Attack of The Plague Monkey, Part the First…and hopefully last

Stuck at home, suffering from the cursed touch of the Plague Monkey. It’s hard to write when your brain has been turned into a dusty attic full of year old porridge, but sleep can be harder. So up I get, for a little while. Might as well write. Can’t just write, of course. Gotta take a few moments to settle my mind, get in the groove. Bob Dylan today, a few moments staring out at a day almost as grey as my mood. I planned to write a few things when I got up, but it doesn’t take long for those thoughts to become a burden. Plans are anchors that hold you back. I let them go. Talking with a student about mediation the other day. I was giving her advice for relaxing, and meditation is a great way to do that. And relaxing is important. Seems like every time…

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From the Archives: Secrets of Edges

Shaving with a straight razor is an excellent education for a swordsman. You learn to be decisive, as the blade is so sharp that if you pause while in contact with the skin, you can bleed. And you learn your limits as well, because if you are tired, grumpy, or lazy, you will bleed. You learn to take time to do things right, as a well-prepared shave is pure satisfaction. You also learn self-sufficiency, because you have to put your own edge on the blade, and maintain it. Which is today’s lesson on fencing: a comparison of edges. In my houseful of sharp objects, one stands out…my antique straight razor. It’s stupidly sharp. I restored it’s edge myself. When I got it it could barely cut cheese, never mind my very tough facial hair. I hit the web for a few weeks, searching and reading everything I could find about…

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An empty mind

My writing process is evolving. It helps to develop habits, but it helps even more to drop habits. It takes me about an hour longer to get started than it should. Time wastes. Can’t get it back. But I’m not interested in wasting any time blaming myself or whining about what I do wrong, or trying to force myself to do better. My habits will change slowly, and if I run out of time to write what I want to write, c’est la vie. I will start fresh tomorrow. One clear constant that has settled in is the need for an empty mind. I do believe in lots of preparation for my writing…My novel came up after two years of slowly building up the backstory and plot, and was written in a month. I like detailed plots. I don’t even think of starting a screenplay until I have finished a…

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Old Stomping Grounds

Great night of fighting at Academie Duello’s weekly Friday Fight Night. We got off to a late start, and I was a little worried when I got there, as there were only a few people about. A quick glance showed what appeared to be an instructors/senior student meeting or something going on, and I knew friends would be arriving later, so I didn’t worry too much. I didn’t need to worry at all. I was fighting within five minutes of getting changed, and didn’t get more than a two minute break for the rest of the night. People were being shooed off the floor when time ran out…about an hour after fight night was scheduled to end. I started to cut my fights short in order to bout with more people, but I still left at the end of the night with another half dozen or more people still to…

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Punch the grubby child: The 5×5 drill

The flinch is the building block of the 5×5 drill. Five flinches, and five attacks. With five variations. One repetition of the drill takes about half an hour for two partners, and the basic drill consists of one hundred and fifty sequences. I can usually teach it to a class in about an hour, two if you really want to get it down. You only have to memorize 10 things to reconstruct the drill. Within those One hundred and fifty sequences lie almost infinite variation. The five basic flinches are the most common things people do to react to a threatening situation. Since the point of the drill is to help a student build a complete, individual full-spectrum martial art (daily defense all the way to life-and-death stuff) we can stretch out to cover these five instead of only working on what might seem the most important. It’s an odd…

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