Monday, July 28, 2008

Elbows and Wrists

Recovered from a bout of diarrhea, which explains my lack of updates.

The only training session I attended this week was Wednesday, where we practised First, Third and Ninth Master of Dagger, which brings me to my point of this post.

How does one train accuracy when aiming for the elbows and wrists with hands? With a sword you can do pell work to improve your cutting form, or train opposite a person to train your stroke.

You obviously can't do the same thing with an unarmed frontale because (1) the elbows and wrists are extremely small targets and (2) build and positioning causes this to vary even more than it normally does, in contrast with fendente cuts.

I'm asking this because I can't figure out a good methodology to train this apart from doing it over and over again - and even that seems to provide limited gains because of different sizes of training partners, different positions for hands, wrists and elbows when striking, etc.

Some help anyone?

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Syllabus Form

Given my crappy excuse for a schedule this week, I've resorted to training by myself. This means many many reps of Syllabus Form.

My observations:

  1. There's a very fine balance between thinking of Syllabus Form as a set of responses to attacks, and thinking of Syllabus Form as a 38-step program. The issue is this: thinking of the Syllabus Form as a set of responses makes me artificially panicky, and my form suffers, BUT, if I think of the Syllabus Form as a 38-step program, my form is wonderful, but my flow suffers. I don't think I'm supposed to think of Syllabus Form as either and just execute it, but I've not reached that stage yet where I can execute every move in the Form flawlessly.
  2. I notice that the more I execute Syllabus Form, the sloppier it becomes. I think this is a symptom of a bigger problem - when I get tired (not physically, but bored, distracted etc) my form suffers. I need to keep myself motivated.
  3. There's a weird annoying lag in my footwork, more so than necessary to account for not leading with the face and hands. I don't quite know what's wrong. Maybe it's a familiarity issue.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008


I am sick of whiny players. No, really, I am.

I do not know what is it about Dungeons and Dragons in particular that brings out the worst in a player, but it does. I am not talking about hack and slash. I can tolerate that.

What I am upset about is how ill-behaved a Dungeons and Dragons player is when a rules call goes against them. Especially where there's a challenging encounter.

Here's the context. It's the last game I'm running for a while. I wanted to pit a young white against a number of new characters. I expected it to be a slaughterhouse. I've communicated it to them that I expect it to be a slaughterhouse, exactly because I know that they are not prepared for this PLUS they've expended resources reaching this point in the game that I thought was a really bad idea. For those in the know, they've expended their dailies.

So this group of experienced players, wanting to win, pull out all the stops. They get fairly creative in trying out new things that are not a part of the game system, which I try to quickly reward by improvising rules.

At the end of the fight (which ends in a slaughter, as predicted), the players start bitching about the rules calls that went against them and ONLY the rules calls that went against them, and that they could have beat the dragon IF the rules calls went their way, not taking into account that:

  1. All throughout the fight, there were rules calls that were clearly wrong but in the players' favour that influenced the fight to their advantage.
  2. I was clearly lenient in favor of creativity, but the bulk of the bitching was in the portion of the improvised rules encouraging creativity.
  3. I get very irritated when someone selects bits of physics and rules to come up with the most advantageous rule set applicable to the situation. You either argue real world physics in its entirety or rulesets in their entirety.
  4. IF I had wanted to make the fight unfair, I'd have had the dragon circle the top of the cavern blasting them with dragon breath after dragon breath once their only ranged attacker had been turned into mush.
Henceforth, I'm going to save myself player aggro and not run Dungeons and Dragons. Ever.

Monday, July 07, 2008

Training in Singapore

Attended training for the first time since I've returned. Officially anyways. Unofficially, I've been heading to the Botanical Garden and been doing the "plank" as regularly as I can manage - which is to say, irregularly.

The first thing I noticed about going back to do my drills is how cramped I'm perceiving the training space to be. I know that's not correct - our training hall is only slightly smaller than SESH's training hall in Finland. Yet somehow, it feels a lot smaller than it should be. My guess is that it's the line of bags strewn over the sides, and the line of chairs that make things smaller than they need to be.

The second thing I noticed is that my form has suffered during the week - again. Weirdly enough, when Chris and Greg call me out on my mistakes, I tend to know what they are going to say before they even say it. Not breaking structure on the cover for First Remedy of First Master of Dagger, check. Not swinging high enough to be a proper fendente cut, check. Volta Stabile when I'm not supposed to, double check.

It annoys me that I know what I'm supposed to be doing and yet not being able to do it consistently.

On a brighter note, I notice that during training, I'm swinging harder and which more emphasis on proper form. I go down lower on my guard positions and focus more on establishing structure than executing things quickly. I was especially proud when Robin tried to armlock me and didn't manage to. For perspective, Robin is one of the bigger and stronger guys there and his form is usually impeccable.

I also think that there are some endemic mistakes that we make over and over again because we're just so used to them. I'll be focusing on this aspect in training and my own self-training.

Friday, July 04, 2008

RIP Velvetedge

When I was alone, you were a great comfort to me. You believed in me when I didn't believe in myself. You remembered what I said when no one else even listened.

And now, you are gone. Gone too are my promises to meet up with you, to have those tapas and beers in California when I'd finally get a chance to see you in person.

Farewell, Velvetedge. World of Warcraft seems a much darker place without you.

Thursday, July 03, 2008


Just touched down 2 hours ago.

The news has broken, and I think I can write about this safely now. I've been promoted to full Fellow in PHEMAS. In practical terms that means I've moved from being an intermediate student to one of the more senior students in swordsmanship in one fell swoop.

I share Kenneth's sentiment here - I can only trust that Mr Windsor was not being over-generous with the promotion. In many ways, I feel like I've reached the point where I'm only beginning to grasp the basics, only to have the door open to the wealth of learning ahead.

And boy, what wealth it is.

I feel simultaneously overwhelmed and enlightened. If wisdom is recognizing how little you know, I am feeling incredibly wise now.

More when I get some sleep.