Monday, November 26, 2007


New First Drill, New Second Drill and Syllabus Form today. I'm very glad I went because it turned out that (due to the pressure of being watched???) I totally forgot most of the second half of the form. Yes, I could have pieced it together if given time, and in any case it's written down in the syllabus and I could more or less have recreated it from there, but still. So I spent a very enjoyable hour and a half learning the form and drilling it into my system.

Corrections generally concerned wrong lines of movement (if you step off the line to parry with frontale, it makes no sense whatsoever to then stab with bicorno in the direction your foot was moving in, i.e., off the line - d'oh) and sloppy guard positions. I've always had what Guy today called "a tendency to be quite fluid" but what he has previously called "bluffing it" and "running it all together": a certain lack of crispness and precision. He advised me to emphasise each guard position to make sure they are executed properly and only after the form is firmly embedded in my memory to increase the fluidity of movement.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Syllabus Seminar

Yesterday's Pre-Party Syllabus Seminar was the most useful thing since sliced bread. I learned the first six plays of abrazare (a bit better this time), syllabus form (all of it! Finally!!! With applications!) and all the drills. The new drills. Hee hee :) We get two whole new drills for the basic level, and new versions of some of the old ones for the intermediates. If I understood correctly, basic level students will have three drills (the new ones plus the old Third Drill), all done on the mandritto side only, and intermediates will have revised versions of the old First, Fourth and Fifth Drills. Second Drill will be scrapped. I'm sure all this will eventually make its way to the school's website, probably the Syllabus and ranking page.

For the first time in ages I actually feel like I'm standing on solid ground. I know the drills, the form, and the abrazare stuff at least well enough to practise them and help others practise, too, if need be. All the other Level 2 stuff I already had in hand, more or less. In fact, reading the Level 3 requirements I find I already meet most of those, too, or at least might with a bit of a brush-up because I've done many of the things mentioned... years ago... meaning that I might think I know them but probably don't do them well enough... A refresher in neck and back massage is needed, ditto spear and pollax, definitely ditto for dagger defenses at full speed and punches and kicks.

So I'm not so clueless as I thought :)

Rapier exercises

New fun stuff to do with a rapier (new to me, anyway):
  • Conditioning exercise: lunge + recover, pass "in seconda" + recover, pass back "in cuarta" + recover, sbasso + recover, scanso de pie dritto (sp?) + recover, low lunge, follow-up pass, pass-back lunge + recover, scanso dell'avita (sp?) + recover.
  • Rapier puzzles: your partner holds a buckler and positions his blade as he wishes, and your task is to stab the buckler without getting hit by your partner's blade. Variations include hitting the buckler without blade contact, by opposing the blade, by binding the blade etc.

One rapier exercise that I wish I had never heard of is rapierball: floorball (sähly) with rapiers. --shudder-- I remembered all over again why I hate team sports: everyone always ignores me and I'm totally lost as to who's in my team and where our goal is. But I suppose the point of the exercise isn't to make us antisocial buggers feel bad and neglected but to teach point control.

My brain hurts!

The rapier lesson about two weeks ago was my first since July so I was more or less out of it. The problem I have with rapier is not that after using a longsword, a rapier feels like a knitting needle (granted, after about fifteen minutes of training it feels like a very heavy knitting needle). No, the problem is that I'm stupid. I can't play chess because all I do is move pieces around the board, and with a rapier I can only execute individual techniques with varying skill; both actually require tactical wits, quick planning and goal orientation. (Well, maybe the quick aspect isn't quite so prevalent in chess.)

Another problem was that I was a lot less advanced in rapier than all the other students. Hm, let me put it another way. I may have done much more rapier stuff than many of them, but that was before Guy got into Capo Ferro and waaaaay before Guy came up with his set of training exercises. So even though I handle a rapier adequately (I think) and have an eye for the lines and angles, this class was still the first time that the position of the blade in the CF guard positions actually made sense and seemed intuitive to me; the ones I learned were subtly different. Or maybe I just misremember :D In spite of my handicap, Guy shouted at me every bit as much as he did at the others. In fact, after class he came up to me and made it clear that he did not think I should have known all this "new" stuff yet, which made me feel a lot better.

Regardless, I giggled inwardly in desperation every time Guy used the phrases "It's not rocket science!" and "It's not difficult!" to describe various rapier techniques.

Quote of the month

Guy is demonstrating with a student who ends up with his arm locked behind his back.
Guy: "A little stiff in the shoulder there."
Student (chuckles): "And not just the shoulder."
There's a pause and some tittering from the other students.
Guy: "I didn't need to know that..."