Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Got woken up early in the morning by a call from my friend Basil, who needed a ride from the emergency room.

my understanding:
He was out at a bar, talked to some girls. Dudes with the girls took exception to this. So, after he left, as he was getting in his truck dude came from behind, pulled him out and took a couple shots at him. He doesn't remember exactly what happened, but from what he said, my guess is that Basil shielded his head as he was pulled out, the dude stabbed at Basil's shoulder, but it got caught up in Basil's leather motorcycle jacket, and then Basil blocked the second stab attempt with his arm and got back in the truck, kicked the dude away, closed the door, then dude was waving his knife in the air and got talked down. Basil said he felt alright as they were driving away, but then when he took off his jacket, well... picture below.
He's alright, going to see a hand specialist soon. My guess is, he's alive because the dude's goal was to stick him, and then show Basil the knife to show Basil that he got him, as opposed to pure assault.

Knife wasn't seen by Basil or either of his two friends until the guy was holding it up. Leather jacket had big, gnarly slices through multiple layers.

knife was this or a close approximation:

Sunday, December 18, 2011

You can teach what you're taught

Every student has things they get right immediately. Show someone a skill that has 5 important aspects. You demonstrate, they repeat it, and the first time they do it they do 3 of the aspects correctly. Excellent. Now you just focus on teaching the remaining 2 aspects. They master the skill. Later, you send them to teach someone new the same skill. Now, your student can do the skill, but they've only been exposed to teaching 2 aspects. Those are what they had to think about and work through and struggle with. Consequently, they are going to focus on those 2 things. It's entirely possible that they are not aware of the other three, or would have to rediscover them in the process of teaching. This is why teaching can be a useful learning tool: it forces you to re-examine basics, and make new discoveries about what is important. But if the newcomer automatically does the same 3 aspects as the student did correctly? Then the only thing taught is the remaining two. If those 3 are extremely common? Then, over time, it's easy to turn this into tradition. For this skill, there are only two important aspects to teach. Anyone who can't do it right after being taught those two things, well, they just don't get it.

To be a teacher, you have to examine skills, break them apart, and learn ALL the pieces.  For a student, especially one in a competitive discipline, or with limited time, this is a waste. If someone never intends to teach, then teaching them all the parts and the whole process of learning them is not an efficient use of time. Even if they are going to be teaching, it may be that their students will be preselected in some manner, the teaching knowledge may be focused. If you're teaching writing skills, you can reasonably expect not to have to teach the alphabet. You may expect someone who can teach writing skills to be able to teach the alphabet (just teach them the alphabet song!), only to discover they do it in a shockingly ineffective manner (okay class, today we learn the vowels, tomorrow the common consonants, then the uncommon consonants, then regroup them to learn the ones that are sometimes silent, then we'll learn about Q. I had a lot of trouble with Q, so we'll break it down into the specific tongue and lip movements needed to form the sound. Then just put them all together in a new, seemingly arbitrary order!).

Systematic example:

My fencing coach was a product of the soviet system. A member of a national team that routinely swept the Olympics (1st, 2nd, 3rd), he was then taught to teach in their thorough, research-based methodology. He is a master of the discipline of fencing, well-known and respected throughout the fencing world. 


The soviet system worked by exposing everyone in the entire country to some fencing, picking the winners from each group, the winners of winners, etc, and then taking that roughly trained cream of the crop and laser-honing them with all the available fencing knowledge. Basically, they're pre-selected for aggression, competitiveness, and basic physicality. As a result, my coach could teach everything... except aggression, competitiveness, and basic physicality. Anyone without those traits he privately considers hopeless for real fencing.

Coming up: my experiences, as someone who lacked aggression, competitiveness, and basic physicality, in learning fencing

Thursday, December 15, 2011

swing harder

another great Belegarth forum interaction, where a discussion on weapon control was decaying into a debate about who hits harder. I attempt to disambiguate. 

Vocabulary. "Harder" is a nonspecific term.

example: Person A punches someone in the chest and breaks their rib. Person B pushes someone in the chest and they fall over.

Who hit harder?

Person A exerted more force in a short time window. They hit harder?
Person B exerted more force overall. They hit harder?

Hitting hard in Belegarth is about riding the line between the two kinds of harder. You want enough punch to make it smack, but not damage. The foam in weapons helps convert the punch into push. Speed and weight add punch. For safety's sake, you have to error on the side of push.

With experience and practice, you get more and more control and can push right up to that line more of the time. To be clear, though, this isn't about being "better" or stronger, or even about being able to hit "harder" in any kind of absolute sense, this is about gaining a sensitivity to what the Belegarth standard of hitting is.

And for control. Another example:

Sprint a set distance past a line. Sprint the same distance to a wall.

The first time is going to be faster. You don't have to worry about stopping.

You can swing faster if you don't have to worry about hitting someone in the head. But since you do, you can't swing that fast. That is a disadvantage, it's a safety thing, that's the way it is. A lighter weapon can swing faster and more carefree in that regard.

So you have to swing more like you're sprinting to a wall. but... not exactly. If, instead of a blank wall, you were sprinting towards a wall with a couple doors in it, and someone was trying to stop you, but could only close one door at a time. You would not be able to sprint as fast as going past the line, but if your judgement was good, you would be able to go faster than you would if you had to stop at the wall since you would accelerate to the finish.

This is feinting speed. Gaining in options and control what you're giving up in pure speed.

and the only response I got: 

What I mean by "harder" is simply swinging hard. But there are a few that refuse to take a redshot unless it makes a loud SMACK, regardless of how hard it hit, even when I move them. They seemed to standardize on how hard a redshot is and yes, some (Thrax, Slaug) will take light redshots. Others, want you to literally move their body. I remember tearing someones shield off their handle.