Best and then some

No matter how terrible the martial art, it always seems like a good fighter can come out of the school. Conversely, even the best styles can have complete drudges for students. It happens. In the poor style…or even in a poor school…the student with the right motivation will find a way to excel. Really bad technique can hamper them and teach them bad habits, but usually they just respond by gravitating to one or two workable techniques and putting serious effort into them. In a good school, the chump students are the ones who show up basically just to kill time. They pile on excuses for not really ever trying, but they never seem to stop showing up. I’ve never understood what keeps such people showing up class after class. People who’ve been blessed by nature with a complete immunity to learning, due to physical shortcomings or “wiring” issues, still…

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Paradigma-dingy

Five years ago I was frantic to throw out everything I knew about fencing, and find a new approach. All that carefully built up study into Capoferro, Marozzo and Fiore had left me feeling like I was still missing something. Checking into what everyone else was doing didn’t reveal anything new, it just showed me that everyone was either on the same path as me, or catching up. It wasn’t hard to look down the road and see what was to come…more refinement, better translations, arguments over minutiae…but nothing essentially new. Which is not a bad thing, it showed an approaching maturity to what was being developed. Historical re-creation had essentially worked, on one level. It had created a new martial art that fit the perception everyone had of what it should be. It was growing to be consistent and acceptable to a wider martial arts community. Five years later,…

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I Can’t.

It’s always a frustrating moment for a teacher when a student says “I can’t do that,” and then follows up with an excuse why. Most of the time, the next phrase starts with “because …” fill in physical or mental quirk. I try to never argue the reason, but I do argue with the “I can’t” part. The only time I know I’m really asking the right things of my students is when they say those two words. If a student can do something, then I have nothing to show them. I’m not introducing anything new into their lives without that phrase. I am still doing a lot of valuable things. I’m improving them, refining what they have, showing them how to make best use of what they are capable of. But that next step, the big part of training, is to increase your potential beyond your capabilities. At least,…

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Gamers

My first exposure to historical martial arts was in a tournament setting. All my training was intended to make me a tournament winner. I’ve fought in a lot of tournament, with a lot of rules. I’ve run tournaments and modifed the rules time and time again. The rules are usually modified to try and influence the behaviour of fighters. Too many double kills? Try a punishment system. Fights too static? Time-limited bouts. Athletic newbs one-shotting experienced people? First-to-fifteen bouts. The real bugaboo that crops up all the time is realism. We want our art to be realistic, so we try to manipulate the rulesets to try and create a fighter that could survive a real fight. We contrast realism with sportsmanship…or as it is sometimes derogatorily slanged: Honour. A black and white distinction is drawn between the two, as if they are sides opposed to each other. One must be…

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Building a Workout Plan

It’s Thursday morning, which means I have a little over ten hours until I’m back in class. I’m already getting excited. It’s hard to sit down and write, because I want to run around and shadow box. I want to hit my L-sits. I want to move. I don’t want to wait til tonight for class. It doesn’t seem fair that I have to wait…I’m bursting with energy now. A good workout program manages your energy levels, and keeps you excited for more work all the time. It also keeps you steadily improving. It doesn’t make any sense, though. If you don’t understand the science behind it, it can feel kind of weak. It’s not the workout you think you should be doing, and it’s not as challenging as you feel it should be. We want the montage. We want an incredible few weeks of mind-bending effort that magically transforms…

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Sticks and Stony Hands

My hands seem to be more callous that anything else. I suppose it’s a side effect of so much weapons work, and all the movement work. My hands are on the ground a lot. It’s inevitable that the body will change and adapt to the circumstances I choose to put it in. We’ve been doing a lot of cane work lately, derived from the modern French sport cane fighting. My chest really feels the work. Adaption hurts. Working on such an athletic style, you’d think my legs would hurt the most, as low strikes are done with a drop of the body and bounce back up. The correct mechanics make that a fairly smooth action, once you’ve put in a little practice. It’s a bit odd at first. You get used to it. The forehand strike should be the easiest part. I’ve had a lifetime of striking arts, after all.…

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