Archive for May 2007

Tying the knot.

As we are moving forward in our development of our WSD school we looked in to the issue of belts, and have decided that instead of the special belts made by Schola Saint George we will use ordinary Martial Arts belts with a specialized knot to give it a WMA styled look.

This way any group can just go to the nearest Martial arts shop for their belts and will not have to bother with special orders.

The belt loops twice around your waist to symbolize the dual protection a Knight recieves from God and from the Order of Chivalry, then the knot is bound with two loops symbolizing the dual alliegence of the Knight to God as a defender of the Faith and to the Order of chivalry as an upholder of chivalric virtue. The knot itself then forms a trinity symbol for the divine trinity and the trinity of Love, Truth, Grace and Justice!

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New pictures

PICT1771Hanna is now back from Croatia and we have new pictures up, we also took a lot of pictures at the last SSG training so they are up to. PICT2120Lots of pictures of our new helmets, swords and gloves including pictures of my brand new pig faced bascinet, enjoy!

Everybody needs someebody to Love!

So my girls are back home after two and a half weeks in Croatia and I have missed them terribly, Angelina who has been refusing to talk to me on the phone, I thought she might be angry at me for not being there, came of the airplane and hugged me for 15 minutes straight, refusing to let go until we came to the car!

Hanna came home glowing and Angelina is brown and talks much more, Anja walks, runs and has come home with twice as much personality, it’s amazing how much they can develop in just two and a half weeks.

It’s so good to have them home!

Chivalric virtue #3

Here is the Knightschool talk on honour, I think I will have to come back to this one as it is a very big subject.

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Happy Towel day!

Proposed as a tribute to the late science fiction author [[Douglas Adams]] it has been proposed that may 25:th should be proclaimed intergalactic [[towel day]]!

In his legendary sci-fi classic [[The hitchhikers guide to the galaxy]] Douglas Adams describes a towel as:

A towel, it says, is about the most massively useful thing an interstellar hitch hiker can have. Partly it has great practical
value – you can wrap it around you for warmth as you bound across the cold moons of Jaglan Beta; you can lie on it on the brilliant marble-sanded beaches of Santraginus V, inhaling the heady sea vapours; you can sleep under it beneath the stars which shine so redly on the desert world of Kakrafoon; use it to sail a mini raft down the slow heavy river Moth; wet it for use in hand-to-hand-combat; wrap it round your head to ward off noxious fumes or to avoid the gaze of the Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal (a mindboggingly stupid animal, it assumes that if you can’t see it, it can’t see you – daft as a bush, but very ravenous); you can wave your towel in emergencies as a distress signal, and of course dry yourself off with it if it still seems to be clean enough.

 

More importantly, a towel has immense psychological value. For some reason, if a strag (strag: non-hitch hiker) discovers that a hitch hiker has his towel with him, he will automatically assume that he is also in possession of a toothbrush, face flannel, soap, tin of biscuits, flask, compass, map, ball of string, gnat spray, wet weather gear, space suit etc., etc. Furthermore, the strag will then happily lend the hitch hiker any of these or a dozen other items that the hitch hiker might accidentally have “lost”. What the strag will think is that any man who can hitch the length and breadth of the galaxy, rough it, slum it, struggle against terrible odds, win through, and still knows where his towel is is clearly a man to be reckoned with.

With this I do not only concur but I also extend the invitation to all of you Christians out there who know that Christians should not only wear their towel every day but that we should also be using it every day!

As we all know the Bible explicitly tells us to wear a towel and to be ready to use it (Luke 12:35) and as disciples of Jesus we are honor bound to follow His example (John 13:4-5).

We are called to wait upon the Lord, and as my good friend Raunard Brown told me, What does a waiter do? In terms of this article, how does he wear his towel? The answer being blatantly obvious, a waiter waits upon his charge, he wears his towel about his person or over his arm to announs a state of readiness, readiness to serve.

So today lets all pick up our towels and let servanthood, mercy, grace and love be our weapons as we go into battle against injustice!

Heres a few tips on how to celebrate towel day!

  • Wear a towel about you all day
  • Shine peoples shoes (the modern equivalent of washing feet) and wipe with towel
    go into the bank, post office or train station where peoplw are sitting and waiting anyways
  • Wash peoples hands and dry with the towel.
  • Give it to a homeless person and go home and get a new one.
  • Lend it to a mother whose child has made a mess.
  • Dry someones tears with it.
  • Use it in any way possible to convey Gods love and care!

Happy Towel Day!

Becoming human.

As we are well in to the Knightschool week of courage we have done confessions, it is remarkable how hard it can be to confess. Everyone of the squires (self included) wrestled with the “What will they think of me, how can I ever look them in the eyes again?” thought. It strikes me that this is a very human condition, a stubborn refusal to accept our own humanity.

We tend to think of the church as a congregation of saints and that I am the only bad apple in the bunch, the only one who sins, the only one who doesn’t measure up. When in fact we may be better helped by thinking that {{we are a congregation of sinners aspiring to holiness.}} Sometimes we make it, sometimes we fail….

At times when we hover around on our little clouds of holiness, polishing our halo maybe we should do like Jesus, become human. Get real see ourselves and othhers for what they are and start helping each other towards a better self instead of pretending that we got it all together.

Developing your Lion!

We are looking into courage in the knightschool and in SSG Riga we are starting to spar. For sparring a certain amount of courage is needed. The Lion in the Fiore system symbolises the bravery, courage and the chivalrous virtue of the fighter.

In the segno the Lion holds a heart and it is my belief that the Lion truly is the heart of the matter. Here are is an article posted by my mentor and friend Colin Hatcher in the SSG Riga google group.

DEVELOPING YOUR LION
Some thoughts on developing Fiore’s Lion attributes of courage, daring and courteousness within Fiore’s martial system by Colin Gabriel Hatcher

INTRODUCTION
Fiore’s martial system has four animals representing four combat “virtues.” In the old Italian language, Fiore’s Lion represents the martial virtue of “Audatia” or “Ardimento” The modern English word from these words are “audacity” and “ardor.” Audacity means boldness and
daring. Ardor means passion. Fiore’s Lion also stands for Courage. Finally, the Lion is the symbol for chivalric Courtesy. The attributes of Fiore’s Lion only really come into play when
students of Fiore begin live sparring. Suddenly students find themselves in a competitive environment, where they might win or lose an engagement. While such engagements are not literally life or death engagements (as they would have been on the medieval battlefield), they
evoke the same kind of emotional reaction from participants: fear, panic, adrenaline rush, over-aggression, etc. On the medieval battlefield, over-coming the fear of death would have been standard preparation (through prayer and blessings by priests, for example). The Lion, in medieval philosophy, represents the spirit and to overcome the fear of death requires faith. For the modern Fiore longsword fighter, the worst we can expect is bruised ribs and bruised pride (from losing or looking foolish). Nevertheless, in order to be able to fight effectively, one must be able to overcome the fear of being struck, and of losing or looking foolish. This too is a Lion attribute. Faced with a live opponent, who is now attempting to strike without being struck, and who is no longer cooperative or helpful, the student new to sparring may well find themselves seriously lacking in the attributes of Fiore’s Lion. Students may approach live sparring with plenty of technique, strategy and drilling (the realm of the Lynx), with plenty of strength, stamina and stability (the realm of the Elephant), and with plenty of speed, flexibility and agility (the realm of the Tiger), only to find themselves caught paralyzed and flat-footed in the live sparring environment, when they face an opponent who is more comfortable in the realm of the Lion (hyper-aggression) than they are.

In the case of these students, the fear and panic brought on by the pending confrontation, the nervousness about facing the opponent, the fear of losing and/or the risk of looking foolish (not knowing what to do) before the watching gallery, all combine to cause a massive surge of adrenaline, and the student’s body goes into what is known as adrenaline shock. The result: paralysis (“adrenaline paralysis”), in which the ability to think and plan (symbolized by the Lynx) collapse, eyesight and hearing deteriorate, and breathing becomes shallow and fast, resulting in insufficient oxygen to the muscles. This has two effects: stamina and strength (symbolized by the Elephant) collapse (both need oxygen) and the body’s fast reactions and agility and flexibility (symbolized by the Tyger) slow down. In other words, the mighty Lion defeats Lynx, Elephant and Tyger! The panicking student thus loses the initiative, is defeated before the engagement even begins, is intimidated and dominated by the opponent, and spars passively and without intent, just trying to survive the bout. The fear of not knowing what to do becomes a reality, as the student’s mind blanks out, and faced with “fight or flight”, the student chooses neither, since he or she is rendered unable to make any choice at all.
The Lion also governs courtesy and chivalric ritual, but these attributes can suffer also when the student is intimidated and paralyzed by fear and adrenaline. Often the intimidated student
(deficient Lion) avoids too much chivalric ritual before and after a live sparring engagement, almost as if they do not believe they merit such ritual. Thus the engagement becomes sloppy and un-chivalric, not because the student is not a courteous person, but because they are
embarrassed to be too openly “chivalric” lest they cannot thereafter produce the fighting performance to match the pre-fight ritual.
On the other hand, the “deficient-Lion” student may be very courteous indeed. The pre- and post-engagement rituals do not involve adrenaline surge, and the rituals of a pre-engagement can be easily learned. Indeed the student, even though lacking in the Lion attributes of courage and aggressiveness, may well take their courtesy attributes into the engagement itself. Such a student may well lose the engagement often, deficient in the Lion as he or she is, but at least they lose
gracefully.
At the other end of the Lion spectrum we have the hyper-aggressive reaction to adrenaline surge. This kind of student responds to the fight or flight adrenaline surge, not only with “fight”, but also with “fight hard”, and in doing so responds over-aggressively. The sparring engagement then becomes a fight to the death, where the need to “win” dominates the mind of the over-zealous student, and blanks out the need for restraint or courtesy. In short, with muscles over-loaded with adrenaline, this student fights fast and furiously, strikes with too much impact for the armour standards of the engagement, and with little control or apparent concern for the opponent’s well-being. The fear of looking foolish is overcome by exceptional aggression, and in engagements like this, when an opponent is “excessive-Lion” (or Lion not tempered by the prudence of the Lynx), injuries can and do occur. This student is bold to the point of foolishness, rushing at the opponent without fear, to be sure, but flailing their longsword wildly, without technique and without good judgment either. In other words, Lion-deficiency can be shown by lack of courtesy or lack of passion (aggression) in fighting.
DEVELOPING THE LION ATTRIBUTES
How best then to develop the key Lion attributes of Courage & Boldness, Aggressiveness and Courtesy? My notes below are for the new student approaching live sparring, perhaps with excitement, perhaps with trepidation.
A. COURAGE AND BOLDNESS
Courage or boldness is an essential attribute for any student to develop for live sparring in a quasi-competitive or competitive environment. It forms the essence of the Lion, and is hard to develop unless The student is willing to spar at every opportunity. Thefollowing tips may be useful in the development of courage:
(1) Spar competitively whenever you can
Courage cannot be developed outside a quasi-competitive or competitive environment. In order to develop it, you must enter the realm of the Lion, which is the competitive field of combat. Only by sparring will you learn to cope with bodyshock and adrenaline surge. Seasoned fighters still experience adrenaline surge – they are just better able to channel it into controlled aggression and action, rather than allowing it to paralyze them. This is simply achieved by lots of sparring.

(2) Try to avoid long discussions during sparring

Sparring is a kinetic learning process. Courage is an emotional attribute – it is about how you feel – and it can be developed kinetically, but it cannot be developed by discussion. You cannot develop courage and boldness by talking about it between bouts. Courage evolves from the kinetic experience of competitive fighting. Don’t talk about it… DO it!

(3) Face your fears
You can develop courage by regularly facing your fear. First identify your fear, then face it. To begin with this will be difficult. But, as you develop courage, it will become easier. To face a fear requires willpower. For example, when given a choice of who to spar with, stand proud and tall and boldly pick the most fearsome looking opponent, or the biggest, or the strongest, or the fastest. Timid students often prefer to pick someone who looks like they will be the easiest to fight. This will never develop your courage. There is no shame in acknowledging your fear, but you must not allow your fear to dictate your choices. When faced with choosing an opponent from a group, ask yourself “Who am I most afraid to face”, or “Who do I believe would be the most intimidating or challenging person to engage in combat sparring?”, and then pick that person to spar with. Use your fear response as a method of choosing your sparring partner, not as a way to choose who to avoid, but rather as a way of choosing who to spar with. This is true
Lion!

(4) Work on overcoming your fear of losing
The Lion does not fear losing in competition (nor death on the battlefield), because the Lion has faith. As students, your fear of losing or looking foolish may well inhibit your sparring ability. To
develop your Lion attribute of courage and boldness, it will be necessary to overcome your fear of losing. Sparring is your opportunity to lose and yet to realize that losing is not a catastrophe, but an opportunity to show grace and courtesy in defeat, and to gain renown in its own right, not to mention an opportunity to learn and improve your technique. Only by sparring repeatedly in a supportive environment can you develop this approach to combat. It really does not matter who wins or loses. What matters is that the play itself was conducted in the manner sought by your Schola, that is, with chivalry. Students ask me how they can become good sword fighters. I often answer “You first need to lose 5,000 engagements, so get going!”
B. PASSION (AGGRESSION)
Passion or Aggressiveness in a chivalric combat context does not mean violent, hurtful, destructive and malicious conduct. Aggressiveness means a combat willingness and readiness (a joy of combat), a driving forceful energy intended to dominate or master the opponent, and a
willingness to attempt to seize and hold the initiative, coupled with a strong desire to take back the initiative if it is lost. Here below are some of my thoughts on developing the Lion’s attribute
of aggressiveness:

(1) Follow the advice on courage and apply it to aggressiveness!
Aggressiveness and courage/boldness are closely related. All of the advice above regarding courage applies to aggressiveness! You cannot develop the Lion’s aggression if you never spar competitively.

(2) Try to constantly seize the initiative when sparring
It is the Lion who seizes the initiative. When sparring, try to be aware of times when you are passively responding to what your opponent is doing. Boldness means seizing and keeping the initiative. Understandably, for the student struggling to remember techniques, it is difficult to seize the initiative, but this can be developed through sparring itself. If you find yourself only defending without counter-attacking, your opponent has the initiative. Defending at speed
while counter-attacking can only be developed by sparring itself. Spar!

(3) Work on combining technique (Lynx) with speed (Tiger)
A driving forceful energy in combat can be developed by working on Lynx (technique) and Tiger (speed). When these are coupled together in a struggle for the initiative, aggressiveness is seen!
Technique and speed cannot become rooted in your kinetic memory (“muscle memory”) unless you spar, spar and spar some more!
C. COURTESY
Courtesy for me is an essential Lion attribute, and it prevents aggressiveness from becoming a destructive “win-at-all-costs” approach. Here are a few things to think about:

(1) Spar boldly and aggressively with the intent to help your opponent improve, and with the intent to create beauty on the field.
Practice sparring boldly and aggressively for the purpose of enhancing your opponent’s skills, rather than for the purpose of aggrandizing yourself. Aim also to create beautiful combat patterns that those watching will enjoy and admire. Remember: “The candle does not burn
to illuminate itself”.

(2) “Better to lose honorably then win dishonorably”
While aggressiveness wants to win, courtesy modifies aggressiveness. Courtesy does not want to win at all costs. There is no honor or renown to be gained by winning badly, for example winning by injuring your opponent. When you spar, practice avoiding winning, if by winning you
are forced to act discourteously.

(3) Remember, your opponent is not your enemy, but is rather your colleague
Treat your opponent on the field of combat as you would wish to be treated. Aggressiveness begins at the call “Lay on”, and ends at the call “Hold”. Courtesy, on the other hand extends throughout the bout from beginning to end. Remember, your opponent is not your enemy,
but is rather your colleague.

(4) Seek opportunities during the combat to display courteous behavior.
Speak politely to your opponent at all times, and treat them in the same manner. Never strike a blow with malice in your heart, no matter what. If your opponent falls down, offer them a hand up. Always seek to concede the fight should there be any doubt as to who won. In conceding
a close-call fight, you display courtesy, generosity and humility,three important chivalric virtues.

(5) Practice the pre- and post-engagement rituals carefully and clearly
Practice the pre- and post-engagement rituals carefully and clearly. These will help to place you in a courteous frame of mind.

(6) Wearing medieval style clothing can also help place you into the correct frame of mind
Wearing medieval clothing to fight in is not just “dressing-up” It also helps to place you into the correct frame of mind for combat within the school’s framework of medieval chivalric virtues.

(7) The main purpose of competitive sparring is to improve your own character
Remember that one of the main purposes of competitive sparring is to improve your own character. Thus the main struggle in combat can be seen to be against your own limitations and weaknesses, rather than against your opponent. Seek always to confront your own weaknesses when sparring, so as to overcome and improve them. In this sense your opponent is there also to help you improve, by sparring with you to the best of their own ability. While the framework is the field of combat, the purpose is unchanged: self-improvement. If you won a bout but did
not improve yourself in any way, did you really win anything at all?

(8) Remember you represent the Schola of Saint George, or your own School, at all times when you are engaged in competitive sparring
You do not represent only yourself when you engage in competitive sparring, but you represent the entire school. Others will judge not only you but the school itself, from the conduct of its members. Seeing yourself as an ambassador for the school at all times, and therefore always “on display” will help you conduct yourself appropriately, and will help to place your much-needed Lion ardour/aggressiveness within a framework of equally important Lion courteousness.
CONCLUSION
Fiore’s Lion carries a heart. To be a great warrior you need the heart of a Lion. The heart of a lion is bold, courageous, has no fear of death, has faith and practices courtesy at all times.
It is my personal opinion that the Lion is the last attribute set that you can begin to develop in Fiore’s system, because the key attributes of courage/boldness and aggressiveness cannot begin to be developed until the student can begin sparring in a competitive environment.
Courtesy of course can be developed from day one, but conducting oneself courteously while in competition and under the pressure of adrenaline pump and its concomitant aggressiveness is also a sparring-related attribute, and is different than practicing courtesy
while drilling cooperatively. Lynx, Tiger and Elephant attributes can all be developed prior to and
without sparring. Lion is different. Lion requires competitive combat. So fight! And embrace the Lion with both arms!
Regards
Colin Gabriel Hatcher

Knightschool squires are marching on!

Since we are diving deep into the virtue of Courage this week the first challenge of Courage was to confess deep dark secrets to a sister or brother of faith.

I have to tip my hat to all the Squires of the Knightschool who faced this challenege with such bravado. Not only did they decide to face their fears and confess their shortcomings to each other but they did not shy away from taking the big and serious stuff!

I myself had to face a very uncomfortable situation and humbly bow to the consequences of that. But now that it is done I have the peace that can only come from a clean concience

Many where quite palefaced and weak in the knees before taking the lion by its mane (myself included) but it was evident afterwards that truth was told grace was disoensed and freedom was gained!

Vivat!

Chivalric virtue #2

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The knightschool talk on courage.

Saturday night is duelling club

Gotcha!  Saturday nights was supposed to be our sparring night in SSG Riga . However we have not had the equipment to be able to spar safely, that is until now. After a very generous donation to the group from our dear friend Björn Flintberg we are now equipped with four Shinais and four fencing helmets and hopefully very soon we will add four pairs of good sparring gloves as well. So now saturday night IS in fact sparring night. and we started today.

Actually we sneaked in a pre premier last tuesday as we had the helmets then. But today we did three hours of duels and melees1. After having trained the students not to hit each other for almost a year it is now alien for all of us to actually be allowed to strike and hit. The students are also for the first time realizing that fighting for real is not the same thing as executing plays. Some panic, others overthink it. Though we may be imperfect there are also some moments of clarity and plain old good times.

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But we are finally getting to where we can work on developing our lion.2 It is a lot of fun for everyone although it stings a bit and we walk away with bruised arms and egos from hits with the sword and the realization of our shortcomings. Whatever bruises we incur we are growing and little by little becoming warriors.

Vivat!

  1. Various cobinations of two against two, three against two, everyone against everyone and sometimes with objectives like cross the bridge or capture the flag. []
  2. Fiore Dei Liberi has tagged courage, valor and chivalrous conduct under the sign of the lion []
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