Journal, 10/25   4 comments

After a week off the previous, this week was just a bit of reminding my legs what they’re supposed to do.  Next Thursday (11/4) is also an off-week for me since work has me traveling.  All of which means basically four weeks of treading water.  Though, Elkin Fight Club approaches (11/14) which is always good for a kick in the ass.

So this week’s practice ended up being more about teaching others and some interesting discoveries.

It’s Crab Walking

The recently returned Rory has been bringing along a female friend of late (I believe a girlfriend, but am not sure).  In the broad swath of innate ability of new fencers she falls towards the bottom.  But, as I said to another, the average woman lives to be 78 or so, so she’s got 55 years to get this under her belt.  There’s no rush.

Still, she was having trouble with stance.  Her knee was turned inward, her foot wouldn’t point forward, basically all the issues that I’ve noticed in other female fencers.  But I’m not willing to write them off to “female hips”.  That’s bullcrap.  So I was musing with my mouth open about how your hips really aren’t pointing forward and are pointing more sideways, and in some Italian styles your back foot is pointing backwards and it’s really not walking forward at all it’s crab walking.  “OH!  I can do that!” she says, and she does it, and lo are the problems largely resolved.

I tend to disapprove of brain dumping in a teaching session, especially with newer students.  It’s very easy to overwhelm new fencers who are still trying to just get their foot in the right place.  They end up with a sense of “There’s this huge mountain and I’ll never climb it!”  They despair, get discouraged, and end up drifting away to less daunting tasks.

But as demonstrated by the serendipitous discovery of shared terminology, highly focused brain dumping can turn out to be quite useful.  A narrow-field brain dump (narrow to the level of a hand or foot position) has led to other serendipitous discoveries like “The hand position is similar to that of a hearty hand shake”.

We’ll see how incorporating crab walking into the lexicon works out.  It may well end up discarded in the bamboo stand behind our winter practice field(Letia’s backyard).

Fight at the Speed of Your Feet

Usually in working with low-intermediate fencers I slow things down to give them time to process.  But I realized by chance on Thursday that this may not necessarily be a service.

Fighting the Recently Returned Rory, I started scaling up my game just to see how far I could push him.  Doing so caused his fighting to improve, his parries to become more effective (not great, but at least in the right place and close to the right time), and his attacks more forceful and successful.  Basically, he stopped getting caught in the first two steps of the OODA Loop (thank you Percy!) and kicked his way on in to Decide and Act.  He’s shorter than me by a bit, so when he ramped up his fight he also had to ramp up his foot action and that meant his attacks came in fast and aggressive, but still controlled and, most importantly, with control of my blade.  At the end of it, both of us panting and me genuinely amazed, I said “Fight at the speed of your feet”.

So, when I then shifted over to work with New Fighter Megan, and we were talking about her frustration with attacking, we talked about strategy.  And, since she has a range disadvantage on me, we talked about how she’ll need to move quickly.  So then we worked on how quickly she could move her feet, which turned out to be much faster than she does in a fight setting.  Pulling out the line I’d used on Rory, we then fought, and she proceeded to run my ass down.  Here again, I now have another serendipitous phrase to throw into my teaching bag of tricks.

For a practice where I barely worked on my own skills and spent the time focusing on others, it was really satisfying.  I felt that by the end of it, at least three of the attendees were significantly improved, and at some level I had a hand in it.

Posted November 2, 2010 by wistric in Journal

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