Sunday, May 18, 2014

Safe Training for a Lethal Game

Here is a good article regarding the use of safety gear in sword training:

Sonny always believed that training weapons should look as close to the real thing as possible, and also have the right balance in the hand (even if the weight was slightly off). He reasoned that one shouldn't build in bad habits with trainers that would be hurt you if transferred to the real thing. Same thing could be said for safety gear - whilst it keeps you safe in training, it should not build in bad habits that will hurt you when it is removed from the game.

We worked mostly with aluminum training blades, the positive outcome of which was to make us very accurate and precise in our targeting ... however, the down side was that we still had to train safely, so we avoided pokes to the face and hard strikes ... which are not uncommon in a 'real' fight, and certainly not something that should be left out of the toolbox ... So we also had padded trainers (though still all hand fabricated by Sonny to resemble swords in that they had an edge side and a flat side, and the balance was still in the right place) with which we could worry less about hurting our training partners.

These padded weapons meant that we could go harder and actually really tag targets ... though we still tended to avoid the face as we did not wear head gear as a rule - safety glasses, yes, but not masks. So an upside again ... but still a safety artifact, and the downside being that once these were in our hands for a while, we started getting careless and taking too many hit .... So back to the metal blades.

We also used sharps to get an even better motivation to evade and control our strikes, though the obvious down side to training with sharps is that we needed to be extra, super, careful .. which is good in one sense, but again, bad in another because now we are practicing to miss, essentially, and probably not fighting as aggressively as we should for fear of injuring our training partner .. or having them panic and injure us.

It's a tough balance to get rid of all the bad behaviors each type of training weapon brings ...  but needs to be done to complete the picture.

Make sure to check out the comments, a guy called Tom Outwin wrote a really good one.

The guy who wrote the article is Ilkka Hartikainen, a fellow Finn, and if I ever make it back to my 'homeland' I will definitely go seek him out. The Marozzo system looks fascinating and Ilkka looks like a fun guy to free spar and play with.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

3D Imagery

Sonny worked one on one with all his students. We in turn played with each other and we watched when Sonny worked with the others training that same day.

All these viewpoints create the whole picture -

- Working with the Maestro gave you a model to move with, a quality of movement to mirror. As you moved, he showed you your gaps and he showed you how to fix them.

- Flowing with fellow students gave you the opportunity to try out these new ideas with players closer to your level who might fall for the stratagems, the baits and the fakes ... and it also gave the opportunity to watch the tendencies and glitches of others.

- Watching from the side you got to see more of how things worked - The angles, the timing, the shifting of the edges of the range, the subtlety of motions and the way people reacted. You started to see the openings and the dangers and why things worked and why they did not.

If you only play with your teacher you can get caught up in trying to field incoming strikes and lose focus on the game as a whole ... And of course it is impossible to catch out the person who invented all the tricks in the book.

If you only play with others at your level, it is hard to improve as it's hard to find out all the stuff you don't know you don't know. You need someone to expand your imagination who can show it to you.

If you only watch, you can never truly own the movement or get a feel for the game in real time from the perspective that matters most ... the pointy end of the equation.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Half an Excuse

Lazy blogger ...
Really trying to get the book complete which is hard, I never realized I was so much of a procrastinator ...
Anyway, it's close, and at the moment I'm having a highly entertaining time with the Glossary

A sample :-)

Accuracy – Without it all else is pointless
Baiting – Feigned error to cause an aggressive reaction in the opponent
Blade Angle – Direction the edge of the blade is facing in relation to the angle of the cut
Centerline – Separates left from right. Also, where you are standing if you get hit.
Cube of Doom – Area in between you and the opponent where the hand can be hit
Crunchy Tiger – Technique to get your partner to move by hitting them in the ego
Cut Angle – Angle at which the sword moves through the air when swung
Double Death – Both players die, simultaneously or as one inadvisedly basks in their moment of glory
Drill – A means to an end
Evasion – Getting out of harm's way a.k.a A very good idea
Exit – The most often forgotten, yet most important part of surviving an encounter with blades
Faking – A stratagem to cause a defensive reaction in the opponent that is not what it seems
Footwork – Mechanics by which successful evasion is achieved
Gypsy Knife Fighting – Toe to toe knife drill, nothing to do with gypsies