Fighting Fear

At Valkyrie we make it no secret that we’re owned and run by women. We constantly, actively recruit women as students. When the subject of women, fear, and martial arts comes up in conversation, it’s common to assume that you’re going to be talking about fear of being hit, hurt, or injured. Bzzt. Wrong. Thank you for playing. It’s not to say that the fear doesn’t exist, because it does. In my experience, though, it’s something that we’ve prepared ourselves for ahead of time. When you go to a martial arts class you know that at some point you will be punched in the face. You begin to deal with that before you even walk in the door on your first day. It’s just one small piece of the normal flurry of emotions that come with trying a new thing. The problem. The fear that takes you by surprise the…

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Self Defense Classes

Next week marks a big new step in martial arts training for me. Valkyrie will be teaching our first ever self defense classes, as a four-class series. I’ve resisted teaching self-defense for years. It’s what I taught when I started teaching martial arts, but the more I learned, the more I leaned away from teaching it. I had some good reasons. The primary reason was that I never felt I could devote the teaching time necessary to teach usable skills. I’ve always felt an urgency about teaching self-defense. What if the student needed to use the newly learned skills on their way home from class? Could I teach them enough to survive in one class? The self-defense market was my secondary reason for not teaching. The market is made up of buyers and sellers, and between the two of them self-defense has become defined as a product…a thing you can…

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I Saw This Happen…

Sometimes people don’t take the right precautions. They leave the house without thinking of their defense, and they pay for it with their lives. I’ve seen it happen. It didn’t have to. If they had know how to use their art right, they could have saved themselves. Which is one way of reading the introduction to Marozzo’s “Presas” knife defense section. Or maybe “These guys where stupid enough to leave the house without their swords and died. Didn’t have to, let me show you how…” Swap handgun for sword and you have what sounds like the start of a modern self-defense article. Marozzo’s knife defense work is very overlooked, somewhat unfairly I think. Not without reason. The layout and presentation don’t really work for modern students, and self-defense is a pretty rare part of the usual HEMA/WMA curriculum. Can’t win a tournament with these techniques, that’s for sure. And martial…

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Leaving the Past Behind

I don’t know why Achille Marozzo wrote his New Work on swordplay. I know the result of it, but I don’t know what made him sit down and put that first mark on the page. I know what it’s like to teach martial arts. I know what it’s like to write, and what it’s like to try and organize the things you think are important. I’m old enough that I can imagine beyond the romance of writing. Marozzo didn’t write in a montage, he wrote while living a life. A life that we can never really know. We don’t know the quiet intimacies of his daily life. We don’t know what he fretted about, whether his breakfast was a peaceful moment of contemplation or a noisy mess at the start of a busy day. We don’t know his friends or his pleasures. Did he write locked in a dark room,…

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Gun Not-Play

When Danielle submitted this post, I wanted to talk to her about it first, to address some of her concerns, or to maybe encourage her to look at things another way. But then I thought about it a bit, and I realized she was saying some very valuable things about martial arts training that we all take for granted. Things we should dwell on, and discuss. -David For our most recent class we went on a field-trip that included a gun range. We all took up the offer to fire a few rounds from both a hand gun and a carbine. Of the six of us, only one had ever handled a firearm before. As far as I could tell, everyone else was thoroughly excited the whole time, from the anticipation days earlier to hours after wanting more. Not me. I was a roiling bundle of nerves the whole way…

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Mothers

Mothers. They’re so … tactful. I was a few days into the visit with my parents in June when my mother asked something that had clearly been on her mind for most of them. “So… why don’t you have a flat stomach? I mean, with all the exercise stuff you’ve been doing…” For the record, this is me: I gave her the short answer (“diet”), but it was one more reminder that people who don’t do “exercise stuff” and even most of the people do have pretty much no concept of just how much goes into turning a body into what you see in magazines or on TV. Everybody (with the possible exception of my mother) has seen that Dove timelapse cover girl video, and everybody knows that everything in the media is photoshopped to death, but it’s almost impossible to internalize the idea in the same way that we’ve…

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