Monday, March 10, 2014
It's all about helmet time, but I'm worried that helmet time is making me sloppy. I am doing a lot of training, which is good. I'm teaching others, which is also good. But I'm getting sloppy. The only knight I've fought since Birka has been Gui, who doesn't fight like anybody else. The rest of the time I am getting kind of goofy. My tendency to be a chameleon--the reason Jade says I'm not yet a duke--is once again making an appearance and getting in my way.
I had eleven workouts last week. I did a nice little 13 mile bike ride, I fought, I did 350 push ups. I took a yoga class. It was a good week. My weight is still 10 pounds heavier than I want it to be, but it's Lent, and my calorie count always goes up when I turn vegan for 40 days (why do I observe Lent? Because I'm a knight, silly).
At MSR practice on Thursday my main goal was to fight everyone who was in armor. My secondary goal was to try some off side leg shots. I did, and several of them worked. I also fought at Acheron on Sunday, which isn't really last week, but this blog is late.
At MSR practice there were five other people in armor: Caitlin, Servit, Baldwin, Bob, and Geofry the Younger. I had a good time, but this was where I was getting sloppy. I've been sticking to my A frame for a long time, but it was boring me and I started breaking out a more aggressive offense--the type of fighting I'm more comfortable with and have the most fun with. I fought a bit more old-school Bellatrix style, a high open form. It meant I presented a few more targets and lost a few more fights. My best exchanges were with Geofry. He has one of the most interesting thrusting games around. He takes a cue from the Talhoffer guys he knows and keeps his point on line no matter where he sets up. He has this stance with his hand way out to the right but his tip on target that nobody else uses, and it find it very effective.
I also fought Sunday at Acheron. This was mostly a teaching practice. There were five of us in armor: me, Gui, Andrew, Zack, and Samale. I fought all of them. I found everything was working well, but this is where I was starting to get a bit outside myself. I fought a lot of different wards: high open form, goofy foot, A frame, my sword in plow. (Sword hand at hip level tip pointed toward the face). Most disconcerting at one point, after attacking Andrew with a really aggressive attack and losing,I tightened up and went on defense, but instead of using an A frame I went to a more standard high-closed form, standing as tall as I could and sword blocking everything coming to my head. It felt totally comfortable and he could not touch me, and my counters worked. I got him with some good shots, ncluding the offside leg fake/off side head blow and a butterfly. Trouble is, I'm supposed to be working on my A frame, not channeling Brion Taragon--even if that style does feel more natural.
As I said, this was a teaching practice. Much of what we did was watch the three unbelted fighters fight, stop them critique them, correct their problems, then drill them in the corrections. Then Gui or I would fight them to see how they attacked. This was very productive. One problem with our fighting is how much everybody loves to fight. Nodoby wants to do drills at practice because helmet time is so valuable and the reason we put the helmet on is because we love fighting so much. But fighting is not the same thing as training. The two martial arts traditions that we employ have standard teaching methods. The Asian tradition uses repetition of unarmored drills, such as Kata, to ingrain techniques into muscle memory. This is often done in a class. It is how Belkatrix teaches. The other method is one-on-one instruction concentrating on situations and how to react to them with various techniques. The teacher launches an attack and teaches the student a counter. This is the European tradition. It is how Sagan teaches. Most of us do a little bit of the second and almost none of the first. Mostly we fight. But when you get good is not at practice. When you get good is the days in between practice, when you do pell work or mirror work or footwork drills. But most of us just want to fight. I tried to explain this to Andrew on Sunday. I hope he got it.
It is 67 days until Crown Tourney. My next time in armor will be Wednesday at Nutley.