Myriad Paths

Handwork has certain character to it. In Valkyrie, our handwork is mostly modern boxing, with legwork thrown in from Savate and Shotokan. It’s a good blend, workable and enjoyable. Very practical. But it’s not a complete game. Modern boxing is a distillation of things that work, but much as we see in modern fencing, it’s a distillation that has thrown out workable things for the sake of consistency, whether for rules or safety. In fencing, the fight between the French and Italian schools, and the fights within the Italians schools, left us with a winner and many losers. It’s worth remembering that the losers once stood shoulder to shoulder with the winner, and earned equal respect. That shouldn’t be forgotten. Best is often only a marginal distinction. Boxing is an open art. The feet and hips swing, drive the shoulders, and the hands arc to the target. The arc might…

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The Wolf Lord of Blades

Capo Ferro sounds so much better when you make him all “Game of Thrones,” doesn’t he? Sounds a lot more badass. Would you rather learn the sword art of some guy named “Lichtenauer” or learn the style taught by the Wolf Lord of Blades? I think I need to make up some new business cards. Or at least some new t-shirts. Translation is so much more fun when you throw accuracy away and focus on romanticism…or even orientalism. Building up on the rapier portion of class for the next few months, I’ve got a series of progressive exercises to work through. I know what I want from students at the end of the process, and I know what steps they should need to get there. Some might need more steps, some might need less. I have to be prepared for all those eventualities. I’m preparing the way I always do,…

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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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Slow The F— Down…

If I could only ever do one thing to improve my fencing, it would be slow work with a competent partner. It’s the mother of all good technique, it’s the best teacher there is. In one bout of slow work, I can find my focus for my personal drills and exercise for the next week. I can learn where my posture is off, how my habits are leaving openings, and what things I should be developing as new attack skills. It’s simply the most important skill there is in martial arts, and it’s easily the one people screw up the most. The things I’ve done to try and make people do slow work correctly are numerous…Forcing everyone to move on the same count, bringing doumbek’s to class and playing at different speeds to entice people to follow the tempo, rants, explanations, grabbing someone’s arm and physically moving it at the…

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A Little More Film Fun

The new phone has a handy built-in video highlight feature. Just had to try it out in class last night, and share the results with you guys. A little swordplay: A smidge more of our workouts: And a little bit more of the whole class: Apparently the software uses some complexity juggling to stitch things together, and it’s tweakable with some work. I’ll be putting together some more video this weekend to explain what we do in class better, but I thought you all might enjoy the little robot-generated teasers first. If I can figure out a quick way to tweak them, I might make a habit of uploading highlight videos every few classes…probably to facebook, maybe google+. They sure are fun so far…

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