Friday, 29 January 2016

Pacing oneself....

Last weekend at the Helsinki Longsword Open 2016 was pretty intense. It almost feels like I haven't slowed down since. I talked with loads of people about a range of topics, not all sword-related. We were up at 6:30 on Saturday morning and had the whole day experience of the competition, followed by dinner and the pub, culminating in a two-hour drive back home. I finally got home around 5:30 in the morning and due to copious quantities of cola consumed in the pub I was still hyper at home and finally fell asleep around 7:00 am. That's a pretty full 24 hours!

It has left it's mark in both good ways and bad. Mostly good. I am now friends on Facebook with two new and very interesting people. I got to see photos of myself in action, some actually quite flattering and looking almost like I knew what I was doing! Some well, are a bit closer to the truth.... I guess the video material will not be so much fun to look at, or to put a more positive spin on it, they will be instructional. The bad side is that following the tournament, I realised that I have a lot of holes in my repertoire. These need to be fixed but I want to fix them ALL, NOW! I know the desire to improve is a good thing but I need to be more realistic in how quickly or slowly this will happen. I have probably mentioned in a previous post that I can get fixated on things, be it work, quadcopters or fencing. I will keep pegging away at it, all night if necessary to get to a point where I am satisfied. This rarely happens though because I am so tired and consumed, I cannot see any good in the thing anymore. Since my burnout, I really have to watch it that I realise when this manic behaviour starts and step away. Being unemployed right now has been a bit of a curse in this respect. With time on my hands, there is the tendency to check Facebook every five minutes or answer every text or message immediately. The good feeling and enthusiasm generated by the tournament experience has meant a lot of mails and thread perusal in the last few days, more than is probably good for me. All I can say is that I will have Facebook-free days and thank God I am not on either Twitter or Instagram!

Away from the interweb, I managed to drag myself to training twice this week and for the most part, enjoyed it. Last night we practiced slipping the leg in both Fiore longsword as well as in the Bolognese sidesword class, which followed regular training. I was a bit frustrated by the exercises we had to do, to be honest. Here, folks pair off and one either attacks with a blow to the head or feints high before cutting to the leg. The defender was supposed to react accordingly by either staying put, parrying and riposting for the first attack type OR slipping the leg for the second. Seems simple right? Not so, for me. I often either get it completely wrong or fluff it in such a way as to make a mad flail and a leg slip and can just about tag the attacker. To my pedantic mind, it must look awful, no response is clear, looking like a total fail (I get hit) or a weird hybrid spasm (a slip and a half-assed blow). Aargh! This apparent inability of mine to see and react to what is really happening is a real gear grinder for me and I suspect most people. It just seems to me that other folks seem to deal with it better than I do. Why do I just react and respond to what I seem to think is happening rather than what is ACTUALLY happening? 

We also did new footwork exercises this week. No, NOT the above. Holy Jesus, it looks like some sort of manic Shaolin track event combined with fencing lunges! Knee injury anyone? Our lesson involved doing a deepish squat until the thighs were horizontal, then powering up from there to jump as high off the floor as possible, the idea being to develop 'explosive' power. Useful for making aggressive lunging attacks, which we don't do in our regular training. They were not satisfying to do as I seemed to have very little power and not much height in my jumps. Normally, we do not do a particularly heavy workout apart from a light warm-up in class and this has led to folks being a bit shocked by having to do some hard work. The complaint is often "I'm here to swing a sword, not do aerobics!". Fair enough, but a few minutes spent on more dynamic exercise on a regular basis can only benefit a fencer. We should see the long-term goal and as our American cousins would exhort, "Suck it up!". Change, if we want it, will come slowly or quickly depending on how we apply ourselves. Actually I preferred this video, which took a lot more relaxed pace and frankly, exercise that are more likely for me to perform than the Italian Cossack dancers above! For some reason, I really like the ice-skaters jump (3:20) which I could see being used in longsword.

1 comment:

  1. *I tried this once, but have no idea whether it worked. So now I changed some settings and am trying again, just in case. Sorry if I send two comments by accident!*


    It's Kaisla here from Ritzinkuja, still remember me? I thought I'd look you up and discovered this blog.

    Nice to see you're still busy with fencing, and that you're getting so much out of it. I'm afraid I never got back to martial arts, as dancing sort of ended up taking over my life. I did have a break in training for a few years, due to life stuff, but have since got back in the saddle. In fact this last autumn saw my first competition in years and it actually went rather well. I've also relocated to Austria, where I live in a small house in the Alps with my better half. I do my best to keep a blog, which is at , I'm quite bad at updating regularly though. I tend to get distracted by other things and forget to write or take photos for the blog. If you'd like to get in touch again, feel free to drop me a comment there. If you'd like to get my new email address, let me know. I'm not on FB/Twitter/etc, but I do have Skype.

    Anyway, all the best with the fencing and hope you have a good spring!