Stage Combat while Sick

The main problem I had with this year’s Paddy Crean was just my own health- I arrived already sick thanks to earlier family gatherings, low on sleep due to canceled flights and a night in the Toronto airport, and generally not feeling well.  To quote the six-fingered man, “If you haven’t got your health, then you haven’t got anything.”  I’m glad I was able to remain functional, by and large (I only sat out one class session to nap), making it to all the morning staff meetings, teaching and assisting classes, schlepping weapons around, and getting to play during the courses offered by others. I’m amused that there are people now who have known me for a week and have no idea what my normal voice sounds like, though, even after hearing me give talk-heavy classes.  When making travel plans out there, one decision I had to make was “how much is a night of sleep worth to me?”.  While that may not have translated directly into full health versus sickness, it factors in, and may warrant more serious consideration later.

The main casualty to my sickness was the extracurriculars; the socializing at the bar afterwards (and all us repeat offenders miss the old pub terribly; the new replacement is, as one participant put it, like drinking at Ikea), free-fencing with friends, trips in to town, hitting the pool, etc.

I did manage one brief bit of fencing, with instructor Jared Kirby and one of the participants. I’d packed my new (Christmas present) jacket and knickers, my mask, etc, and darned if I was going to lug them up there and not use them at all. I’ll maybe do a review of those later. Jared is one of the top students at the Martinez academy, having gotten himself all but adopted by the Maestre after meeting them at the Edinburgh Paddy Crean workshop in ‘99. His style is in many ways the opposite of mine; he’s studied a limited number of styles in great depth, practices regularly, is able to take his fencing in a completely serious and separate way from his fight direction when he’s doing it (he is also a fight director), and is one of a small handful of people I can think of for whom the description of fencing as physical chess is completely accurate.  At this point, my fencing is a bit of a happy-go-lucky mishmash of various stances and techniques, thrown out in the hope I might get lucky and land one, while largely counting on my judgment of distance to try not to get hit.  Fencing with Jared was enlightening, and pointed out a number of basic things I can be working on if I ever get the time. When I fence, I’m still looking at it largely as a fight director, trying to gain more insight in to the movements and feelings of unscripted sword opposition, and in that sense I succeed no matter how many times I get stabbed. I only hope Jared found something useful in it as well, perhaps just practice controlling and anticipating the fight of someone he hasn’t worked with before, and who doesn’t follow the conventions of his usual opponents.

I’ve been asked to submit a workshop report for the Cutting Edge, the SAFD newsletter, and am still weighing that option; I’ve yet to see a non-SAFD workshop written up there, and don’t want to start any political messes. Still, given the fact that the founders of the IOSP were majority SAFD folks anyway, it really shouldn’t be an issue. Politics doesn’t operate on shoulds, though. At any rate, expect more from me somewhere at some point.


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