Daylight Savings = 1 hour less training if people forget...

Sunday was the third lesson in my developing curriculum, covering practical offence.  This was simply "how to cut at a target" as opposed to the simple "how to cut" we covered in Lesson 2.  It was interesting going over the mechanics of just how to cut, something that is often overlooked by people.  It was also interesting to look again at how similar the movements are for a thrust and a cut.  They both throw the arms out to langenort, but in subtly different way.  While the movements may end differently, the similarities are still there.  This provides options to the person who realises this, and enables them to change one to the other more easily, deceiving the opponent.

I also got to do some solo drills, thinking hard about the way I moved my feet, something I need to do more often.  It is good to step yourself through a seemingly easy movement, and actually pay attention to what your body is doing.  Critically analyse it, be harsh on yourself, until you get it right.  The next step, of course, is to show someone else and get them to point out where you're still going wrong ;)


Well, I'm back after a long hiatus.  I haven't really had anything much to say, and I've been quite busy.  All the usual excuses.  Mainly I've been getting back on my feet as regards training.  I am now back on my feet, and feel I should start talking again.

 ASEMA is undergoing some serious changes, with the main Instructor leaving for Wellington, and two others intending to follow.  That will leave yours truly at the helm again, so beware!  I have been enjoying a step backwards in terms of level of knowledge and instructing, and I've been learning a lot from the others in ASEMA.  In particular, my understanding of biomechanics has greatly increased, to the point of having a lot more confidence in my ability to understand and execute techniques, and to discuss them.  Thankfully, one of our newer students is also stepping up to the plate to assist in the instruction of other members, so I'll have a decent amount of support up here.

 Biomechanics is an often overlooking aspect of martial arts in general.  It staggers me the number of stories I've heard of martial artists who were unaware of something as basic as True Times.  Biomechanics is the lens that we should be looking at the original texts through.  Using it allows us to access what the masters are trying to tell us, and to fill in the gaps where they have assumed their readers already know what they are talking about.  It also allows us to think critically about modern author's interpretations.

What I've been working on recently is a study guide to basic biomechanics, since so few books have been published on the matter.  Writing my own also allows me to fit it around my lessons, which I have been working on in preparation for the bulk of the knowledge and reference material to relocate to Wellington.  I'm thus working my way through developing introductory courses in German Longsword and Burgundian Pollaxe.

As an excerpt, here is a list of what I consider is basic knowledge that is required before moving on to actual study of techniques.  Most techniques described in the manuscripts require some form of previous knowledge in order to get the details right, and understanding these first allows the practitioner to focus on learning the technique, rather than having to have the reasons behind it first.

These are specific to german longsword where appropriate:
Forward weight stance
True Time movement
Passing, gathering, and the circle
Circular movement
Thumb manipulations
Vier Leger (4 Wards)
            Ward to Ward
First wrestling
Second wrestling
Attacking a target
Taking and retaking the Vor
Force and Power Generation in the Offence
Force and Power Generation in the Defence
Active use of the 4 wards against thrusts
Active use of the 4 wards against strikes
Second strikes and feints

I believe that only once these principles are understood can a person properly begin learning more than the basic use of a longsword.  Any further study will reference at least one thing on this list, if not more, as a reason for using it, a detail of how to perform it, when to perform it, or whatever.
You cannot properly explain how to perform a three point turn to someone who has not learnt to change gears yet.

Back in the groove, kinda

Well, I'm not posting so much, and no video as yet, but my training is up on the upswing.  On Sunday I learned some more about English staff, and the first of english two handed sword.  Interestingly enough, while I found the first glimpse of english staff enlightening as regards my LJH work, the second one was less so.  In fact, I was interpreting it through my LJH lense, which may or may not be a good thing.

The two handed sword work, on the other hand, was much more of an eye opener to me.  It was frustrating how much difficulty I had with some of the footwork and sword handling, but it is good to have such challenges again.  It makes me work harder when I know I should know better.

I think I'll stick with it.  It makes more sense to me than the german, and english two handed sword pisses bnonn off.

My first LJH lesson taught in Auckland went well.  The students seemed reluctant to stop, so I'm taking that as a good sign.  A better sign is when the don't want to stop training 6 months from now.  I enjoyed it too, and the greater level of experience in the students is going to lift my game, and add valuable insight.   I'm going to be looking at a grading system too, and I plan to have the first assessment at the conference this year.

The gradings will be based on knowledge of the system, and martial ability will not be taken account of.  Tournaments will serve that purpose.  Advancing in the grades will only prove your knowledge and ability to transfer said knowledge to others.  It will confer no rank or respect other than what you can generate yourself.

If they're lucky, I might even have a pretty little certificate for them to frame.

I'm baaack

Well, i've been to two classes up here in Auckland, and no video at all I'm sorry.  Back to being a student, with things to learn, doesn't give me much opportunity to take video of other people learning.  Plus, it's dark in the evenings, so I'm not sure how well it will come out.  Maybe I can get the other instructors to take some video.  We shall see.

I've been learning messer, and I.33, both of which I've wanted to do for a while.  The sword and buckler work is very interesting, some different concepts in there, while still remaining the same.  Messer is rather more directly relevant to my pollaxe studies, being from the german tradition, rather more contemporary, and rather less specialised.

The most interesting thing that has happened was being taught a technique that I recognised from some of my musings about adapting LJH to other weapons.  It was rather pleasing to have my wild assed theory on that particular technique validated by seeing it show up in a totally different system.

Bnonn can now stop complaining "you can't keep doing that!" when I take his sword away and hit him on the head.  Again. For the third time.

So, what we've been doing so far...

Last night, Marinus covered true times, and stepping on the circle.  I cannot emphasise enough how important these are to a true fight.  Marinus had us waving our arms and bodies about, seeming to think we would find this embarrassing, but years of dressing up funny and waving (steel/wood/foam) sticks about have pretty much inured me to public displays of movement.  It was a good way of demonstrating True Times however, and his reasoning behind stepping  on the circle was new to me.  Moving to put myself behind/under my sword was probably something I was doing anyways, but it is yet another layer of knowledge and complexity.  I'm not so sure about stepping forward and jinking to the right, rather then stepping directly on the circle, but I can see it's utility in hiding your movement until the last minute.  I will have to discuss this.

Wards in messer would be familiar to any student of the german longsword, but they have different names, and are actually functionally different in some key ways.  The general principles of each hold true though.  We've covered some very lovely/nasty moves that invariably end with your point in someones face.  I'm finding using my shaped messer simulator more easily visualises the techniques than the arming sword simulators.

They do work quite well for I.33 though, where we've again covered the wards, quite different to other systems, but only so much.  There are a limited number of ways to usefully prevent cleaving death from above, or any direction for that matter.  What is interesting about I.33 is the other wards that are used to break the "basic" ones.  So far we've only looking at half-shield, mainly breaking longpoint or under-arm (first).  Last night we looked at under-binds and over-binds, and their different utilities against different variatons of longpoint.

This Sunday, I start teaching pollaxe again.  We'll see how many show up, and if they mind being on video and posted on the net.

Oh, and I get to hit people again.  I've missed that.

(no subject)

Belated posting, but at least it's here. On Thursday we covered pollaxe, and we had a much better turnout and training overall. Reiver was away with car/computer problems, but Patchy and DarkKnite showed up, and DarkKnite brought a friend to watch, who kindly took some of the footage for us. Having all of us being being the more experienced of the group was an added bonus, as we could go straight to working on our technique at a higher level of training. This year, I have decided that we will be carrying through with all of our techniques, rather than being "polite" and not finishing them. Still not going full force, as it is only training, but contact must certainly be made. The only exception is the throws. Since we are training on the asphalt, we thought that woudl be more than just polite.

We worked on two techniques, the back lever throw, and the queue sweep. You can take a look at our efforts in this video [video]. There are several things worth noting. Firstly, as demonstrated in the first segment, it is critical to push on your opponents shoulder, to get it to rotate. It is this rotation that llows you to throw your opponent. It is also just as critical to keep you queue on line with you opponents face, otherwise they can simply raise their axe and push you away, as you can see me doing to Patchy in the third sequence. It is also worth noting the our technique is, again, poor. We are both stepping far too much on the second step to place our foot behind our opponents.

In the second part of the video, you can see DarkKnite and I working on the queue sweep again, only this time, I'm not stepping to much. I was rather pleased to see myself actually managing that. Throughout the video, you can also see how little I step when making a tour de bras. This was also good to see, as it was something I was working on. It it truly surprising to someone who hasn't done it before how powerful a relaxed strike can be.

The final thing worth noting is that it is again critical to make sure that in executing a queue sweep, your queue does not sweep too far [video] beyond your opponent. It should pretty much come to rest where it strikes, in between you both. A short sharp knock is all that is needed to deflect the incoming blow.

We also shot some footage trying to illustrate the geometric "trick" I mentioned previously. I don't think we've really done it justice, and on review I don't think my stepping is quite right, but it may serve to illustrate the point. The first critique that should be made is that in the first sequence, I am not correcting my left foot. It should be rotating to bring my left shoudler out of range, and allow me to extend my arm further. You can see me eventually get it right(ish) later on in the video.

I also got hold of the USB cable for Bnonn's camera, so have some footage of Tuesday's training. We covered true time strikes, and did some slow work with them, as described below as the "arthritic man" [video]. We also, as mentioned below, covered some little kampfringen [video] that I could remember from last years conference.

Two extras on the end of this post:

  1. I will be moving to Auckland shortly, having gotten a new job at Fisher and Paykel, designing mouth/nose interfaces for humidifiers. I will thus be moving from HSEMA to ASEMA, where I will continue my studies and instruction of Le Jeu de la hache, and gaining the benefit of the tutelage of Colin, which I intend to improve my footwork and sense of timing.
  2. It is early stages yet, I know, but I would like to know how large my audience is. If you're reading this blog regularly or semi regularly, please leave a comment to this post, if only to say "hi". Thanks

MIssing cables and yet more economy

Again, lack of video strikes, and you all have to put up with more verbiage from me.  Bnonn brought his camera, but forgot to bring the cable, and I fogrgot to wipe my cameras memory, so used Bnonns.  Bnonn assured me his camera woudl take a stand USB cable though, so all was well.  Until, that it, I got home, to find that it while it does indeed take a standard USB cable, unfortunately, ours doesn't, it takes one of the mini ones.  So yeah, short on the goodies today.

Much improved turnout this evening, Patchy, Bnonn, Reiver, and I beating each other up, and throwing each other around.  This meant two sets of partners, except when I was taking video.  We started off by all working on our economy of movement, primarily in terms of stepping, though I was working on overall economy in my defence, taking a short step, and moving as litle as possible to still deflect the strike. 

We covered a range of topics within this discussion, including about how you must take a shorter step in your defence than your opponent does in his attack, and stepping so that your lead foot points in the direction of your momentum.  Patchy and I then moved up a notch, by me counter attacking after deflecting.  We also looked at slowing thigns right down, Colin's "arthritic old man".  This makes for a really relaxed strike that can generate s surpising amount of power.  This is a useful exercise to get people (or yourself) to stop "powering" their strikes.  Too much effort actually results in less force.

We then recapped the first weeks german wrestling move, and threw each other round till it was time to go home

Lack of training and True Times Rant

There was no LJH training this week, for some personal reasons, so nothing to report. I have, however, written a little spiel giving a brief background on True Times.

True Times, as described in the works of George Silver, are a critical component of successful attack and defence. This is true of any martial art, of any attack, and of any defence. If you do not move in a True Time, you place yourself at risk.

The essence of True Times is presenting a threat to your opponent. By doing this, you force them to take account of this threat, and they must defend against your attack. If they do not, they will be struck. Some people will suggest that if they attack you by moving faster, they will hit you first. This may be true, but they cannot stop you from hitting them. It is not a safe attack. (it also happens to not actually be true, and would never generate much power, but those are other matters)

The same concept applies when defending in True Time. You must present your defence first, or they will strike you. (And no, you will not become more powerful than they could imagine.)

George Silvers True Times are as follows:

Time of the Hand

Time of the Hand and Body

Time of the Hand, Body and Foot

Time of the Hand, Body and Feet

What this means in real terms is the order [video] in which the various parts of your body should move. If your body moves first, not only do you telegraph your intentions, but you move your body into range of your opponent before your attack is in range. This means that can strike you without fear of getting hit themselves. Your hand must move first to remain safe.

False Times are the opposite of these True Times.

Time of the Feet, Body, and Hand

Time of the Foot, Body and Hand

Time of the Body and Hand.

So if anyone steps up to hit you, punch them in the face. They can't stop you.

More Economy

Bnonn had a headache already at 3:30, DarkKnite couldn't avoid getting lumped with a Tuesday shift, I have no idea where Mason or Patchy are, so it was just Reiver and I. So we punched each other, repeatedly.

Economy of movement is something that needs to be worked at constantly. This became palpable obvious tonight, given the tiny amount of progress we made since last week. We ignored wrestling, and worked on stepping shorter, and getting Reiver into good, True Time, habits. I still step far too far, but it's getter better. I'm able to step what I consider to be a proper amount if I think about it, and without thinking about it too much if I repeat it a few times. If I just let go however, and dont' think about it at all, I'm back with what is essentially a short lunge. One thing I found useful for calibration, since we train in a carpark, was using a parking space marking line. If I place my toe on the line, I know that, when passing, my other foot should fall so that it too hits the line in some way. I demonstrate this here [video].

Please note, I'm not holding this up as an example of good footwork, it is merely useful to demonstrate long and short steps.

Some video here [video] showing how little movement is actually required. And even this example could use less movement, particularly the first few punches. Towards the end, you can also see how my economy of movement, by taking a shorter step than Reiver, allows me to land a good hit on the inside muscle of his shouder, while my passing on the circle combined with a true time strike means that his attack is ineffectual.

There were some better examples of this, where I was actually able to completely ignore his attack, but no video, sorry.

Highlight of the evening: going to demonstrate to Reiver the consequences of moving his feet first in a defensing move, by slapping him in the stomach with my offhand as a follow up punch. Insinct kicks in, my arm decides that since there is an opening, and I'm going for it, GO FOR IT!. Arm punches Reiver in the solar plexus with an unpulled blow, brain left going wtf? Thankfully, while unpulled, it was light.

Lowlight of the evening: being Reiver when I punched him in the stomach.

Crappy Footwork

OK, having now taken the time to properly look at and digest the videos I posted, I can now tell you how crappy they are.

More honestly, how crappy I am.  The steps I am taking are far too large, ruining any good effect gained by me using true time motions.  The problem with large steps is that they take time, more time than short steps.  Because you are moving in reaction to your opponents movement, your movement must be smaller than his, else his movement will end before yours does.

I was able to get away with such poor footwork because I was moving fast, Reiver was moving slow, and not wholly in true time.  If he had been, I would have been a lot more hurt than I was.

The thing that disturbs me is that I was actively trying to take small steps, and I thought I was.

Hobbles would be the next order of business, but I think that might be a bit too kinky for some people.