Peace, love, and swordplay

One of the most courageous things I’ve ever done was slap my bare hand down on a piece of dried animal skin. It made a noise. A noise other people heard. And I was being judged on that noise. I’ve always been a shy person. And despite my years of guitar playing, I’ve always been sensitive about my rhythmic failings. Learning to hand drum was intimidating…and learning to do it with the expectation that I would be drumming for dancers? Nearly crippling. But what’s the point of living if you don’t constantly challenge yourself? Like everything in life, bellydancing can be competitive. Drummers run the whole range of talent, and so do dancers. Some people you can look up to, others you can laugh at. There is a hierarchy, and you can move up it. But the whole point is to work together. And there is nothing quite like being…

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Sorry, was this your knife?

A few years ago I was doing my BC AST (advanced security training) course. It’s required in order to carry and use handcuffs at work. As part of the course, we were given more thorough lessons on the legalities of correct use of force. With this extra knowledge, we were then assumed able to make use of a different set of self-defense and compliance skills. One of those skills was defense against knife attacks. Our instructor was a rangy cowboy of a man, with decades of experience as a sheriff and multiple black belts. Tough guy, good instructor. He grabbed a training knife and asked who in the class had martial arts training. I put my hand up. I know how this drill is supposed to go. I’ve done it myself. What you do is pick the cocky tough guy with solid martial arts training, and tell him to defend…

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Forward from the back

Years ago I studied Karate-do. We learned to throw a very powerful punch in a way that made no sense. We’d punch with the right hand, while pulling the left hand back to the hip. The right hand would make a sudden corkscrewing snap at the last minute, just before contact. Sensei was adamant that hikite, the withdrawing hand, was the most important part of the punch. He insisted that hand be the fastest moving thing in the punch. Shotokan is a style known for hitting really hard, and we drilled that punch endlessly. Over and over. Modern martial artists make fun of it. They always ask why the stupid mechanics. Why leave your face exposed by pulling the other hand back, and even more so, why pull it all the way down to the hip? What possible advantage could that have? My response back then was mostly that we…

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Brothers and Sisters in arms

My brother was always a troublesome little cuss. When I took my very first martial arts class, I came home all fired up and eager to share what I had learned. My little brother wanted to see what this kung fu thing was all about. I showed him the cool crouching tiger pose, one leg all stretched out…and he promptly stomped on my knee. Had I been my current age instead of the limber pre-teen I was then, my knee would have shattered. As I hopped around in pain, howling in anger, my brother booked it out of the room. My parents intercepted us before major bloodshed erupted. Free from retribution, the little so-and-so heckled me for the rest of the night about martial arts being useless. Which didn’t stop him from signing up for classes a month later. Our teenage years followed a similar pattern. My brother would let…

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From the Archives: A Walk Through Marozzo, concluded.

Good morning! Here we go again. This was a project I meant to finish, but never got permission from the sources. I figured I was stretching fair use to its limits with what I had done, so I let the project die. C’est la vie. In the last year William Wilson published the excellent “16th Century Sword Combat: Bolognese Fencing and the Italian Sidesword Era.” as an Amazon Ebook. It’s $2.99. Buy it. Even if you don’t read it, think of it as buying a pioneer of WMA’s a cup of coffee. So here we go: Part 4 This week we finally move past chapter one, and go all the way to chapter five! Exciting times ahead, it seems…Just a little bit more of the essential ground work and we start to get into actual swordplay! Chapter 2 And I tell you again that you must never attack without defending,…

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From the Archives: A Walk Through Marozzo

Wrote this series of posts about a year ago. Some of my thinking has changed, but I think it’s worth sharing again. First chunk today, the last bit Sunday morning. If this post inspires you, and you want to learn more about Bolognese Swordplay, check out the Scherma-Bolognese website. It’s interesting for me to read through it. I’m so glad I’ve put more work into grammar. Oh well. Enjoy! See you again Sunday morning. Introduction Marozzo is a vastly misunderstood martial artist. There are some notable people doing good work with the manual but most people I’ve run across either ignore Marozzo for being too complex, or else only have the most superficial knowledge, and try to make it seem like more than it is. In an effort to strip away some of the illusions and misconceptions, we are going to work through Marozzo’s manual, one little step at a…

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