We finished the advanced training day yesterday with dagger and self-defense. Graham signed off on some items on Stewart’s basic syllabus and Miki’s intermediate syllabus. Everyone seemed pleased with the progress they made. I know I was. With long lags between training weekends with Graham, it’s easy to let my practice flag, and often I do. Evidently, however, even intermittent training is better than none. I’m sure that doing my stances faithfully helps, too. Graham took an interesting approach to helping us shore up flagging practices; he had each of us name two exercises that we’re committed to doing three times a week, no exceptions, no excuses. With a laugh, he assured us that he was not limiting us to these, but giving us each a bottom line. I like this strategy! I’m maintaining a closed Facebook group for those who wish to support each other in maintaining our commitments, so I’ll post my choices and practices there. If you’re a mid-Atlantic area Staver who isn’t a member of the group but would like to be, let me know. As always, many thanks to Graham for coming over and giving us three solid days of his expertise, and to Miki for making all the arrangements!
Advanced training day! Hard to know if everyone’s weariness on day three makes us more fluid or more dangerous. We’ve spent the morning on the cudgel, which is new to most of us. Unfortunately, Josh and Stewart must leave us shortly if they are to get back to North Carolina before it gets too late. Josh: “The most fun I’ve had as far as the weapons are concerned is with the cudgel. Since I haven’t been able to attend a training for two years, I’ve mostly had staff and some axe before. The cudgel is new to me, and that’s exciting. In some ways, it’s reminiscent of sword training that I’ve done in the past in other disciplines, but now I get to do similar training using Stav principles. I’ll definitely be taking it home with me for more practice.”
Okay, now I’m with Miki: Ow. It’s all good, though. We’ve just been working hard for the past two days, and sore muscles and bruises are to be expected. I really appreciate how Graham tries to get the most out of the brief time he has with us each year. He strikes a nice balance between demonstration and practice, and between pushing and encouraging. This is the first training we’ve had here at Stavbear at which we don’t have any neophytes. Much as we’d like to, in order to continue opening it up to new interest, it has been cool to set aside the most basic levels of training and move ahead more quickly. Today it was mostly axe, with some unarmed as well. Good work, everyone!
Axe! We’ve been training with the axe all morning. Graham: “Everyone’s been trying very hard. We’ve started with the hardest exercise. I’ve been impressed with everyone’s persistence and attention to detail.” That’s Graham’s way of saying that we aren’t very good, but he’s doing his best with what he’s got! We appreciate his patience, too.
After our early afternoon lunch, we got back to cudgel work. Graham worked us hard! We followed that up with self-defense against knife. There was a great deal of knocking each other about, some bruising, and a great deal of satisfaction on all sides. Here’s Stewart’s take on the day: “I really enjoyed doing the unarmed work. My brain was already full when we started it, but it felt very practical and usable. It was fun. Receiving and inflicting pain on people I care about is outside my comfort zone, but I learned a lot.” Miki adds: “Ow. Ow ow. More ow.” Fair enough; off to dinner.