Friday, January 22, 2010

Destreza and Me: In which we discuss the value in knowing how to dance (or knowing how to move your feet around in any way other than walking).

A lot of you may know that my two biggest fears have always been spiders and dancing.  I'm starting to regret never overcoming the latter.  It seems as though a little dancing experience would make my fencing footwork a little smoother.  I'm apparently a fairly clumsy and uncoordinated person (go figure!). 

The only thing I've ever practiced that forced me to move my feet in strange and awkward ways was tennis, and it's been years since I've played.  Learning to fence means, first and foremost, learning to keep your balance centered.  We've been going over the footwork a lot in class and, so far, it's proved to be my biggest challenge.

Of course it's also the key component in keeping your organs intact and unperforated, so the practice is certainly important.

An interesting facet of Destreza is its mathematical foundation.  Its seems the Spanish really systematized swordplay using geometric theory and other science "stuff" (that's about the best explanation my right-brain dominance can give).  Camillo Agrippa, an Italian architect and engineer, set a lot of the groundwork for this and his work was recently translated into English

The stuff we are being taught in our class is the later Spanish works.  They're being translated by Mary Curtis (the wife of my instructor, Puck Curtis).

Anyway, we moved on to some attack and parry drills after the footwork.  I was paired with Tyson who is a bit taller and a bit larger than me, so it was interesting having to adjust some of my foot-work in order to hit him.  My biggest challenge is going to be my reach disadvantage.  There's some fancy stepping I can use in order to compensate for this though, so in reality it's just going make me that much more badass.

Here's a short clip of one my instructors, Puck Curtis, fencing at the Western Martial Arts Workshop (he's the one on the left).  If I'm not mistaken, it's the same bout that he mentioned in my SNR interview with them and shows a shorter fighter going up against a taller one:


Here's one of my other instructor, Eric Myers (it's sabre, which i'm not learning, but still really cool) He's also on the left:

Before you ask, we don't wear period clothes in our classes. 

Well I better get going.  Hope you find all this as interesting as I do.  Also, don't be afraid of the linked reading material.  There's nothing wrong with a little learning.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Destreza and Me (and you too if you're reading this).

About a month ago I interviewed a couple local guys who run a fencing school here in town.  It was a lot of fun.  I learned what it means to be a Maestro in the fencing world, the differences between classical and "sport" fencing, and heard some stories about some pretty awesome historical figures.  I also came away with about an hour and a half of recording which I ultimately had to condense down to that "15 Minute" piece for the News and Review. 

The only problem with the whole experience was that they let me hold a sword.  And wear a fencing mask with gauntlets.  And swing said sword at an actual living person (albeit a suitably protected one).

Before I knew it I found myself searching Wikipedia for more information about classical fencing, specifically Iberian fencing.  I was reading translations of old fencing manuals and flirting with the idea of starting an account on the sword forums.  I stopped making fun of my friend Tyson (who got me into this mess in the first place) and actually starting asking him more about swords and history and various 16th and 17th century fencing masters.  I even started pricing the class and the equipment and asking Lucy if we had anything really pressing to do on Thursday evenings (I can watch Fringe on Hulu, after all).

During college, my best kept secret was that I really liked swords and castles and knights.  I wrote my fantasy stories alone in my dorm room at night and pretended I was "cool" during the day.  After all, that stuff didn't get me very far in High School.  College meant I could be anybody I (thought) I wanted.

I've since grown more comfortable in my own skin and, over the past few years (much to Lucy's dismay, as she slowly realizes the extent of my lies) I've been letting my geek flag fly higher, inch by inch.

I'm reasonably certain that Eric and Puck (the Maestros) knew exactly what they were doing when they handed me the sword that evening.  They probably took one look at me when I walked in the room and said to themselves: "Oh yeah, this guy definitely read a lot of fantasy when he was a kid.  He probably even has a secret Dungeons and Dragons game on the weekends." 

So, to make a long story short, I'm now taking an Iberian fencing class on Thursday nights where I too will learn how to use a sword so that, if need be, I can someday defend my life and/or honor.  Or my family from zombies. 

Anyway, in all seriousness, I'm excited about this whole thing.  It's like getting a history lesson every week and learning a fun skillset.  The instructors are extremely intelligent and love what they do.  The syllabus they're teaching out of is one they are actually translating themselves from the original Spanish, so it really gives the feeling of being a part of an ongoing research project.

I'm going to be blogging about it more, so stay tuned.  It's about damn time this site had some direction anyway.

" not left-handed."

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Drowsy Mornings

     I felt like a shitty dad this morning.  Lola waking up every couple hours has our nerves frayed even though we know it's because her gums hurt or itch and she's just so uncomfortable.  But then waking up in the middle of the night with her screaming just made me feel so stressed and I cussed and Lucy held her, trying her best to be patient also.
     So I put my head back on my pillow after the screaming subsided, feeling like an asshole, and looked at my daughter.  She was laying with her head on Lucy's chest, just looking at me with her big red eyes.  Sort of hiccuping as she drifted back to sleep.  My heart broke a little bit.
     Then later, after Lucy went to work and Lola woke up again, I laid her on my own chest and just felt her breathing, trying to get comfortable.  Her little face twisting back and forth, deciding which side felt better. 
     When she started stirring again an hour or so later I braced myself for some more tears.  Instead she sort of propped herself up on my chest, looked me in the eye and gave me a big toothless grin.
     We played for a while and I changed her and took her to her little bouncer in the living room.  She watched as I bummed around the apartment, trying to clear the morning fog.  Every time I looked back she'd give me the same grin and bounce a little harder.
     I think she forgives me...

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Saturday, May 23, 2009

New Comic

Suckers. I found that baby.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Take advantage of every opportunity...

Apparently my right side is my chubbiest side.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Comics you may have missed by not joining the Twitter Nation

Sometimes the LARPing in my head gets out of hand.


Silly me, bills must be paid.

Good Judgement