Friday, February 29, 2008


I thought I had it bad. This guy had it worse. Much much worse. I don't think there's a word in the English language that can describe how bad this is.

Of all the responses Ms Cleri gave, I found the last one the most heinous. I cannot believe the depth of self-delusion in that last statement.

I hope that money was worth it.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Why Ban Legos?

This is an awesome article on the nature of power, social inequity and human relationships, as explored through the eyes of kids playing with Lego.

The article hit closer to home than I'd care to admit. Read it, and see if any particular country comes to mind.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

123 Meme

Tagged by a friend.

1. Pick up the nearest book (of at least 123 pages).
2. Open the book to page 123.
3. Find the fifth sentence.
4. Post the next three sentences.
5. Tag five people.


I'm reading "Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell" concurrently with "Academ's Fury". I picked the former to quote from.


"My chief problem", explained Lord Castlereagh, "is in finding men for the Army - a quite impossible task, I assure you; the British are a perculiarly unmilitary race. But I have my eye on Lincolnshire; I am told the pigs in Lincolnshire are particularly fine and by eating them the population grows very stout and strong. Now what would suit me best would be a general spell cast over Lincolnshire so that three or four thousand young men would all at once be filled with a lively desire to become soldiers and fight the French."


I tag:

Albrecht Morningblade

The Guy

The Guy

Guy Windsor (the dude in the center) took us for an incredibly intense 2-day weapons workshop last weekend. He's the head of our sister school SESH, and is the one who taught our instructors. He's also written the book on what I think is the definitive interpretation of Fiore's techniques.

Needless to say, we've learnt a lot from him. I'm not sure I can actually do his teaching full justice in this short blog post but I will try.

  1. While Fiore's manual (the primary source of our art) focuses on describing forms and techniques, there are several internally consistent principles in the manual.
  2. These principles can be applied to any weapon, as it involves the majority of cutting, thrusting and smashing, along with principles of wrestling, measure (effective range of the weapon), passing (or positioning), and grounding.
  3. There are specific peculiarities for each weapon. A spear is the archetype for thrusting attacks, so the emphasis here should be on exchanging and breaking thrusts. It is not so good for smashing or swinging attacks, in contrast with a pollaxe or sword.
  4. Each guard has permissible actions and defenses that are natural to that guard. By learning what is permissible and natural from that guard position, one can somewhat predict what is coming and how to counter it.
It was clear to me that I needed to do more reading. As such, I've endeavoured to start reading more into the actual source material, or at the very least, the translated versions of it. I've already started reading some of the notes Guy has published, though I'm not making much progress for it. Still, I endeavour to plough through it.

Some further training notes.

  1. I need to get my core muscles working. Guy has showed us a couple of simple body resistance exercises to condition the back and abs. Once I get over this bout of illness I'll work it into my life schedule. I think those are incredibly useful.
  2. I still need to work on my stress reflexes. I can execute the forms Guy taught okay, but I've noticed that in a stress situation I tend to panic and forget everything. This means more drilling for me.
  3. Guy noticed that I tend to backweight my en guarde position, which is absolutely correct. I'll need to correct this. I need to find a comfortable spot to settle my hips.
  4. On the bright side, I think my volta stabile has improved somewhat by keeping in mind not to turn with the shoulders, but the entire body. I can -feel- the improvement in smoothness.
My great thanks to Guy Windsor, who made time to come down and kick our asses out of complacency.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Alan Moore - Comic Badass

Seen on Something Positive:

"Little Known Alan Moore Fact: He got his amazing writing skills from the Devil - not by selling his soul but by beating Satan up daily for his lunch money until the Devil bribed Moore with genius just to leave him alone."


Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Gong Xi Fa Cai

Happy Chinese New Year to all my readers!

Friday, February 01, 2008

Little Steps

In art, as in life, your path is often dictated by fundamentals and little steps.

I've written at length about my training issues. After some consultation with Greg and some very wise input from Illka, I've realised that what I am experiencing is simply that my fundamentals were not strong.

Take for example, footwork. Of all the training I've gone through, footwork is the most boring. Yet, so much depends on it. Your distance judgment is based on how consistent you can keep your footwork. Your stability is determined by how solid your footwork is. Your defense is determined by being in the right position at the right time, and that is largely a function of footwork.

Specifically, my footwork suffers because:

  1. When I take a step forward, I stop prematurely, causing my body to jerk forward. The reason for this is that when I move forward, I don't commit to shifting my weight to the forward foot until the very last moment. The sudden rush of forces from this weight transition forces my forward foot to act as a brake, which causes it to stutter. Furthermore, because I'm not comitting to moving forward, the reach of my front foot tends to be shorter than it would otherwise be, aggravating the "stutter". Solution - practice transitioning my weight better. This will cure two of my 5 issues which is the inability to change direction and the inability to range properly.
  2. When I turn, I lead my turn with my shoulders. I know a volta stabile is supposed to be powered from the hip. What I am doing, however, is rotating the shoulder first, to a point where my hips lock, then turning my hips. In that sense, I am overthrowing my shoulder. Solution - I need to work on shifting my weight smoothly from foot to foot, powering the transition with my hip and not my shoulder.
Two very small, almost undetectable mistakes fouled up my footwork. I will work to correct them.


There is a life lesson in this. Very often, it's not the big things that will drive you down, but the small things. A mispelt word can ruin an otherwise polished piece of writing. A misplaced number will ruin accounts.

As in all things, there is no controlling the number and frequency in which a million small things will occur in life. However, what can be done is to control the extent of which these things affect you. We can do so by:

  • being honest with ourselves. We should not have overinflated senses of self, because we wouldn't notice these small creeping errors. Likewise, running yourself down for small mistakes is just as harmful - if your time and attention is on the defensive, you'll never progress, which brings me to....
  • Set goals. Mr Wang has written several times about the importance of setting goals - a person who doesn't set a goal fails 100% of the time. I agree with him. I will also add, setting goals allows you to....
  • Focus on your goal. On top of being sure what you want, you also need to keep your eye on the goal. Small things can detract from this in two ways, as distractions or as flaws in your fundamentals. The former should be ignored, the latter worked on. Either way, the only way to recognise the difference between the two is to understand what you want and to head towards it in a focused manner.

I used to be doing swordsmanship as therapy for loss. It's long since outgrown its original purpose. I want to do swordsmanship now because it's a part of me. In growing my skill with swordsmanship, it causes me to grow too. It's also a wonderful tool for me to understand the interaction between my internal universe and the universe around me.

With this in mind, I can go forward.