Slowly getting back into the swing of things. Two weeks off wasn’t a bad thing at all, but there is a certain truth to writing…it does require solitude and a quiet brain to work. Being back at work provides me with an abundance of that. My reservoir of silence is building, so the restless writer brain is getting back to work.

I’ve got a treat for all of you tomorrow: My first guest post! It’s a good one. Your morning coffee break or breakfast read will be enjoyable. I’m hoping we can get her to write a few more in the future. I’m also going to be hitting up some other people for posts as well. There are a lot of voices out there in community that don’t get heard, or maybe feel restricted on their own blogs to a certain format. I’ll see if I can get them to kick loose a little.

Speaking of other voices…Ilkka Hartikainen’s blog is a favourite. He’s the easy number one in the WMA world for presentation, and his posts are informative, insightful, and refreshingly honest. I’m really happy that he’s starting to post more, and share more of the things he’s working through. I especially enjoyed this post about his explorations of the circle and footwork patterns in Marozzo. It’s something I’ve also put a lot of work into, minus the analysis. I used to make the students take a piece of chalk and some string, and mark out circles on the floor using the distance from their armpit to the ground as the radius, and then work drills and slow sparring on the circle. I would have them start on the circle, but not really enforce any constraints on them past that. At first I would just point out when they executed a move and naturally fit into chords on the circle. It became second nature for them to look for the circle when moving, and I was then able to use it as a tool for visualization when teaching more advanced strategic thinking.

When Chris Moone actually went to all the trouble to put a full, colour-coded Thibault circle on his living room floor, he used it only for working Marozzo. I got one chance to do a little with him, and it was awesome. The coded lines didn’t seem to dictate actions as much as echo and reinforce our good actions. Chris put a lot of work into it, and his fighting absolutely went up another level. Sadly, a forge accident and consequent sprinkler flooding put an end to that experiment…for now.

And speaking of Magic Circles, here’s an interesting one from Mauricio Quintana. Mauricio is an old WMA student and friend currently living and practising in Mexico City. Mauricio is a rarity, a practitioner of Traditional Chinese Medicine and martial arts, with what I’d call a “rancher’s soul.” He’s like the crusty old  guy in a western who’s seen it all and done it all, and has absolutely no time for your new-age bullshit. I’m a strong skeptic, but I would not hesitate to send someone to him for healthcare. He’s very good at what he does, and has a real gift for extracting the practical and useful from the sometime ephemeral world of alternative medicine. So I was somewhat amused when he posted this article on Energy Healing. Amused, but not surprised.

It reflects some of my own experiences, after all. I studied Taijiquan for a while. I was only interested in the combat applications when I started my classes, but after some practice I was forced to admit that the health benefits were noticeable. I think Mauricio is on to something here. I think if we can re-phrase some of the things that are happening, we might be able to put some research into mechanisms. The whole field of alternative medicine is full of charlatans and sleaze-ball salesmen, but down at the heart of it there is a truth. Layered in hyperbole for sure, but I think that’s what the scientific model is for…digger deeper and deeper to find truths that are anything but easy to find.