Monkeys and Tigers

I was watching one of the newer students work on his cartwheels last night. Like most of the students, he was new (at least as an adult) to doing cartwheels. He’d asked some advice about doing an advanced variation, and I told him to start by working on a few specific basics first…back extension and arm position mostly. I watched for a bit before going on to my exercises, and got to see him nail exactly what I was looking for. The last cartwheel in a series of three was done slow and smooth, with just enough stall at the midpoint to let him choose his descent. Solid strength development on display. It makes sense to me to incorporate cartwheels into fencing training. Fencers of any kind are notorious to me for having weak backs and shoulder problems, and a lot of their fencing form and tactical choices come from…

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The good, the bad, and the oh-hell-no…

It was cold yesterday, and the forecast called for clear skies. It was sunny all day. When I went out last night to take the garbage out, it was the right kind of cloud. Bright…the kind you get in the cities when all the streetlights reflect off of the bottom of the clouds, and cast everything with a pink-orange light. I walked back in the house and told Courtney it was going to snow, which was no surprise for either of us, because you could smell it in the air the last few days. I checked the forecast, and it said it would be partially cloudy later, but still clear. I checked three more weather prediction services and they all said the same thing…clear skies, no snow. So of course, I look out the window this morning and see freezing rain, and facebook reports of snow in the rest of…

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Spider in the chest

Making monsters clicked last night, like I was waiting for it to. The first sprint drill was alright, but in the second…the subtle fire kicked in. That tiny and angry spirit inside me stopped saying “Gosh, this is hard. What a good warmup…” and instead started to whisper, “More. Harder. Pain. Feed me pain…” Being the oldest and least fit person in class, I’m happy to use myself as the fitness barometer. The pressure had finally risen to where it needed to be. It takes a while to prepare the body for real effort. At first, everything seems hard. The first time you sprint, it feels like a maximum effort. But it isn’t…it’s not even close. The brain takes prep time before it’s ready to send some proper juice to the muscles, and last night was the first night I was ready to assume that the students had satisfied that…

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To suck or to not suck

Spending the morning cruising through the websites of various WMA groups, checking out youtube videos. Painful experience. I know bad video is a thing that can happen to anyone. It’s the rule more than the exception. I do kind of wish people would lose the editing software. When you have to spend half of your frames explaining what people should be seeing, you shouldn’t be using video as a medium. And I stop watching the demonstrations the minute I see any response that requires a static partner…which is…hm…every video? Seems like it, anyway. Harrumph. There are more groups out there than I imagined, or have heard of. Some of them appear to really suck. The kind of suck that comes from medium-fish-in-tiny-pond instructors. That’s not always a bad thing…it depends on the instructor. But suck rolls downhill. Some people are teaching because they are excited by what they have learned,…

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Evolution is a trust issue

It was in the middle of a session of sumo wrestling that I suddenly realized I was strong. Stronger that most people, actually. I was tied up with Adam Lein, who had just barreled into me and was working for a grip. I was doing the usual thing I do…trying to counter his movements, trying to not resist and find a superior position so that Adam would trip himself up. And suddenly my brain clicked a little bit. I remember that I had a collar grip on Adam with my right hand, and I just thought…wait a minute, I think I might actually be stronger than him. I’ll test it out. I gripped the back of his head with my right hand, and shoved. Down. I think I just about slammed his head into the ground. Oops. When I was younger, I was a wee little guy. I had a…

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Weakness and Strength

Lying on my back, completely relaxed, and trying to starfish myself. It’s been a personal test of mine for years. Back in my powerlifting days I did some serious injuries to myself, and mobility suffers. Tearing my pec meant lifting my left arm over my head was a tricky thing. At one point I could bench 300lbs, but only military press 25lbs. If I laid on my back, with my arms at my side and tried to slide my straight arms all the way along the floor until they were over my head? I couldn’t get past shoulder level. So handstands and cartwheels have been serious challenges for me. Now that I’ve been working on the gymnastics skills for long enough, I can move my arms all the way to my ears with only a little “pop” happening near shoulder level. So last night I tried to move my legs…

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