Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Today's Rabbit Hole To Fall Down Into - Fabris Book 2, and an Accompanying Video

So at the Western Martial Arts Workshop, or WMAW, there's a big Saturday night dinner for everyone. At the dinner, there are typically a number of martial displays that happen. Generally, these are really high quality displays of combat, and I love watching them just to enjoy two very high level practitioners celebrating their art.

This year, there was one that wasn't a timed free bout. It was different, striking, educational, and is going to end up being something I watch a lot, with my copy of Fabris in hand, because I'm That Kind Of Nerd:

Fabris Book 2, Single Rapier

This is super good stuff.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Mid-November Update Time!

Right, so, it's been a couple months and I figure I should ramble for a bit about what I've been up to.

Mostly, I was trying to go from "outline" to "actual real paper" for a paper on (shock!) Fabris. I entered it in the competition at St. Elegius last weekend. It was scored in the "okayish" range - I have a very scientific and technical scale here - and I did get some feedback. I'm planning on reviewing the feedback, thinking about it, and using some of it to revise the paper for A&S Champs in February.

That was a lot harder than it really needed to be - my focus has been pretty shot lately, so buckling down to write was hard. Still, I got it done and edited and submitted, and I'm pretty proud of that. I lost in the research paper category of competition to Elena, but her research kicks so much ass and we were both super excited for the potential to lose to the other.

I also competed in Christoffel's Martial A&S challenge at St. Elegius, using some of Fiore's dagger plays to illustrate the structure of the manual. (And to get a chance to show off some plays that are flagrantly illegal for use in SCA rapier, which is always fun.) Jean-Michel won that with his sweet Lichtenaur play, though Christoffel was really excited to grab me later and tell me about how close it was, which was very nice of him to do.

Other than that, I'm primarily working on trying to Get Good at Fabris' single rapier. I think the biggest issues I keep running into are maintaining good opposition, more dynamic body movement, seizing the tempo, and breathing.

Yeah, breathing. Anastasia keeps pointing out to me after every couple of passes we fight that I need to remember to breathe. I don't think I do this when I'm doing Tournament Fights, just when I'm thinking too hard when I'm practicing. Still, it's worth fixing and isn't too hard to work on. I figure that I'll go back to working on guard transitions during my evening drill time, and remember to breathe during them.

Outside of that, I keep spending time with cloak! Besides needing a longer and heavier cloak (and given the weather lately, that would be nice to have for not-fencing reasons!) it's really all about getting used to the movement of the arm and trusting the drape of the material to protect me like it should. It's a ton of fun though, and I really appreciate why Fabris loves it so much. (Besides the fact that they were ubiquitous and never outlawed, unlike daggers in some places.)

I'll probably pop back up on this after Rapier Champions, unless I have more thinks before then. Which I might, never know!

Monday, September 11, 2017

Thoughts From A Class - Formulating Second Order Principles

Last weekend, I embarked on an utterly ridiculous trip to an event - I flew out to Chicago on Friday to attend the Middle Kingdom Academy of Rapier on Saturday, and returned home (late) Saturday night. I did this primarily because Sir LOGOS had said that he could be convinced to do a three hour class on Fabris, so there we were.

I took a bunch of notes which I'm about done transcribing from my notebook to the computer, at which point I'll edit, revise, and reorganize them into a format which will be more useful to anyone other than myself. They may find their way here, or into class handouts (with credit, natch!) because certainly one of the broadest things I learned from the class was how to better organize and structure a class on Fabris, which is excellent.

However, I wanted to spend some time here kicking around some thoughts that I had around a couple key (for me) points in the class. The specific points aren't deeply important - rather, they're examples of a broader concept in terms of really growing to learn and internalize a period combat system. (Also any combat system, really, but some of my thoughts are pretty specific to working from manuals.)

I think that for a lot of people, when they're working from a manual and want to really internalize and utilize a specific master's fight, there's a lot of "do what the plates show" and "look like the plates" happening, while at the same time you're trying to understand and embody the theory of combat that's described. That all makes sense, and is kind of a first-level understanding. It helps that generally the plates reinforce and demonstrate the theory, so if you work through those plays you can see the theory in action. At that point, you can probably start to extrapolate - What Would Fabris Do Here territory.

What really struck me though, was when points were made that weren't explicitly described in the text - but were no less true for that. They were small things, usually. Placement of the feet, movement of the offside shoulder, and the outsize impact they can have on a fight. They're not described, but they're still there. Second order principles.

It was cool, because if you were really doing everything correctly - I mean really, truly, 100% correctly - you'd be doing all those little things, right? But when you're learning and extrapolating from manuals, it's really interesting to see those realizations happen. To suddenly just get, "oh, wait, I'm turning my hip a little when I do this, and that means..." and there's a sudden wow moment, and usually the conscious realization of one tiny thing just has this massive impact.

So that's just a thing I'm kicking around, and how that can really help measure the real understanding we can have about the fighting arts described in these manuals.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Some Notes From a Fencing Student, 1657

I've got a couple more half-written drafts for Pennsic-related posts, but a sudden explosion of awful real world things ate my head. I'll get them up this weekend.

In lieu of this though, I was just pointed at this HROARR article from 2013 which contains a translation of notes from a student who was learning from one of Fabris' students.

I'm really, really amused by how many of those notes look incredibly similar to notes I've taken from things like VISS and WMAW.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Journals, Letters, and Travelogues - Primary Source O'Clock, a post-Pennsic Post

This is the first of a series of post-Pennsic blog posts. Yay! This is mostly me working through an inspiration that Pennsic gave me, as well as collecting a bunch of resources that folks gave me elsewhere on the internet. So, onward!

One of the things I've been inspired to start doing is journaling as Donovan. I've seen this done before by a few people; notably Master Luke Knowlton's journals, but as recently as this Pennsic by Master Adam Comyn of the Middle Kingdom.

As a point of difference, Luke's journals are written as if by a purely historical Luke Knowlton - in and around historic real world events. (And they are amazing.) Adam's writings are written in a historical style, but by the SCA persona of Adam, Baron Comyn.

I'm planning on beginning this as an exercise in thinking more like Donovan would have or should have, and so to begin I'm going to be taking Adam's track on this - writing journals, letters, and so on as Donovan the persona, as opposed to Donovan in history. This basically means that I'll be referencing SCA occurrences, but tweaking them to get them to work better as though they were actually happening in a more period context. I mean, let's be clear - I don't have the masterful grasp of the time period and events as Master Luke does, so I don't want that to be a barrier to getting this project rolling - I can always start writing Donovan's Journals from the Low Countries later on! Beginning steps are just fine, and I think I'll still learn a good deal from this. Also, it's a good penmanship exercise, though I won't always be using a pen with a nib, just for practical reasons.

Master Adam has four rules that he uses, and I think they're pretty good:
  1. Try to write about the day on that day.
    1. If nothing else, this will let me keep things straight in my head.
  2. No editing once words are on the page.
    1. I'm going to be physically writing! I may cross out a thing and re-phrase it, but the crossed out section should still be legible. (If nothing else, this is some real opportunity for comedy.)
  3. Allusion and allegory are always allowed.
    1. Basically, I can always reference other bigger stories, but they may not be what they sound like.
  4. Be the persona, more or less.
    1. Donovan in this sense is a historic character, and I'll be trying to sort out some attitudes he may have had through this, as well as better fleshing out his actual historical persona. Also, it's about trying to write as though he would have circa 1600, and that means removing modern references and making it work.
    2. This also means that I get to start playing with ideas as to how my more amusing associations and such in the SCA may or may not actually make historic sense in some ways, though for these writings I'll still be writing as a resident of my local Shire with these neighboring Baronies, in my Eastern Kingdom.
To help with this, I asked on Facebook if anyone had suggestions as to journals and letters that I could read, so as to get a better idea of the writing styles of the time, as well as daily life and the like. And oh man, did people deliver! Here's what I was given (and at least one of these is winging its way to me even now):

England, or England in the Low Countries


Spain, or Spain in the New World, also Spain in Southeast Asia


More Travelogues
  • Coryat, Thomas. Coryat's Crudities. 1611
  • Moryson, Fynes. An Itinerary: Containing His Ten Years Travel Through the Twelve Dominions of Germany, Bohemia, Switzerland, Netherland, Denmark, Poland, Italy, Turkey, France, England, Scotland and Ireland. 1617. 


Early Exploration of New England
  • Gabriel Archer and John Brereton writing about Gosnold's 1602 expedition. 
  • Pring 1603
  • Waymouth, and others 
  • David Quinn has edited some excellent books on the subject.
Thanks to Jehan, Luke, Niccolo, Elias, Aildreda, LOGOS, Rufinia, Aubri, Christian, and Tacit for supplying all these recommendations! I'll keep editing this post with links to where they can be found as I dig them up.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Friday, July 14, 2017

Still here!

Well, it's been another long break between updates. So what's been going on?

Not terribly much that's new, really. I'm still working on piecing together a research paper on Fabris; that's fleshing itself out slowly - mostly, I just need a couple good stretches of uninterrupted time in front of the computer with some manuals to pull references from to get cranking on it. I'm hoping to get it done in time for St. Elegius this year, and then probably enter it into K&Q Arts and Science champs in the winter. So that'll be cool if it comes together.

I'm definitely teaching an intro to Fabris at Pennsic, which is pretty terrifying. I don't think it'll have a handout, but I could change my mind on that.

Practice has had ups and downs; I've been feeling more immobile lately, heavy on my feet without much body motion. Also, getting into Just Fighting for Pennsic is running up against Working Specific Things in my head. Fortunately, I can practice the former on my own and fling myself into fights for the latter and it'll get shaken out readily enough.

I'm really looking forward to Pennsic, though. There should be a giant pile of good historic swordplay there for me to throw myself into, and I'm hoping to learn quite a bit.

Finally, it looks like Alfieri's La Scherma will be seeing a translation by Piermarco Terminiello in the near future, and I'm really excited to be able to get my hands on that!

That's it for now; hopefully I'll be able to get in a pre-Pennsic update with some real progress on my paper.