My Life as an Action Figure

While I enjoyed Little League baseball as a child and intramural basketball in junior high, fencing really started me on the path to confidence and excellent health. Sea duty in the Coast Guard helped tremendously.  Exploring other forms of swordplay inspired adventures in theatre, travel and history scholarship. Perhaps the most important thing I learned is how absolutely essential physical activity – especially leg work – is to one’s state of mind. I’m still learning and trying to give back through teaching.

Modern Fencing

Teaching an Ann Arbor Sword Club (AASC) class.

I started in 1963 in Sault Ste. Marie with John Bailey (inset) later a master. I became his assistant coach at age 17 and have not quit teaching for more than a couple of years since. I currently teach at the Ann Arbor Sword Club and the Ann Arbor “Y.” Between 1973 and 1985 I competed intensely, including five trips to the Nationals. Now, maybe two tournaments a year.


At Saline Celtic Festival with favorite opponent, Matthew Stewart-Fulton (r).

Fencing led me to the Society for Creative Anachronism, which does medieval re-creation from armored combat to courtly revelry. A great deal of research and painstaking re-creation is done without a rule requiring it. Earlier I was active in manuscript illumination and event design; since 1995, mostly armored and rapier combat. The SCA led me to medieval scholarship. Links below.

Historical European Martial Arts (HEMA)

Teaching at the first Michigan HEMA gathering, hosted by A2 Sword Club.

Dr. Jeffrey Forgeng came to Ann Arbor in the mid 1990s with his historical swordplay research well begun. By introducing it to us, he triggered the Sword Club’s rebirth on the ground floor of a movement now hitting its stride worldwide. With his historical, linguistic and swordplay expertise, Jeffrey’s translations of medieval “fechtbücher” make him a top authority for HEMA. 

History and the Sea

They let us “hale and draw” on the Pride of Baltimore II, ’06. Painting on site.

In the Coast Guard I served two years “before the mast” on a slow boat to China – literally – and never quite got the salt out. Visits on HMS Victory and USS Constitution, plus seven times through Patrick O’Brian’s sea novels haven’t done it. I want to be ready for the next chance to stand on a rolling deck or go aloft. In the meantime I am painting more maritime subjects, some historical.