Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Syllabus Day revelations

Last Saturday saw some intrepid Turkunians braving the cold and heading to the Helsinki salle to brush up on our syllabus material. From start to finish the day was full of revelations for me. The whole giocco largo/stretto thing has been around for a bit now and it was really great to have a solid frame of reference for how the swords cross. Guy showed the crossing as positions, two in largo, two in stretto. What makes them differ is whether the points are in line and whether there is pressure on the blade.

Let us assume that my training partner has attacked with a fendente mandritto and I rebattere from tutta porta di ferro to frontale. The swords will make contact somewhere in between.

Position 1: (largo) I successfully beat the incoming sword to my inside. The point is no threat. I lay my sword across the attacker's hands, stepping sideways to my outside, before thrusting to the chest. I could also strike a fendente roverso to the head. The counter is to yield, pommel strike and enter.

Position 2: (stretto) I successfully beat the incoming sword to my inside but not as far as in position 1, i.e. it is closer to the central line. The opponent can put some pressure on my blade, their point holds more threat as it is closer to my head. I control the other's blade by grabbing near their point with my offhand, and cutting/thrusting one-handed to their head, while stepping in. The counter is to yield pommel strike and enter.

Position 3: (stretto) The swords are crossed close to the middle line and the other's point is close to me, with pressure on my blade. I cannot leave the bind as the opponent could simply press their attack or angulate the point to my head or chest. If I try to grab the other's sword I will lose stability and they press their attack, so I bind over, step in and grab the other's pommel, disarming and thrusting. Surprise, surprise, the counter is to pommel strike and enter ! :-)

Position 4: (largo) I fail to rebattere successfully and my sword is bound over to my outside. From here the attacker will step to his outside and strike to my head with a fendente roverso or as described in position 1. The attacker's point is not a threat and in seeking to bind on my sword, the attacker's blade is not directed towards me. I yield to the pressure, pommel strike and enter.

Neat! I now have a zip code of tactical choices depending on where the cross happens. Obviously these 4 positions are points along a continuum, but they are concrete and easy to remember.

There was loads more fun stuff which made me realise I need to get to train in Helsinki more. Perhaps for a lot of people this was basic basic but I loved it! I'm quite envious of the Helsinki folks. They have direct access to this material. It's no wonder we're quite behind in Turku. Unfortunately, there is no training today as the school where we normally have classes is using the space. Bugger! Can't wait 'til Thursday though!

Tuesday, 23 November 2010

Power walking and bloody royalty

Took both of my 3kg steel clubs for a 45 minute walk yesterday. I think I may have bitten off more than i could chew though. My left elbow was feeling the strain and I began to cramp in both hands, suggesting that I'm gripping too hard. Got a good sweat going though :-)

I think i may have strained my elbow a little after last saturday's training. We did quite a lot of push-ups and I probably pop up too hard causing my elbows to over extend. Hmm, need to watch that.

In future, I think one club will suffice. I definitely need to alternate the work done my each arm with a rest period.

Overall, a lot of fun though. Got my mp3 player going and it was lovely to walk along the woodland paths with some snow underfoot. Good clean cold air!

I'm a bit pissed off at the SG forum. There has been a thread on Kate Middleton and I wrote about not being a supporter of the monarchy, any monarchy. The thread had anyway devolved into folks just taking cheap shots. Nothing new for the "pub" but whenever any sort of reference to anything irish is made, the snide remarks covered with smiley faces start appearing. Ok, the forum is based in the UK, so I suppose I should not be surprised. It just galls me a bit that certain people on the forum like it to be known that the UK is superior to the rest of the world in every way. Any sort of comment to the contrary will bring out the "Rule Brittania!", Union Jacks, and God save the Queen and sweeping generalisations. It doesn't do any good to try to reply in a reasonable way, smart arses will nitpick every word you write to make themselves appear better and the veiled "how dare you presume otherwise!" attitude prevails....Bollocks! Someone wrote that it was no surprise that "the Irish" do not like the English monarchy and that this dislike is based on emotional rather than historical/logical reasons. But what historical/logical reasons do exist for the Irish to love Queen Liz et al. ffs? Typically, no-one was forthcoming on this point. Ludramans! Think I'll stay out of the pub for a bit.

Monday, 8 November 2010

Slingfish 2010

Got back from Swordfish 2010 this morning early. I feel strung out and absolutely knackered for some reason. Must be getting old but the event really took it out of me this year and I was taking it wasy.

In a nutshell the event was a blast! Well-organised, interesting and diverse workshops and competition events, excellent people and discussions and well, the time goes by all too fast!

I had the car this year so I took along 10 slings I made and a bucket of tennis balls. I had suggested to a few people I met for the first time that they might like to come along to one of the halls and try it out. Not a class per se, more of a brief intro and then just let them get on with it. We started off doing underarm casts, and I just added a new cast style in front of everyone every 20 minutes or so. I showed underarm, Greek (2 variations), and the figure 8. Some people came up with their own style. In many ways I think it was most fortunate that the first people that came to sling were a group of germans. They showed a natural aptitude and after 30 minutes of fun were asking to buy the slings!

This got the ball rolling. We left the door to the training hall open so passersby could see what was going on and I actively invited them to take part if they looked interested. After a brief instruction on how to hold the sling and a basic tutorial of 2 or 3 minutes, the newcomer was whizzing tennis balls with everyone else. It was really cool to see how the first tentative or totally misdirected shots started to improve after 10 minutes practice. A very few took to it naturally and could generate power and a good degree of accuracy. There still people slinging 3 hours later!

I sold or gave away all of the slings, even my "old faithful", the first woven pouch sling I made earlier this summer. I made sure they were cheap because it wasn't about making money as such (although it was welcome beer money :-) ), it was about spreading the word on slings and slinging. As I write this, my slings are in England, Germany, Sweden and Norway! Result!

Finally, it was most gratifying to get such great feedback from people at the event, even suggestions that I offer a slinging class next year! Well, I don't know about that, because I think that the infomal nature of the slinging this year (along with a beer or two) was an integral part of making the whole experience most fun. Who knows what may happen next year?

I gave out the slinging forum address, (i.e. http://www.slinging.org/)  to as many people as I could, so that they could also get more info and start to make their own slings. As I left the event and said my goodbyes, I was told by one of the visiting instructors that he had really the enjoyed slinging and that before he started he was just about to go to bed. He was still slinging an hour and a half later! He also reckoned that the fun slinging could be incorporated into an upcoming international event in Texas. Another German chap reckoned that something similar could easily be organised when next his club visited another HEMA club in Denmark.

So, Swordfish 2010 was a very good event for me in many ways. Kudos, thanks and continued respect to all the organisers and in particular, the fine people of the Gothenburg Historical Fencing School.

Tack för allt! Vi ses nästä år! (hope that's correct :-) )