Step back into the past

I’m starting to get a nice groove going in the mornings. Get up, make coffee and have a healthy breakfast of cereal, with a cup of berries and extra cream, and a few fish oil pills. After seeing my wife off to work, I get to stand at the window for a bit and just enjoy the morning light for a bit. After almost a week off of work, I was ready to try my first workout session.

Started with some frog stands, just relaxing and enjoying the balance. I resisted the temptation to stretch out a leg, or shift in place and do some muscle work. I just took it as a small meditation break. After I was good and warmed up with that, I started working into the advanced frog, by basically doing a pushup from the frog and trying to straighten my arms. Not so easy! I’m going to have to work on that for a bit.

Worked on l-sits next, and I’ve really slacked off on that training. I sat down on the ground and got that old “my arms are too short!” feeling you get before you build up the necessary shoulder strength. I cheated my start, keeping my feet on the ground and hoisting my butt in the air. From there I was able to lock my legs straight and get airborne, but it was only about five seconds before those vicious “kicked by a horse” thigh cramps kicked in. I enjoyed that pain for a few seconds, and let myself relax. A few sets of those left me a smidge shaky.

We’ve got the living room in the middle of a floor loom setup, so I don’t really have room for indoor cartwheels or handstands anymore. I moved on to six-step work instead, slow and steady, exploring the different positions and transitions, free experimenting with movement in the circle. Very good practice, left me feeling good and strong. And more than a little shaky. It will be good to get back to serious groundwork, and I’m happy to start slow and easy.

In the evening I met up with Jordan, and we headed off to see what was up with local SCA rapier practice. It’s a long time since I attended, and a very, very long time since Thursday night was the lynchpin of my week. I was eager to see if there was any chance of reconnecting with the old me, the one that lived and breathed for SCA rapier.

We got there just before 7:30, and headed in once the doors opened, with two other people. Got changed, did some warmups and kitted up to bout each other. By eight o’clock there was a total of seven people there, including Jordan and myself. Really disappointing turnout, considering that three of the five people there had been fencing long before I even started. Two new-ish fighters. I’d heard rumours that the local rapier community was dying out, and sadly it seems to be true. Old guys, and new people…what happened all the people between those two sets? I was told there is a risk of the practice folding soon due to a $60 a month increase in rent, and low attendance. That would suck..it would be an ignoble end to an incredible legacy.

I really enjoyed fighting Godfrey, felt like old times. He always brings the best out in me, and I feel like I get the same back from him. That was worthwhile. Sadly, I flagged pretty fast. I only wound up fighting one other person, one of the new guys. I enjoyed the fight, but was only really able to muster enough energy for a few composed attacks. I spent the rest of the bout doing what I thought I had come for…trying to learn, doing stupid things repeatedly and observing my own body. I would have preferred to have a few more fun fights before I got to that phase, but it wasn’t to be. Wound up leaving after that.

I’m not sure I’ll go back, honestly. It took less than five minutes for me to remember just how much I hate the ruleset, especially the onerous armour requirements. The necessity for full-body, no skin showing protection at all times is ridiculous. I don’t care one bit if I get scratched by a blade and bleed a little. That’s a minor, minor thing. I am more than willing to take the risk, but I am not given the choice. I don’t mind so much in a formal tournament, since the idea is to dress appropriately and my Renaissance clothing provides more than ample protection, and I’m wearing it all day anyway. But at a regular practice? Working out, drilling and sweating in full coverage, with back of head protection as well? With a two hour round trip, I’m looking at maximum bang for my training buck/time.

With more people in attendance, I could probably overcome some of my distaste. Hopefully that will happen. I know there are a lot more rapier fighters in town than show up to any of the classes or practices that are available in town. When I occasion to talk to them, they all have reasons they stopped training, but they aren’t the same reason that stops them from going back to training. When you ask more about that reason, it’s kind of surprising how often you turn up some unpleasant feelings. It’s normal to have strong feelings about past associations, good or bad, and after a break people are reluctant to rekindle that connection, that commitment.

I kinda wonder if the city wouldn’t benefit from a neutral practice space, a Tanelorn for the lost rapier fighters.

 

 

 

11 Comments

  1. Well, I’m glad you had fun fighting me, but saddened about your doubts about coming back.

    There were a few people out of town or scheduling issues that meant they couldn’t be there. But also the drop in fee increase has chased off a few of the people as well. And the prospect of the fee increasing yet again (or reducing the overall time) isn’t really going to help any, thus our need to find a new location (maybe the neutral location you write about). And the armour requirements…well as one of the participants of the reduced armour experiment, we’ve come down from the full over armoured torso protection to basically an underarmour shirt (I wear an extra Tshirt over that to “help” reduce some of the percussive sting…though at some points I miss my over armoured torso…). Yes we are still fully covered, but man, the difference between 2 layers of heavy denim and 1 layer of underarmour….ya….big. Back of the head..well…not much I can do or say about that

    But God knows having more experienced fighters at the practice isn’t going to make the practice less desirable…there were several people bitching about not being able to make it out that night…so come on…give ’em another chance to cross blades with you. And the selfish part of this is….I want more chances to fight you. I don’t get enough peer level fighting time.

    • If I know there are going to be lots of people there, I’ll make it out again. What are you guys doing to attract new blood? At $40/month, you are still the cheapest option in town. People bail on AD because it’s too expensive, and they think $100.month for personal training with me is to expensive, there is a solid market for you guys to sweep up lots of new students.

      Have you thought about doing any branding work, grabbing a free website (other than the brief mention on the LG site), getting fighters to blog on the site and work social media, etc? It’s a lot of work, but it’s better than letting the practice die.

      You guys are a volunteer group, so you can ask for help from people with all this stuff…just sayin…

  2. Damn bro you made it out, that would make me come down from Kamloops just to fight you.

    • Well, now that I am free nights and weekends, let me know when you are in town! Another six months and my bankruptcy should be done…I might be able to swing some events then.

  3. Sorry if this is a silly question. What was the “six step work” you mentioned? Is it just a personal routine? Or something specific?

    Cheers,

  4. It can be hard to be the external force that breaks inertia. You will go if other people go on a consistent basis. But it is likely that other people are making the same call. So, if you go on a consistent basis, it is likely that more people will come. Once you gain some momentum, it’s easier to build to a self-sustaining critical mass.

    But it’s hard to be the person who starts the momentum. It can be disheartening to go and see the same three people over and over. But, if you go regularly, I bet you will be pleasantly surprised to discover that you are someone else’s reason for going.

  5. We’ve got a new space at the Justice Institute in New West – 7:30 to 10:00 starting in the new year. I’m hoping practicing around adrenalin junkies (cops, paramedics, firemen etc) will bring in some new blood. As for social media and branding etc – perhaps you remember how rigid the SCA is about us regular folk going out and doing such things – many hoops to dance through. Personally I think we need to do more Newcomers meet and greets with rapier and cut and thrust demos.

    The new reduced armour experiment has got a lot of people smiling. I’ve never had problem with the armour requirements myself but I’m a skinny dude – I know folk with more mass are very happy with them.

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