Three years after my last blog that I was ready to jump back in and the truth is I just wasn’t.
It was part laziness; part not giving a shit and part fear.
Okay mostly part fear.
Since then I have learned about the Law of Attraction. And let me tell you it’s powerful stuff.
And, I’ve been building a really good support group of people who I think believe in me.
And so it is with a lot of courage that I announce one day I’m winning the An Tir Crown.
Now, the work begins.
From the depths. I reappear.
Actually, it’s just from two years of two knee replacements. Still no excuse though. I honestly could have been furthering my studies. But I was lost. Defeated. Sir Johnathan would not be pleased with me. I promised him I would continue on. But I feel the time is right to make good on that promise.
Simply stated… to excel at any endeavor or “Sport”.. Time, Patience (with yourself) and Dedication are essential. Some just take longer.. Time and Patience are to be shared with your “Trainers & Teachers” but Dedication is ALL your Own.
He said that to me on June 15, 2011.
So, maybe I did have to take my time. Maybe somehow, deep down, I knew the Hell that was coming with these two knee replacements. It doesn’t change the fact that I feel like I have let him down. But I’m equal to the task of making it up.
I was his Protege and Apprentice and I don’t really feeling finding a new Peer. So I’m going to build on the basics of the plan he started me out on. A lot of it I won’t be sharing as that was his wish but the new stuff that I add I will be.
I’ll be working in three different areas: Physical, Mental and Education. They are pretty straightforward. Physical will be the fitness and fighting part; Mental will be the get my head right part (meditation etc) and Education will be the research part. I want to be able to teach classes at events so I need to really get a handle on my subject – Roman Cavalry horses.
This is my reading list that Sir Johnathan started and I added too.
The Prince, Machiavelli
The Rule of the Templars, J.M. Upton-Ward
Rome and Her Enemies, Jane Penrose
The Known World Handbook
SCA Rules of Combat
Lots to do. But I have the tools to get it done and I have the new knees to be kicking ass with!
Gees. Where to start.
Been some interesting things happening within our hobby the last few days. Our Kingdom page fractures into two and the SCA, noted for anti-social media aspirations, launches an official Facebook and Twitter site. Well the good thing about the latter is, it’s a REALLY cool page! Whoever they have running it, man they have got it down. So far there are some really fun topics. I think it’s going to be such a great push in recruitment to have a good solid page like that.
As far as the others, I don’t know. It seems like some are run by people who want to keep things all to themselves. Which is why our Kingdom page split. The original page was known as very heavy handed moderation wise. I was really surprised at how many of my SCA friends had left the first Kingdom page because of that. I think most of us just tried to ignore that until the recent happening, that I shall call ‘SecretGate’.
For probably the last four or five years, I have constantly read that the SCA’s membership is dwindling. Costs have increased for membership in an already fairly expensive hobby. A lot of people have either become online members, participating with their friends by way of email groups and Facebook, or they have left Society entirely. So, what is the best way to get members? You recruit. And how do you recruit. You use the best technologies at hand. Before the internet, I imagine it may have been going to colleges and leaving fliers.
But now? It’s definitely online. I found this place on the internet. I was doing a search on something Roman and came across ‘Society for Creative Anachronism’ and a blurb about a very famous Duke from the West that had a Roman Court. Apologies I cannot for the life of me remember his name right now. So, I started my search. I assumed this group was something only in one area. But no! It was not only all over the United States, it was Global. I found my local group. Unfortunately, the Chatelaine indicated to me that this Barony was not very welcoming of new people and I should try the Barony across of the river. Okay – I did and found a wonderful Barony and my journey began.
Fast forward to today. There are so many platforms for getting people into our hobby. Facebook and Twitter being the two biggest followed by various special interest forums. And then Society becomes very wary of any social media and all Facebook pages have to have unofficial disclaimers. Some people say it has to do with all the lawsuits that have been brought against us, some say it’s Society wanting control over everything. I’m sure it lies somewhere in between plus a variety of other things we aren’t even privy too. But, there it was. No official avenues.
That of course didn’t keep people from finding their various Kingdoms or even the unofficial SCA page. And then on our Kingdom page someone made the decision that we needed to be protected from the outside world and made the group Secret. The levels of ridiculousness of this. We don’t do anything that deems the need for our Kingdom page to be secret. If anything, that would make outsiders more suspect of who we are. It was mentioned about protecting the privacy of the members. Well guess what folks, if you are that worried about what you say being seen, you shouldn’t be on any social media site in the first place.
The thing that most surprised me about this change were some of the higher level Kingdom members that couldn’t see why this was a big deal. I mean, I was seriously shocked to read some of what they said. Here you have the biggest recruitment opportunity – that is FREE, and you’d actually question why it was a big deal to make a page invite only? Things spiraled downhill when the person who made the change continued to remain silent and members were lost. Sadly, some people didn’t have much care about that either. It was a few people. There were still 2000 other members to talk too. Really? Sorry but those people matter.
So a kind gentle created a new page. And it has a good feel of a new start. Sure, not everyone is going to move over and that is fine. In fact, I’m still on both pages. Until the second page gets more established, there is still Kingdom news there. And of course now we have two Society pages. One that is official one that is not. It seems to me that there are some ruffled feathers about that. One thing I’ve noticed is that there are a certain group of people who seem to feel the Society is solely theirs and if you infringe upon that watch out. Seems like some of them tend to be in moderating roles. They are the types that say, if you don’t like such and such, go start your own group, your own page, your own whatever. And there will always be the issues of internet use and not being able to speak in person. Sometimes people seem like jerks when they aren’t – it’s just how things are written. It’s happened to me. But constantly exhibiting that behavior?
So, where does it leave us? Well, I hope that the higher level Kingdom people realize that they have two choices. Recruit and expand or don’t and dwindle away. The tools are there. The people are waiting to be found. It seems to me that it’s not that difficult. So why is it?
The original Social Media, the Roman Forum
So, cool things are developing!
I had the chance to speak in-depth with Sir Duncan on the phone to go over some things that are making me stumble when it comes to pell work. So not only did he indulge my endless questions, BUT he made me three videos of how to incorporate them. Wicked cool!!
So, what we discussed was pell work issues:
- wearing full armor for pell work
- the three parts of the shot
- transitions and returns
- fighting close
- retreating and recovering
Wearing Full Armor for Pell Work
So for some reason I had thought the idea was to wear full armor when doing pell work. I had seen a comment about something doing pell work with just their arm protection and shield and I asked on my Facebook page what the fighters did and it was a resounding – not in full armor. The pell is best used for slow work.
If you wear your armor, it insulates you from being in touch with what is going on. Sir Duncan
Like is a shot hurting you, is the shot you are doing not balanced or overall doesn’t feel right. And that makes perfect sense now that I take time to think about it! And a lot of guys rarely go full speed, unless they are doing a test run to see how something feels. Somehow I think I should have realized this!
The Three Parts of the Shot
They are power generation; delivery path and the return. Now, I’ve been mostly focusing on the first and really struggling with the last two and especially the return.
The following video shows the three different returns that Sir Duncan is teaching me:
Transitions and Returns
I’ve been using a combination of the first return, with a bit of the ‘yanking the sword straight back’ from what he mentioned in the third return. Now I can start practicing NOT doing that. I definitely like the third return but I’m going to be spending my time working on all three.
Retreating and Recovering
This has been a big problem. Normally, I blind myself – peak and get bonked. And I get bonked as I’m retreating. Now, I know why!!
As you can see there are actually ways of peeking without getting killed! I really am looking forward to practicing retreating off different angles – or even straight past!
And Onto the Fun!
The drill! Sir Duncan put everything we talked about into one drill of awesome! This puts everything together so seamlessly.
This involves the 1 to 6 drill that Sir Jonathon taught me and is a very good drill that a lot of the fighters use. But, I’ve never thought to incorporate, the recovery, the retreat, the reset. This is going to REALLY help so much!!
Is that not just amazing!!
I also learned that there are many different ways to throw a shot. The thing is to try different ways so you’re not always just doing it one specific way. It’s also important to learn how others do the shots because in knowing that you can try to figure out how to block what they do. I learned that it’s important to not let your guard done until you know you are well out of range. In practices I had been letting my guard down as I was retreating and that was where I got killed a lot.
I am pretty pumped up. I’m going to review the videos a few more times so I know I’ve really gotten it down and then put it to the test. Looking forward to reporting back some excellent results to you guys!
There was a discussion several months back about putting Knights on pedestals. Some felt it was unfair to do. They said that Knights were like anyone else. I both agree and disagree with that. Knights to me are what your favorite rock start or actor would to be people who aren’t SCA/swordfighting inclined. They are the ones those like me strive to be like. They are the role models that you think about when you think your dream is not going to happen.
So honestly, it’s hard not to put them on a pedestal. They are human. They will make mistakes sure. And I’d never want to put someone in a tough position of having people look up to them. And not in stalkery sort of way. I mean genuine, honest flat-out respect for what they have achieved. And really it doesn’t pertain just to Knights. There are many fighters who have yet to get the accolade that are also great role models.
I remember at Crown last year when Sir Duncan took time out to talk to me about fighting. Some of it I don’t remember sadly because I was just in awe that such a high level fighter was talking to ‘me’. Now, please don’t let that sound like our Knights are a bunch of snobs that only keep to themselves. It’s 100% the opposite! These guys do go well out of their way to help people of all fighting levels.
But, it’s still that ‘rock star’ sort of thing of, wow… look at who ‘I’ am talking too right now!!!! You want to be like a schoolgirl that just got asked to the prom but you have to maintain. Believe me it is NOT easy.
And then there are those role models that you’ve never ever met that make a huge impact on you. Of course I cannot forget my mentor Sir Johnathon. He would not be happy with me that I have strayed from my Path since he passed away. I promised him I would continue on and honor him and I will do just that. He made a huge impact on me and my Path. And Duke Thorstenn who is a great Knight from Trimaris. He’s been helping me a lot with strength training. I’ve learned a lot about the Philosophy of the SCA Chivalry and the technical ins and outs of fighting from him too.
I struggle often about this Path I have chosen. Can I do it? I have all these knee/joint injuries and another likely surgery looming on my left knee. And I think about ALL the Knights that have similar issues and how they have overcome and I think I want to be like them. And I push forward.
I don’t ever want to put someone on the spot with my hero-worship. But I also hope those on the receiving end have an understanding of why people like me do it. It’s for inspiration, it is to get us to our own goals. And one day, I hope there is a way I can inspire someone. And when that happens, I want to be like Sir Duncan, who took time out to talk to me and literally made my day.
So I learned about this very interesting concept from Gavin yesterday on the Armor Archive. I’m going to share his explanation:
When you throw a standard flat snap, everything begins with your hip abductors. There’s a discrete impetus that initiates the strike. Your torso turns, your legs begin to drive, eventually your shoulder, which lags behind the hip initially, comes forward (much of the “snap” really happens right there, as your shoulder makes up for lost time and passes your hip). In Paul’s school, the sword effectively goes ballistic as the shoulder comes forward and the arm and sword swing toward the target. Personally, I have another element to the equation, in that I close my hand, hard, to add a bit more acceleration aid in power transmission and make the strike “stick”.
All of that just to get to the return . And here is where it gets interesting. You need to recover your sword. You want to do that as fast as possible (remember that for what we do, speed is power, to a degree). So those same hip abductors that initiated the strike initiate the recovery, you start pulling your torso back, your legs support this recovery motion, your arm really doesn’t do much but steer the path of your recovery.
Your torso has begun counter rotating and you put effort into making this action happen quickly (this is applying power on the return). A fast recovery – with drive – adds energy to your sword. When you keep the energy flowing, moving from one strike, through recovery into the next strike, you can add all of the force you put into recovery to the next strike.
One way of looking at it is our strikes are, essentially, circles. They start at a point, travel through an arc, return to the starting point. So your first strike travels roughly half the circle from starting point to target, but your next strike is beginning out there at the target. It’s going to travel the full circle. It has more opportunity for you to put energy into the strike.
It’s from the Bellatrix School of Fighting – more info here:
Now, I’ve never thought much about the return to be honest. I’ve focused more on following through with the shot – where you make sure the shot goes completely forward that you don’t stop midway and then ‘return’. But I never really thought much about the importance of the return itself. I’m guessing that is where a lot of hip action comes in to play as well. You get the return, set your hips to generate the power for the next shot.
Now what I have been doing with the return is just popping it back up and stopping. Even with my combo shots, there is a hesitation before I go into the next shot of the combo. I would bet that even a slight hesitation is what is making me lose power in those follow-up shots.
If you look at Figure 2c on the Bellatrix page – that is the point I was stopping and starting the return from there. I wasn’t letting the shot follow through like Figure 2d.
But now, I need to really make sure that I focus on the return – I have definitely been lacking there.
Lame… I have not kept up on this blog like I should have been. Work kicked my ass this summer and I did not get to attend any SCA events which left me with a bitter attitude about my fighting. Self doubting and all other kinds of negativity just bombarded my head.
But as always my sword Muse has quietly but forcefully kept my dream going. Even with another knee surgery looming on the horizon. I think, well, yeah, my knee needs worked on but there’s not a damn thing wrong my arms and so I can and should be working on that. I could be practicing on my pell, or shadow work here at home. I could be back on the forum learning everything I can. There are many things I can be doing that will further my goal even if I have a bump in the road.
My Muse will not let that desire burn out. It’s hard to explain to people who don’t share the same interest. They hear swordfighting and they kind of raise their eyebrow and look at you like you’ve suddenly grown a second head. But for those of us bitten with that fire, its beyond what words can explain. It’s deep within.
And so I forge ahead. Not beginning again as much as continuing on more forcefully. The good thing is I’ve gotten myself back on track after a summer of no exercise, bad eating and just plain not caring. It’s not an easy road. I don’t want it to be. When I reach my goals I want to know that I worked my ass off for them. I want to know that through pain, tears, sweat, surgeries – whatever – that I did it.
I see my event season slowly slipping out of my little hands. Work has gotten beyond chaotic. Many of the days I had scheduled off a couple of months ago are looking more and more like they are not going to happen.
Best case scenario right now is pulling off fighter practices only since they only involve 2-3 hours in an evening. Anything longer than 8 hours is going to be hard to pull off. And if I didn’t need to pull my weight at work and make sure I keep my job in this economic uncertainty – I might push the issue a bit. But I’m going to go with the flow and make sure I slide through this summer job intact.
There will be plenty of events coming up to play at.
I haven’t done anything with regard to my fighting. I’ve been focusing on work. But I will be making some time in the next couple of weeks to get my rig finished up so I can at least go to fighter practices. Just looks like my big fighting debut is gonna have to wait until next summer.
I know there are others dealing with job issues, so I know I’m not alone. I was just really looking forward to a fun summer like last year. 😦
That’s all for now. I’m actually in Anaheim and will be back to Oregon in a few days. Will know more then about my July/August event schedule. Keeping my fingers crossed.
Slow is a good pace, but sometimes it’s you know, slooooow.
I have a free session with a trainer at the gym so I’m going to make use of it and figure out what weights I need for better upper body strength. I know cardio is going to get my stamina going. Actually went on a hike today and realized how much I do need to work on that.
I’ve been delving into the Rules of the List so I am up to speed on that. I need to update my SCA membership next week.
Not much to report SCA-wise so this is going to be an incredibly short blog. Plus my mind is really wandering to modern work related bologna so I’m really having a hard time focusing right now.
Hope all are well, and remember where the pointy end of the sword goes.
The new Princess by Her Own Right in Cynagua has really gotten me to think. I want to win Crown in our Kingdom. I don’t think it’s out of my reach. And I don’t think that is vain of me to say. There is not one reason why I cannot win it.
But, I have to get started. And that is where I stand stuck. I have a few pieces of armor to get fitted, I need to really get into shape and get some wicked stamina. I need to not be lazy. I need to want this in reality as much as I want it in just thinking of it. And I think of it a lot.
Here is a video of Sir Mari in their Finals.
Just beyond cool.
So I’m needing to come up with a plan of action. Cardio, weights. I’m going to start some big time swimming as I keep hearing that is a good low impact way to build up muscles. My focus areas are my knee and neck.
I have zero concerns about my armor. It will protect me, however, I’m most own worst enemy with regard to my knees. And as I’ve mentioned before a bit nervous about the prospect of one of them blowing out. But I refuse to let that stop me. I know there are fighters that have dealt with much worse and come back on top. And that’s going to be me.
Then, I need to start going to practice. And not just talk about going to practice. And not just the same practice but multiple practices. I’d like to start a Facebook page for Kingdom fighter practices that could include ride share info where a bunch of people could be traveling around to different practices.
I need to set quill to paper and start working through a plan of action and keep up with it.