Posts Tagged ‘longsword’

Ahh, summer. Today was only up in the mid-nineties (ΒΊF) and about 1000% humidity during the middle of the day, so I decided to take a run with my jo.

About thirty minutes later, back at home, I grabbed my new sword trainer (steel blunt) and went whacking at my new pell the roommate and I put up a few days ago. Good forearm work, there.

My new pell.

Finished off with some kettlebell jerks, cleans, and then some sumo squats.

Today’s been a fasting day. I’m thawing some frozen shrimps, and will probably add them to an omelet. Yums!


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Friday night was a good longsword session–my first after the LASIK and having no glasses. So naturally, Chris had us do exercises where in particular, we were not *supposed to use a mask*… πŸ™‚

I agreed with his reasoning; don’t go full speed, but you can’t use the mask as an excuse. You *must* feel some threat, which really does change the dynamic of the play. When there is explicit protection, it’s too easy to get wrapped up in just single-cheeking (“half-assing”) the movement, and getting hit. Without the artificial pro, you get a real sense of “you’d better do it right.” And I think it worked for the most part.

I’m okay with this line of thinking, and pretty used to acting as if it were real with or without the protection on. But I think it was, well… eye-opening for the younger students. In fact, right now, other than Chris and me, the other students are in High School and even Junior High. So, they often fall into a bit of a sort of laziness. Chris has been doing different drills to drive home the real martial nature of the experience, and hopefully, it’s helping.

As far as for me doing it without glasses for the first time–it was an interesting experience, but exactly opposite of what I expected. I expected to be super cautious, flinching at every move at my face. Instead, I felt calmer, even sometimes letting the opponent’s waster directly touch my face without even a wobble or a blink. Hmm. I know that I’ve always been aware of having the glasses, and getting them hit–apparently I was more afraid of hurting the glasses than myself. I know also that for me, rain and wet meant a hassle. Not because I’m particularly afraid of water, but because I needed to keep the glasses dry, because drops of water, etc. make it really hard to see to do things, like drive, etc.

There you go.

Saturday morning was a hot, beautiful one, so I made it a point to head out to the driving range early. After that, I ended up getting some brunch, as it had been a fasting day yesterday. Because I spend so much time on the road to and from work, for the last few years I’ve made it a point to not schedule anything early on Saturdays, because I just wanted to get up, putter around, and not have any demands put on me. I could get everything going once that happened.

However, often by the time I would get going, it would push everything back later in the day and sort of create more hassle. I’m taking back my mornings on Saturday, now, and have decided to get things going early, *then* backing off. So if I can get something going early–exercise, work around the house, etc., then I can back off and be more productive. I know that sounds intuitive to a lot of people, but then, a lot of people don’t have to drive one and a half to two hours to work in the morning. And then back, getting home in time to maybe look at the TV for an hour then go to bed.

I was looking at getting a hard workout in later in the evening, but that plan was aborted, and I ended up meeting some friends for food in the evening, then walking around Old Town Fredericksburg just sauntering and smoking cigars. So–I’m glad I got the golf range going in the morning. Sun, and a little light exercise. And some desperately needed practice! πŸ™‚

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I must have the worst case of dyscalculia… once again I was prepping for a Power To The People (PTTP) type lifting session and hosed up the weight amount when loading the bar.

But let me back up a little. Longsword on Friday was excellent, a good training session going over in some detail the first Zornhau “play” straight from Liechtenauer. Started off with striking practice with the longsword waster against a pell–in this case a mobile heavy bag such as I have in my basement.

Saturday I got a new chain and sprocket set put on the moto. Then I went up to some friends’ get together to celebrate the completion of both their renovation and their first home brewing experience. But I was a bit tired for some reason; I was a bit sleepy on the way up, then really sleepy on the way back and went basically right to bed. Only one beer, thank you very much…

Today, I woke up with a headache, and later just felt not quite right and unmotivated, so didn’t go to the University fencing practice. As time passed, I felt better, and wanted to get a workout session in, so I did, a little bit ago. Went for another strength session.

To activate the neuro-muscular system, I hit a few jackknife push ups (good description here) a bit before the heavy part of the session. Then I started off with 3 on either side of the “two-hands anyhow” with the 32 and the 16 kg bells. For the deadlift portion, I wanted to go just a bit heavier than I did for most of my reps last time, but less than the first two, which I had mistakenly loaded up more then I was anticipating.

This time, I basically made the same error, but worse!! Somehow, I got confused looking at the plate weights labeled on the side. The Weider weights I have have both kilos and pounds. So I looked at the wrong label or something when putting them on. Last time I had the 22 lb weights in addition to the three wheels of 44 lbs, either side.

So this time, I put what I thought were 15 lb disks on there. Alas, no!! These were 15 KILO disks!!! So after I lifted it, I saw that they were the 33 lb weights, either side. So instead of the 339 lbs I was expecting, I ended up with 375!! Now–I did lift it, but I knew that I didn’t want to do multiples up there, yet. I need to build my strength back up, for safety and health’s sake.

Let me have an aside here. People use words like strength, power, and endurance a lot, and kind of sloppily, as far as I’m concerned. I tend to use them in the common terms, because that’s what people seem to understand. But really, what’s the difference between “strength” and “power.” I’ve seen some really vague answers out there, and it’s always kind of bothered me. People kind of indicate that power is sort of like, slow, grinding lifts and strength is somehow quick, explosive lifts.

But really, what I think of it, from an engineering stand point, is that “strength” is the resistance to breakage or damage, from shear or torquing forces. And power is the ability to affect something else–in lifting you could apply the term as one’s ability to get some mass to move. (In real engineering terms, “power” is often given as a measure of heat that comes off of a system when work happens, and “work” is the measure of movement).

Looking at the Wikipedia entries is interesting for the multiple uses of these terms. One of the definitions of “strength” in humans and animals indicates that “physical strength” is “the ability of a person to exert force on physical objects using muscles.” The rest of the article looks a little sloppy to me (and is, in fact, a stub). I suppose this bears more investigation. I’m sure there’s some agreed upon formal definitions in kinesiology or somewhere. But who, really, is the authority for this stuff?

So, in any case, when I’m talking about making sure I’m strong enough to lift something safely, I’m indicating that I want to be able to have the ability to apply force whilst making sure my frame (joints, connective tissues, etc.) will not fail (break, damage, misalign, etc.) when I’m applying that force. To me, that’s as important in strength training as simply the ability to move a mass.


The PT was the basic PTTP, where I start with an overhead lift, then do the deadlifts, then go back to the overhead, etc. I did this for three cycles. Oh, and after discovering my counting error on the first lift, I took the extra weight off, and replaced the 10 kg disks with 11 lb disks, for a total of 331 lbs. A bit safer and more manageable right now for my second dl session in a while. I haven’t decided on a final goal, yet, except I want to work back up to an easy, safe four wheels. I’ll see how I feel then. In between the other sets I managed one set of jackknife push ups, then finished off with them and some stretching.

Looked a little something like this:

5 jackknife push ups

3 each side, two-hands anyhow (32/16 kg)
1 dl (375 lbs)
2 dl (331 lbs)

3 each side, two-hands anyhow (32/16 kg)
3 dl (331 lbs)

5 jackknife push ups

4 each side, two-hands anyhow (32/16 kg)
4 dl (331 lbs)

5 jackknife push ups


Oh, and for an example of the two-hands anyhow:

I did some searching on YouTube, and there are quite a few variations on it. This was close to what I did, except I kept using the same hand with the heavy weight for several reps, then switched hands. Less complex for me that way.


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Illustration in Talhoffer's Fechtbuch showing rondel dagger combat.

Illustration in Talhoffer's Fechtbuch showing rondel dagger combat.

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.

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Well, ostensibly, this was to be a low-travel month for me. Indeed, we have gotten to the point where instead of two weeks travel per month for the job, I am to be traveling one week a month.

However. This was also family reunion month, so I headed over to see the family (both sides) for a week. And in truth, it was a good visit. Got a little football played, lots of eating abominably ( πŸ˜€ ) and the like. Other than passing and punting the football, my workouts were basically helping my dad move heavy stuff–particularly a home-made iron pedestal from someone’s house to Dad’s. And this thing is heavy. I guess the guy wanted stability for his hand-loading apparatus. Now if I can just get my dad to load some more .44 Magnum!

We did in fact, go to the range. Let’s see if I can link the video of me shooting some bowling pins…

There. Good fun, and required of our family (we are West Virginians, after all… πŸ™‚

My dad also got rid of some weights, by giving them to me. He and his wife Susan are hard-core stuff collectors, flea markets, garage sales, etc. He acquired a little while back an EZ Curl bar, sized for Olympic weights. He lived with it for a while, but he prefers (and has on tap) the weights with the small hole, vice the large hole Olympic barbell weights. Somehow, in some deal he also ended up with two 50 lb Weider (I think) disks, Olympic size. He finally ended up with the EZ Curl for the small size holes, so gave me the Olympic size, and the two 50 lb disks. Now, I normally don’t use the EZ Curl bar, and all my disks are the kilo marked ones–but, what can you do? This figures in a little later in the story…

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, so to speak, my time at my actual home has not been seeing a lot of hard core lifting or physical training for a few weeks. But I have gotten some things in, such as ruck runs, etc. And some time at the TopGolf golf range with some buddies. Also, when I’m around, I’ve been pretty focused on my longsword training on Friday nights. A couple of weeks ago we did dagger fighting, which is great fun, and then we went into free play with some training swords the instructor came up with, made from shinai. Also, lots o’ fun. πŸ˜€

Last Friday night, Chris, the instructor (and is my roommate as well) was down with a cold, so we didn’t have class. Next weekend he’s giving a dagger seminar at the University. My schedule now looks like I will be able to be there to help co-instruct. That should be fun. I do get such a kick out of both the doing, and the teaching of these things.

Now back to the continuing stoooory (for you Muppet fans) of the old/new to me EZ Curl bar and the weights. I finally got them out of the truck bed and into the house for a PT session. Good CFT-type sweat-fest.

First, I started out with 10 minutes or so of longsword against heavy bags, focusing on half-swording. I have two bags that I use, because it’s nice to work out tactical problems with two targets. This could be called the Pre-Fatigue phase.

For the Core of the workout, I started with 10-12 jerks with the EZ Curl loaded up with the 50 lb plates. Granted it’s only, what, 125 lbs, but it was a nice easy weight to throw overhead.

After that set, went for a round against the heavy bag, empty hand.

Then back to the bar for a few sets of clean and jerks with the same weight still on it. As expected, the funky curves of the EZ Curl made it… interesting, as you clean it up to rack, then jerk it to the top.

In between the sets I went back to the bag for some empty hand vs heavy bag.

Back to the bar for a few close-grip then wide grip curls. I’m not a curl maniac, but it just begged to be done.

For the “Post-Fatigue” phase, I finished up with a good session of heavy bag again, then cool-down and stretching.

I will be going to the University tonight to help coach for the first time this semester, so I wanted to be loosened up and having the fires already lit, if you know what I mean. It’ll be good to be back. I basically haven’t touched Olympic fencing gear (except for the mask) all summer.

Right now, I’ve pretty much recovered from the workout, and finished my tortilla. Mind you, I’m talking about a Spanish tortilla, not the Mexican one. See tortilla.

And for Rob–this was made with the Xpress Redi Set Go. πŸ˜€ It’s turned out to be quite handy, and easily and readily makes omelets, as well as a variety of other things, quite well. I actually have a series of photos I posted on Facebook detailing some of my experiments. This one today was beautiful. Hot sausage, four eggs, spices, yum!

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Today’s workout was all about the Tabata Protocol as applied to kettlebells.

Started off warming up with a few LCCJ with the 24 kg bells, then went right into the Tabata interval sets with the 16 kg. Very simple: 20 seconds snatch as quick as you can, left hand, 10 seconds break, 20 seconds snatch right hand, 10 second break, 20 seconds snatch left hand, and so on.

Eight rounds total snatches, which meant four rounds each arm and four minutes total. After a little break, I did the same thing for eight rounds with the jerk (which sort of morphed into an explosive push press because of timing). Then cool down and stretching.

Felt pretty good, and I definitely felt I earned my dinner of steak and veggies, with kefir as dessert.

Earlier today, my neighbor James and I headed off to parts known and unkown on the bikes–beautiful day for a ride, though the air seemed a bit chilly. Introduced him to “saltfish” for brekkies.

Friday night was an interesting experimental night with the longswords. I’ve been coaching the roommate a little in Systema practices, including some knife work. So for longsword practice we used some of the same training techniques involving putting the point on the body and using it to push the body. Good stuff.

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So last night’s German longsword training was really good. After showing us the Zorn-Oort, and the various plays resulting from that, we got into some good training about “Windings.” I had some confusion on those. I had read Tobler’s book, and I’ve practiced a good bit with Chris, but I hadn’t been around for one of the Winding-intensive practices. So he quickly went through them again, and I finally saw the light. Now I have a much greater understanding.

Thanks, Chris!

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