Tuesday, 1 February 2011

31/01 Training

Quite a large turn of out eleven people, but three of them were new (I think two were likely never to return again, but just showed up for the lulz and to socialise). The person who took a nasty hit to the hand a couple of weeks back attended too, and seemed totally unfazed, except that I managed to kick them in the knee during the warm-up game of tag and send them to the floor. Fffffffffffff-

 Johann took the srs new person to one side for some one on one learninatin', while I began with the whole Lichtenauer system. In retrospect, they could probably have joined in too, and I hope/think that everyone could have gained something from it.

The basic lesson structure pretty much went along with the last post, except that the Integration and Isolation stages there were pretty merged together, and I added in the famous 'Scott Brown's Windmill drill' at the end; - I stood cutting an infinity sign in the air (cut down from the right shoulder [fendente/zornhau], cut down from the left shoulder, cut down from the right shoulder), while people queued up to step in and try and displace the attack with a thrust. Particular kudos at this stage goes to the two new people who we probably won't see again, who were doing it great, and Ben, who had the knack for it and seemed to be helpful through the other drills.

That said, things weren't perfect - the session didn't begin very promptly at all, and I copped out and had people do the 'ten cuts from the right shoulder' thing in a circle while I tried to work out what was happening. Two of the people there already had some grasp of the German system, and pissed off to do their own thing. Cool, whatever. It did show when they re-joined later in the session though, when during the 'Windmill Drill', they seemed to have an attitude of 'Hurrah! I have hit this person really hard in the leg when they weren't defending in the slightest. We are the dudes!'. Eh, whatever, they didn't waste my time, and I hope that I didn't waste their time.

The other problem was lack of kit. I picked up my left-glove and Jon's left-glove yesterday after the Dojo, there were three new people, and the kind of drills/forms I was trying to teach didn't really suit shinai at all. A lot of people were trying to do Ochs with one handed nylons, or swapping gloves while waiting for the 'Windmill Drill.' I'm skint, the club isn't raking in the pounds, and most of the regulars already have their own kit, so I can't really see a way past this. Sure, if I had a few grand to invest in a HEMA club (along with 20 hours a week, and a willingness to pretend that it has real-world applications), then it wouldn't be an issue, so fuck it.

Sparring was pretty meh - I was slow and not on top of my game, and it didn't help that the majority of the sparring was against people wanting to use nylon one handers. (Cool, let's build some dussacks and fuckin' well go at it, but one-one-handed nylon against a longsword-nylon, when we can't really throw eachother to the floor? Well, I won't be gaining anything from this, and I'm not really sure if you will either. Sure'd be happy to go one handed nylon vs. one handed nylons (what the hell are those things anyway? Arming swords? I need to Oakeshotte it some time), or S&B vs. S&B, or poll-axe vs. poll-axe or whatever, but sparring time was limited, and it seemed like a bit of a 'let's fuck about with toys' rather than a 'let's get some learninatin' in. I know I'm over-reacting, but this blog is for thinking about teaching/learning in the club. [/rant].)

Ben did well though. Pity his poll-axe was broken by others. Johann did bring a camera, but I don't think any decent sparring footage was taken. Should have seen about taking one out from the Uni, but I didn't get up there today. Slept through my lecture...

After the session, pub was fine. Chatted to Johann about things a bit, and hopefully something'll get worked out later in the week. Then read about John Danaher for a bit, got a man-crush, and thought about 'analytic grappling vs. opportunistic grappling'.

Worth £5? Probably for the newer-guys. Hopefully the regulars found it interesting and stuff too. That said, I feel like a socially awkward penguin trying to organise things and get skills/ideas across to people who want to be there. Also, worrying a bit about the autumn.

For next week - probably concentrate on some element of winding apart from versetzen. Duplieren? Mutieren? That cutting behind the blade after too strong a displacement whose name escapes me right now? For the future, also Ringen am Schwert and the meisterhau-s.

Need to be up in six hours. Time to read some Fuller Memorandum...

P.S. - People doing HEMA right.


  1. I know what you mean about the non prompt start, people (myself included I admit) were kind of milling around like cattle for a few minutes there. I think because of the large turn out there wasn't really enough space to find for yourself to warm up, practise etc.(without sodding off down the end and then possibly missing the actual start of things) although in future, we shall see.

    Thanks for the nod, I thought the various drills/displacements made sense so I figured I'd try and help out people nearby that seemed to be having difficulty grasping the 'germanness' of it all. Also as you mentioned with the kit issue (you needed the longsword more than I since you were being teachery and all), I also figured since I had the one hander handy I'd help people work on performing the displacement and then just getting the gist of it together with that when the opportunity arose.

    On to the sparring, I too feel pretty meh about how it went, I wasn't exactly on top of my game either but again thank you for the nod there, just because we have mismatched weapons (not ideal unless people are taking it seriously) is no reason not to work at it.. that said when it was good to switch to the longsword before the end as well and actual have a few more things come together (like i said, not feeling on top of my game either). Although I noticed you let me get away with a few openings a little which was rather nice of you, and then as ever you punished my hands (although less so this time which is nice as I did manage to catch a few of them..but fairly meh over all).

    Ah well as far as the poll-axe goes, it sucks but these things happen, I'm not bothered about it, it was going to happen at some point I'm sure.

    I noticed a little camera work being done by Johann so we shall perhaps see.

    Also I'm annoyed that I once again managed to damage the tissue/ligaments a little in my hand again albeit the other hand this time, and before class even really started, so it looks like I may have a bit of a propensity to do so these days. (eh my hands are a bit knackered from various martial arts and a few painful sporting mishaps and hitting things I probably shouldn't have done in retrospect over the years so it's no real surprise)

    I should moderate some of my techniques especially in tag as I do lead with my fingers in an odd fashion from my old martial arts days but they can't really stand up to the punishment any more so.. we shall see.

    Once again though I think you are doing well so far (feeling socially awkward aside)so keep it up!

  2. Thoughts:
    Windmill drill
    Cutting fendentes from both sides is probably intimidatingly complicated for people who're new to ochs and to absetzen.

    People disappearing, then ignoring drill
    Someone not wanting to do what's going on can be fine if, as you say, they weren't bothering others. I hope I'm misunderstanding when it says they then came back to the rest, messed up a drill, and hurt people by ignoring the drill.

    I'd say, from experience in Nottingham, that displacement can be drilled fine with shinai. Since the idea is to displace without direct opposition, the bounce of direct impact with shinai is less relevant.

    I'm going to assume you mean something else. Versetzen being breaking guards via the hidden strikes - not exactly from the bind. And Duplieren is cutting behind the blade in response to strong sideways pressure. Could I suggest working with displacements inside the bind first? "He thrusts from sprechfenster straight at my face, so I wind to Ochs to displace, and thrust back"

  3. Ben:
    Slow start - Space was a bit of an issue, but also I think it was a bit of a 'needing to wander around, greet people, make sure kit is ok, think my way through things' thing. A smaller group would probably be more cohesive, but I think it was more an issue with me being unable to get people's attention and get them to focus on things. Which slows down the work rate, which is bad.

    Sparring - I remember 'letting you get away with things' when it came to mismatched weapons, because with a longsword I already had a reach advantage, and was stronger in the bind etc. In all honesty I don't remember intentionally taking things easy when we were longsword against longsword. You really were holding your own! Next time we spar, remind me that I am not going to go for your hands, or try those cheap one handed leg shots - I don't really learn anything from them, and to some extent they're sympomatic of sparring rather than trying to learn.

    Hands - Following on from above, let's see if we can try something new for warm-ups? I really like the '2 against 1' thing Jon thought up, but it requires lots of space. I will mull over things.

    Windmill Drill - I'm quite pleased with how people were dealing with it, to be honest. The two people who had never picked up a sword-like object did great. It was the lack of kit issue that concerned me more.

    People doing their own thing - I didn't have a problem with them wondering off, more an issue with their attitude. The drill was set up to allow people to test the technique with a more varied input, part of that drill->sparring continuum. The issue was that the pair who went off missed that and didn't really get anything from it, and instead what I saw was something more like:
    Person comes in, sees fendente, deflects it using something Ochs-ish as a hanging defence, whips his sword around to hit me in the thigh a bit harder than is necessary (remember Scott Brown's words on that?) and then leaves to chest-bump his friend.
    Sure I'm exagerating, but if time was being wasted, that's where.

    Equipment - Yeah, I suppose more people could have used shinai, but very few had ones with them, let alone ones that would have allowed them to thumb the blade, which is pretty damn integral to Ochs/Pflug.

    Versetzen - Absetzen is what I was looking for. Silly posting at 3am. But yeah, some kind of winding drill, since I think that's where IDC has traditionally been a bit weak.

    To be honest, I think that I may take a break after next week. The session after is the 14th and my girlfriend will be down, so as much as I want to go 'Sword fightin' is moar important than wimminz', she may disagree.

  4. Something I always had to remind myself of and that I think is one of the major awarenesses needed for teaching- things that seem self-evident to you are not to other people. This is why sometimes the most skilled and experienced people can be really bad teachers. It's not just in terms of technique/concepts/strategy but in terms of things like- what the function of a particular drill is. Or the appropriate attitude for different kinds of training. Sometimes you really need to spell out to people what they're trying to get at.

    Taking the infinity drill- it's an opportunity to try certain things in a restricted, safe environment. So it's better to try and do the techniques you're trying to develop and get them wrong and get hit (and thus we hope get better at them) rather than to wait for an opportunity in the SLOW REPETITIVE cutting and dart in for a hit and dart out without getting hit.

    Now- partly people need to submerge their egos a bit. There's no winning or losing in drilling cos 'at the end of the day' some lemon is just standing there letting you counter. But it's easy to assume that they're being dicks when actually they might just not understand what they're doing wrong because they haven't grasped the purpose of the drill (self-evident to you).

    So- it's trying to get that across to them without being too pre/proscriptive, patronising or critical. It's always best to try and explain things in a positive way- say why it's a good thing to do the drill the right way, rather than focusing TOO heavily on why people are doing it the wrong way, encourage people to see it in the way you want them to, praise the people who are doing it right, occasionally stop to illustrate why what they are doing is nice etc. If people still don't get it or just don't want to play ball then don't let it bother you (as long as they're safe). Get on with your training and the training of the people who are trying to get it right.

    Shit I miss teaching already :S


  5. Good advice there Jon, I just hope I can bring it to class.