Sunday, July 15, 2012

What to teach first

been working hard with the Indian clubs and the Thera-band. Achilles doesn't ache much but that is mostly because I am not running at all. It is definitely better but still Swollen. I remember this taking about a year to heal. Days with lots of walking hurt after awhile. Elbow also feels a little stiff. That is from the Rehab work. Taking that easy.

Monday was Yoga class. Thursday was kettle bell, Indian clubs, a long bike ride, and then teaching and demonstrating at fighter practice. I was shredded. Saturday I noodled around on the bike, did Indian clubs and some pretty intense yoga. Light week.

I didn't, but i did have two brand new fighters at practice to train.

I have written an SCA fechtbuch which at some point I must typeset and distribute. I did it both for the experiment in pastiche (I am a postmodernist, after all), and because it forced me to think about my fighting and, more importantly, how to train fighters. The first thing you have to do in this project is decide which lesson comes first.

I was trained in the Western tradition, and like all Westerners I learned the Bellatrix snap before anything else. Paul of Bellatrix starts with the famous "soup exercise" in which you imagine serving a bowl of soup from your shoulder to just below your opponent's nose. This was my first lesson.

Hillary of Serendip was in charge of training fighters at the BART practice in those days. She started by having people swing the sword back and forth, the empty hand mirroring it, paying attention to the point at which it naturally turns over in your hand, and your swings become wider until you bring the sword up to rest on your shoulder.

Gendy, who was more concerned with how the sword moved even than Bellatrix, and was probably a better pure swordsman, was not interested in teaching that as the first lesson. He starts people off with the pipe exercise, which is designed to build up people's forearms so they can do all that fast blade work that he teaches.

Of course in period they were more interested in defense than offense. Once you got past the wrestling (which is the basis of both Medieval and Bellatrix technique) they were concerned with wards and parties. It is a good place to start.

I read one period manual in which the first lesson was the proper way to draw your sword.

Somewhat along that line, I tend to start with the salute. It is where the fight begins, and so it is where training should begin as well. The first thing we learned in Judo was how to bow. Radnor taught me that the fight begins long before the lay on. You can win a fight from the way you step onto the field. Everything you do should be calculated to unease your opponent, or at least to put him on his heels. The most important part of this is the salute. Most people don't give any thought to their salutes. They just raise the sword in the general direction of their opponents and then wait for the lay on. Then they come on guard, again without thought or determination.
Radnor's salute is very strong and direct. Every part of it is designed to prepare him for the fight, to take over the space, and to dominate his opponent. He stands with his sword foot forward, his body in profile to his opponent, his head turned to look him square in the eye. When the salute is called for, the Duke points his sword directly at his opponent (at times he will point to the spot where he intends to strike). He draws the sword straight back to his chest, breathing in as he does so to center himself and focus. Next he brings his sword around to his shoulder in a sweeping, circular motion, essentially drawing a circle around himself and cutting himself off from all distractions and all things outside the fight. As he does this, he steps forward into the en garde position (if he is fighting sword foot forward he can take two steps). Before the lay on is called he is already moving forward to attack his opponent. It can be disturbing. This is the salute I use. I have more than once won fights using that salute, before a blow was struck. This is the first lesson: how to salute and come on guard. It teaches a number of important lessons, the most important of which is Always Be Closing.

1 comment:

STAG said...



Have a plan.


I just wait for them to hit me, and deal with it from the bind. It means I get one shotted once in a while, but on the other hand, I get to fight, not just play everready bunny with my opponents.