Saw a great space last night, might be the perfect spot for regular classes. It’s currently a rehearsal/performance space for the arts community. Huge floor to ceiling mirrors, good lighting, nice atmosphere. The owner used to fencer epee, too. It’s not immediately by the skytrain, but it’s a short, quick walk. Courtney and I walked it last night in no time. I’d say between 5-10 minutes, and there is a bus for the lazy. It’s equally placed between the old and new skytrain lines, about 5-6 blocks from the the closest station on either line. There you go. With those clues, see if you can figure out the location!

Had a good training session with Jordan yesterday. We started out with slow work, and I used what I saw from him during that to decide which aspect of his fencing game we were going to work on in this session. From previous session notes, and extensive viewing of photos and high-speed footage of training sessions, I had a list of items to work through. The items range from structure correction and performance strength drills, to performance improvement and new skill development. It’s enough for a few months of work if we hit a session every second day.

With a more normal schedule, it’s a lot of material to cover, and I can’t be as methodical as I’d like. Ideally, working with any student I’d be able to manage their entire training and nutrition schedule from day to day. This would let me direct their expected peaks and lows into an overall constant effort and improvement. But hey, none of us really have that much time available. Looking over the massive pile of student attendance logs that I have, most people average one class a month. The serious students attend one class a week, the keeners do two. It’s the rare person who can do more than two days a week, and that person tends to train every available day. We would all like to, but life only provides some of us with the opportunity.

As a trainer, this is the reality I have to plan for. Instead of an idealized situation, I have to try to get my clients the biggest bang for their training buck. The student might get the best long term results from focusing now on pure athletics, but in the short term he’s only going to be sore, and have very little to show in terms of skill improvement the next time he goes to spar. Little improvement, and lots of pain, is not the best way to encourage repeat training. We are all human, and we all respond better to positive reinforcement.

Keeping this in mind, I approach each session prepared, but with an open mind. I have a mental deck of lessons to work through, and I choose the most appropriate one for the day. Each lesson is a balance of immediate gain, with long-term building. Yesterday I taught a specific technique, that required new tactical thinking, that encouraged the development of the mechanics I want to see long term. Finished the session with a single corrective physical exercise with low commitment required, but positive results should be noticeable every few sessions. And it will give me an improved muscle chain to develop down the road with other exercises.

So much work and planning, and it all winds up just feeling like an enjoyable and relaxing sparring session with a friend. There are absolutely days I miss doing this for a living.

A fun note on today’s featured image…At first glance it looks like I’m angling in a weird thrust to his face, on the inside line. On second glance, it looks like Jordan is angling in an evil-lefty thrust to my face. From either point of view, it’s easy for an internet pundit to talk about what we did right or wrong. In the original higher resolution image, you can see that I’m actually engaging Jordan on his outside line. The process of .jpg compression has kindly smoothed out the transition area between our blades, and put mine on the inside line instead.  The actual technique I was using at the time was a disengage and withdrawal (notice my weight still shifting backwards) followed up with a descending chop and slice to the top of the sword arm. Something to be aware of when judging actions online.

And finally, it’s Remembrance Day here in Canada. My grandfather just passed away a short time ago. He was a decorated naval vet, and filled my childhood with a love of the sea. Remembrance Day for me was always about watching him in the parade, and standing solemnly with his fellows. My friends and I, even as teenagers, always made it a point to be there and pay our respects.

I admit, though, that the day didn’t really come to have personal meaning for me until the year after high school grad. It was the morning of Remembrance Day when my friend called to tell me that one of other friends had died the night before in a motorcycle accident. It was just a punch in the gut, and I still remember it. Every year since I watch the veterans on this day, and I think about how many of them had to deal with that same feeling, some of them over and over again.

On this day I remember those to died in service to their country, and I remember those who served and still carry that sense of loss. And I also take time on this day to pay my respects to my dear friends who died, Gene Baumel and Yvonne Delory. I also remember the people that have mentored me and meant a lot to me in my life, and that list is both too long and too personal to post.

For this day I always save some of my best whisky, and toast those whose stories are already complete.