Double Death Decisions

I hate double kills. It annoys me to no end when I see students do it, I hate it when it happens to me, and I find it inexcusable when I see it happen in tournaments.  And yet somehow despite my hate, they continue to happen. Back in my SCA days, we tried a number of methods to get rid of them. We mucked about with the rules and training. We tried making double kills destructive, removing both participants from a tourney. The bad result of this, especially in single-elim tourneys (one received hit and you are out of the tournament,) was that the “good” fighters were getting knocked out by less experienced fighters…and by each other. It was not a satisfying method of determining who was the best fighter. Made tournament wins seem too much like luck and not enough like skill. We also tried to change up training.…

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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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Cultivating Awareness

When I demonstrate a technique, I do want you to perform it the way I do. Last night we did wrestling, and explored some pinning movements from a couple of traditions. I try to show the technique clearly, and then break it down visually and verbally so that people can have the most understanding before they try it for themselves. What I can’t demonstrate is the feel of the technique. The integrity of the connection between my opponent and I. When I go around and check on everyone’s application, I see a common error repeated. The physical expression of the error differs from student to student, and sometimes that needs to be addressed, but usually fixing the common error does the job. I’ll look at the students trying to apply the technique, and I see that the crossing of the arm is at the wrong place, the wrist is at…

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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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Painting Death

Ditch all the drama of martial arts, and you are left with a reality that doesn’t jive with our spoken or even understood reasons for training. Mostly we spend time justifying our interest. A lot of the justifications I hear don’t stand up under some scrutiny, but we still use those justifications amongst ourselves to try and make ourselves more right than other practitioners. I train for reality, therefor your sport approach sucks. I train for historical accuracy, so your reality approach sucks. You train just for fun? Poser. Loser. Your art is empty. Long term goals are always a bit of a fantasy. As the old saying goes, you can tell what you will be doing two years from now about as well as you predicted today two years ago. Nothing wrong with putting a little aside for a rainy day, but don’t waste today’s opportunities. For us martial…

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