Protection and Pain: Finding the Balance

In the picture above you can see two Valkyrie coaches going at with Cold Steel plastic Bowie trainers, and wearing partial High Gear body armour suits. High Gear suits are awesome. We are incredibly lucky to have a pair of these suits at the school. Each suit provides a set of wrist-to-instep protection that is guaranteed to keep you safe from injury while sparring with full intent. So why are we wearing only partial suits in this photo? What makes the High Gear suits valuable, as explained on their website, is that they prevent injury but they don’t prevent pain. So if I punch you in the face while you are wearing the helm, you won’t get a broken nose. But your head will rock back and you will feel like you just got punched in the face. You will not enjoy it. But you won’t be injured. Why is…

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East and West and Up

Worf and Squeak were back in class last night, freshly jet lagged from visiting Austria and Poland. It says something about dedication to training to be hitting class less than 24 hours after touchdown. I fell asleep last night reflecting on the odd dedication we all have to our class. If someone misses a week or so of training, they don’t talk about missing class, they talk, with almost fear, about losing their edge. It’s as if each and every single class yields a palpable gain to each student. Taking two weeks off leaves you feeling like you have to put in a ton of extra work to catch up. It’s not like we have any concrete way of measuring progress. We don’t record number of wins or how long you held a handstand or L-sit, or how many cartwheels you did. We don’t count submissions for or against. There…

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Up to our necks in it

Ripped a cow in half yesterday. Tore into it like a pack of velociraptors. Sectioned it off, scattered it amongst us, cut it to shape. Started with half a cow actually. It’s skin, to be a little more honest. A full side of tooling leather. Six gorgets for the class, to start. After that maybe a set of demi/clamshell gauntlets for everyone. Some of the students of Valkyrie WMA gathered in our living room for our first armour making session. We started out with leather because it’s a little less intimidating to begin with, and it’s easier to see how small shaping differences can have a big effect. Leather is squishy enough that you can mold it by hand and see how it feels on the body. You can do that with metal, but you have to spend time building hammer skill first. It’s tempting to take short cuts with…

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A question about safety

In response to my post yesterday, Steve Silva asked a question about the apparent lack of safety gear in the video. In my response, as usual, I went off on a bit of a tangent and used up all my blog writing time for today. So I’ll share my response with all of you, so you have something to read today. From Steve Silva: This is a sincere question: Why isn’t anyone wearing safety equipment other than masks? Are the hits soft enough to not worry about jackets and pants? Hi Steve, I guess the answer is yes, no, depends, maybe? One one hand, most people locally just really don’t care about minor bruising, cuts or scrapes. They are considered just part of training in a martial art. The people who care wear more protection, but most don’t. It’s just not needed. On the other hand, they are wearing more…

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Fishing for Dreams

Mercury retrograde is all about things from the past coming back. Sometimes good, sometimes bad. Last night was good. One of the things I have been interested in the past was armouring and metalcraft. I have tools, supplies and a bit of experience. It’s just been one of those I never found time to commit to. When my friend Chris had to move his armouring shop, I was happy to offer up the spare workshop space we had available. We had originally set it aside to be a fiber arts studio, but it was just too cold, and we moved it to a warmer area. Which suits me, I think every living room should have a full-sized floor loom in it. …So now our house moves into full zombie-survival mode. The world starts to fall apart, we can start clothing, feeding, arming and armouring an army. You guys can worry…

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Crunchy bits

There has always been one sure-fire way to get me shouting at a movie screen. It’s that scene were the knight in shining armour shows up…sans gorget. Plate armour without a gorget is like pants without a crotch. Almost as bad was in “Game of Thrones” when we see a training scene for recruits. Full contact weapons training, and they only wear breastplates for protection? It must be a land of magic…no concussions, no broken fingers… Buying armour is a big and scary step for western martial artists. It’s not just that it’s expensive, it’s that it’s mysterious…and rare. As a consequence people tend to look for modern solutions, or wind up with armour that’s little better than decorative. It doesn’t have to be that way. You can chose good, functional, comfortable and affordable armour, without too much effort. Affordable armour is, of course, relative. If you start out playing…

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