In June of 2022, Polaris Fellowship held our 12th Summer Weapons Retreat (SWR). Though usually an annual retreat, this was our first full retreat since the onset of the pandemic in 2020. We were very excited to hold this event again!
What is the Summer Weapons Retreat?
The Summer Weapons Retreat is a 5 day sleep away camp for adults. Students spend five days studying weapons, playing games, learning and having a good time together.
In recent years, including this year, SWR was at the Emrich Center in Brighton Mi.
Over the years we have covered many topics and weapons at the Summer Weapons Retreat including Sword and buckler, hand and a half sword, thrown spears, archery, steel test cutting unit formations and movements for melee.
Topics at the Summer Weapons Retreat This Year
Dueling Focus: Knife Fighting
At this years summer weapons retreat, we focused on knife fighting against longer weapons. Mixed weapons training is a cornerstone of Polaris Fellowship’s curriculum.
Focusing on knife against longer weapons gave students the opportunity to play with various tactics and techniques. It also forced the students to challenge themselves, and consider coming at the fight from different angles entirely.
Melee Focus: Sound & Hearing
The Melee focus at SWR was on hearing and creating circumstances where hearing was interfered with. We used ear plugs and headsets to reduce the sounds the students could hear. We explored use of hand signals and other techniques to communicate when hearing was reduced or eliminated.
Though we don’t plan to habitually interfere with the students’ hearing when fighting, focusing on it this way pushed students to examine how they use hearing and be aware of the ways they rely on it during melee fighting.
At the Summer Weapons Retreat, we have goal time once or twice a day.
During goal time students work towards goals they have set themselves, either with direct instructor supervision, in small groups, or on their own. We value giving the opportunity for students to work independently and also pursue their own goals.
This year’s goal time was particularly successful due to the small groups we had the students working in throughout the week. We assigned students to groups of 4-5 at the beginning of the week. They met with the same group at various times during the day to discuss, drill, or spar. Students were able to stay engaged during independent goal time in the small groups, even when they are not overseen by an instructor.
An students new to our school, work through our white belt track during the Summer Weapons Retreat.
The white belt track starts with knife the basics of knife fighting and progresses through sword and shield basics during the course of the week.
Most classes in the white belt track are separate from those of the upper students. By Saturday afternoon the white belt students are sparring with sword and shield and are fully integrated with the upper level.
This year we had two students complete the white belt track.
Looking to Summer Weapons Retreat 13
Though we haven’t nailed down the dates yet, we are looking to hold our SWR 13 in June of 2023. Contact us for more information if you’d like to join us next year!