Stormriders

It’s windy here today. A rare spring windstorm is tearing the place up. Clear blue skies and warm sun, and our cedar hedge is tipping over a risky angle. The tall pine across the road is dancing a long counterpoint to the snappy percussive moves of the street zelkovas. And between all of that, the blowing leaves and bits of things skewing about, the crows and gulls sport. The storm birds are having a great time. They’ve got the skies to themselves today, and don’t seem to have a care in the world. The gulls are pulling their favourite hover trick, riding the drafts just right to keep that pinpoint of air partnered with them. The crows are spinning and ripping about in an acrobatic frenzy, moving at eyeblink speed and showing off for each other. Everything else huddles from the cold blast, even the indoor cats burrow deeper in…

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Bulletproof

I used to fight like a rabbit. Being a small guy in a world of giants, I learned to move fast. I’d hit hard and dart right back out, dodging every shot that came at me. I built a fight style around the speediest and safest shots I could throw, and tried to never let anyone touch me. So I was a bit surprised when I switched over to boxing, and had some big galoot smash a haymaker right into my jaw in the first class. Knocked me about five feet over, he hit me so hard. Didn’t hurt me a bit. All this time thinking I was the little guy who should never be hit, and it turned out I was a tank. And once I learned that I could stay close and take shots, I learned that I could hit a range of new targets, and hit them…

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Bruises, and A Shot To The Face

Way back when I was feeling like a hot shot rapier fighter, traveling around and hitting tournaments all over, I had a revelation. I had just wrapped up a solid class, and was feeling pretty damned proud of myself. I got in a ton of fights with a lot of people, and had done well. I had some real bangin’ passes with some solid fighters, lots of back and forth, battering each other pretty well. I hit the washroom to change, and caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror when I took my shirt off. I smiled, and posed proudly. I was covered in bruises. It felt awesome. I was so proud of my collection of warrior marks, I was posing and turning about, checking out all the coolness. And then it hit me…everyone of those bruises represented a puncture or a cut. They weren’t the marks I was…

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Naked Fencing

Every morning before I get writing, I spend a little time in reflection. I try not to plan out my posts, but just write from whatever spark seems to drift up from that quiet time. Sometimes it’s quick…an idea will hit me in a minute or two, and I hit the keyboard right away. Other days idea’s float about, but nothing rises up. I start to worry about the clock and deadlines on those days. Today I woke up with a few ideas, but none of them clicked. So, I spent some time digging around for inspiration. I’m coming up on a year of daily posts on this blog, which is a frankly frightening amount of writing to have done. At two or three hours of work per post, that’s a big chunk of my life being put onto these virtual pages. The genesis of all this started a lot…

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A little spring in the step

Spring, and coincidence or not, we are hitting a turnover point at the school. Real life, as is the way, has claimed some students. And a number of new people have shown interest, in the usual balance of things. I love putting a sword in someone’s hand for the first time. It’s such a good feeling. On one hand, I know I’m about to introduce someone to hours of fun. On the other hand, I’m helping preserve an art and heritage that I believe has a value that should be carried into the future. My approach to teaching new students has evolved over the years. In the SCA, the focus was on making sure that everyone spoke the same language…technique, safety, rules, blow calibration, calling hits correctly. At Academie Duello, the focus was on making sure the student absorbed the basics they would need to carry them forward through the…

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Entropy and the Law of Fencing

I’ve always had an odd envy of the dedicated…the “real”…historical fencers. The people that spend so much time not just parsing a system down to it’s atomic elements, but reconstructing those bits into solid decision trees. They build an impeccable logic for each choice, and can back it up with chapter and verse quotes. The result is recognizable. A clean, methodical approach to training and fighting that seems to branch across multiple systems. In the world of Western Martial Arts, it’s most apparent in the influence of Classical fencing, which has placed it’s pedagogical stamp on everything from Italian Rapier Longsword work to German Dussack. It’s a beautiful model, dominant in it’s presentation, clearly claiming it’s rightful place as the one true way. It’s not the only successful way, though. There is no excuse for not having a deep, even atomic, knowledge of your art. You must be able to…

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