Bitter Beans Make Smooth Coffee

Let’s say I open up a small coffee shop. I have world class baristas, the best beans and machines money can buy, and we make utterly killer coffee. Business is slow but good. But then a new neighbour moves in and starts competing. It’s not Starbucks, it’s a McDonalds “Bistro” franchise. They sell something they call espresso, and make all the fancy drinks in addition to the usual McD’s fare. Obviously they are doing so because they’ve seen that my business is making money, and they want a slice of that pie. They have a huge customer base and massive presence. People will flock to them because of that. People will drink their brown swill and think it’s proper coffee. Worse, people that might be future customers of mine might taste that swill first, and improperly think that all espresso tastes like swill. I might lose a customer that should…

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Bitter Words and Black Hearts

A couple of months ago, we hit our favourite after-class eatery. It was a biggish class, and we over-filled a booth with a table added on at the end. The food was wonderful, the booze was better. Everyone was feeling good and accomplished, and we were merrily chatting away. As sometimes happens, the talk turned to our chosen rival school. We chose them as rivals out of respect and friendship, and in many ways we are working hard to make ourselves their “foil” with the intention that both schools can excel against everyone else. Nice goals…but after chatting for a while we started to get a little catty. The tone started to change to a bit of undeserved derision. It’s embarrassing to admit now, but it’s one of those things that can sometimes happen. Fortunately, we got called on it. Harshly. Squeak reminded us that we were not only dissing…

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The Fencers Body

No one really cares about an old sprinter, but old fencers? That’s not a bad thing to be. An aged fencing master is a pretty revered thing. We expect them to be brilliant, cranky, capable of the occasional brilliant bout that puts the current champion in his place, and constantly spouting Yoda-like mysterious wisdom. If Yoda swore a lot. It’s not a bad goal for every fencer to aim for that lofty goal at the end of their performance arc. If you’ve got the talent, the knack, why not? The only real bump in that plan is that competitive sword work and longevity are two things that do not go hand in hand. Competitive sword work and repetitive strain injuries go hand in hand…or reconstructive surgery. Or rehabilitative physical therapy. Rapier and longsword training for performance can trash the body…unless we take the right approach to training. Fitness isn’t just…

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Strong Body

Strength is everything. It’s the key to real mobility. It’s the key to a balanced and happy body. Real flexibility comes from strength, as does speed. Athletic ability in general can be seen as nothing more than a quest for idealized strength. To me, the difference between a fat person and an overweight person is mobility. I talked about that in my last post. Mobility is key to being healthy. And just like fat people, skinny people suffer from lack of mobility, too. I might refer to “overweight” as being the bad side of fat, but underweight doesn’t quite have the same meaning for skinny people. The more accurate term is “understrong.” It’s a sort of running joke that people who do historical re-enaction are overweight. I suppose this applies to geeks in general. Those of us who fall outside of the normal spectrum of interests are supposed to fall…

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Healthy Body

Rough week for a number of friends of mine. A person who spanned a few communities and was friends with my friends passed away suddenly in his sleep. I remotely watched an online outpouring of grief happen, followed by a celebration of life, and it got me thinking. This person, who I don’t ever recall meeting, was my age. He apparently was one of those people who are able to really grasp the oddity of life, not just embracing it but actively sharing it’s joy with others. Forty five seems a young age to die, but I suppose it isn’t. It should be a young age to die. It really should. If your grew up awkward and not fitting in because you were different, your late thirties and forties is often the time when you really start to blossom. You find a courage and confidence that was unknown to you…

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Good Then Bad

Some nights are good, some are bad. A month or so ago I had a night where I didn’t land a single touch on any of my students. I got maybe a few double-kills when I screwed up, but that was about as good as I was going to do. Frustrating, but that’s how it goes sometimes. I train my students to be better than me at every step of the process, and they do well. I love it when they perform at their best, I do my utmost, and they nail me anyway. That’s a good feeling. It shows that they know my habits and have worked hard on their own skills. It’s absolutely in me to get better. I have the experience and the knowledge to fight at as high as level as I want. Only my mind stops me from reaching the heights. I’m usually okay with…

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