From the archives: Ruminations on a Duel

Dug up from the archives, originally posted on another blog a few years ago. Part One It’s been about two years, so I think a retrospect is in order. Mostly to clear up some misunderstandings, but also to share what I learned from the experience. I’ll add conclusions at the end. It started with Justin Ring and I, probably drinking, talking about fencing. Big surprise, eh? We decided that life was short, and the one thing we both wanted to experience was a duel. A real one. So we decided to do it. We picked a date three months in advance, at the first Garibaldi Peak Accolade Tournament. We announced it so we’d commit to it. We decided the best option was first blood, with sabres. Seemed like the safest alternative. We got a pair of the Hanwei Pecarroro sabres, as they seemed light enough not to hack a limb…

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Bad Day at Black Rock

I’ve had some pretty bad days fencing. I remember one tournament really sucking. I’d just been on a hot streak, and really felt like I had something to prove. I got myself up at five in the morning to get ready, and drove two hours south to a tiny town in Washington state to compete. It was a busy tournament, maybe fifty fighters. I could beat the easy people, the up and comers, and was about even with the good fighters. I felt like I was ready to take on the top dogs, and wanted to bring them my best game. I was doing okay. I was fighting Jherek Swanger, who is an awesome and really enjoyable fighter, as well as an excellent translator of period fencing materials. I don’t really remember what I did, but I know I screwed up, and screwed up at high velocity. I’d been ramping…

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Lion DNA

I learned rapier in a pure Darwinian environment. The only way it could have been more Darwinian would be with copious bloodshed. The Society for Creative Anachronism frowns on bloodshed. Historical swordplay instruction proceeds in an orderly fashion. You start with the basics, show skill, and progress to the more complex things. You are taught all the important things in the correct order. Guard, measure, line and tempo. You drill, are evaluated, corrected, and drill some more. At the right time, you start to test your skills against classmates. Eventually you test yourself against others. In the SCA, you start with a sword, a bare handful of instruction, and a fight. If you survive that, you’ve probably already learned some valuable lessons. The fight is your primary way of learning. You beat up everyone you can, and then you find people who can beat you up, and learn to beat…

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Crunchy bits

There has always been one sure-fire way to get me shouting at a movie screen. It’s that scene were the knight in shining armour shows up…sans gorget. Plate armour without a gorget is like pants without a crotch. Almost as bad was in “Game of Thrones” when we see a training scene for recruits. Full contact weapons training, and they only wear breastplates for protection? It must be a land of magic…no concussions, no broken fingers… Buying armour is a big and scary step for western martial artists. It’s not just that it’s expensive, it’s that it’s mysterious…and rare. As a consequence people tend to look for modern solutions, or wind up with armour that’s little better than decorative. It doesn’t have to be that way. You can chose good, functional, comfortable and affordable armour, without too much effort. Affordable armour is, of course, relative. If you start out playing…

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Coaching Cats

A funny thing happens to cats when they get to a certain age. The little bits of the pelt that are hard to reach start to accumulate a mat of fur. With a long haired beasty like mine, it starts with one little clump. I sat down this morning with a new grooming tool and started working on the little bugger. I knew he had one big clump on his chest that I took off with scissors a week ago, but when I got in and started cleaning him up, I found dozens of the damned things. He grooms himself enough to be presentable, but it’s apparent that some spots have become too much trouble for him to reach, or he just doesn’t care. Whatever the initial reason, they are now too matted and clumped for him to deal with. So, over the next few weeks General Starkiller Fangsalicious the…

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