Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Epiphany! I hadz one!

Last Tuesday I went to my very first heavy weapons practice session, which was awesome. Awesome. Awesome. AWESOME!!! There, that conveys the appropriate amount of awesome. I went again last night but last Tuesday was my first time ever, so that's what I'm writing about. Also, I started this post last week and want to use.

So, back to last Tuesday. I got strapped into loaner armor. Let me tell you, having people pull stuff out a box and someone says "That won't fit her, she's too little," is fun right off the bat.

My new friends helped me strap and buckle things into place. It's a little disconcerting having people dress me, sometimes more than one person at a time. But it has to be worn correctly for safety and comfort and some of those straps and buckles and pins are hard to reach by yourself. The necessary coverage is head and face, neck front and back, kidneys, groin, hand, wrist, forearm and elbow protection, and knee and thigh protection.

The picture below does NOT show what I was actually wearing, it's just a very clear picture of most of the essential pieces. The picture below also does not show the helm. The helm has to be "...constructed from steel which has a thickness of no less than .0625 (that is, 1/16) inch (1.6 mm), or of equivalent material." There's eight more requirements the helm has to meet on construction and protection, I won't list them all. That's from the Society for Creative Anachronism's Marshal's Handbook.
Brain bucket and groin protection not shown.
Photo: Her SCA Blog
The photo shows plastic armor (don't let the word plastic fool you, I wore some borrowed plastic armor last night that was very thick, hard as a rock, and very nicely shaped to the female form as well), but you can wear leather and steel too, as long as they meet the safety requirements.

Pictured: A pell.
Well, that's exciting, eh?
Thank you, Cunnan.
I was given a rattan sword, at least I think it was rattan, there's options there too and it was covered with duct tape and a round shield it was red with...some kind of yellow wreath? I can't remember, anyway it was pretty but super heavy and then I got to start learning some moves! They taught me the correct way to hold the shield and the sword, the correct way to swing, a simple pell exercise called a 1-6 drill I can do to practice movement and create muscle memory. The drill is about half way down the page on that link if you care to see it. I don't have a rattan sword yet, but I can use the heavy foam I got from martial arts class I can use. Don't let the word foam fool you either, it's a sword for practicing movement but if you get smacked with it it hurts.

I don't have a pell but as you can see it's basically a pole. Since I'll be using a foam sword and focusing on movement and form, I can use the pole for my laundry line or the large tree I have in the back yard. Though I don't know how the tree will feel about that, but it's not like I'll be removing bark or anything. I can strap on as much of my martial arts gear as possible, use the kick pad we have that is shield shaped (complete with straps) and practice moving around in a somewhat constricted fashion while I do my pell work. I'm going to look like a complete idiot, dancing around my backyard decked out in MA safety gear, wearing boots and gi pants, and using a red foam sword to hit a tree.

I can hardly find a fuck to use on the possible apparent idiocy of my appearance to my neighbors. In fact I can't find a one. I'm just fresh out of fucks. 'Cause I spent them out on the grass the past two Tuesdays, sweating through a borrowed gambeson and getting smacked in the helmeted head with a rattan sword, which was ridiculously awesome.

Zevran Arainai's catchphrase (one of them anyway): "We are ridiculously awesome!"
Thank you, Bioware.
Don't look for images of Zevran unless you are prepared to see things you can't unsee.

Anyway, wasn't I supposed to be talking about an epiphany? Yes. I was. So one of the instructors there, a gentleman whose persona name is Duncan, was attempting to explain to me the difference between fighting range and reach and how the fight's in your head. So I understood the words he was saying, and the initial concept - yes, fighting with your hands is different than fighting with sword-type stick. Or a stick-type sword. I understood that. But later, while I was driving home from work the next day actually, it came to me sort outta the blue. While I was thinking how much goddamn fun I'd had and how I wanted to this forever. 

I have to stop thinking with my hands. Because that's not where the action is.

Hm. I'm not explaining it right. You move the sword with your arm and hand and body, but the impact is way out there, near the end. I'm used to knowing how to land the blow from my hand and it's a good deal different when the end of the sword is where you end the blow. 

Still not right.

It was not quite this extreme.
Okay, STILL not explaining it right. You'll just have to take my word for it. I had an epiphany and totally understood something that I didn't before. So there. Now. Implementing this new understanding is still going to require quite a bit of work.


  1. When learning a new activity, for me the first thing to learn is what I'm supposed to do. That can sometimes take a year or more. Once I know *what* I'm supposed to do in a particular situation, then I have to start learning how to execute on that knowledge - and learning that, can take the rest of your life :)

    When I "fail" at a particular execution (I'm thinking of a volleyball play, fencing duel, or other activity), I try to figure out whether it was a "not knowing what I'm supposed to do" or a "knowing but unable to execute" error.

    1. There's also a few things I can do in martial arts sparring that are specifically not allowed in SCA combat. No shield bashing or pommel bashing. Having used my hands for over a year and a half, I occasionally attempt to use my hands to strike. But there's a pommel covering my right hand and a shield in my left. Period accurate, sure, but totally not allowed for safety reasons. So there's also things I have to learn NOT to do, even though they'd be very effective.

  2. Ok.
    I have been back here a couple of times.
    I keep re-reading this.
    Thank you.
    Thank you for your excitement and dedication.
    Thank you for the time to both listen to me ramble about fighting, and then WRITE about.
    It lets me think I'm helping. :D
    See next Tuesday?
    (BTW..the Shield is a Gold Dragon on a red field...we call him Bob. :D )

    1. Yep, I will be there!

      Ah, a dragon, lovely. I like those. They're my friends.