Since I posted my original thoughts on Mair's first sickle play, I've gotten a chance to work through it live a few times. Initially, I worked with Doroga for a good chunk of time at practice. (With the able assistance of Grim the Skald holding my phone for the notes and offering color commentary!) I specifically wanted to work with Doroga at the outset because of his pre-existing martial skill, specifically Arnis. I knew that I could work with him with a reasonable amount of speed and intent, and trust that we could do so without injury. Also, we could call upon his experience in Arnis for some frog DNA if needed due to the weapon similarity as well as the similarity of technique. Finally, I wanted to work with him because he was so freaking enthusiastic to get to play with sickles - how can I say no to that?
Answer: I just can't.
We went in with the idea that beyond the first fighter's initial pass with the left foot, that there was no further footwork involved; Mair doesn't mention anything in particular but he does mention that initial step. That leads me to believe that if there was any meaningful movement of the feet that it would be important enough to merit mention in the play. This really only became relevant in the final step though, because there's a break of a wrist grab at that point, and it was pointed out that a number of martial arts would involve a step back with that.
Speaking of that last step, that's where a lot of our discussion centered. (Specifically, "Fencer B pushes hard on A's right hand (the text has A use his left hand to "push the right elbow of the opponent more inwards") and pulls back his own right hand to strike B on the side of the head.) It seemed possible to successfully perform that action with simply arm motions, but it was far more optimal to include the torso in the action. Dropping the weight of the rear hip and turning the torso into it dramatically increased the force of the sickle hand to break the opponent's grip on it, as well as giving more push to your left hand to shove away the opponent's weapon hand. It also has the happy benefit of loading for your finishing blow.
If we were running the play at full speed with full intent, I think that the torso movement would become less pronounced, but it really worked well for us in a paired kata type of format, and it was absolutely a valuable part of learning the play overall.
On top of that, at 12th Night yesterday I was rolling around with the sickles and a printout of the translation. It got some great responses from people, and a few very different folks from what I was expecting asked me to work through the play and teach them. I was really excited by this, and it's certainly giving me the get up and go to work through the second play before practice this week and prep a poster display for K&Q A&S based on the first two plays and some initial reactions to them.