Thursday, February 25, 2016

The Window of Opportunity is Closing ..

This is a clip from 12 Monkeys. Brad Pitt's character Jeffrey has stolen a key so that Bruce Willis a.k.a Jim can escape from the mental asylum. Problem is that Jim has been drugged up to the eyeballs. It's a great scene.. but what does it have to do with swordplay?

Swordplay can be thought of as a series of windows and doors of opportunity opening and closing. Different openings give you different options, and if you are smart and adaptable, one opening will lead straight to the next, or perhaps even directly to the exit.

Sadly these openings are not always meant solely for you, and often by walking through one door, you may create a window for you opponent that you must bar if you are to continue on.

The other difficulty is that these windows are tiny, sometimes in space, but for sure in time. They are fleeting at best, and in the same way that a baseball hitter needs to align to the pitch before the ball is thrown, you too have to see it coming before it arrives to take advantage of it.

One option is to make your own door, but like in the clip, you'll need a distraction to cover your true motives (though sometimes you are truly lucky and you can do it in plain sight and still not be 'seen').

It takes practice to get your nervous system on line to notice the action, and training to do this can feel a little like being Jimbo (which I guess would make me Jeffrey?).

It takes time. Really. Time spent watching, participating, and experimenting. However, once you can understand what is going on, a whole new world will open up. Not only will you be a drug free Jim, you will be Jeffrey too.

Monday, February 15, 2016

News but No Politics

Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia just died. He was an incredibly opinionated and polarizing figure, highly conservative in the old sense of the word, and both loved and hated equally (depending on your political persuasion) for his views.

This is not what this post is about.

It's about his lifelong, close friendship with another member of the court, Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg, pretty much his polar opposite in political terms.

Here is a link to an article about this relationship:

Why is this important and what does it have to do with dueling?

Well, in essence, the better your adversaries are, the better your game will get. 

The sharper witted their critique or dissent, the more you'll have to up your game to stay in contention. They will show you your errors, point out the holes and gaps in your argument, and will not tolerate a lack of precision in your aim.

In this era when so many wish to be surrounded only by those that agree with them, who keep all 'enemies' or dissenters at arms length, and who refuse to consider the opinions of 'the other side' as worthy of anything more than some yelling and pointing from a distance. It might pay to consider the repercussions of never letting the opposition come close enough for a nice friendly chat.

The old adage is "Keep your friends close, and your enemies closer" comes to mind, but I prefer Sonny's - 'Don't keep them out. Let them come. They are coming anyway."

What he meant was: Keep control of the relationship, the time and the space. Make things happen on your terms.

But in training, what he also meant was that you should always be trying to learn your adversary's game, and learn what they see as the holes in yours. You can't see what they see, and you can't be who they are. And the only way is to let them do their thing. Listen to them. Watch them. Learn.

Obviously the classier and skilled your opponent, the more there will be to consider ....