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.
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.
The topic of calibration is certainly a consistent one in this sport of ours. It presents a real dilemma for people who travel not only outKingdom but out of their local practices.
Part of me is getting tired of hearing/reading about it. The other part is wondering if this is truly a serious problem. It must be it people wouldn’t keep talking about it.
Do you hit harder than you need too? If so, why? Caught up in the adrenaline? Think your opponent is a tool? Don’t really realize you are doing it?
I’ve realized there are two things happening. Either I’m not blocking well enough or I need armor adjustments. I keep reading that if a person is armored right they shouldn’t get hurt.
Shouldn’t isn’t won’t though.
Part of the issue is it’s all about perception. Not of the person hitting but one getting hit. You might think there’s no way in Hades you are hitting with excessive force but that doesn’t matter much if your opponent thinks you are.
It’s been mentioned that because our fights are honor based there is no clearly defined set of rules. After some of the fights I saw last summer I question some of the honor part. is there a way to set up defined rules? What sport with rules is similar to ours? Maybe boxing?
I’m not sure what those rules would be. I know that An Tir has a reputation of being a Kingdom of hard hitters. I learned recently that my local area (Portland) also has a hard hitting reputation.
It still goes back to does your opponent think you hit too hard? And in our game where people are striving to become Knights would anyone tell you? I don’t think I would mention it outright for fear of being labeled a whiner. I might ask you to show me how to better defend against the offending shot.
That said I did overhear some Knights telling some of the spear guys they were hitting with too much force at Autumn War.
Discussions like these make me realize there’s a lot of uncertainties in our game. Your best bet is to be armored well and practice your ass off.
Training: didn’t make out to get the pell set up but did work on my 5 minutes of sit ups.