Goal: Reach "Free Scholar" Rank
Current Level: Novice. (15 XP)
While traveling through town I came across a group of men and one woman training with longswords in the park. Intriqued, I approached and they told me they were part of a group that does something called "HEMA" or "Historical European Martial Arts". They asked if I wanted to give it a go and I agreed. It was VERY difficult. I have trained in many other martial arts before: karate, judo, jujitsu, boxing, wrestling, sumo, but this was something quite different. The addition of a long sharp piece of metal into the mix left little room for error and the blade moved astonishingly fast through the air. The teacher, Artimas, who carried the rank of "Free Scholar" in his fighter's guild, invited me to return next week and to train with them. I am thoroughly impressed with their skills. I must develop my own and rise through the ranks of their guild.
Very good training lately! Last saturday (Feb 9), we had our annual guild gathering in Georgia. What a great training space! The headmaster showed us a new way of thinking about the various cuts and stances with the longsword that is much more holistic and intuitive than we had formerly been thinking of the problem. We also worked a great deal of half-swording (where you have one hand on the hilt and another grabbing your own blade). At first glance many people think you can't do this without cutting your hand, but as it turns out that's completely wrong. You only get cut if the blade moves *across* the flesh. A strong grip on the blade that doesn't allow it to move allows you to half-sword easily. In addition to this we worked a good deal on our footwork and wreslting from the bind. Toward the end, we also sparred with different weapons that I'm not at all used to. I got to try the spear. I did well, won over 50% of my bouts. The spear against any other weapon is an easy win, but if your opponent has a weapon *and* a shield it is a much more even fight. Once the opponent gets passed the tip of your weapon, you don't have many options. My sparring has also gotten much better and I'm feeling more comfortable jumping into the pocket and being aggresive. Additionally, I've been studying the quarterstaff work of Joseph Swetnam and I feel that a quarterstaff is much more natural to my style of fighting. Swetnam recommends using many faints and false attacks and in general treats it as a much more "sneaky" weapon, which is very much in line with my personality. If I was a DnD character my class would certainly be "Rouge". All in all, good progress! +4 XP!
Rain. It's saturday and so like always we met to train. As it has done seemigly every weekend for the whole winter now it was raining and that kept most everybody at home. As it turned out though, it was really only a drizzle so we didn't even get that wet while practicing and we had a good session, even if it was just the two of us. Artimas is very good about trying to keep the training schedule whenever possible, as a good sword master should be. Unless it is just undoable because our training grounds have been turned into temporary marshland for the day, he's almost always there. We did a solid hour of 'foolin drills and then slow binding drills and I could see some improvement (albeit modest) in my performance. I'm seeing openings and counters things I should be doing, even if I don't always see them fast enough to take advantage of them. That's the first step. Seeing what you *should* be doing. After that you can start actually doing it. One challange is when we're in close switching gears seemlessly from fencing combat to wrestling combat. I'm a good wrestler. Not the best by any means but I can probably out wrestle 95-99 random guys out of a hundred chosen at random from the population. However when you're in the middle of a fencing match seeing the point at which "Okay, he's got me here if I continue with this swordplay, it's time to drop the blade and wrap him up and take him to the ground." takes experience. Real swordfighting is not what you see in the movies nor is it anything like the car antenna waggling they do in the olympics. It's actually pretty brutal and barbaric, which shouldn't be too surprising. There are many points in a fight where, after say a parry or a dodge, your best option is not to try and do some flashing move with the sword but rather to wrap up your opponent's arms or torso and try to tear the blade from out of his hands and stab him with it. Artimas is a pro at this (I suppose he should be, he's been training since I was a lad in highschool). We have a seminar coming up in Atlanta in a little less than a month, hoping to learn alot there. *ASIDE: Yes, I know the *technically* it's "a lot" and not "alot" but it "albeit" and "notwithstanding" can be words I don't see why "alot" can't be either, and I think this: alot, is more asthetically pleasing that this: a lot. *END ASIDE So, all in all it was a very good training session and I can tell that my practice is slowly but surely paying off. A little bit better everyday is all one can ask for. The journey of a thousand miles and all that. As Tolkien said, "little by little, one gets very far." +1 XP !
My normal early morning strength + skill routine is 5 sets pullups, 5 sets pushups, 5 sets squats and then 20 minutes swordplay against the target. Today I decided to rest my legs from yesterday's hour on the stairs and limited my strength training session to only the 5 sets of pullups and pushups. I got in 40 minutes of swordplay! Reviewed all my standard attacks progressions, disarms and binds, and the four basic wards. Good training today! +1 XP!