Monday, August 8, 2011


Recently I have been working on fundamentals. I used to think about fundamentals as flat snaps, shield work, and that sort of thing, but I have recently discovered a sub-layer of skills that is even more basic than that. First and foremost is body positioning. No matter how well I swing my sword, I will never hit the target if I cannot position myself to avoid their shield. When squaring off against an opponent, the basic fighting stance is fairly defensive. If I stand in that stance, and let them stay in their comfort zone, nine out of ten shots will simply hit the shield. I have been told by my betters than I need to move more, and I finally grok why. There is no progress to be made from a stationary position, simply trading shots. When I was taking King-Fu as a child and teen, I learned a lot about positioning and footwork. I am trying to work those concepts into my fighting, but it takes time. I am trying to take small steps, rather than making radical changes. For now, I am working on throwing combinations and circle my opponent as I swing.
The other fundamental aspect of fighting that I have neglected is aggression. I always approach things in an analytic manner, and attempt to solve the "problem" with my mind. I find it difficult to get myself worked up to show aggression, especially during an activity that is fun to me. Perhaps aggression is the wrong word for what I am thinking about. Ferocity might work better. I do significantly better when I stop thinking, and just fight. That fighters-mind is hard to attain when I am trying to pick apart the fight in my head, and over thinking everything.
These two core concepts work very well together. When I am fighting ferociously, I move more, and vice versa. I never want to be angry, but I want to be aggressively competitive. I need to change my style from that of a counter-puncher, initiate faster, and fight my fight.
This is all mental, and I can change my outlook. I will be working on this diligently. It is physically exhausting, but well worth it.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Crawl, Walk, then Run...

I have been fighting, and enjoying myself. I had almost forgot that I intend to write down my thoughts on the matter...

Now that I am not in the realm of academia, I feel like I have a lot more time for hobbies and other pursuits. When I came back to the SCA after my hiatus, I felt really good about myself. I had accomplished a lot personally and professionally. That feeling has not faded. I am working full time for the federal government, so I have great job security. The journey thus far has been a good one. I am now in a place where I can dedicate myself to this.

At the Stromgard practices, it seems to be hit or miss with regards to attendance. One thing that I can count on is a couple of Knights showing up. That is good, because they are always willing to fight me. I realize that the Society is a social group as well, and they would likely rather be fighting their friends, so I try not to ask the same person more than once per practice. On the flip side, I have been told by many Knights that I need to simply walk up and respectfully ask for a fight. So, that's what I do. I have never been turned down. On the contrary, I always get a thorough thrashing, and a sound education. To their credit, I have never been beaten down, and not given help on how to improve my fighting. Knowing what it is like to teach, I always try to be an attentive student, and implement their teachings. When I am a better fighter I will worry about deciding for myself what is, or what is not good for my fighting style.

Currently I am fighting with a heater shield. It is a standard, semi-triangular shield, with the point facing down. Basically, it is what you think of when you think of a regular knight's shield from a movie. The shield is very solid, and was constructed by a Viking some years ago. I have had it suggested that I try a tear drop shaped shield, based on my persona, but I don't have one of those yet. My gear is high quality synthetic armor, that doesn't look proper for the time period, so I cover it with a tabard. My helmet is a very nice stainless steel Norman Rounded helm, with brass rivets and a black front bar grille. It looks good, and protects well. It is easily my best piece of armor.

As for the actual fighting, I am currently fighting in a sword-foot-forward stance, which is counter intuitive for many people. I decided to give it a try for two good reasons; My left leg was getting hammered constantly while it was forward, due to the the prevalence of right handed fighters. And more importantly, most of the Knights that attend the Stromgard practice fight in this stance. I deduced through common sense that if the best fighters are doing it, there is likely a reason for it. Since changing stances, I have been taught a lot about how to use my footwork to minimize the required movement of my shield, and how to set up combinations. At this point, I feel perfectly comfortable with either foot forward. That helps me in transitions quite a bit.

Finally, the last thing I want to talk about in this post is the social aspect of this endeavor. There are people that attend this practice that have been in the Society for decades. Their view of time, in the context of the Society, is very different from mine. I know all about this, based my my time in another group. It takes a while to get integrated socially into a group that is so entrenched. With that in mind, Jen has been coming with me to practice, so she can get to know the other fighters, and their ladies. It helps me stay motivated if it is a group activity rather than just something I do alone. Also, I think it will help her have more fun at events if she knows people from practice.

I plan to post once per week on this blog, just to keep reflecting about this experience. I find that I can learn a lot more about my motivations and desires if I take the time to type them out.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Changing gears, and getting going...

About 3 years ago, I got into SCA heavy combat. If you are not sure what that is, I would suggest googling it, and checking out some videos on youtube. In a nutshell, it is full speed combat wearing heavy armor, using rattan weaponry. During that time, I went to practices once or twice a week, and attended events. I was getting past the extreme novice stage, and learning to defend blows while delivering some decent ones of my own. I was by no means a high caliber fighter, but I felt like I was making real progress. Then came my absence from fighting. I was accepted into a fairly intensive program at the local university, and most of my time was dominated. To be honest, I could have probably kept going a couple times per month, but I decided not to. The feeling of getting beat up and physically exhausted is tough to deal with while doing intensive schooling. I felt like being a fighter was something that I didn't want to do half way, so I decided to put my combat aspirations on hold until my program finished.

Fast forward 18 months since my last fight...
I am finishing my program, and I am ready to get back into it. I went to practice a couple weeks ago just to say hello to the fighters, and get my face known in the community again. It was fun, but I knew that I had to suit up and fight to reintegrate into the group. For me, fighting is also a social activity. It reminds me of when I was in the Army. Camaraderie is an important thing to me, and it enhances the scene. So, last night I suited up and fought. I knew I was rusty, but I didn't feel as bad as I thought I would. My shield was heavy, but not overly so. I cut 3 inches off of my sword, because it was something I had mean to do for a while. It really helped with my snaps. I felt quick, although I had trouble putting together combos. I think that going to the gym has helped out, but not hugely. While fighting, it is all about bursts of speed, and whole body movement. I had forgotten what it was like to move in rapid explosions of energy. I must say, I was out of breath pretty early and often.

Today, I am fairly sore all over, but in a good way. I took some solid shots, but nothing that actually hurt in a lasting way. I feel like I got what I needed out of the practice. I did alright, and didn't get seriously hurt. I took enough shots that I am hungry to improve. I have several goals that I want to accomplish. It is all about being dedicated, and continuing to show up to practice.

Monday, August 30, 2010

In use...

While I am in the mindset of self/life improvement... I suppose I will put my thoughts down on paper, so to speak. I find it useful to look back and see where my mind was at the time. Besides, facebook and other microblogging tools are too limiting for my taste. I figure, there might be one or two people that I can count on reading. (most likely just my wife and mother in law) Thats okay by me.
I have been doing well at the gym. I am not going crazy, but I am certainly trying to make it a habit. I have also quit drinking energy drinks by and large. I am not taking a stance, or anything. I am just trying to drink water, and generally make better choices. As I age, I am very conscious of the changes to my health. When I was just 5 or 10 years younger, I feel as thought I was more resilient. Getting enough sleep was not a high priority, and I could always get out of a rut by having a cup of coffee. Well, those days are gone. I feel like crap if I don't get sleep or go too long without exercise. For me, quality of life is very important. I am not willing to trudge along feeling mentally, physically, or emotionally drained. To that end, I am attempting to turn my detail obsessed, over analyzing mind inward. I am trying to self monitor, and reflect.

Exercise, diet, sleep, and many other things are factors. I also recognize that my social health is also a large factor in my over all happiness. I don't want to use loaded terms, but it is difficult not to. I am trying diligently to remove toxic influences from my life. It may seem abrupt, but I think that cold turkey is the best method for quitting bad people. Some people have trouble dropping a "friend", but I am not one of those people. It saddens me that I have people near me that I don't actually respect, while having lost touch with people I genuinely loved at one time or another. Nostalgia colors thoughts of old friends. It is important to move forward, but that does not mean a complete lack of old friends. I heard an analogy relating life to a backpack, I think it was in a movie. Some things you want to leave in the bag, because you cannot imagine going anywhere without them. Other things are simply in the bag because you haven't taken them out yet. Its is time to repack.

This is a rambling beginning, but that is alright. Stream of consciousness is how I work best.

Monday, December 8, 2008

This blog will act as a repository for various thoughts, on various subjects. I think of this as a conversation with myself, and that is the true purpose. I will only update when I feel like it, and will often hide posts that are personal in nature, which may turn out to be the majority. Fortunately, I don't have an audience to feel obligated to.