I Love Saturday Mornings

Did I tell you that I love Saturday mornings? I look forward to sword fighting days. I am invigorated by these mornings. I look forward to testing myself against those in the group.

This weekend we had a new student join us and Greg wanted to focus on two handed saber fighting. I love two handed sword fighting, but I need work on my saber control. Greg is literally one of the world experts in two handed saber fighting . . .

So he gave us, and our new student, a little instruction on the use of sabers.

Sword fighting is a martial art, most of us are familiar with the Samurai, and fencing (the watered down sport-version of Western swordsmanship) but very few realize the hidden martial works of European/Western sword fighting. I am fascinated every week by the new concepts, nuances and effectiveness of sword fighting done by my ancestors.

I know, some of you readers will really get offended if I dare to suggest that you don’t have an accurate conception of sword fighting. Fanboys especially will take personal umbrage to their very identify when you challenge their assumptions. It’s quite silly, since none of them relies on this skill for self-preservation nor do they make it their profession. Nearly everyone gets their information and opinions on swordsmanship from the same essential sources: TV, movies, fantasy literature, video games, cartoons, comic books, dinner-theaters and renn-fairs fight shows. But where do those sources get their notions? 

Almost entirely from experience with sport fencing, Asian martial art styles, and pretentious historical role-playing societies.

Yet, all these sources derive their conceptions from still earlier ones. And so on and so on. Where then did most of today’s ideas on historical sword fighting originate? When you trace it all back, you find the romantic beliefs about the nature of swordsmanship among knights and cavaliers almost all started with ignorant Victorian-age prejudices.

Only in the last decade or so has the extraordinary and all but forgotten writings of the medieval sword masters finally come to be properly examined, translated and studied. Reconstruction of the all but lost technical treatises and books on the “science of self-defense” are now available. These remarkable teachings offer an unparalleled view into how fighting men prepared and  trained themselves for duels, street-fights, and battlefield encounter. Their manner of fighting with swords is not the classical Western style we see today, which is largely a contrived 19th-century gentleman’s version of a narrow, aristocratic Baroque style.

To quote John Clement, a historical sword master and director of ARMA, “What the surviving sources show us is wholly different from the familiar pop-culture version as well as being dramatically distinct from what has gone on for years in assorted reenactments and contrived living-history efforts. Rather, Medieval and Renaissance sword fighting was a hell of a lot more violent, brutal, ferocious, and astonishingly effective. The way in which these swords were held, the way they can be maneuvered, and the postures and motions involved, differ substantially from common presumptions and modern-era fencing styles.”

More on that in future posts . . .

Some additional thoughts –

  • One of the secrets of a successful life and success in a martial art is to be able to hold all of our energies upon one point, to focus calmly all of the scattered rays of the mind upon one place or thing. The nearer a man comes to calming his mind, the closer he is to his greatest strength.
  • Your focus determines your reality.
  • He or she who is not, everyday, conquering some fear has not learned the secret of life. I am learning that the more i sweat in training, the less I bleed in battle.
  • I’ve realized more profoundly as I’ve trained with the sword that today’s socialized man is much more discourteous than the savage – because he now gets away with indecorous behavior without fear of having his skull bashed in.  

Our group fluctuates in size each week depending on peoples schedules. Some days it may just be two of us, other days we may have twelve of us attending. Today we had just four of us. It was a nice quaint group with plenty of sparing time.

We took a great deal of video today and here is the edited highlight clip from each of us training, an hour of sword fighting condensed into 14 minutes.

Enjoy. I know I did.

Remember, your scars are just reminders of when life tried to break you, but failed.

On a side note, I will leave you with the nine life lessons I find essential:

  1. You don’t have to have a dream. Instead have passionate dedication to short term goals. Be micro ambitious.  Look, if you die tomorrow what do you want to accomplish today?  Well, then go do it.
  2. Don’t seek happiness.  Happiness is like an orgasm.  If you think about it too long it will go away.  Joy comes from serving others, not yourself. Be joyful today.
  3. It’s all luck.  You have no idea what tomorrow will bring. Seriously, you have no idea. So, enjoy the ride, smell the flowers, and find beauty in the view. 
  4. Exercise.  Most of you will live to 100 and you’re going to need exercise badly.  Living to100 years old in an unhealthy body will make you depressed. Greg, my sword master is in his mid sixties, and he whoops my ass, literally, every week.
  5. Be hard on your opinions.  Opinions are like rectums – everyone has one, seriously, I’m a doctor, I know this stuff.   Yet opinions differ significantly from rectums- your opinions should be constantly and thoroughly examined.  Most of society’s stupid arguments are kept alive by a failure to acknowledge this little nuance about our opinions.
  6. Be a teacher.  Part of teaching is sharing.  Help the next generation, and the next crop of youth to find joy, peace and liberty.
  7. Define yourself by what you love, not by what you don’t love.  We have a tendency to define ourselves in opposition to stuff.  Define yourself by those things you love enough that others define you by it as well.
  8. Respect people with less power than you. Show respect to those that serve you (for example – waters, waitresses, janitors, etc.)
  9. Don’t rush.  Don’t panic. . . you’ll soon be dead anyway.

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