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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Iron and Speed

The Valkyrie workout took a long time to develop, with a lot of stumbles on the way. Until I had a recent discussion with someone online about the relative value of bodyweight training vs weight training for martial arts, I’d sort of forgotten how I got to where I am in my fitness thinking. Thinking back on it, it all kind of flooded back to me. The books, the notes, the endless plotting and charting, trying to wrap my head around sport science concepts that were far deeper than I ever expected. Bodybuilding was the only form of weight training when I was in my teens. As martial artists, we tried to avoid weigh training, because, as everyone knew, weights just made you stiff and slow. And yet…I discovered I had an affinity for them. There was something atavistic in the appeal. Nothing complex, just move a heavy weight up…

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Fit School

Let’s suppose for a minute that you run a study group for WMA…Western Martial Arts. And by the way, I’d don’t follow the weird convention of splitting WMA into those with a sport focus, HEMA a historical focus. I use WMA because it’s shorter and sounds catchier to me. I’ve been told this has been confusing some people, but bluntly…that’s what you get for relying on labels to do the thinking for you. Moving on. You run or are part of a study group that doesn’t work out, or you are a teacher at a school that doesn’t want to waste valuable class time on exercise, so you only do technical training. For whatever reason you’ve decided that you would like to start an exercise program. Only now that you’ve decided, you aren’t really sure how to do so. Your initial problems are time…you still only have so much time…

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Kick In the Ribs

Valkyrie WMA had it’s first all-sparring class last night. No workout, no  lessons, just fighting, all night long. It was a blast. With our recent heat wave, the school was baking hot. The door was kicked open for breeze, and we had a huge industrial floor fan blasting fresh outside air in, but the wooden dance floor was still hot to the touch through the entire class. It was kind of a nice touch. The wrestling mats got dragged out first, with the boxing gear piled up on the side. Knife trainers made an appearance. We got some solid fights in. The pace was tight…competitive but fun. We all got a chance to see where we were now, what our new benchmark was for performance. We spar every class, but that’s after the workout, drills and lessons. This was us fresh and strong. During the rapier bouting, Squeak and I…

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Essentially Geeky

There aren’t a lot of natural athletes locally who gravitate to the study of the sword. That’s not unusual, as people with the gift or inclination for athletic pursuits tend to find all their needs happily met. It’s a sportsman’s world out there. If you grew up liking sports, you had a million things to do growing up. Martial arts was only one option amongst many, and not a very appealing one. It’s an outlier activity. It has almost zero reward or real-world benefit for participating. And worse, the only people in school who do martial arts are geeks. That’s okay, but if you have even a slight preference, like most people, for being with similar people…when it comes time to chose, gymnastics or baseball or something will win out. Over time what develops is two diverse populations…Most geeks don’t do sports, most athletes don’t do martial arts. And we…

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Heat-seeking Fist

A good fencer can make a great unarmed fighter. The training in use of measure is unmatched by any other martial art. Facing high speed steel all the time gives you awesome reflexes and a fair bit of courage. The tools are all there, and the end result can be fantastic. The process, though…the process can be a pain in the butt. Teaching basic boxing actions like the sidestep is a fairly easy process. You take a stance, nice and fluid and mobile. Your partner punches you in the face. You don’t like that, so you straighten one leg out and shift your body a little to the side. The punch just misses and you can retaliate from your new, better position. I decided to cover it in class. It’s a straightforward exercise, and a straightforward drill, so I’m confident teaching it in class. I don’t want to work on…

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