More on Drills

Hi folks.

A few people have been requesting a list of various training drills that I have. So Instead of emailing stuff out I will put it all here. I wrote another post about drills and that can be found HERE. Anyway – let me know if you have any questions or would like to share your own drills. I may do a quick post about how to design useful drills for your own training.

So to start off with some strength exercises.

Strengthening/physical (armoured combat specific) You may want to google these to get the form right.

Pell Squats (core, legs, arms)- Throw two shots to the pell do a squat. Variation – side squats/lunges.

Helm sit ups (core, arms)- Start in a sit up position, holding a helm above your head. Do a sit up keeping the helm in the air (you will need to push the helm towards your knees as you come up. Do not secure your feet).

Turkish get ups (core, legs, arms)- Lie on your back, holding a weight (your sword) up with a straight arm. Stand up and then lie down again keeping your arm held straight up.

Mower pulls (core, legs, arms) –Stand with legs wider than shoulders. Hold a lightish (your helm) weight in one hand. Reach down to your opposite foot. Now come back up and quickly reach the arm diagonally up and out to were you are reaching up at 45 degrees.

Kettlebell swings (core, legs, arms) – Hold a helm (or heavy weight) in front of you. Now let the weight drop down between your legs, bending your knees. Let it then swing back up over your head and then let it drop back down. Keep the weight moving.

Helm rotations (core) – Sit on the ground with your legs in front. Hold your helm on the ground next to your hip. Move it to the other side, touching the ground.

Wind ups (wrist strength) – Using a strong cord tie it to your helm and to your sword. Hold the sword in front of you in both hands. Now ‘wind up’ the sword to lift the helm up to the sword and the unwind it. You can always make this up with a bit of dowel and a half brick.

 

And now fighting drills

1-6 Pell Drill – From Duke Jade of Starfall – strike the pell in two cut combinations (1-1, 1-2, 1-3 etc)

 

4-5 Drill – Squire cuts 1,6,1,6 stepping forward at each cut. (4 steps) Knight maintains distance by stepping back and correctly blocking each cut. Squire then cuts 1-6-1-6-1 moving backwards (5 steps) with the Knight following and blocking.

-Variation. Change the cuts eg 1-4 or 3-6.

 

The Tower (this can hurt, so pull the power down) – Squire holds the field and must defend. Knights line up and in turn attack with a set number of attacks. Squire works on defence and Knights work on continuous attacks (they must not let their from go to crap). Number of attacks should be between 6-10.

Openings – Stand on the edge of measure. Knight moves shield to provide opening. Squire must cut to that opening.

This is about seeing opportunities to attack and acting on it. The Knight should close the opening if the Squire takes too long. The time here depends on the experience of the Squire. Limit the possible openings dependant on experience. Openings (keep it simple)-lower shield cut 1, lift shield cut 3, open shield cut 5, cross shield wrap.

Response Drill –Squire holds the field. Knights form a line. Nominate a standard opening attack. The knights will step in and throw that attack and the squire must deal with it in some way of their own choosing (parry, dodge or displace) and counter. Keep the line moving through. For newer people you may want to nominate the response.

Progressions – Start with the Squire making a single attack from the edge of measure. Do this several times to get the footwork and technique working. The Knight can block this. Next, the Squire adds a second attack – hopefully exploiting an opening due to the Knight defending the first attack. Work this though a few time and then add a third attack. You can build up counters from the Knight if you want. The idea is to build up a short attacking sequence for the quire. The Knight is working on defending and looking for opportunities to make a counter.

 

The main thing to remember is to keep things reasonably simple. Chose one or two techniques and work on them. Start slow and build up the pace. When you form starts to go, slow it down and rebuild.

I am going to admit drills can be boring, free fighting is more fun. But you MUST spend the time working on the basics. You need to do things 1,000s of times, not just a few times every now and again…

What are we doing here?

As part of a discussion the other day some asked what would I remove from SCA combat to make it ‘better’.

Better is a very subjective idea. A lot of  it depends on what it is you are trying to do. Some people will describe SCA combat as an attempt to recreate knightly tournament combat, others will say that it is live action roleplaying with a lot more bruises.

So here is an attempt to have a think about how SCA combat rules effect what it is and how it works and what may not work.

 

SCA combat has evolved over 50 years mostly by trial and error. It started as an attempt to stage armoured combat of the middle ages. When they started they did not have access to armour, equipment or any understanding of what historical European martial arts looked like. Indeed I suspect that no one had herd of Fiore or Talhoffer at this point.

What then evolved was a rule system that allowed people to put on various levels of armour and go out and have competitions, massed combat and other things. It is a rule set that allows a reasonably simple level of entry. The equipment requirements are also very accessible. The SCA has certainly grown but is not the only game in town. It now exists along with HEMA (Historical European Martial Arts), HMB (aka Battle of Nations), Metal Weapons, LARP, Jugger and probably stuff I have not yet heard of.

So to create a system in order to replicate combat we introduce rules to make sure people do not get badly injured. This is where we start to get compromises in EVERY system. Even MMA has rules of what you can and cannot do, there is a list of attacks that are not allowed. HMB does not allow thrusts and side strikes to the knees etc.

The more rules to put in place to minimise the risks the further you move from anything approximating a real duel or contest.

An extreme example of this would be some LARP games. No protective gear is needed (apart from eyes) and the weapons are very light and padded and you cannot strike the head. Having some armour gives you extra ‘hits’, all you need to do to score is touch your opponent with a weapon. LARP combat is a matter of just tapping your opponent multiple times, there is no need to take weapon type into account. This all leads to fights that have people leaping about, flailing madly in all sorts of weird ways. Yes this is a lot of crazy fun, a even passable facsimile of historical combat, no. (To be fair, LARP players are under no belief what they are doing is in anyway realistic.)

So what about SCA combat? Let’s look at some of the compromises.

No hand to hand. SCA rules do not allow the very wide range of kicks, punches, elbows, take downs, leg sweeps etc that are an intrinsic part of fighting. Looking at many of the fechtbooks I would argue that many armoured fights would end up with some level of take down or ground fighting.

Taking out hand to hand stuff means we lose a very important component of any martial system. It also means that combatants can stand toe to toe and slug it out with no fear of a kick or disarm. Watch any great weapon duel where the two combatants get in close and you can see how odd this can be. It also means that being able to step and move are not as important as they would be historically.

Effects of weapons. SCA combat has an ‘assumed armour’ standard. It is basically mail body armour and nasal helm. Sort of 10-12th century. It also assumes that a single strike from handed sword can put someone in this armour down. I am not totally convinced this is the case. There are plenty of literary examples of knights trading blows to little or no effect. Yes there are also some examples of people being cut in two from a single blow, but I would argue this is grand story telling. I would also refer to a lot of test cutting people have done with weapons trying to cause damage to something (poor pig carcasses) covered in padding and mail. Armour works. Watching the HMB people is also interesting. Ok their gear is mostly 14th century (a lot more plate) and the weapons are blunted. But you can see that repeated strikes with even two handed axes does little to slow down an armoured man. So the SCA rules makes single handed weapons way more effective than they probably are.

Armour. The SCA has a minimum set of armour standards. It is for protection against rattan sticks. It is in no way encouraging historical armour. You are able to get away with a helm, some basic covering of the joints and that is about it. This means that SCA combatants (and yes I am one of these) can largely compete in what is effectively no armour. No weight of gear restricting your movement or slowing you down. The SCA likes to think of itself as a game of armoured combat, yet many of it’s top competitors can go onto the field with little armour at all.

Target areas. In the SCA you cannot strike below the knee and the hands are basically invulnerable. The no below the knee thing means that graves are not a requirement (see note above) and also means that low leg sweeps with pole weapons are not going to happen. The invulnerable hand thing, alongside the almost universal use of protective basket hilts (not at all a medieval item) means that weapon blocking is common place. The targeting of the hands was a common technique in many of the historical texts. Indeed in many manuals the main purpose of the buckler was to prevent the hands from being struck. Again these things mean that staying in measure and trying to block attacks with your weapon is a viable tactic, after all, your hand will not get ‘hit’.

Limb hits. Ok getting hit in the leg and then being able to fight on while kneeling and being able to change arms if your arm is hit. I am sure we do not have to talk about this one.

Indestructible super light shields. SCA shields are basically Indestructible. That two handed axe, well you can keep statically blocking that all day long…Historically shields broke. Weapons could get stuck in them. Shields were made to be reasonably light and manoeuvrable but this also meant that they could be smashed. The commonality of the big aluminium SCA means you can wave around a big blocking thing that weighs little and is never going to break. Again this feeds into the primacy of SCA combatants standing toe to toe trying to score a hit around a big ultra light shield.

Judging of hits. The SCA rules stipulate that the person getting hit calls the effect of the strike. The obvious problem here is that it is very easy to cheat the system. This system also leads to very inconsistent levels of what can be judged a scoring hit. One persons kill may be someone else’s ‘not good’. What looks good from the sidelines may have been a very glancing strike. I could also mention edges here but I have ranted about that previously. Also the level of ‘power’ that is needed to score is totally arbitrary; it varies from group to group and changes over time. So it is no wonder that this is the main area were disagreements and conflict arise.

 

So going through this list it is obvious that the SCA does a poor job of recreating medieval armoured combat. I think it can be a fun game and lots of people enjoy running around trying to hit other people. However I think it is important to understand what it is and what it is not. A fun game that can be played with a minimal of gear and training? Yes. A reasonable facsimile of historical combat? Absolutely not.

No Buts But the But

 I thought I would share some comments from a serious coach, Dave Nixon. I have done a small edit to put this into the realm of swordsmanship.

The power of linguistics is amazing. You can literally swing the mood of a conversation with one single word.

There are a few words we should remove from our vocabulary straight away. One of these words is the word: But.

Whenever providing feedback refrain from using this word at all costs. But takes away. It’s the middle of a poop sandwich. And nobody wants to eat one of those.

Simply sub it for the word ‘and’. This subtle little change makes a massive difference on the back end. ‘And’ adds to your point. Rather than taking away.

Example… “That was a good cut, but next time keep your stance lower and it will be even better.” “That was a good cut and next time think about a lower stance to make it even better.” A simple example that makes a massive difference on the back end.

Next training session, pay attention to just how often you said the word but.

-Dave Nixon.

Being lazy can be good

B and C duel

 

I would like to present some notes on power generation. In Oplomachia we refer to Frame Weight Transfer, or just moving the body into the cut or thrust in order to provide the power required to hit hard with a weapon. This is a subject for another post.

What I want to address here is the idea of power without effort.

Throwing a good cut is much like firing a gun. Once the initial explosion has taken place in the barrel the bullet flies of it own accord. It accelerates naturally and does not need to be push along. While this is technically not quite correct I would like you to keep this analogy in mind.

What is important to realise is that you will never be at your best when trying your hardest. That is you will be able to move and cut more efficiently if you are going at less than 100%. Almost universally, experienced combatants hit their hardest a around 80% and almost as hard at 50% of their effort.

Think to your own experiences. Have you ever delivered a cut with natural movement thinking it was way too light, only to have your opponent stagger and say that you do not have to hit them that hard? This is now the realm of good technique.

Try this experiment at you next training. Have someone hold out a shield for you to hit. Now hit it as hard as you can several times. Have your partner note the power of each strike. Relax. Take some deep breaths and shake out the arms. Now throe the same cut but at 80% of your effort, stay relaxed yet focus on delivering a smooth cut. How hard was it?

Now experiment with a dozen or more strikes going up and down randomly: 50%, 80%, 30%, 90%, 70%, 50%…Loosen up between strikes. Again ask the person holding the shield how hard the cut were. You may be surprised.

You may need to experiment with dialling the ‘volume knob’ in on the desired settings to find your personal optimal setting.

Another aspect of cutting with power is to applying force to the weapon as smoothly and efficiently as possible. Think again the bullet analogy. We must move the body forward to apply forward motion to the weapon and these needs to be a focused movement. If you are tight or stiff it will be hard to accomplish this smoothly. If someone is trying to go at ‘100%’ they are often too tight.

Imagine a video of your swing that is broken down into ten frames. For how many frames are you applying frame weight transfer? At what point do you squeeze the hand to make a solid cut? A new swordsman engages their muscles too long and then too soon in the movement. They are self-conscious about the attack. They are trying to remember technical details. They are using all sorts of energy to move and direct the sword through all ten frames. A more advanced practitioner, in contrast, stays loose and relaxed kicking off the sword in the first few frames and then not tightening until frame seven or eight. At higher levels this last phase may only occur at frame ten.

This efficiency is not soft in anyway. Efficiency does not slow down or weaken the power movements but limits the duration.

Do not confuse speed and power with effort.

A question of numbers

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Calibration is an often hotly discussed concept. Being about to ‘take’ a good cut or thrust is central to our honour system of governing the outcome of tournament combat.

We have adopted a numbering system in order to gain a common frame of reference when talking about the perceived impact power of an attack.

I need to emphasise that this is an entirely arbitrary system and is totally subjective. A combatant needs to take into account many different factors in a very short space of time. What was the armour in the way? What was the target location? How were people moving etc etc…

So we can describe the power on a 1-10 point scale. It is not a precise measure but an only an attempt to provide a short hand descriptor.

5 – This is a ‘good’ cut or thrust. The minimum level required to make an effective attack. Remember face plates need to be taken lighter.

8 – is getting on the hard end of the scale.

9- This is about the hardest you want to be hit.

10- Excessive.

Most people should be aiming to strike in the 5-7 point range.

 

Ok, remember that this is an objective rating. One person may ‘read’ a cut at 8 while the person making the cut may think it is a 5. What the rating scale gives you is a common vocabulary.

We will use this to compare were we are in power levels. After each bout the person hit gives a number of what they perceive the power was at and the person making the attack also gives what they think the power was. This allows you to work together to reach a consensus on what is a good level of power.

This schema is only a tool. Good communication and constantly talking with your training partners and all the people you fight with is essential.

Have fun, train hard.

 

 

 

 

Spears!

While I was in Perth I can a quick introduction to Spear work in the Oplomachia style. Several people have asked me for the notes so I’ll provide them here.

This should also go along with Count Gemini’s video on spear and the first spear form.(will add links soon).

 

Terms

Aggressed Stance – stand with body square and feet shoulder with apart. Move the back foot two ½ steps back. Weight on the balls other feet and knees bent. The back foot is the one on the same side as the hand holding the butt end of the spear.

Grip– Forward hand halfway along spear. Back hand at the butt end, this hand is then as far back as you can (point or long guard).

Thrusts are lined off the back shoulder

Greek Thrust – Extend Forward Hand. Bring Back Hand to armpit. Half step forward. Point stays level.

Sliding Thrust – With either a ½ step or passing step. Extend both hands forward, letting the spear slide through the Forward Hand. Do not let the hands closer than about a foot.

Swiss Thrust – Lift spear over head and slide spear forward as per the Sliding Thrust.

Parries must be quick ‘beats’ snappy and return to guard

Outside – push heel of hand out.

Inside – Volta to beat opponents spear away but keep point on line.

High – lift spear straight up, keep point on line (Swiss Thrust).

Low – Squat and beat. Do not drop the point

 

First Spear Form

Aggressed Stance

Face north, left hand leading. Outside, ½ step, Sliding Thrust. Inside, passing step, Sliding Thrust.

Turn to face south, right hand lead. Outside, ½ step, Sliding Thrust. Inside, passing step, Sliding Thrust.

Face east, left hand lead. High Parry, Swiss thrust. Low Parry, passing step, Sliding Thrust

Face west, right hand lead. High Parry, Swiss thrust. Low Parry, passing step, Sliding Thrust.

Face North and come to parade rest.

 

On working with novices

On of the more difficult thing we must due during our training is work with and spar against novices. There are a number of things you need to be aware of and due when working with new or lesser experienced people than you. It must be a good experience for the novice, not just blasting them out of their socks every time. To help people with this part of our training I am attempting to write some notes to acknowledge and assist with this process. Any comments or suggestions are going to be well received.

 

Working with new combatants

Understandably, novices who are in armour and fighting for the first time will be anxious at the thought of being hit and or looking awkward. Getting hit is an adjustment that most people need time to get used to as is hitting someone back. It is totally normal to feel nervous and a bit overwhelmed when it is your first time in amour. For some people it takes a long time to get used to what is going on in a full paced bout.

 

Start light

When you are sparing with a novice who is just recently in harness it is important to start with light contact and build you up to harder contact. Make sure the novice is ok with what is happening. Take care that you are targeting decent armored areas. Most novices are in loner amour that is not made for them and will not cover everything or may not work that well. You also need to be aware that most people have no amour fitness when they start, do not run them into the ground.

 

Play against experience

In general I would not get new people sparring with other new people for a while so they can get used to what is going on against an experienced person who can demonstrate good form and control. It takes time to build trust with somebody and know what level of contact they are okay with.

 

Communication

Nobody can read minds so make sure to check how they are feeling. There is no shame in asking for lighter contact. When people get quiet during sparring it often shows that they feel either afraid or they are becoming angry. If somebody lands a good shot that you don’t mind, it’s always a good idea to tell them, “Nice one!” or “Well struck.” You are letting them know that you are okay with the level of contact by giving them those constant little verbal cues.

 

Fight to their level

It is no good just one-shotting new people, It does not teach them anything. The trick is to fight at just above their level. If they do everything correctly then they should land an attack. It is important to let them succeed to show them that a technique works.

Do not use techniques that they have not yet been taught. An example of this is thrusts. We do not show our novices thrusts until after they have been fighting for a few months, thus we do not use thrusts against them until they have reached that stage in their learning.

It is also important that you do everything you do cleanly and with clean and perfect form (treat this as an excellent training opportunity). The novice will copy what you do, make sure it is worth copying…8-)

 

Do not overload them

Novices have a lot they need to think about. This is a complex game for the new person. By all means offer some pointers but keep it clear and simple. I generally will only remark on one thing. Any more than this you are likely to create confusion and frustrate the novice who is trying to take it all in.

You must also be aware of the training the novice is receiving. If they are being taught A-frame style DO NOT try to show them something from a different style. This only causes confusion. Just because you have a particular style or move does not mean it is universally applicable.

 

When does a novice stop being a novice?

Tricky question. Everyone is different and will progress at different levels. As the new combatant grows in skills and experience you can begin to up your levels against them. This is something the more experienced combatant has to judge. Remember, as the senior combatant you are in the position of responsibility and control. Your job is to encourage and demonstrate what good swordsmanship is like. If the lesser experienced person walks off the training field believing they have gained something and want to do more, you have won.

 

Preparing for Crown Redux

It is looking like Elizabeth and I are planning on entering the next May Crown Tournament. While this is not an absolute I have started planning out my preparations for this. Some of you may think that 7-8 month lead in is a bit much I would argue that depending on what you are wanting to achieve it may not be enough.

Anyway, just as I have done previously I am splitting my time into blocks with specific preparation and training to be done. I am also following my previous advice of looking at what gear and equipment I may need. So my training plan will break down into several slightly overlapping phases. I will be looking to have most of this done by Rowany Festival and then use the few weeks after that to rest and get ready for the tournament itself.

Physical/conditioning

I have about six months to get physically prepared for the tournament. I am currently working on both stripping fat and maintaining basic strength. By body fat percentage is now at 23% and I would like that to be comfortably under 20% by Christmas. This is going well so far but there is always the issue of also loosing muscle mass while dropping weight. After Christmas I will probably not focus on the fat loss and this will mean changing my eating a small degree.

Gym work at the moment is a tricky balance. I have cut back on the number of workouts and have been upping the intensity. I am focused on maintaining muscle mass during the fat loss process. I am just running though the five principle lifts of squat, dead-lift, rows, bench press and shoulder press. These are done to failure with high weights and very low reps. What I am finding is that this does require a few day of recovery so I am only doing this once a week at the moment.

This is also complicated in that I am also training for a 100km charity ride at the end of this month, so I need to spend time on the bike doing a lot of climbing work. This sort of training does not mesh well with a pure strength building program.

In a month or so I will be able to increase volume and intensity, moving to a more generalist program to build  across several areas of fitness. This will take me through to February and is working out three times a week, three recovery days (60 min runs/ride) and a rest day. From there the focus will be on developing power and endurance. This will all taper off around Easter and I will just be in a maintenance phase. I also will need to incorporate a lot of stretching in all of this as I need to develop greater range of movement in my shoulders as this is very poor.

Combat Training

The idea is to spend the first few months just stepping back and refining technique. I am playing with a mace to develop a better control of distance and timing. I am also working on refining all my basics. All my sparring time during this period needs to be focused on clean correct technique. Besting opponents is not the goal here. In fact I should cut down my in armour time and concentrate on drills, the pell and focus mitt work.

After Christmas I will start upping the armour time and look at getting as much exposure to opponents with different styles and weapon forms as I can. This is mostly about still being in a learning phase. I will be looking at getting an understanding of the timing and options of what I will be facing in Crown.

Then several weeks out armoured training is cut back again. Here you just run through ‘mock’ crown fights. This is just working though everyone at training (with their understanding) and doing either a single or best of three pass only. The idea here is to build the ability to end the fight on your own terms and in your own time. It is to replicate the mental pressures of the tournament. Every bout must count for something.

The last bit I would throw in here is Festival will be for getting in some fighting and having some fun with it all. It would be silly to break myself at this stage.

Gear

I need to make a fair bit of new kit. I will have to replace my helm. I am looking at making a new one out of 3140 spring steel. It will be a copy of my current helm as I very much love it but ithe poor thing is now about 14 years old and is need of repair or replacement. I also need to make a new vambrace. My current one is way too big and is causing me issues in gauging the hits. This is not good.

I am also planning on making a new arming doublet along the lines of the pourpoint I am currently using to secure the leg harness but with collar and sleaves. A heraldic will then go over this.

So all of this is in the planning stages. We have lot of things that will have to happen before we do enter Crown but at least the training starts now.

A journey begins with a single step (an update).

The USA, Stranger in a Strange Land
In mid August we backed our bags and headed over to the warm climes of California. The trip was ostensibly a honeymoon of sorts but we were planning to get to Sport of Kings in Portland and get some training in with Count Gemini. The Portland side trip failed to happen due to recalcitrant trucks eating their own transmissions. Anyway this did present me an opportunity to get in a lot more training work with Gemini.

We spent a lot of time going over the basic techniques. This is always a good thing as they form the foundation of everything we do. I still have so much to learn and then bed in. Fortunately most of the foundation stuff was various tweaks to what I am already doing, some stuff on weight shifts, sword grip and breathing. I have a lot of pell and mitt work ahead of me.

I was also introduced to some of the ideas around using maces. I will be making up a few to work on this aspect of what we can do. The mace is very useful in demonstrating some timing changes and working on wraps and some other attacks. Spears were also covered. Again, I have a lot of practice work ahead to get this stuff working.

 

Not my monkeys but maybe my circus…

Last weekend was the Lochac ‘Knights School’ event. This is a weekend of classes and pickup fighting designed to develop and advance the combat arts in the kingdom.

The event gives us lots of combat related stuff and an opportunity to teach and learn from a wide variety of Knights and others. Mostly…

I was not schedules to do any classes this year so I spend my time sitting through various classes, trying to be a good student and not interjecting. I was only partially successful at this. Some of the classes were useful and some of them were what we would call ‘interesting’.

I think we also lost a good opportunity to do some focus one on one work between the belted and unbelted combatants. The Armoured portion of the day was just a lot of pick up fights. One way I think we would get better use out of this is each person gets to spend 15 min with a knight of their choice to either fight some passes, do some critique stuff or work though some drills. This sort of thing would make things a bit more structured and useful than just pick-ups.

Anyway – I was asked to fill in a teaching spot. I went against EVERYTHING I normally try to do in teaching and unloaded way too much information and ideas in a single session. It was poorly done on my part and probably due to having to sit through several hours of some very odd classes.

I also have finally purchased a video camera. This means I will be trying to film a lot more of our combat and training session sessions. I will post the link once I get stuff up.

So now begins going back to my basics, working on bedding in the refinements in the fundamental cuts and thrusts. In many ways, the key to any martial art is the mastery of the fundaments and this never changes.

Many times, one who pursues the martial arts expects to see results too soon. You cannot expect to move, strike, block and attain any understanding of the art before you know how to stand. – Syr Gemini.

Ultimate Fighter Lochac

Introducing ‘Ultimate Fighter Lochac (UFL)’! The idea is that three unbelted combatants are teamed up with a Knight, who they normally would not train under, who then prepares them for a variety of combat competitions in six months time.

There has been a reasonable amount of interest in this project and the predictable amount of trash talking for those who tend to that sort of thing. I am however a bit unsure of what to make of it.
I think have being assigned three people and then having six months to work with them is not going to produce any serious changes to their levels of skill and technique. How many sessions are we realistically going to get in this time?

What is the purpose of the tournament/completion at the end of the six months? Is it to gauge participant’s improvement? This is probably better done as we already judge performance as gradual growth of skills, confidence and understanding in what the student is doing.

Is the final completion to pad the ego’s of the trainers or some of the participants in the ‘winning team’? I am sure this is not the case.

If the idea of UFL is to give some people better access to some of the Chivalry to exchange ideas and maybe learn a little on the way then this is a good thing. But this brings me to another issue.

I am uncomfortable in being assigned anyone’s squires or students. It would be highly likely I would be imparting very particular techniques and way of doing things and I would not want my ideas to be countering what their own Knight is teaching them. This would just lead to confusion and students getting annoyed and Knights being pissed off.

I have had a few people say that this is not such an issue. I am not sure of this. Our combat forms are not as interchangeable as many would pretend. I do not think it is a good thing to mix and match techniques. Try for example reconciling Duke Paul’s school with the Duke Brannos A-frame techniques… There are major and fundamental differences in play. One style will not necessarily mesh well with a style that does things too differently.

I am also going to have to admit that I am not keen about some of my students picking up what I would see as bad habits. Again this is the sort of thing that will just cause confusion and people getting annoyed. This may be ego on my part or just a level of hubris on what I have to say.

As you may have guessed, I have agreed to participate in UFL, despite some of my reservations. I think the final completion is possibly counterproductive but if it motivates more people to train more than it is not all bad. I am hoping that the entire project gives a large range of people some additional ideas and motivation. Maybe it will lead to some people being exposed to other teachers rather than just the ones in their local group. If UFL enables many of the participants to improve what they do then this is a project that will be very worthwhile, and a credit to the person who came up with the idea and is putting in the work to make it happen.