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
Vier Leger (4 Wards)
Ward to Ward
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.