Friday, June 1, 2012

How to run a practice

A supplementary post! Because I am in the week between finals and summer session, I have time to write a second Blog post only one day after my last! Last night was our regular Thursday Night practice in McCarren Park. There were only three fighters there, myself, Gui, and Ervald. It was a case study in how to run a small practice. I normally don't like to fight if there are fewer than four fighters in armor, but I jumped in and decided that we would do some intense training instead of just hitting each other.

If you haven't read Duke Paul's manual on broadsword fighting, do so. It is the best thing written on our art. In it, among other things, Paul discusses elements of how to run a practice. Paul believes in training, not just bashing. Practice should be structured and rely primarily on drills, pell work, and slow work, both for better results and to reduce the chance of injury.

Among the many things Paul suggests is blocking/striking drills, rotating opponents, and ending practice with mellees so fighters can fulfill their lust for combat with a lower chance of injury and at the same time practice for war. Paul also said that fighters should not don armor until they had been doing un-armored practice consisting of slow work and pell work for a year, but nobody is willing to ggo through that (which is too bad, because I've seen the results from those who have taken Paul's training seriously). In private conversation (he said the best thing someone could do is to traing with him for one to two years and then go train with Sagan, which I so wish I could do!)

As discussed before, I often try to employ Pauul's training style--not just his techniques but his class structure--when I am teaching. Since I m the Canton marshal, this was my practice to run. Two of us are knights and all of us have been fighting for twenty years or more. We know what we are doing to some degree. We didn't need any basics classes. Slow work might have helped, but we were starting late and wanted to get to it.

We started with a simple rotation practice. Each of us fought the others to one blow, regardless if it was a killing or wounding blow. Once any blow was struck we rotated. We went though this rotation several times. The first time through is essentially a warmup, but after that it becomes a great singles practice. It is better than bashing the same opponent six or seven bouts in a row, because you keep moving (we got twoo fights, one rest) and you get into a fairly aggressive mind set.

After a break to talk to passers by (and there were a lot--this is a busy park in the hippest neighborhood in New York. We share space with two soccer matches, baseball, youth football practice and three kickball games) we did situational drills. The drill here was Paul's offense/defense drill with a twist. In this drill, one fighter has unlimited attacks and calls any good blows struck. The defender has only three blows (or combinations) and the drill is over once those three blows are struck (I like to save my blows and defend, just looking for any openings that my opponent gives me, as opposed to tying to create and opening). The twist was that the defender was on his knees and the attacker was standing. This was good work for both sides.

 Our third drill was a rock and roll drill. Both fighters started on their knees and the fight was over when *both* fighters had been struck three times. This might have been poor planning, since one fighter was Gui and it takes a lot to break his defense. He struck me five or six times before I struck him three, and his fight with Ervald went on forever.

We chatted some more with gawkers, who were cool. Ervald's lady showed up, so we had someone to explain what we were doing during the fighting. Props to Ervald. Gui and I were ready to quit but he, all eager and hyped up after his Battle of the Nations heroics, was ready to go. We did a normal set of passes with one another, like we would at any fighter practice, acting out wounds and resetting after killing blows. My mind-set in these was to fight like it was Crown Tourney, and I was pretty on by that point. These were great fights.

My endurance and strength are up from my current training regimen. Gui hit me twice in my shoulder, which will certainly bother me a bit. I got a bit sick from the pain. However, after working it out, ice and ibuprofen, it felt great this morning. My elbow never bothered me at all. By the end of the night Ervald had adopted a better defense and Gui was very crisp. I felt pretty good. I think more than anything it improved our defenses. Props to Ervald: anybody whho fought in Battle of the Nations has got my admiration as well as my respect, and he has been training so hard between that and Ju Jitsu that he is in awesome shape. For once it was him pushing Gui and I.

Here are the finals of Cynagua Coronet in which Sir Mari defeats Faerrghis. Both of them are good friends old house-hold-mates of mine. It was great to see.

1 comment:

Andrew Lowry said...

Thanks. This is a great post. We have small practices so these techniques would suit us well. It has been a long time since I last cracked open SIr Paul's book so I'll need to do so again.