Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Arrows and Ales and Helmet Time--More thoughts on how to run a class

Having established my training goals, which I was supposed to begin enxt week, I kind of got a jump on them, which feels pretty good. I am still missing Pennsic a lot, but my body has recovered and is now ready for the increased workload I’m going to put on it. I still need to drag my pell out, however.

My rehab is going fine. I have kind of reached an equilibrium. I do it regularly but I miss days now and then. My elbow feels good at rest. My Achiles has been very good recently, but I am feeling the increased workload from cycling (see below). My shoulder is the same as always—use it for awhile and it will hurt, but a lot more if I skip my rehab.

I was resting my body. All I did this past week was ride my bicycle and go on a couple of walks. I shot sporting clays on Thursday, which is a pretty good workout. The walk is long, it was hot, it takes 2 hours to go 2.5 miles, you are carrying a shotgun the whole time and your shoulder takes a pounding. Counting that walk, with the rest of it on my bicycle, I logged just over 50 miles last week, which I did not think I would do.

The technique I am working on right now is Duke Paul’s Single Hip Return. ( I am still working on a few things. In the videos on this page he does not do the pulling down motion of the start of the return that he has been teaching. I need to talk to him about this. I was teaching this technique this weekend (see below) and, while what I was doing will work and was how Paul had been demonstrating the technique recently, I want to make sure I am teaching it correctly (I know what I am teaching will work for me). Basically, it is a variation of the standard second blow off an onside blow which, instead of driving the sword-side hip forward gets its power form pulling the sword side hip back. Paul’s variation is in increasing the velocity of the sword by shortening the arc that it describes. 

An Dubaghin was holding their “arrows and ales ” event at the Unitarian Church in Huntington on Saturday. Gui has been going out there recently to establish a rapport with both the barony and with the two large fighting units out there, Three Skulls and Sutr’s Brood, neither of which have knights in them. Saturday I went with him. We hung out most of the day and then got into armor around 2:30 or 3:00. I was running the class. I did not get a whole lot of fighting in, but this was not about me it was about the unbelted fighters out there, so the little bit of helmet time was welcome.

The post-Pennsic gremlins were in full force. I had unpacked, washed, and then re-packed my armor into a different bag. Not only did I forget my belt but I forgot my shield. I borrowed a belt. 

We started with free-sparing. I used to fight with just a five-inch rondel as a shield—not even really a buckler— and I had my greatsword with me, so the lack of shield didn’t bother me, but I was supposed to be teaching sword and shield. I went out and warmed up with Stick, a big strong leftie from Three Skulls, just using my Torvaldr gauntlet for a shield. That was fun! Later I borrowed a shield and had a set of fights with Antonius.

After that I lined them up in two ranks, both the armored and the unarmored students, and we did some technique instruction. I taught them three foundational Bellatrix techniques—the snap (which none of them had ever had explained to them) the tear-drop return and the single hip return. I went over them in detail, watched each of them closely as they performed the techniques, and gave them some pointers. Then I paired them off so they could do them in slow-work with an opponent.

After that they put helmets on and did armored drills. There were four fighters in armor at that point. I had each of them fight each of the others as though it were a crown final. Then two more fighters joined us. I had each fighter hold the field as a defender using Paul’s offense/defense drill, in which the patient agent (defender) is given three blows to throw (in this case on-side head, off-side head, and on-side leg) while the agent (attacker) is told to keep up a hard continuous attack. The encounter is over when the patient agent has thrown his three blows. They really liked this drill.

After that they broke up for some free sparing. Because there were so many lefties, and they were not that experienced, they were having real trouble finding areas to attack and they were getting sloppy. I put on my helmet and a left handed shield to teach them about hooks and magic buttons.

The baroness was so happy that two knights  had come out to the island to train her fighters that she called us into court to thank us and gave us some bruise balm. (Long Island is one of the most isolated parts of the kingdom, believe it or not, because NOBODY wants to have to drive through New York City to get there).

So all in all a good week. I actually got some helmet time and I logged 50 miles. I am already ahead of the game.

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