Cut and Thrust and Step

Cutting was next up in our basics rotation last class. The idea was to spend the first five minutes or so of the rapier portion of class just doing a simple review drill, and then moving on to the lesson for the night. I had a more rigid technical practice planned for a follow-up, but after our Stretching/Prana-bindu (yes, we are going to call it that now. We’re geeks. Deal.) class, there was no way anyone had the juice for finicky point work. So I dredged up some older cutting drills, and we kept on. Cutting is an excellent way to follow up an intense and draining session of re-alignment. In the Prana-bindu session, we learned just how strong each muscle was in relation to it’s opposite member. Our bodies were pulled apart and put together, and we re-learned how to sit, stand and walk all over again when we…

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Movement and Flexibility

Not good. Good. Really bad. In my opinion, anyway. Martial artists always talk about one another. It’s somewhat essential…we train in combat arts, we’d be stupid to not be paying attention to what everyone else is doing and how they are doing it. Hanging out with older and more deeply experienced eastern martial artists, there are some common critiques of western martial artists and instructors. Most critique can be brushed off simply because they aren’t seeing what they expect to see, but some is more telling. Walking through a local mall recently, there was this very old south asian guy walking by. He didn’t stand out at all, but to my eye he immediately lit up as a very scary dude. The vibe was that of a serious martial artist, one with teaching and practical experience. To my eye, it was clear. I have no idea if I was right…

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The Long Path of Measure Control

When someone comes to our classes with a background in unarmed martial arts, they’ve got a hard road ahead of them. Depending on the length of time they’ve been training, they may have to deal with overcoming a trained reflex that gets them into some trouble. Japanese or Korean style striking martial arts actually lend themselves well to rapier fencing. The focus on fast linear striking and quick recovery translates very well. New students can often find solid early success in bouting because of this background. Japanese styles that emphasize low stances have even more advantages, because the lunge position is something strongly emphasized. The problem is that their sense of comfort eventually screws them up. Or rather, their sense of where safety lies screws them up. Having a large body of technique that all takes places at a certain range, there is a subconscious desire to be at that…

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Power and Evil

There will always be people who only see a sword as a means of ruling over others. They think less of the art of swordplay, and more of the visceral pleasure of watching someone cower before them. Tyranny is a brutal human disease that we seem to continue to let fester. Martial arts can be a home to the worst of us. Swordplay is no different, but you would think that maybe…perhaps…the slight more implied interest in things historical would give us an eye towards seeing the mistakes of the past and trying to not repeat them. I grew up in a generation that had a healthy disbelief that any rational, good people could have allowed nazism the power that it had. How could they not see the evil that was brewing, that was so obvious to us now? Couldn’t they feel the hate, the evil? As I got older…

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Beauty and The Beast

  Being pretty means you win at life. That’s how it works. If you are born with the right genetics for the time, it’s like being born to the right family. You will have advantages in life. You will win where others fail, with no effort needed. The Stoics disregarded beauty, amongst other things. It had no value because it was a thing that was out of your control. No one has any say in the family they are born into, or the body and face they are born with. If you are born with physical gifts, you will have advantages because of the Cargo Cult mentality. People will believe they can somehow gain your advantage by supporting you. Vote for rich people, and you will become rich too! Because magic, I suppose. We are supposed to be modern people, educated and above such biases and bigotry. We are supposed…

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Learn to Love the Bomb, Or At Least Stop the Hate

Two interesting articles popped up in my news feed towards the end of last week, and kind of stuck in my head. The first was a study on obese people, comparing some brain imaging with that of non-obese people. It was a small study, and therefor of only limited value, but pointing in good directions for further research. I liked it because it echoed things that I believed anyway. Weight is a non-issue for me. Combat sports allow for success at a range of body types. It is an issue for me that some people are inactive. I liked this study because it gave a simple reason for this. Some people only see exercise as punishment. They don’t feel any reward. They don’t connect the thought of joyful physical activity with the image they hold of themselves. Worse, when they think of performing an athletic activity, they can only feel…

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