It has occurred to me over the years that there is much in common between learning dueling and learning life drawing (drawing from a live model). Many people say they 'can't draw', but that's only because they have not learned how to see what's there. Perhaps they have tried to learn by tracing other people's pictures, but once confronted by a real model they are totally intimidated. The whole process can seem a mystery, and some might start to believe that only artists with innate talent can do it ..... Of course, this is not true.
When you first look, you may not think that the hand, or foot, or ear can
possibly be that big in relation to the rest of the body, or be able to perceive how one piece can seamlessly join to the next, but once you
understand that the geometry does not lie and how to be part of it, your drawings start to look
like real people.
First step is learning how to see what is actually there ... as opposed to what you THINK is there.
Of course there are many pieces to this 'seeing', and many things to be seen, but it is not infinite, and the first step is to learn HOW to do it, because it is a skill that needs training like any muscle in the body.
And what of individual style and artistic flair?
This is the alchemy that
happens once the 'seeing', and the mechanical calculations are
absorbed by the practitioner and are expressed through the drawing
implement, and that is singular and not really teachable. What IS teachable is this seeing from which all else comes, and I'd much rather do that than handing out a
color by numbers book and a box of crayons.
I only have 3 hours next weekend to introduce my view of sword
dueling to a new group of folks. These are not necessarily people
interested in learning my style or training for any length of time in
the sword arts, but are mostly curious about the flavor of Filipino
dueling and learning some more about edged weapons in general.
my goal in these short introductory workshops is to open up
imaginations and perhaps inspire a few to take up the engaging pursuit
of working with swords, but perhaps more importantly, to start
delving into the fascinating world of tactics so they can troubleshoot themselves.
So, 3 hours .... not a great deal of time to learn or practice, in fact only enough to skim the surface and dip into a few of the concepts and play a little.
Here's what I think we will do:
Spend some time looking at how edged weapons differ from others, how they move, how they cut, and the different ways they can be used. Then talk a little about context, and narrow down the way the Visayan Style of sword use dictates the tactics and the flow.
Spend time with recognizing range, looking at the line between safety and danger, and playing with the margin. Also practice seeing planes and angles, and working with weight shift and body angle to gain advantage. Then move on to how to use this information to see the empty spaces, and use this to steal range and thus the timing.
We'll definitely look at hand targeting and avoidance, and the tactics this engenders.
From there, probably a deeper look at the space between the players, how to calculate the geometry, define center line, left right, and forward, back, look at the meaning of 'neutral' and start some basic flow with the pendulum stepping.
Play some 2nd flow within the pendulum stepping and half body pendulum and look at the 3 main openings possible + exits.
So basically we will be comparing pencils with charcoal and pen, and looking at their relative qualities, learning how to frame a composition, divide up the paper and understand how to use the body to measure the space we are drawing in, and the object we are drawing.
Perhaps even make some art ..... :-)