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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Overlooked

Despite the lack of time, I’ve really been missing my blog posts here. I’m going to find a way to carve out a little bit of time so I can post more. To get myself warmed up, I started to re-read old entries. I checked in on my site stats as well. The blog has been wildly popular, but checking out the overall top posts inspired me. Lots of posts have been read over a thousand times, which is great…but I felt like some of the bottom posts were more interesting than there numbers indicated. For some reason some posts just faded away and were never really seen. Most of them were just filler, but some of them where ones I feel are very good. I think you’ll enjoy seeing them as much as I enjoyed re-reading them again. Hopefully they will add some value to your practice.   Entropy…

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Dying at the Hands of Babes-in-Arms

I thought I would start this post off with a link to a funny video or two of people failing at chi/ki/energy flow martial arts, but I got pretty depressed looking through the available samples. I’m going to skip that. No one needs to start their week off with that sort of thing. The point I was going to make was that with the best of intentions, and sometimes even with the best kind of training, we can still wind up training in what Ameri-do-te would describe as “Bullshit.” Sparring is usually seen as the real test of a martial art, but even schools that invest heavily in sparring can wind up doing nonsense. There was a video not to long ago of a black belt exam in a large martial art school that featured some of the worst body mechanics ever seen, and some truly atrocious sparring…mostly flailing. A…

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Fighter 2.0

Now it’s time to get better. For better or for worse, today, you are the fighter you have made yourself into. It’s time to get better. Or else maybe consider taking up cello, or calligraphy or something. To improve, you need to understand precisely where you are now. The most common flaw in fighters is the flaw of assuming what you are doing is just fine, and that your development is great. When I say assume, what I mean is that there is a tendency to evaluate yourself based only on your feelings and perceptions. If I have two fighters spar for a few moments, and then individually ask them how they did, it’s not uncommon that their impression of their own performance will be wildly out of line with the touches that I took note of. Winners think they lost, and losers think they only ceded a few touches.…

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Post Assessment

First run of assessments done. Rapier sparring took up our entire night on the previous Monday, and the wrestling assessments completely destroyed the whole class and left us exhausted enough that we finished class a half hour early on Thursday. It will take me another week to work through all the video footage, alone and with the other instructors, to write up and clarify the individual assessments. Rough initial impressions are already done. All that is left is to justify our impressions with detailed review of video. As a teacher, it’s been an wonderful process for me. A quick glance at the first summary has given me months of lessons to teach, as it easily revealed some common weaknesses in the school. The process will take some streamlining. Our first plan was to have each student take center stage and fight for five touches against all the other students. This…

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Working with Assessments

Finished the first draft of our assessments over the weekend, and applied it to myself, Squeak and She-Hulk. We track thirty-six points of improvement, split over four categories. Each point is rated on a scale from 0-10, for a score range from 0-360. We consider a zero student to a be an average person with no interest or motivation, having their very first physical art class ever. A three-sixty student would be someone at the beginning level of being able to compete on a professional level in MMA, swordwork (if such a thing existed) and having the perfect fitness and mindset to go with that skill development. For professionals, we have a different scale. So running myself through the assessment, being assessed by my co-conspirators, the results were not unexpected. Harsh, but not unexpected. My martial skills reflect someone who has been training a very long time, but is not…

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