I have two kettlebells, weighing 8kg and a 16kg. The 8kg one is fun to use but the 16 is a bruiser and I have already pulled/stretched small muscles in my back and sides by not being careful when using it. I certainly do not have to worry if there is enough resistance! I have 1kg wooden Indian clubs, which are great for warm-up and cool-down, they really open up the shoulders and upper back nicely with casts and mills. They are also very good for learning club techniques before grading on to heavier clubs. I have 3kg steel clubs also. which give a really good workout with squats as casts but they become hard to grip for the mills and are not very for giving on the wrists either. Most useful for practicing sword skills indoors is the Swingblade but combined with the steel clubs, my elbow joints have started to complain a bit, needing self-massage and Tiger balm applications. Lastly, after a blogpost by Guy Windsor, I began to do very short (5 minutes) session of sitting meditation. These are fun and more about me being more organised in my daily life than anything to do with fencing per se. I do not have a very organised mind and often try to do about 4 things at once or if doing something, I will break off suddenly and shift my focus to something else for a few minutes. For example, I arrive home from the shops and start unloading the food into the fridge only to (as my mum would say "take a vagary") start messing with a gopro camera. I come back to the kitchen five minutes later and the food is still half unpacked and the fridge door still open!
I used to run a lot back in the day, when I was 10kgs (!) lighter. I tried to start up again a few times since but never got past the point where I could barely breathe and had that awful copper/blood taste in my mouth. What I have noticed over many years is that I really enjoy walking and hill-walking especially. As I live in Finland, it just seemed natural to get sticks and start doing Nordic walking too. At the start of 2014, I spent 2 fantastic weeks hill-walking in Tenerife and a good pair of sticks were invaluable over rough terrain, particularly while carrying some gear in a backpack. I admit it looks dumb but I don't care. It allows working the arms and shoulders while walking and is a great aerobic exercise, especially as now I am doing interval walking (5 minutes) followed by a period of jogging. Over time, the jogging period has increased and has even become enjoyable!
Classes have been very enjoyable too this autumn/winter season. Last night we trained using thrusts against thrusts (scambiare di punta) or blows to make single time counterattacks from different guards. Compared to how we usually trained it as a due tempi action, this was horribly quick and aggressive! Two key points to remember, regardless of from which guard the thrust comes;
1. Throw your point into their face, using their eyes as your targets.
2. Close the line with your hands to the side and extended so that their mezza spada is on your forte.
This technique further confirms to me the idea that Fiore's style can also be super aggressive and to my mind, is indicative of a stesso tempo action (an immediate action or one happening at the same time as another) or an action happening in indes. It works beautifully as long as you trust it and your ability to close the line but if you hesitate, there is the possibility that you will miss with your point or that your opponent might have time for a counter. It was great fun to look at the giocco largo plays with others in the group and discuss the pros and cons of say, disengaging from the crossing and cutting at the leg. Not a super clever idea unless your opponent is backing off and you pursue. Also, I always just assumed that all of the the giocco largo plays come from the second crossing of the second master. After it was pointed out to me and I looked at the text and pictures, I had a "aha" moment, they are not. There may be a crossing, but not necessarily at mezza spada, or as in the case of exchanging thrusts, the crossing can occur almost simultaneously with the counterattack. How did I miss that?? This shows me that we really need to reinstate the weekly kebab/beer evening meet-up with a treatise, pen and notebook in hand to discuss what we train and just as importantly, why. It's not all about tournaments and fighting, it can also be academic. Either way, more fun than you can shake a stick at. :-)