Monday, February 12, 2018

Still going!

Yup, this blog is for reals still going! It's just that life has been busy and when sleep is that hard, so are blog updates.

Here we are, though! Let's get caught up.

In my world of rubber meets the road fencing, I won this year's King's and Queen's Rapier Championship. The tournament was fantastically well run, and was full of good fencing, good people, and was as problem-free a tournament as I've ever seen. People were excellent to each other, fought their best, and kept it clean. I was so excited to get to fight my buddy Devillin (who was chosen as Queen's Champion, which is great!) in the finals, and thrilled to get to fight the fights that we had. (Plus, people got video, so I've been able to re-watch them ad-nauseum and critique my Fabris form. This isn't a good idea for long term mental health. Obsess over videos of your fights in moderation!)

In the world of I Do Research Papers About Martial Arts, I entered my paper on applying Fabris' system to the buckler in St. Elegius back in November, incorporated feedback from that, and entered it into King's and Queen's A&S Champions this past weekend. While I didn't make it to the final round, I am so stoked that Doroga - whose blog is over here and you should check it out - was selected as the Queen's A&S Champion for his paper on Destreza. Big congratulations to him for that!

I got some very good feedback from from the judges about my paper (and I was very happy that while the rubric forms were handed out to all the entrants, feedback was delivered verbally and allowed for good discussions over it); primarily structural issues with it, which are definitely good to hear about from a fresh set of eyes. It was interesting to hear that the judges would have liked to see some secondary sources, as opposed to just the primary ones that I had - we had a good laugh over how it's almost always the other way around. I think a paper with a broader topic would have been more interesting for the judges, but I had made the active decision to walk into a narrow but deep topic instead and focus on Fabris. It hamstrung me somewhat on being able to write to the rubric, so that is what it is. While I would have liked to have done better in the competition, folks were very enthusiastic about my research and it went over very well - so I'm pleased with all that. Also, I'm just ridiculously excited for my friend Doroga and he deserves every bit of praise for his selection as champion! And the first martial A&S champion in the East, no less! This is going to be a great year.

Also, while it wasn't martial work, I want to take the moment to congratulate Elena Hylton for winning King's A&S Champion! Her webpage is here and there's buckets of amazing stuff up there.

I'm planning on hitting Aedult Swim this coming weekend, and while I'm not teaching any formal classes, I'm absolutely always going to be up for working on Fabris or other Italian rapier plays and such with folks, troubleshooting problems, and otherwise swordnerding out.

...maybe I'll look into a formal block of time for doing that at Mudthaw next month? I'll have to see what the schedule for the day looks like.

That's about that! I'll hopefully be able to get back to more regular updates now that the sun is coming back. I've got some headspace thoughts percolating, which could turn into a post any day now.

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