Grumble.

Instead of writing a blog post I spent the morning pouring through wordpress code looking for problems. Some of you may have come by the site and noticed, for a brief time, that it was re-branded as a twitter login page…or at least had many of those elements scattered about. I’ll skip the technical discussion. I fixed the issue. I thought at first the site was showing the results of a failed hacking attempt, similar to the previous one. A few minutes work showed the problem coming from the part of the sidebar that shows my most recent tweets, so I disabled that, and then started plowing through the rest of the code. Half an hour of that showed no problems, so I started searching google…and found that Twitter was having some problems on it’s end. So that plugin is gone from the site, and now I need to re-code…

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Botte Segrete and the Real Eye

I still dream about learning the perfect attack, even though I know better. Most fencers do, even if they don’t think of it with the same words. The old fencing masters used to teach, for a hefty fee, a secret blow. An unstoppable strike. Arturo Pérez-Reverte even makes one the a central part of his excellent book “The Fencing Master.” The aging master has a secret blow that he has only taught to few students, and when a murder happens that he can tell was committed with his secret blow, he has to figure out who the killer is. There was a new fighter way back in the old SCA days who showed up and tried to make his mark. He took the basic lessons, did the rudimentary practice, and started to fight. Going up against some of the top guns, he grew frustrated. Getting hit over and over can do…

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Progressive Structure and the Art of Teaching

Scattered about me on the floor are printouts of Marozzo’s progression. A copy of Talhoffer propped in a little tent on a page I’d noted to follow up later. A translation of Fiore sneaks out from under “Secrets of German Medieval Swordsmanship” which is held down by Aldo Nadi’s “On Fencing.” The wall has a reprint of a large poster detailing drills from a manual of 19th century french fleuret, epee, sabre and bayonet technique. 1900’s La Canne drill pages are mixed in with Petter’s dutch self-defense superhero comics from the 1600’s. Left over from the last visit by students are I.33, Viggiani and Capo Ferro. I’ve lent out Lovino, and Giganti was left in the trunk of a car years ago and never missed. Marozzo and Agrippa live on my cel phone and the bookshelf. My notes are scrawled over everything, and every room in the house has at…

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Giant Killing

When I was 19, I was studying Hung Gar Gung Fu. I trained really hard, five or six days a week, lots of weight training and full-contact work. At one point I was working graveyards at a 7-11 in what seemed like a nice neighborhood but turned into hell itself after midnight. Being the only business in the area that was open at night, I got to be the place people came to call the police from after they’d met a demon or three. The boss encouraged us to keep weapons at hand throughout the shift, and you better believe police got free coffee all night long. One night the crap started outside of the store, for once. A frantic woman started bashing on the glass windows and screaming for help, and then opened the door, yelling something about a guy going to beat the crap out of his girlfriend.…

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Sprint, Box, Fence…

Ramped up the training in class last night, just a little. Since our December start, most students have made it to every class, which means they are starting to really show the results of the hard training. It’s not just the tough exercises that are challenging, it’s the variations of pacing I put them through. Someone could show up to one class and appreciate the exhuberant exercises, but it’s only after a few weeks that you start to see and feel what’s going on. The pain increases during recovery, and the appetite soars. It can be a time of brief confusion, while the body tries to switch gears to adapt to the rhythm that is being forced on it. It’s been a grind, but we are past that. Yesterday before training we were all tired, our bodies feeling exhausted and in need of comfort…but as the hour for class approached,…

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Move, break, run…stand

You ask someone to work on posture, and the first thing they do is stand still. They try to freeze in place. Tell that to a martial artist, and they freeze into a stance and try to make sure they have a straight back, maybe check their balance as well if they have experience. Historical fencing enthusiasts might even take an extra step of checking the alignment and lines of their blade. Posture means stillness…and stillness in martial arts is always death. Bad posture is probably the number flaw in new fencers. Almost any problem they have can, unless you are feeling even slightly pedantic, be cured with a good dose of posture training. The body is out of line, so the muscles don’t connect right. They don’t do the job they should. Arm extension is screwed up? Look at that hunch in the shoulders. Fix that first. Why are…

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