What are you working on?

21 Oct 2014 by gebhard, No Comments »


There is a fighter whom I shall call Fitz. Fitz is a figment of my own imagination, however Fitz’s story may sound familiar. At some point, we have all likely been Fitz.

Fitz attends a fight practice with 6ish fighters on a good week. There is a local knight who is semi-active.

On Fitz’s first night, he was taught the basic blows. In a short time, Fitz also picks up wrap shots. Fitz comes every week to practice and fights hard and wants to win every fight. Fitz has some natural speed and after about a year wins a novice tourney.

However, the next few years come and go without Fitz winning any other tournaments or receiving any other fighting awards. There have been improvements over the last some-odd years, mostly in defense since those are automatic responses gained from helm time. But nothing radical. Fitz has stalled, and it seems like Fitz’s skills will forever remain somewhere over novices and beneath GOA level fighters.

How does Fitz overcome this?

First a positive attitude about the future. Many people at this point turn bitter.  It’s always important to remember improvement is a marathon, your goal is to finish, not necessarily to be the first to finish. As long as you keep a positive attitude, you will cross that line.

A sober viewpoint of where Fitz stands currently. Accurate self evaluation is important.  What does Fitz think is going well and is not?

Observation.  What are the people who are really good at this doing? What can Fitz do to emulate those behaviors?

Seek advice.  What do the people around Fitz think is going well and is not? Asking for pickups with knights at events is a great icebreaker for getting advice. However Fitz can ask anyone what they see, even onlookers.

A new weapon style. Learning what the fight looks like from the other side often leads to valuable insight. What’s learned in one form can usually be applied to another. Sometimes this can be a sneaky of working on problems area’s like footwork or judging distances.

Fight different people.  This will likely mean Fitz will need travel outside his local group. There is something to be learned from everyone, from the day one fighter to a Duke. I’m sure you know the adage about the master knowing 100 things, and the novice 10. At the end of the day, the Master will know 110 things, and the novice may still only know 10.

Do something different and make a plan to practice it, even if it’s a really simple plan like tonight I’m going to not close in on anyone or tonight I’m working on in-fighting.

Fitz stalled out because Fitz only has a couple tools in the toolbox and more tools have not been added.  They may be very good tools, but inevitably Fitz will run into someone that already knows how to deal with what Fitz has in the tool box.

Fitz needs more tools. These are not easily gained. Often it means getting knocked around for a couple months while learning something new and different. It can be a bitter pill to swallow, but if Fitz can keep with it….Fitz will become better than ever.

This is why practice is so important.  It is a place to work on new theories and to build new abilities. When I meet someone at practice I always ask, “What are you working on?” If you tell me, I will do my best to make situations where you can put what you’re working on to use.

The gun wasn’t invented by making the best possible bow, nor the jet engine from perfecting the piston engine. Sometimes we need take a step back, look at we are doing and come back from a completely different direction in order to gain new ground.

Advancement often isn’t a linear line of improvement.  Much like a stock performance, it will have hills and valleys. The goal is get the overall trend to an upward one.

What are you currently work on?

Picture Take by: Raziya Bint Rusa at a Tirnewydd Fight practice in 2006, Dema fighting Cellach single Dagger

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