No snow abounds

Of all the things I could be doing with my morning, I’m sitting in front of my computer. The sunlight is coming from around the corner, but I can’t quite see it. I hear it’s snowed in the rest of the city, but it’s business as usual here. Fresh espresso, fresh smell of cat puke. Stupid beast seems to love to wolf down his food and throw it all up, and then go back to casual eating from the other cat’s bowl. I suppose there is some sort of lesson there, but damned if I care what it is.

Change the music. Sip the coffee. Off we go.

Shy just enough students last night that I could let the evil out, a little. Being a good teacher means managing the pace of the class, making sure everyone gets a full dose of learning and doing in every class. With a big class, you keep the pace super fast, and blisteringly sharp. Two hours cranks by. With less students, you can pay more attention. I am the devil that creeps out in the details, and when things slow down I have time to try and get my hooks into everyone.

I had time to stretch out the workout, mix things up just a little and hit muscles a little different, a little harder. I was able to risk trying some more complex boxing drills, the kind that break up your own internal rhythms and force you to impose new unnatural patterns on your body.  With a little more room to move, we got to touch the edges of my style of catch wrestling…seeing the body as a series of tiny projections to be latched on to. It’s like rock climbing, except instead of a goal of climbing up, we climb to warp and twist our opponent. Snap, crackle…pop.

And I got to really spend some time starting to see what kind of rapier fighters the new guys will be. The hard part for me is always balancing the need for solid basics with what the student brings to the table. I know what good technique is, and why it works, but when a student does something stupid and it seems to work over and over? I’m not inclined to tell them to stop doing it anymore. I have a criteria I want everyone to develop at each stage of development. In the first stage, I want them to develop the due tempi block and attack structure.

Surrounded by advanced fighters, this is already difficult for them. The single and part-time tempo attacks are being demonstrated on them constantly, and they see the value and efficiency in such actions. They lack the experience to pull them off, though. As a result, their slow work tends to ape the actions, the outer shape of the close line actions, without the heart of the actions…the finely tuned sense of measure, line, and tempo.

So I need to clean this up, and get them focused on what they need to learn now. They need to develop the basic skills that should still work to a degree on the advanced fighters…which should force the advanced fighters to go back and work on their basics as well. A good plan. A nice theory. But when you see one of the new guys pull of a completely sweet move, in what Fiorists/Aristotelians would refer to as complex or compound tempo? That’s a nature I have to work with.

Which is, of course, the thing I love best about being a teacher. I have my model that I want to apply to students, but it has to shape and fit each student. There has to be a mutual agreement between both in order to create style. One or the other can be broken if you try to force to much compliance.

4 Comments

  1. We fixed our puking cat by a) changing the dry food we gave them (we have two cats, one pukes the other doesn’t) and b) reducing the amount of food we gave them (on the basis that if they are really hungry they will ask for more but simply allowing them a large bowl of food to eat at their leisure leads to binging – much like us humans). Two months later and no puke so far.

    Oh, and as always, good stuff about the martial arts teaching… 😉

    • We’ve changed food a few times, I think it’s just that the older cat is super high strung. Might switch them up to twice a day feeding instead of once a day, and reduce the volume a little. He does seem to have the desire to eat his portion all at once.

      Now that I think about it, he didn’t use to have that problem when we get the food bowl full all the time…but he sure was getting fat. Crap, we’ve made a bulemic cat!

      And thanks, by the way. I do love feedback on the writing!

      • A neurotic and bulemic cat? Wonderful! Should have said, we feed our cats twice a day but they also live outside so hunt too.

        As to your writing, I generally get very bored by martial arts writers because they become increasingly predictable the more I read from them. You are already lasting quite a lot longer than anyone else I can remember! You are a good writer and you have interesting things to say. A rare combination.

        • I do prefer outdoor cats…but we have an urban infestation of coyotes, and they do love a good snack of cat. So indoor they stay, and I get to enjoy changing cat little. Yuck.

          One of my motivations for starting this blog was boredom with everyone else’s blogs…I can only take so many discussions of what Capo Ferro’s Terza is, or what Fiore meant by “step”, or the endless rambling about anything Liechtenauer before I start to go a little batty. Some things are best realized in harness. I want to know about the people training, and what their experiences are. No one seems willing to let their real voice be heard, and I’m not interested in a pure scholar environment. I’d be in university if I wanted that, not fencing for a living…So I hoped I could encourage other people to do their own talking.

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