Tuesday, 28 October 2008

Training in the dark

Decided to train outside last night but forgot about the time change over the weekend. So, while practicing, it got very dark, very quickly. Luckily I was up high on a hill and could continue by the general lights from the city. It was quite pretty actually. I worked on my cuts, standing and with one step, with emphasis on keeping my shoulders down and relaxed and snapping out the sword. Worked fairly well but I noticed that when I'm in Posta di Donna, I still have the tendency to tense my shoulders, regardless of whether I am back- or front-weighted.

My stability exercise is coming on nicely. I can really feel when I am in the correct position and where my weight is on my feet. As I can't use a watch with a second hand when outside (and certainly not in the dark!), I usually count ten breaths (one inhale-one exhale is one breath) in each stance before changing to the next one. With time, I'll increase the number of breaths. I was thinking about the broad similarity between this exercise and zhan zhuang chi kung. Interestingly, apart from a little muscular discomfort, I feel quite energised after the exercise and the more I "relax and sink", the better I feel. Food for thought.

Training again tonight with the beginners. Yaay! Sometimes I think of it as a chore, but this usually passes as soon as I stand in front of the class. We've got a good bunch this year. They are enthusiastic and work hard. One of the guys last week got a cramp in his right shoulder when doing the stability exercise. He stopped for a second or two and before I could encourage him to continue, he automatically switched his grip to a left-handed one and continued! Class!

We'll go over the sotto disarm of dagger, revise the disarms for fendente mandritto and fendente roverso, and try to begin the link between the three into the dagger flow drill. I also want to begin the first drill. At the last seminar when Guy came to Turku, the beginners that attended waltzed through the first drill and even began the second one. So, they are well capable. I'll have to sit down at lunch and make a class plan. Guy put me on the spot a while back at a seminar in Helsinki to lead a group and demo to the class and I totally blew it. However, as a good teacher, he gave me a second chance and a five minute respite to collect my thoughts. I did much better the second time. The lesson from this is that being prepared is good, but being able to act extempore is also a good skill, so that I'm not just stumbling in the dark.

Monday, 27 October 2008

Going to Swordfish!

I'm heading to Gothenburg again this year for three days of western martial arts fun, sweat, a few bruises and more than a few beers. Last year was great fun even though one of our party broke his leg. I'm really excited mainly for two reasons. One, I get to buy some gear I've wanted for ages, i.e. a gambeson, gorget and maybe a couple of new swords. here's a link to the retailer dude who'll be tempting us at the gathering: http://www.nidingbane.se/
Albion (Europe) swords will also be there but I'll not be buying anything this time around. The only two possible sword models I was interested in, i.e. the Liechtenauer and the Meyer (with its gorgeous flared ricasso!) are (a) too expensive and (b) have chord-wrapped hilts (ugh!). I'll mosey along anyway to the Albion display just to torture myself and admire the Kriegsmesser.
The second reason I'm exited about swordfish 2008 is the fact that I plan to take part in the tournament on saturday. I thought I was taking part in the nylon longsword tourney, but it seems I'm down for weighted shinai instead (?) Oh well, it doesn't really matter. I don't expect much from the competition, just the chance to get some competition experience and adrenaline rush and to see how that affects my performance. I don't really consider it to be a Fiore versus the rest because if I screw up, it will be me, and NOT the system I train in that fails. I'm basically looking at the whole thing as an adrenaline diagnostic drill and maybe it will be a bit of fun, nothing too serious. Actually, I'm petrified. Partly that I'll make an arse of myself, and partly that I'll be up against guys who fight all the time and aggressively. We'll see how it goes...


Training is going well-ish. I've been working on the absolute basics by myself recently, i.e. making a proper cover in frontale from tutta porta di ferro and porta di ferro la mezana. Likewise from chingiale cutting upwards with sottano reverso. Might sound daft but last time I had a lesson with Guy, it became horribly obvious I was flapping, making too large movements, and putting my whole body in to getiing my sword to move. NOT a nice thing to find out. I thought I had these skills down pat. Obviously not :-(
Guy said to use my fingers/wrists to effect small snappy movements. After working on this for the past week, it makes good sense and really work. I just have to learn to relax more so that I can keep moving.....hmm another problem to work on..