Last Friday’s “longsword” practice was to be focused on Medieval/Renaissance dagger work, in prep for the seminar we were giving the next day.
However, a new guy showed up; Chris (the instructor) stuck with him to show him the basics of longsword technique and philosophy (so the guy could decide if he liked it and would want to continue), so I worked with young Hallie in dagger. She hadn’t been there the night a couple of weeks before when we did a lot of dagger work, and was excited to get the chance. She’s only 12, but highly motivated (having her older brother Fritz being really into it helps), so she gets a pass on being there. Chris originally set the limit at 16 and above, but so far, she’s been just fine.
Later, a couple of the regulars showed up, so we continued to train, and it was good.
Saturday brought the Dagger Seminar at the University around, and it was great. Chris had asked me if I could assist, especially in the falling and throwing department. I’ve done Eastern-type martial arts for several years, and got into Russian Martial Art and loved it. But I have always maintained that the most bang-for-my-buck thing I’ve learned so far is proper falling. So Chris had me teach that one time for his class, because he was still feeling shaky about it.
The thing about Medieval combat training (and the manuals that accompanied it) is that it is fairly comprehensive. The manuals of the masters from those times usually had longsword as a base, and used the principles you gained with it to teach other weapons, such as spear and dagger.
They often also include wrestling, and Chris often has a wrestling-dedicated practice session. Because the purpose of the wrestling was to get someone to the ground (whether you are barehanded, or with a weapon), he felt that you should be very comfortable going to ground, hence the training in proper falling.
At the seminar on Saturday, after some warming up, he split the group of 12 or 14 or so into two groups. He worked with one group in footwork, and sent the other group to me on the mats to teach falling. After a period of time, we switched the groups out.
I typically teach falling very simply. The first part is collapsing, like a sack of potatoes. Then I work with people to get them rolling as best they can. After that it’s break-falls. I’ve found that I like to do it in that order, because by the time you get to break-falls, the students are familiar and comfortable being up and down and changing through different height levels. Plus, break-falls are really just incomplete rolls, so having done the rolls first, it’s a little easier to explain it. And finally, I am prejudiced toward rolling, because it’s actually safer than taking a break-fall. If you end up running out of time (which we did with one group), then I’d rather spend the time on rolls.
After that we went into Johannes Liechtenauer’s “The Three Wrestlings.” That was entertaining.
Then finally into the dagger work, off of a manual that I don’t remember the name of right at this moment. It was a long day, but the students were begging us to keep going. We stretched it as long as we could, but the gym finally was shutting down, so we had to skedaddle out of there. All in all, a good day.
Sunday found me once again at the University gymnasium, helping the Fencing Club with Olympic style of fencing. A good weekend of training.
And now, I’m back in Colorado, enjoying the icy rain, and the the snow in the mountains. Cheers.