Nordenhal Fight Practice 10/2/13
Thankfully some ice and some naproxin made my shoulder usable again, so I went to fight practice last night.
A friend at fight practice guessed part of my drama that had been going on. It was evident from a comment he made. Because he is a friend, I explained what was going on. Unfortunately, I got upset about it and stayed upset for the duration of fight practice.
I discovered that now that I’m fighting more, my kit is really starting to smell bad. I also talked to Ivan about some of my armor issues. He agreed that I should shave down some of my left vambrace to prevent bruising. When discussing how my leg armor slipped causing a gash in my knee, he suggested suspenders to better distribute things. Then he saw my knee armor. He said I should wear knee pads under my knee armor rather than just have padding attached to the inside of my knee armor. I have a pair of volleyball knees somewhere. I should dig them out and try them at the next fight practice I attend.
Because I was still upset, I sat there in armor, trying to make myself get up and fight. I tried to meditate to calm myself down, but that failed. Ivan helped by coming over, telling me to get my helmet on, and fight him. I was still upset, but I did my best. I got into a guard for fighting a lefty right away. Ivan complimented the fact that I remembered and did it! Seeing the fact that I was upset, he interspersed our fights with talking. He explained that I should learn to channel my emotions. He said something I had heard other fighters say before. When they have a bad day at work or wherever, they simply take out their aggression by fighting. Not to say they fight stupidly or dangerously, but simply channel their emotions into it. I asked him how he does it. He said he just does. I replied that I either can’t or don’t know how to do that. He said something that indicted that it may be a difference between the sexes. It may be. He then asked why I wanted to fight. I’m assuming he was looking for an answer that would help me channel my emotions. My answer was the same as always — I don’t know. I later thought more on the subject. I thought of some of the petty reasons I had in the past. That I wanted to be better than a specific person. That I wanted to kick a specific person’s ass. I thought about my current reason for focusing on fighting, which was to keep my mind off of some of the personal issues I had been experiencing. I think I have actually alighted on something close to the real reason now. I want to prove to myself and everyone else that a woman with little natural talent can get good at this game with hard work and perseverance.
Ivan’s next question took me aback. Am I prepared to kill someone? I conceded that if I were in a dark alley, I could easily kill someone in self defense, but that’s not what he meant. To be honest, I’m not quite sure what he meant. I had always thought of fighting as a game. The people I fight are friends. Even the ones that aren’t friends I feel no ill-will towards. Do I need to have this attitude to become a good fighter? I later spoke to him on the phone about this concept and he further explained. When one takes martial arts, it is often not explained exactly what a lot of the movements are meant to do (like tearing someone’s throat out after you got someone on the ground). Technically, martial arts trains people to kill, should the need arise. There are martial arts tournaments and certain schools of martial arts purposely opt out of such competitions. In true life and death situations, there would be a need to win by any means necessary. If someone is trained to not do certain moves because they’re not allowed in tournaments, that could create a hesitation in a life or death situation that could actually result in death. Even so, our game still has similar limitations for safety purposes. There has been much discussion as to whether what we do is a sport or a martial art. The best answer would be that it is whatever you conceive that it is. Ivan used the analogy of how people who see it as a sport will say “hats and bats” while others who see it as a martial art would say something like “grab your helmet and sword”. He explained that your attitude going into a fight makes all the difference in how you do in the fight. You may not always win, but if you go in there thinking “I’m going to own this guy” or “I’m going to kill him” or “I’m going to kick his ass”, then you will do better in the fight than if you think “I hope I don’t get one-shotted” or “I hope I don’t suck too badly” or “I’m going to try and hit him with this stick”. He’s right. I do need to work on my attitude in going into a fight. The latter examples resemble what’s going on in my head much more than the former ones!
We fought a little more. I had attempted an onside shot to a thrust combination, but failed. Ivan explained that I needed to bring my sword back more after the onside shot in order to be in a correct position to thrust. He also advised putting more of my body into the thrusts, in case I missed and thrust the body instead. He called it “fighting to the lowest common denominator.”
We fought a little more. The next thing we talked about, Ivan put so eloquently, I wish I could remember his exact phrasing. Unfortunately, all I can remember is the basic gist. Fighting is about getting your opponent to play your game rather than you playing theirs. The goal is to have them move where you want them to move, block what you want to block, and eventually, get them to open up their defense to make the killing blow. Immediately my mind compared this to a game of chess (a game I have had little interest and less talent for). Or maybe it’s a dance where the pair is fighting over who gets to take the lead. How do I get them to do what I want them to do? There are different ways of reacting to any given move. Or is it about testing, reanalyzing, and finally succeeding or failing? I had a little insight into this world from some things some of my squire brothers taught me. Some of them taught me that a specific shot would cause my opponent to move their shield in a specific way, leaving an opening for the next shot if I took the right shot. And they were right. The way Ivan put it made me realize how complex fighting can actually be and kind of overwhelming. How do I even begin to go about doing this?
We fought a little more. Ivan explained that anything someone can do to me (shots, blocks, movements, etc.), I can hypothetically do to them. I never thought about it this way before, but I liked the idea!
We fought a little more. Ivan commented that I’m not yet fluid with my sword movements now that I’m fighting as a lefty. He mentioned that he could not even imagine learning to fight as a righty. He said that there were very few fighters out there who had successfully switched over to fighting well with their non-dominant hand. I told him that my left had was only slightly weaker than my right. He mistook that to mean that I was referring to physical strength. I qualified the statement. I had really meant that it was only slightly weaker in all aspects. Playing piano really gives me an accurate picture of the strengths and weaknesses in both hands. While piano is more about fine motor skills as opposed to the larger muscles often used in fighting, I believe that the same idea carries over. I am doing all I can to hopefully gain fluidity in my left hand, which simply involves doing it as much as I can. I would like to think that with time and practice, I will be successful. Ivan also gave me a compliment about how it was good that I was upset and still attempting to fight anyway.
I went outside to get some air and hopefully calm down. It didn’t work. I came back inside, armored down, and left. There was no one else I really felt I could fight, upset as I was. Not everybody gets how I work and I really didn’t want to freak out some of the other fighters there (most of which don’t know me that well).
Today, I am again bruised and sore, but more from the exertions earlier in the week than from my small exertions last night. I am debating going to a fight practice tonight. Maybe my body and mind need a break. Maybe I can get that break over the weekend instead. As it is, next week I will be attending fewer practices. I have a Sunday wedding to attend in Washington DC, so I will unlikely be back in time to attend the Concordia fight practice. There are no Tuesday practices nearby (and I am seriously considering not attending the Bhakail practices because they’re just too far away). Plus my trip to DC will have depleted all of my funds for the week, so I may only be able to attend my local practice next week.