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Tom Courtney

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golf mechanics and fighting [Apr. 7th, 2014|09:16 pm]
So as many of you have heard from me, dukes can't golf. The common wisdom is they try to kill the ball, and there's some merit in that, but I suspect more is going on.

The way you make a proper golf stroke, at least according to my instructor, is you bring back the club by rotating your shoulders back and hinging your wrists, pause and gather yourself at the top, and then turn through the ball - legs first, followed by upper body, followed by arms. At impact, you flick the club by unhinging your wrists to maximize swing speed.

I've golfed with several dukes. The big mistake we all make (and which I'm trying to cure for myself) is that on the backswing, we bring our hip back as well. In fighting, this may or may not be worthwhile, but in golf, it's The Big Mistake. You end up expending most of your energy at the top of your swing, and it becomes harder to get the club head back to the ball, since everything from your posture to your center of gravity has shifted.

Fighters do it because it can help you get a bit more swing speed, but I've occasionally wondered if the loss of precision ends up being worth it. Now of course, a golf stance and a fighting stance are different, so it might be that what's good in one sport is useless in another. But I do note that nothing I've studied in my historical research so far has either stated or implied a need to bring your hip back to throw a blow correctly.

And of course, I might be misunderstanding what I'm seeing sword & shield fighters do. It is, after all, not my area of expertise. I'd love if someone more knowledgeable decided to comment. :)

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Finally [Apr. 6th, 2014|10:07 am]
Meredith is home from the rehab place. Sadly, partially because we judged the place to be sub-par, but I think she'd be better at home even if it was a good place. After all, I pretty much know the drill. :)

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Man Of Steel finally hit HBO [Apr. 6th, 2014|12:40 am]
... and I loved it. Nice premise for a story, and I thought the Lois And Clark ending was fabulous. And unlike Green Lantern, I thought the first half hour of the movie was actually key to the rest of it. I'm looking forward to the next one.

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Plan B [Apr. 4th, 2014|10:11 am]
Meredith's physical therapist thought that Meredith's knee didn't have enough range of motion to warrant climbing stairs at all yet, and advised her to go stay at a rehab facility for a couple of days. So Meredith is currently at Coolidge House in Brookline, and today she's going to figure out if its worth staying there through the weekend or not. She's off all her pain meds (sadly, she is one of those people whom opiates make mildly sick), and says there isn't very much pain at all - alleve seems to be doing fine for her. She's got her kindle, but when she's not doing PT, she's still sleeping a lot.

I forgot to ask if she wants visitors or not. My guess is no, but I'll make sure when I go see her today.

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Meredith update [Apr. 1st, 2014|07:55 pm]
I visited with Meredith on my way home from picking up our CSA order, and she was looking a lot better, though naturally enough, not great yet. They had her walking a very small bit with a walker today, and she has a pulley thing in her bed to exercise her leg, just like I did at my stay. She had just taken some more oxy (I had advised her that being stoic about that was actually a bad plan, since pain causes stress), and so I didn't stay long.

The current schedule has me bringing her home on Thursday. The nurse I talked to seemed to think that was a reasonably firm date - she gave it a 75% chance of being true.

I gave her everyone's well wishes. She did seem to like that (I named names), but it could have been the drugs smiling there. :) Whatever the cause, I'll take it.

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Meredith is groggy [Apr. 1st, 2014|12:28 am]
Mara had her knee replacement surgery today, and the surgeon said everything went well. When I went to visit her and bring her the stuff she wanted to have around, she was very groggy and out of it, which is kind of normal for someone on morphine. I'm going to go see her again tomorrow afternoon, and hopefully, be bringing her home on Wednesday, though that might get pushed back to Thursday.

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That explains that [Mar. 17th, 2014|02:28 pm]
I had long been wondering how my barber stayed in business, as I appeared to be his only customer, and I don't get my hair cut every six weeks. Today I discovered the answer, when there was a large "For Rent" sign in the window, and the barber chairs were gone. I guess I'm going to go try [personal profile] learnedax's barber next time, but there's a place near Rick's that I'll use tomorrow.

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We are now on Comcast business service ... [Mar. 15th, 2014|05:21 pm]
[mood |excitedexcited]

... and the living is easy. :) But for the moment, I don't have my domain up until I get it associated with the new static IP of our server. Let's see if I can do that myself, or if I need my IT person for that. Mostly, I suspect it involves remembering the Network Solutions password.

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it's a pretty heady feeling [Mar. 14th, 2014|01:41 am]
[mood |excitedexcited]

Right now, at this very instant, it is just possible that I know something about historical staff combat that nobody has known for a couple of centuries.

Of course, it's also distinctly possible it's in the standard repertoire of Japanese jo fighters, and I'm late coming to the game, but that's something for me to figure out tomorrow. The larger point is that it's distinctly possible that what I've figured out might possibly change SCA combat dramatically, though time will tell on that one as well. :)

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further adventures in redacting [Mar. 9th, 2014|03:15 am]
Thursday we were working on short staff 5 out of Mair, which has been a big problem - basically, to an SCA fighter, the crossed arm position looks goofy, and in fact, the translators didn't think much of it either, referring to the illustration as "a seemingly impossible hand position". But this is the fifth play in the manual, and I've seen similar poses with long sword in Fiore, which leads me to think this must have been a pretty standard play.

So the way I wanted to attack things was a) figure out if the position was possible to do, and b) why would you ever want to. I made headway on both fronts, thanks to the fact that there were a bunch of people working on it.

Mara figured out how to get into the position. Basically, stand holding a stick with your thumbs pointed inwards, and then rotate counterclockwise with respect to you, letting yout hands change grip as they'd naturally do, and you end up in a position that looks just like the illustration. (a) solved.

(b) is much tougher, but there's a big clue in that the text refers to the position pretty matter-of-factly, I decided Mair wasn't crazy, but that we didn't understand what was going on, and tried to work it out. The play is titled "A parry against a double mittelhaw". A mittelhaw is a horizontal strike to the middle. The Latin text basically says :if you are standing in a position for the double middle strike", and so this has to be a pretty standard technique.

I had thought a "double mittelhaw" had to be two strikes to the middle, but if you're going to do that, you can do it more effectively with your arms uncrossed. Brian came to the rescue, and had the idea that double referred to the length of the strike, and so the move starts by unwinding the front point back and then bringing it in for a big powerful strike. After playing with this for a while, it makes a bunch of sense to me. It's better than starting with your weapon back there, since it gives you defense and a second threat - you might step forward for a big face-thrust instead.

This interpretation makes further sense, in that the move the defender makes from this position is very nearly the one we think is what he was trying to do all along. So all in all, I'm pretty pleased with Thursday's class - we found an interpretation of the play that makes sense, at least as far as we got, both in how to do the technique, and why you might want to.

For all that, it turns out it probably won't be directly usable for SCA combat. Playing around at home afterwards, I discovered that the technique is _much_ easier to do with a jo staff than the typical thick rattan we use for simulating weapons. Indeed, I just ordered one for myself, and if I like it, I'll get another half dozen for teaching purposes - the illustrations in the manual all look like they use thin staves relative to hand size.

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