There Can Be Only One


I was clicking through Instagram making sure that my pic posted, when I saw a sponsored ad...


"Highlander's Adrian Paul's Sword Experience"

It's a workshop that Adrian teaches on sword stage combat. 

First off, just in case you don't know what the Highlander is  (tisk tisk tisk... shame on you if you don't!), here's the brief rundown:

Highlander the series was based on the 1986 movie by the same name. 

Star of the series actor Adrian Paul plays Duncan MacLeod (Cousin of the movie's protagonist, Connor MacLeod) who is Immortal, and must live in modern society, concealing his true nature while fighting other Immortals.

Taken from the film, Highlander, Duncan MacLeod, clansman of Connor in the film also finds he is being stalked by not only other immortals trying to kill him before the time of the gathering, but also a secret society of mortals who call themselves 'The Watchers' and also seem intent on killing him but "The Watchers" observe and record and never interfere. Duncan and the other immortals can only be killed by decapitation and often live for centuries.


I remember going with my friends to see the original Highlander Movies way back in the 80's.  

Later, I remember being excited when the TV show came out...

Like so many other martial artists, ren fair goers and fencers, I watched it every week for most of the 6 seasons. 

Hard to believe that it was so long ago! 

I think it came out in 92' and ran to 98'.

Every once in a while it'd come back around into my awareness. Maybe at a Ren Faire (yea I go to those... I dress up too! =)

...Or I'd come across an old DVD set on the cheap. 

A couple years ago I picked up the entire series and binged watched the entire series w/my significant other. 

She kinda knew of Highlander, but never really watched it. But, she got into them... Or maybe it was Adrian that she liked... Not really sure! =)

Either way, we watched the entire 6 seasons and extras. 

A Workshop?!

Apparently decades after after Adrian's role as Duncan, he decided to put together a seminar to teach sword stage combat.

Adrian has an extensive martial arts background and after years in the film industry playing MacLeod and other action roles, he has a lot of sword stage combat experience as well.

He puts it all together in a neat little package to entice fans, actors and martial artist to come train with him.

A couple years back, Jenn (my significant other) told me about the workshop. She thought it'd be cool to have me meet and train with him. 

I'm not that much of the fan boy kind, but I heard he was really cool and down to earth... AND it sounded like it would be a good time! 

Regardless, the pandemic broke out and the event was cancelled. 

Across the Street!? Really?

A couple weeks ago I was checking my post on Instagram when I saw a sponsored post from Adrian Paul's Sword Experience. It said they'd be hosting one in Grand Rapids.

Hmmm, interesting I thought. 

Then I read where the event itself would be held....

"What'?!" I exclaimed, when I read where where it was.

It was held in a community gymnasium building in Garfield Park, literally across the street from me. It's actually where I go vote for elections.

I could walk there in 2 minutes or less!

It had to be fate!

I HAD to go now. 

That was too much of a coincidence to not at least look into it further.

The price was a little heavy for a one day event, but Paul was a celebrity after all. 

I checked to make sure one of my assistant instructors could cover classes at the academy... And thanks to Chris C, I was good. 

I asked a friend who I thought would dig it, to go... 

He was in...

Everything was set.


How It's Supposed to Be...

Duncan, Adrian's character in the series was what my view of a martial artist should be. 

~ Strong and intense, but light hearted and funny.
~ Total bad ass, so much so, had nothing to prove. 
~ An Ethical Warrior. 
~ He wasn't perfect, but he tried to do the right thing, even when it was difficult.
~ He was an all around good guy.

Adrian in real life seemed to live up to his characters persona as well. He seemed to be a pretty down to earth good guy. He had some skills too. You could tell he knew what he was doing.

He kept up with himself too, he looked and moved really good for a man of 62!

He'd be good interview for my training over 40 workshop!

He put together a really fun, educational event.

Ironically, Rodney, another really cool guy, and local Aikido / Kendo instructor (and therapist), who's been to several of my seminars, was there helping out Adrian. Apparently he's helped Adrian in other local events before... Small world!  

Any which way, I really enjoyed myself at this workshop! It was a lot of fun!

The group was really small, only about 12 people. Most seemed to be just fans. We got a lot of time with him to train, chat and hang out. Everyone looked like they had a great time! 

During the short breaks, people asked Adrian about his career, about training or his life. He responded candidly, like any other person would, no pretense. 

It was a good laid back time.

A Performance!? What!?

The day was split up into 4 sections:

1) Workout
2) Techniques
3) Performance
4) Wrap Up

The capstone event at the end of the day was to put the sword choreography that you learned into a short skit, complete with dialog!

Uh oh!! =)

The day was fun, but lets just say, I'm no actor! And I'm definitely not an improv actor!

It does drive home how much even a little bit of stress adds to the difficulty of your performing anything. 

We were quickly taught our sword chorography and given about 25 minutes to practice it for our performance.

We managed it a few times w/o too many flubs...

Then came the performance.

We were second up.

I'd like to say we won a golden globe award for our performance,,, but, let's just say we had a really good time and although our performance started out pretty well... It quickly became evident that I was no actor as everything from my forced dialog to my performance of the choregraph fell apart on stage! 

I got a taste of what my participants often feel like when I run them through a scenario! 

It's funny how the dialog (critique and audience too) would quickly wreck my ability to remember and perform my sword parts...

I could've used a lot more time to practice our routine to get it down before doing a performance!

All that said, I had a lot of fun and will remain a legend in my own mind for the time being. =)

It was fun watching all of the other participants do their skits as well. There were several good moments and lots of laughs! 

By the end of the day, we worked up a sweat, learned a lot and had plenty of light hearted fun. 

Heck, we even got to hang out with the dude who played lead roll from one of my favorite shows. Not only is he a celebrity, but he has some skills and is a cool guy too! 

All in all a great day of training! 

I'm glad I went!

If you think you might enjoy something like this, I'd highly recommend it! You'll get a good workout, meet some cool people, and even learn a bit about real sword fighting! 

It's a great time!

Here's Adrian's website:



You gotta mix it up sometimes!

Training can be serious... AND seriously fun!


Keep going,
~Craig

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