Ok, given that this blog concerns getting lernin' across, it seems reasonable to reflect on how are training sessions go, rather than it just being rants or drama-stirring. Let's also try and be honest - we'd only be deceiving ourselves otherwise. Ultimately, it's worth gauging them in terms of 'Was the session worth the money?', as it's a more immediate meter than 'Was the session the best it could have been?'.
So, the first session since the blog's been up. Here is some contemplation:
The turnout was quite small, with just six of us. A bit disappointing given the numbers that we've been getting recently, and it would have been nice to see a few more of the regulars, but it's enough to break even on the rent.
Thing's kicked off by doing a fairly unusual warm up that just grew from doing a 'sticky swords' drill with one of the guys while we chatted before class, progressing through a bit of dagger faffing to warm up, and ending with guys running from one side of the room, doing a couple of cuts against a pillar 'pell', running back and repeating. It was only a brief burst at the end, but people seemed to like it, and it's the kind of intensity I enjoy.
The drill that Johann enigmatically warned us about was an exercise that involved an attacker and a defender; the defender trying to stay in distance (but not too close for wrestling at the sword techniques), and protect themselves from cuts coming from the attacker. It had quite a nice internal progression in terms of intensity, from slow speed (lacking in aliveness?) through to full speed with masks.
I guess the drill would have allowed absolute new-comers to get comfortable with the training tools (had there been any), and I found it enjoyable to play at the 'Edel Krieg'. Certainly as a group we lack comfort at that kind of distance, and much prefer hand-sniping or rushing in, to our detriment.
That said with a more critical eye to the drill it was perhaps a little bit two dimensional, without much structured progression in terms of the depth of techniques or concepts introduced to the drill. I guess different students bought different skill sets to the drill, and I tried involving thrusts to force people to wind, displace and so on, rather than static blocking.
Which I think is my main criticism of the drill - that unless properly supervised it encouraged the wrong response to that situation. I think in the future, if it's re-cycled then it could be the culmination of some more basic drills on how to behave in the bind ('zorn-ort'/'fendente and punta', 'Volta'/'Abnahmen' etc.) and possibly ending in some structured sparring? As it was, it encouraged static blocking (or waving the sword back and forth) - as the defender I tried alternating between Pflug-s to Absetzen incoming cuts, to keep up the pretense of always having a threat, but really it was a token gesture.
In any case, what followed was sparring. I took the opportunity to give one of the guys some advice on relaxing more as he cut, since I noticed he was a bit tense when doing a practice 'kata' at the beginning of the session. By his own admission, he was shattered from work, so I have no idea whether or not it helped, but he seemed amiable to it.
Sparring was a hodge-podge of longsword sparring against Johann and another couple of guys. To be honest, I don't think that I was on top of my game, partly due to lack of physical fitness, and partly because things just didn't flow. I tried to concentrate on using the German guards and the meisterhau-s that I'm not comfortable with (Shiel and Sheitel, and to a certain extend Krump), and also work on my basic footwork.
In any case, I managed to keep up a decent work rate, but I did manage to hurt (but hopefully not injure) one of the guys by making an upwards cut from Alber into his hands while he cut down. Uncool - the first rule is not to break your toys, because then they won't play with you any more...
He seemed OK, and we did some mucking about with a dagger for the last twenty minutes or so, but still, the synthetic swords that we use can break thumbs very easily. Safety comes first.
After the session, pub as usual. I had a chat with Johann about things, and it seems that I didn't jump the gun making this blog. There was a toast and everything.
Conclusion: Worth the £5 for the regulars, but I'm not sure how much a total beginner would have been able to get out of it. Fortunately, not an issue.
I took some videos of the sparring on my phone's rather terrible camera - I'll try and get them online soon. But in the meantime, how does everyone else think the session went? Am I being too harsh? Have I forgotten about anything important?