The group had their issues, but a cautious person could learn a great deal there. As with any martial art (at least for me), it's the love of the study that motivates me. The weapon becomes an extension of one's arm; the motions become beautiful, you become calm and focused....
I fell out with my main link to the group (for reasons outside the group). It was an ugly, devastating situation that threw me into a walking depression for years (I kept my job and paid my bills while I just...waited it out).
About five years ago, I went to the MN ren fest with my sister, my niece, and Mom.
I stopped at the Badger Blades booth, and became very enamored of a sword there.
But I couldn't justify spending $$$ on a sword that day. Plus, I didn't feel ready yet - I hadn't yet recovered from Michigan.
After I left the booth, Mom said "you should buy it". Which is not something I expected Mom to ever say about a sword.
A few weeks ago, I went back to the ren fest, to get...well not the same sword, but the same style (bastard sword). It's a five-hour drive, but one does not buy a sword by mail. I turned it into a long weekend; Z and I had a fine scenic drive along the Mississippi, I saw my sister and niece, and I saw eldest brother. We were at the ren fest just long enough to get the sword, then went to the really big candy store, then to the very nice sushi restaurant within walking distance of the hotel. The next day, we did the Minnesota zoo. I got to see the Amur leopard. I'm in two minds about zoos, but I like the way this one is organized. Z was enamored of the prairie dogs. On the drive back, we did a quick turn through Trempeleau NWR.
This is not a sword for show. It is a tool. Cutting trees, refrigerators, cars...is considered "normal use".
The sword oil has a touch of clove oil in it, and smells divine.
Getting the sword is symbolic for me, because it means I am finally Ready, to learn the new form of all the parts of my life that halted years ago.