Every Monday I engage in something of a social experiment on route to the London Longsword Academy at the Barbican. I make my way through London with my (nylon plastic) training sword in plain view of every Tom, Dick and Harry who happens to pass by.
Naturally I get even more odd looks than normal (measured by the fact that I actually notice them) as people stare wondering what the hell I'm holding. Which is of course the problem. As every Monday what I'm actually doing is experiencing just how deluded people are.
Now, they don't know it's a sword, I deliberately remove the cross guard so it looks less scary, and it's White, and it's not made of metal, and I'm holding it by the "blade". Making it pretty obvious that it's either not sharp, or I'm an utter moron and desperately trying to relieve myself of a limb. But gradually it tends to dawn on most people what it is.
This however, just doesn't compute for the average Londoner. People will literally stare at it as though there's something deeply weird and odd about a man holding a long plastic thing. Turn up at midday Gothed up for the night with spikes all over your clothes and it's unlikely anyone in London will notice, rock up at the end of the day with a training sword and some sports gear and they think you're about to embark on a one man crusade down the Victoria Line. The point of course is simple; the other day I sat next to a guy on the tube with a bag of Golf Clubs. No one batted an eyelid, the same goes for Tennis Rackets and other sports kit. Sit there with a guy wearing his army gear on the way home and nobody cares that he's been well trained in various forms of armed and unarmed combat. Someone walks on wearing clothes that marks them out as a martial artist and nobody minds. But sit there with a plastic sword and they think you're mental, and you can see them weighing up the options about calling the Police.
So for those of you who get scared by that, here's a quick lesson. Practically everything is a weapon in the wrong hands. Sports gear, your weekly shopping, a rolled up magazine, a mobile phone, jewellery, literally anything. And lets not forget the afore mentioned martial arts crowd (who NEVER get questioned at airport security by the way). So, the point is, if you want to give me worried looks on a weekly basis fine, but you might want to contemplate if it's ever worth leaving the house again afterwards as well. Because if what you can see in plain sight scares you, then the stuff you can't see clearly must keep you awake at night.
Anyone who wants to know more about European Martial Arts / Sword Fighting in London, please point yourselves in this direction: http://fightmedieval.com/