Monday, March 25, 2013

A day with the Imperial Amerikan Air Corp.

Photo of the Imperial Amerikan Air Corp.

This past Sunday I spent the day with the Imperial Amerikan Air Corp. (IAAC) a Steampunk Living Fantasy Troupe based out of the Philadelphia, PA area. My first introduction to the IAAC was due to a chance meeting with Major Girth, the head of the group. While he was not in character or in uniform during our meeting, the topic of the IAAC came up, and I was intrigued enough to want to find out more. It came to my attention that they would be exhibiting at Wicked Faire an event that I was planning to be at as well. So I made it a point to visit their conference room where they were holding panels on Alternative World Building, discussions of their upcoming just released (as of april 11, 2013) book "Steam Powered Tales of Awesomeness Volume 1", and performances by the "Cavalcade of Fancy Ladies" a bellydance troupe with ties to the IAAC.
Cover Photo "Steam Powered Tales of Awesomeness! vol 1"

After attending one of their panels, I met and spoke again with Major Girth. I let him know that I enjoyed what his group was doing, and that I'd like to find out more about them, and possibly see what was involved in becoming part of the group.

This past Friday I got a message from Major Girth letting me know that the group was having Singlestick practice at his place, and that I was welcome to come check it out if I was interested. I had absolutely no idea what singlestick was but I let him know that I'd be there.

I arrived at the Girth home on Sunday, and was introduced to the attending IAAC members. They seemed like a great, welcoming group of guys. Little did I know that within the hour I'd be in the midst of the group, being pummeled with 3/4" diameter wooden rods, and enjoying every minute of it!

Singlestick is a martial art that involves the Singlestick, a wooden rod about 3' long, 3/4" in diameter, and a hard leather basket hilt. The rod is used much as you would a sword, parrying blows and striking your opponent. "The Game" of Singlestick comes in several forms, however the form I was introduced to involved opponents being placed at a set distance apart. Their rear foot is planted to the ground and is not allowed to move. The opponents swing and parry against each other until one lands a solid headshot to the other player, thus ending the round.

In the beginning I let them know I was only going to be observing. They said that was fine, but encouraged me to at least take up a stick and participate in the warm-ups learning several different swings and blocking methods - so I played along. After practicing they faced off against each other showing off their skill at "the Game", exchanging blows, parrying, altering timing to throw opponents off rhythm. They all had different strategies, some being very aggressive, others waiting for just the right moment to move in. In some ways it was like a chess match. 

Watching was cool, but I decided I wanted to try it after all. I was offered a fencing mask and Singlestick and was set up to face off against one of the other newcomers to "the Game". Little did I know that despite the fact the opponents I would be facing were also new to this particular art, they all have had previous experience with other forms of swordplay. Needless to say I was outmatched receiving much more often then giving, but it didn't matter I was having fun losing.

Unfortunately because of previous back issues, I couldn't play for very long - and I did end up watching most of the practice. The group was impressive to watch and overall the actual practice lasted about 2.5 to 3 hours.

What did I learn from this experience? For one thing, I am far from being in shape, and that is something I really need to work on! I was told I would be welcomed back to future practices, and that I may want to look into getting a back brace as it may help with back pain and allow me to participate.

After practice everyone hung out for a few more hours to socialize. It was a good time, and I hope to hang out with them again soon.

If you're interested in Steampunk culture, and are near the Philadelphia area, I'd encourage you to check out one of the events that the Imperial Amerikan Air Corps. are attending. The upcoming events they are scheduled to be at are:

Steampunk Gettysburg - March 29th - March 31st in Gettysburg, PA.

The Twisted World: Divine Decadence - April 27th - 28th in Somerset, NJ.

The Steampunk World's Fair - May 17th - 19th in Piscataway, NJ.

Drop by and say hello to them, tell them your heard about them from Mario.

And keep your eyes on these guys, they plan to make a name for themselves as leaders of Steampunk culture, and from what I know of them, they're on the right track, or airship as the case may be!

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