Monday, 3 October 2011

03/10/11 Lesson Plan and ramblings.

I'm going to be breaking with tradition today and posting up the lesson plan before the actual class. 

The last month has been spent getting people at various stages of experience into HEMA and KdF. As a forthcoming article/essay from Pete will outline, it’s reasonable to say that you need to have a basic understanding of some aspects of sword fighting in order to get stuff out of sparring on its own (as opposed to drilling with intent, structured free-play or whatever).  Well, stuff beyond the immediate ‘I really suck at this.’ feeling...

Although he focuses on the system associated with Liechtenauer (or as I'm now going to call him Johnny Lickty, just to annoy you), he broadly outlines:
  1. How to cut and thrust.
  2. How to cover yourself.
  3. How to control the bind.
I'm growing my beard until I can pose like this symbolic representation of Johnny Lickty here. That's how serious I am about this.
I think that what we’ve been covering lately directly addresses those three areas, in about that priority. We’ve covered things like guards, stepping and 'the centre line', but all without them being the end goal of what I’m covering (I hope). To disappear up my own butt for a moment here, I think that a lot of this conceptual and technical baggage is epiphenomenal - it appears as an indirect consequence of mechanics of trying to kill someone, so while they’re useful for explaining a system to someone who already understands it, learning positions by wrote isn’t a very effective way of teaching absolute new comers.

But anyway to pull back from that tangent for one moment - we’ve covered a fair bit of ground pretty quickly - how to cut, how to thrust, how to cover yourself with hanging guards and with a counter-cut. Leaving the bind to cut to the other side. All this kind of stuff. So this lesson will be trying to cement that stuff and make sure that everyone’s on the same page. It’ll be a skill-set focused partnered drill rather than learning new techniques and concepts.

10mins of faffing about. - I’m resigned to the idea that there’ll be a period at the beginning of every session sorting out kit, getting water, meeting and greeting and all that stuff. I might as well take it into account.

15mins warm up and stretch. A good ten minute warm up of jogging, sprinting, lunges, walking like Doctor Zoidberg, wrestling steps and so on. Five minutes of stretching after, introducing what we’re going to do this class.

5 mins of everyone going for water and kit. Exactly what it says on the tin. They'll need a sword like object and at least a mask between two

5-10 mins. Begin the drill. Divide the class in two, down the length of the hall. Pair people up across it and according to weapons. Get everyone on one side a mask (or everyone, if we can). The other side (side A) at this point just walks up to them and without breaking pace cuts a zornhau at side B’s mask, while they stand there in vom Tag. Then they reset. After a few tries, swap sides. This is to get people into a sword-y mood, and get them thinking about cutting. I can wonder around and observe.

10-15 mins. Next step. Everyone shuffles around a position clockwise, meaning that they swap partners. The person wearing the mask, on side B, can now block with a crappy unthreatenning defence into kron, without even stepping. Side A’s hit now either lands, or it gets blocked. If it doesn’t land and they’re being pushed offline, they should step off and cut to the other side. If it doesn’t land but they hold the centre-line, they should stab side B in the face. Repeat, then swap sides. This is building up the drill, and getting attackers used to feeling the bind and reading whether to press on or disengage. The emphasis here is on Side B providing the right set of inputs for Side A, and not stealing the drill from them.

5-10 mins. Change around clockwise for new partners. Build it up again. Now, Side B, if they feel that Side A is leaving the bind to attack on another line, can try and stab Side A with just a step. This is meant to make it less of a dead drill, and to re-inforce the importance of reading that bind. Swap partners.

10-15 mins. Guess what, change partners, build it up again. Now, if Side B feels Side A going in for a thrust, they can displace into one of the hanging guards, as well as thrust with that step. Stuff should be getting a lot more gamey now as the options increase for each side. Swap sides.

10-15 mins. Lastly, if it is not yet 8.30, we can have another stage in the drill in which Side B can use a zwerchau into the oncoming cut. Side A should be really being made to work to get their cut landing now, not just walking up as they were in the beginning. We’re almost doing structured freeplay, with the myriad of options available.

5 mins. End of session thanks, question and answer etc. Let people who want to spar spar.

End of the plan.

In other HEMA news, HEMAGoth has quite an interesting spin on 'Fighting with Intent' over on his blog. It's a fair point, and ties in with stuff that Matt and I talked about - how what we do is a monkey dance, training for sociable violence. However, I'd also argue that there's a difference between intent to harm in fighting, and an intent to behave in a way which would cause harm if we were doing it for real. I can wrestle with an intent to hurt someone, yet I can also wrestle with an intent to actually follow through with my actions and put the other guy on the floor. I think the point that I'm trying to make here is that 'We're not trying to kill each other' isn't an excuse for dead training, bullshit drills that train the wrong responses to the wrong stimuli, or make acceptable wasting people's time with things that they won't get better from.

Which has become one of my set-piece rants. It's okay, I think that I have another one brewing at the moment, 'shameless self-promotion without making getting into HEMA any easier'. It's self-serving, doesn't do this fringe hobby of ours any favours and just rubs me up the wrong way.

But that one would lead to drama, and so is to be avoided...

Rather proclaim it, Westmoreland, through my host, 

    That he which hath no stomach to this fight, 
    Let him depart; his passport shall be made, 
    And crowns for convoy put into his purse; 
    We would not die in that man's company 
    That fears his fellowship to die with us.
                     - That's the good kind of drama.
Okay, it's been a couple of days since the session, and I have to say that it went quite well. Everyone was able to perform the techniques (at least in isolation), and people were getting better at feeling the bind despite using nylons. Even better yet, people were making useful suggestions (such as hand-stretches) and making good feedback outside of class.

The plan for next week is to build up a drill based around the zwerchau, from 'being used to counter a downwards cut' to 'I heard that you likes zwerches, so I'm zwerching under your zwerch, so I'm protected from your zwerch by my zwerch which is also zwerching your head.'
It'll be less complicated than that, honest.
The other thing that I've been asked to clarify are body positions, such as the structure when you're in ochs, and the type of footwork you should be using when changing the line. Now, I think Pete subscribes to the 'whatever works' school of doing things, but I'm sure that there must be a better answer than that...

1 comment:

  1. My take on "The other thing that I've been asked to clarify are body positions, such as the structure when you're in ochs, and the type of footwork you should be using when changing the line. Now, I think Pete subscribes to the 'whatever works' school of doing things, but I'm sure that there must be a better answer than that..."

    Please bear in mind my understanding of KdF is limited and incomplete. I might be another internet expert, so feel free to disagree, although I like reasons why...

    Ochs, in the "basic" form - the key point is to have it high, forward and to the side enough to cover you head against their blade. Then think about having your point online to stab them, and put pressure in the bind towards his head rather than off to one side. Then think about having your thumb to the "inside" against the flat side of the sword blade, crossguard or handle, to help brace it against their pressure and ensure the crossguard is perpendicular to their pressure to catch the blade.

    There are a lot of useful variants/development, from having it far forwards to attack with to "hanging" the point offline to cover a wider line of his attack.