In the absence of digging through rapier manuals (because life has been a thing lately) here's a quick check-in for a practice report.
At the Thursday practice, we've been taking about half an hour each night with interested people to work in a study group format - nothing really deep, but just going through specific skill drills in a more structured way. Usually around three or so separate drills each week, with a good amount of repetition from week to week for retention. I'm not sure about anyone else's opinions, but I think it's going pretty well. Yay structured learning and also period rapier actions!
I haven't been focusing on much in particular up until now - just doing the actions and concepts that I've been drilling, but doing them better. Which is fine, and it's been going fairly well. I've started to focus more on striking in one of the four tempi of opportunity though, and that's an interesting exercise, and has some really helpful drills to build awareness of them. Additionally, I've decided that I need to expand my single game again; I've been working a lot of attacks in opposition, but working things that aren't from a bind would be, y'know, helpful. I'm not sure how to work those actions in a structured way, but I think that after the new year I'll have been able to come up with something.
Speaking of the new year, I've been noticing that the last couple of weeks that for myself and some other folks, it's been rough starting up at practice. I've been sluggish, both physically and mentally, and my warmup bouts have been kind of trash - and it's hard not to let that start to put a damper on your practice, if you start off feeling like you're in a slump.
The Solstice has past us, and the days are getting longer, but January and February tend to be ridiculously cold up here - and that combined with the still very short days and early sunsets have been doing a number on me some evenings. What's been working for me - and what might help other folks who're experiencing similar things - has been a couple things which, let's face it, I should have been doing anyway. First, take more time to warm up - both literally and conceptually. Get into your practice space and take a couple extra minutes so you're not starting while you're still cold. After that, take a little more time for some warmups and mobility exercises. You don't need to stretch (I still think that serious stretching is best done at the end of practice) but just loosening up the joints and getting the blood flowing a bit before picking up a sword has helped me get out of that environmental funk by a lot.
The other thing that's helped is not just jumping into serious free bouting. I try to start off with some basic drills - not things I'm trying to learn from scratch, but just things to keep the edge on, or ongoing work type things. If I can't do drills, I'll do some slow work, or super casual warmup fights. Again, mostly just to get the body moving and engaging the brain with swords in an easier activity that is explicitly not going to hit any "my performance is trash" buttons right at the start of the night.
This afternoon is a Special Boxing Day Practice, running for five hours, so I'm looking forward to some extended fencing and teaching and learning, and probably a lot of hanging out and chatting, which will be a nice thing at this point in the holidays.
And hey, if I don't post again beforehand, everyone have a great new year!