trains two new novices while off to the other side Nick Press and Genny Hogg square off against each other.

The society started off humbly enough.  Initially a group of three anime and martial arts fans would gather in a field to practice their moves with wooden swords.  This setup posed a few hurdles for the group.  Mainly, they could only practice during the spring and summer.  Once winter rolled around, they had to stop due to the cold.  This meant that their skills would decay during those long winter months.

“The only way to see if the moves are working is to test them in combat to see if they’re working,” says Powell.

To make sure that those moves stayed fresh, the decision was made to bring the group indoors.  Since then, the group has expanded to 10, including the two novices here today.

Kyle Powell and Nick Press get the measure of each other before the match begins.Powell doesn’t ignore the more advanced students though.  The last bit of the class was highlighted with a bout between him and Nick Press.  The match was intense as each opponent looked for openings to strike.  Ultimately, though, the match was decided after Press took too many blows to the knuckles and could not continue.

Though that marked the end of the day, Powell hopes to see the group expand further.

“I’d like to see it expand so that everyone has several partners to spar against,” says Powell. His ultimate goal is to see everyone in his group develop a practical style through these direct matches.

With the rapid expansion of his group, it’s easy to see this goal happening very soon.

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