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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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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Cut and Thrust and Step

Cutting was next up in our basics rotation last class. The idea was to spend the first five minutes or so of the rapier portion of class just doing a simple review drill, and then moving on to the lesson for the night. I had a more rigid technical practice planned for a follow-up, but after our Stretching/Prana-bindu (yes, we are going to call it that now. We’re geeks. Deal.) class, there was no way anyone had the juice for finicky point work. So I dredged up some older cutting drills, and we kept on. Cutting is an excellent way to follow up an intense and draining session of re-alignment. In the Prana-bindu session, we learned just how strong each muscle was in relation to it’s opposite member. Our bodies were pulled apart and put together, and we re-learned how to sit, stand and walk all over again when we…

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The Wolf Lord of Blades Goes Down Under

Runs Crocodile Dundee through, takes the girl, and wonders anyone would bring a knife to a sword fight. But now I’m stepping out of my brief attempt at a Game of Thrones setting. What can you expect? It is Monday morning, after all. I’ve had coffee, but no breakfast. And I’ve been putting off this next installment for as long as possible, because it’s a perfect example of one of those annoying things that crops up in martial arts manuals from time to time. It’s the “here’s five things you can do against the uppercut” sort of article. Except that all five things look sort of the same. I’m reduced to paying careful attention to the words, which is always a spooky proposition when working from a translation. Obviously I’m going to fake it. I’m going to fake it from the best possible background I can. The Wolf Lord of…

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The Wolf Lord Of Blades Takes A Shot

As a teacher, you learn a lot from blank stares. The kind of stares you get when you clearly describe a simple technique, smile at the students and look around expecting to see nods and the desire to get drilling. Instead…instead you get the blank look, the look that tells you no one got it. Not a word of what you said was understood. Or worse, you’ve demoed the technique, everyone has split into pairs, started the drill and simply stopped. They’ve just looked at their partner and thought “Hold on, he wants me to do what? That’s not going to work.” Trust me, the right response is not to stare blankly back at everyone and wonder who replaced all your brilliant students with zombies hungering for brains. You have to rewind, review what you said or demonstrated, and understand why it didn’t work. Sometimes it’s because you really don’t…

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The Wolf Lord of Blades Takes An Extra Step

Apologies for missing yesterday’s post. I spent the morning working with my brother and his excellent landscaping crew, bombing very heavy trees up a difficult series of grades. We had a heavy duty dolly built just for carry root balls, but it still took six of us to drive the first of them up the hill. As David Wu said, it was like racing artillery pieces…grinding, heavy work and not without risk. My chest today looks like I had open heart surgery, except the surgeon stopped half way through. Heading back into class was a real challenge for me after that. I put about five liters of water into me yesterday, and still woke up dehydrated today. My mental state in class was not at its finest. I managed to do the workout and two submission wrestling bouts, but that destroyed me. I used what little brain cells I had…

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