Monday, May 18, 2009

Living By The Sword Will Kill You

I meant to get in a workout Friday, but Thursday's session with the swords killed me.

I get a laugh out of all those people who seem to think that using swords, or any kind of weapon, is easy. To them, I say that there's a lot more to it than "pointy end goes in here."

Each broadsword may weight only about a pound or so, but swinging that one-pound weight around for half-an-hour or more, with your arms at varying extensions, incorporating all the footwork and body twisting is like a full workout with Nautilus. Even more so.

Most modern weight training isolates parts of the body. It's designed more for sculpting individual members, not the body as a whole. Using weapons takes the whole body. Controlling a sword or staff uses the legs, the waist, the torso and, yes, the arms. And every one of those parts was hurting like hell Friday morning.

So I returned to my workouts with a little more common sense today. I'm still determined to focus on the broadswords this month, but I'll take it a little slower.

I was also hamstrung by the stormy weather here in the Bay Area. Growing up, I wasn't about to let a little rain or snow stop me. But I'm not only a little older and slightly wiser, I also live in the lightning strike capital of the world. Practicing in the rain is risky enough. Practicing while holding a hunk of metal in your hands is downright reckless.

When the weather let up this afternoon, I took up my wooden broadsword, went into the yard and ran through alternating runs of the single dao and the Sup Baht Mor Kiu fist set, (18 Devils Bridge). The latter set is typical of most Yau Kung Mun and Bak Mei forms - short, but very fast and aggressive. When considering the aggressive, nasty nature of Bak Mei forms, it's easy to see why the character of Bak Mei (also known as Pai Mei) is frequently depicted as a villain in Chinese culture and cinema.

I returned to my carport, alternating between individual drills on the dummy, claw pushups and the ab wheel. Following about 15 minutes of that circuit, I closed with a round of the Wooden Dummy form, some classic sit-ups on an incline board, and two sets each of standard pushups and dips on the Power Tower.


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  2. kendo training (the sport side of sword combat) is the most physically grueling activity I have ever done!

    I definitely understand how your weapons training can wear you out.

  3. I hear that. When I first started learning Filipino Tribal Arts, I had to stop every few minutes after siniwalis (stick to stick) exercises and apply some dit da jow. People don't realize when you're hitting something with a stick (or in your case, a shinai) there's still impact going back into your hands and your body.

  4. Cool video. I've nver seen Yip Man on film before.