Stripping Down To The Real Basics

I was looking over an old notebook about a month ago, from back when I started rapier fencing. One day I had taken a bunch of notes after talking to a bunch of the really senior fencers, and watching them bout against younger and newer fighters. One of the things I wrote down stuck in my head, and this weekend I saw even more examples of it. We just wrapped a lovely weekend workshop run by Cst. John Irving on knife fighting. It was a good opportunity to expose some of our newer students to shock knife work, and a chance for everyone to get exposed to John’s finely tuned stress environment training. The thing I had written down in my notebook years ago, was that experienced fighter tend to be very still, while new fighters are all over the place. At first I thought that must have been a…

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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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Transition to the Bridge

You see the knife in the hand, and all your training tells you to do anything other than what you are about to do. Block, parry, run, kick, grab the hand and wrest the knife away…anything other than pick your knees up, drop to a squat and expose your back to that blade. But you do it anyway. You drop low as you see the knife start to arc, almost picking your feet up, you bend your knees so fast. For the merest hair of a second, you squat low. The knife is starting to curve forward, but you don’t see that anymore. You can’t change what you are about to do anymore than the knifer can. From the low squat, you drive forward, back exposed but under the path of the cut. Your shoulder slams into the attacker, one of your hands dropping low to trap a thigh. It’s…

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Lessons About Lessons

I’m a little sore this morning. Moving seems to take a little more effort than expected. My joints feel tender on the inside. We had a great class last night, but I’m really paying the price for it now. Not that I mind, really. A certain amount of soreness can be pleasant…you can survey it the way a farmer would a freshly sown field. It’s hard work, good work, done in hope of an earned reward. The pain is sort of a payment, the martial artist’s form of rich, black fields. It was an ideal class, the very epitome of what I dream of a western martial arts class being. We started out with our usual workout, scaled up a little for our growing abilities. We are all getting better at the little things, and a lot stronger. Paradoxically, it makes the workout harder. Being more able, we can now…

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The good, the bad, and the oh-hell-no…

It was cold yesterday, and the forecast called for clear skies. It was sunny all day. When I went out last night to take the garbage out, it was the right kind of cloud. Bright…the kind you get in the cities when all the streetlights reflect off of the bottom of the clouds, and cast everything with a pink-orange light. I walked back in the house and told Courtney it was going to snow, which was no surprise for either of us, because you could smell it in the air the last few days. I checked the forecast, and it said it would be partially cloudy later, but still clear. I checked three more weather prediction services and they all said the same thing…clear skies, no snow. So of course, I look out the window this morning and see freezing rain, and facebook reports of snow in the rest of…

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Win, lose … or live

Aldo Nadi looks back with disdain. He says competitive fencing should be about scoring regardless of form, and jeers those who insisted that every fencer had to demonstrate excellence of form before being allowed to compete. Yet he allows that the process of exacting form produced stronger fighters than the modern crop, who lack correct body mechanics to exploit their natural given advantages. Aldo Nadi fought a duel, an experience completely foreign to almost all modern fencers. Martial arts schools are full of tough-as-nails baddasses who never, and never will, ever fight outside the training hall. Modern fencers adore their longsword and zweihanders because of there apparent war nature, but they will likely never fight in a tournament outside their school, and will only ever daydream about using the blades for real. I’ve seen my share of death up close and personal. Amongst my friends, teachers, and acquaintances are people…

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