I’m still off of my desired daily schedule but things should lighten up here in a few weeks.  Until then I will post as I often as I can and keep the theme of the day but I don’t know if I will be able to post daily like I would like.

This has been a pretty good week fitness-wise.  I made it to the gym after my weight watchers meeting Saturday and got in 30 min of cardio and 30 min of weights.  It felt really good to get in a full lifting workout.  It’s been kinda hard to get to all the machines and weights that I want to on Mondays.  Wednesdays are a little better but still kinda crowded.  Saturday and Sunday are much better.  Hopefully it will lighten up again soon.  Sunday was Baronial fighter practice.  Monday was weights and cardio again.  I didn’t get to run Tuesday like I wanted to but Wednesday I got in a solid workout on the elliptical.

This coming week will be a little harder because my gym buddy will be away but I’m going use this time to switch up my regular gym routine and try some new things.

I can’t believe it is December 16th.  A lot of people review the previous year at the beginning of the new one but I like to take a look at things a little earlier.  This allows me to evaluate how I did with my old goals and begin to lay the ground work for new ones. 

2009 Goals

  1. Improved Health and Physical Fitness
  2. Improved Fencing
  3. Finish 3 projects: Embroidered Shirt, Embroidered Jacket, Silver and Swetnam HMA project 

How did I do? 

Well, it’s really kind of a mixed bag to be honest.  One of the things I failed to do when setting goals for the New Year was to make them measureable goals.  I did improve my health and physical fitness.  It’s not where I want it to be or where I thought it would be by now but it is “improved”.  It’s the same with my fencing.  My game has “improved” but with out a benchmark for what “improved” means to me it is hard to measure whether or not I really accomplished anything.  As for my 3 projects: I started my embroidered jacket (although it is FAR from finished), I did not start the embroidered shirt project, and the Silver and Swetnam project morphed about 6 months into the year.  I started out with one idea of what I wanted to do but as I progressed down that path I realized that I really wanted to do something else.  The original project has since become the training manuals I’m publishing in installments on this blog so in a way did start it but it too is far from finished. 

So what does this mean for 2010? 

First it means that I need to set actual measureable goals.  I’m sure you’ve all heard the smart acronym before.  My goals need to be specific, measureable, attainable, realistic, and timely (or tangible, your choice).  This will help me set achievable goals that I can actually measure and track my progress towards.  A big improvement over last year! :)  I think I did do the right thing by keeping my goal list short last year.  I often feel that if I set too many goals that they get lost in mess and I never really accomplish much towards them.  So I am going to continue the trend of keeping my list to 6 goals. 

2010 Goals 

1)      Continue to work on my physical fitness and fighting.  I want to have completed a 5K by this summer (even if it means I have to hold my own), and be able to do 20 pullups and 100 pushups by the end of the year.  I will also attend at least one practice weekly and set a schedule for drills.

2)      Only have one embroidery project at a time.  Until it’s finished this means my jacket.  I am setting a goal of 10 hours of embroidery per week for this project.  If I meet those 10 hours I can spend the rest of my free project time working on other sewing projects or getting more embroidery finished.

3)      Do more sewing. I spent most of my project time this year working on embroidery projects which means I spent very little time actually sewing clothing.  I made some rapier armor but that was about it.  I really would like some new clothes and I already have several projects lined up: new shirts, a Flanders gown, new rapier armor, a pourpoint, and a jupon (as well as some ideas for household livery).  So I am setting a goal of finishing at least one sewing project a month.  More complicated projects, such as the fur lined Flanders gown, may take longer and may be broken up into smaller projects.  Similarly simple projects, like shirts, may be combined.

4)      Learn to play 2 pieces of music appropriate to Elizabethan England by Pennsic.  I will be starting classical guitar lessons in January which I am very excited about.  I used to play guitar several years ago (although not classical) so I think being able to play 2 simple Elizabethan pieces by Pennsic is very doable.  We’ll see though.  I may have to reevaluate this one in March depending on how I progress.

5)      Spend more time with my students.  I don’t know that I can actually set this goal by myself.  I think we all should sit down together this winter and set some activities (practices, workshops, events, etc) that we want to do together. 

6)      Continue to post Silver and Swetnam installments weekly.

Evaluating and Tracking my Progress

Ideally I would like to evaluate my progress monthly or at least quarterly.  I didn’t do that this last year and I wish I had.  So starting in January I will be posting here once a month about my progress on each of these goals. 

What needs to be accomplished by the end of January? 

1)      I need to be in the gym at least 3 days per week.

2)      I need to accomplish at least 40 hours of embroidery between Jan 1 and Jan 31.

3)      I need to order fabric for at least one project.

4)      I need to actually start lessons.

5)      I need to get together with the guys to talk about things we would like to do together between now and April.

6)      Post at least 4 Silver or Swetnam installments.

Ahh.  The promised fighting post for Midnight at the Oasis.  To be quite honest I probably should have written it Sunday.  Everything is fresher in you mind closer to the day of the event.  But I spent some time Sunday and Monday thinking about my fighting on Saturday so I feel good about my memory of the event. 

There’s an excellent write up on the scenarios over at Wistic’s Weekly Warfare so I won’t go into detail on them here.  I will say that I had a great time fighting in them.  I did alright in the bear pits at the beginning of the day.  I died some, I won some.  I was not as focused as I should have been but I was still able to take advantage of holes in my opponent’s defense.  I should have watched my range closer on Celric.  His lunge and his sword could cover more ground than I expected.  And he had this really annoying disengage around my dagger.  I’ll be working on a counter for that between now and Holiday Fair. 

Probably the thing I slacked off on the most was focus.  I wasn’t wandering off or anything but the serious fighting side of my mind pretty much shut down the moment I went “Ah, It’s a local melee event.  No biggie.”  To be quite honest I’m surprised I killed anyone.  

In the first pass of the castle scenario when my team was attacking Jackson and I were supposed to crunch the team in tower B (Chris and a scholar I didn’t know).  When they ran to fortify tower A with Percy, Jackson and I followed closing up the lower door.  Jackson died but I was able to take out the scholar with a shot to the head.  My first shot missed Chris, sliding past the left side of his neck, but I was able to bring the point back and redirect it onto his neck with a second shot.  I lost my leg but got the kill and our team won the first pass.  I died in the second pass when we were the defenders but occupied part of the other team long enough for several of my teammates to flank their line.  So it wasn’t a wasted death.  After the second scenario I had retainer duty so I missed the rest of the castle battles and the woods. 

After retaining I came back for pickups and pretty much fought until court.  The biggest frustration I had there was Celric’s disengage around my dagger.  Dude, it was really annoying!  So countering that is pretty much what I will be working on for the next several weeks.  It will be ready long before Holiday Fair. 

Overall it was a good day.  I had both my cadets on the field, I took away something I need to work on for myself, and I had a good time.  Working out is definitely helping so I need to keep it up.  It was hot and muggy but I still held up well and I was able to wear a pair of pants I made about 9 years ago.  The last time I was even able to get them on was a year and a half ago and there were really uncomfortable.  Saturday they fit fine.  Working out is definitely making a difference.  Another two inches off my waist and I should have no problem fitting into any of my garb anymore.

It’s not often that I have a three day weekend all to myself so when those little opportunities come along I like to take full advantage of them. This weekend will be no exception. While it may sound indulgent I plan on spending my weekend doing all the things I love to do and never seem to have enough time for.

On my To Do List:

1) Go for at least one, maybe two, morning runs at the lake with one or both of my dogs. I won’t run at the lake in the morning because it’s dark and lately I’ve either not had time for a run in the evening or it’s been raining. Really looking forward to this one. I also need to do some thinking about where I want to go with my workouts because I’m just not feeling it right now. A nice run or two should help with that.

2) Spend an entire day embroidering on my jacket while watching bad movies. I have not be able to spend as much time as I would have liked on this project over the past couple of weeks so I’m setting aside a whole day for it this weekend. And what sewing isn’t made better when it’s done on the couch while watching those deliciously bad movies we all know we have. Pictures will have to wait until next week though.

3) Work on my gown for our anniversary party.

4) Take my lap top to a local park or coffee shop and write for a few hours. I have articles that need finishing!

5) Go to the kberg cookout. Sadly I missed the last one.

Definitely not on my To Do List:

1) I will not be doing any cleaning. The house is already pretty tidy and I want to enjoy all my time this weekend. I may do some laundry but that’s about it.

This past weekend I did something that I hardly ever do. I spent nearly my entire weekend doing nothing and it felt wonderful. My weekends are usually jam packed with trips, events, projects, etc so it’s very rare for me to spend a weekend doing nothing. Honestly I hadn’t intended to do nothing. I had big plans to work on some sewing projects after cleaning the house the universe knew I needed the break, even if it wasn’t my idea.

Saturday morning I slept in a bit and then went for a run at Lake Johnson. I took the longer dirt trail because I really hate running on pavement. I ran for about a mile and then hiked the remaining 1.5 miles of the trail. It was such a gorgeous day and the lake is always lovely. I had a great time. After getting home I rested for a few minutes before taking a nice long hot shower. After the shower I had plans to clean the house, sew, and watch movies. That didn’t really happen. I ended up taking a nap, watching a chick flick, and taking a second small nap before meeting friends for dinner. I never nap but it really did feel great, even if I didn’t get anything done.

Sunday I got a little more accomplished. We went out for breakfast. I put away the last of the laundry while Coty started some more. I finished the arming vest and got a little cleaning done. We played WOW. It was nice.

But now I really need to get in some serious sewing time. I’ve been working on my jacket and I need to get pictures of it and my forehead cloth up online. I’m also working on a Robe a la Francaise for a party this fall. The one I’m working on is based on the one depicted in Arnold’s PoF. I’ve fitted the lining for the bodice but the fashion layer of the front bodice is rather different and I’m having some issues with getting it fitted. I got it pretty close last night before I had to give up and go to bed. I’m going to work with it some more tonight after I vacuum the house and get some more laundry in.

I’m beginning to think that what I need to do is schedule time for sewing just like I schedule time for the gym. I think it would help me get more accomplished especially since our weekends seem to fill up so quickly. I think I only have 2 or 3 free weekends between now and Dragoncon and I have some small projects I’d like to get done for that as well.

Once you begin studying martial arts you begin to notice that they have more in common than you had originally though. But the one thing that you see over and over again, the most common denominator of all of them whether you are studying western martial arts, eastern martial arts, Di Grassi, Saviolo, Fiore, Silver, etc, is the importance of fitness to success in the Art of Defense. 

Without fitness and agility your ability to hold your weapon lessens, your ability to fight for an extended duration is diminished, your ability to void attacks weakened…the list goes on. You can have all the knowledge of proper defense in the world but with out the physical ability to apply it you ability to fight is diminished. Thus it is imperative that as a fighter you set up a fitness regimen to help you get in shape and maintain your physical fitness. 

Di Grassi discusses practicing and “gaining strength” in detail in and addendum treatise (How a man by privat practise may obtain strength of bodie therby) to his True Arte of Defense. 

He recommends that the three areas of the body that a fighter should chiefly concern himself with are his legs, arms and feet. If a fighter does not exercise his arms he will have difficulty not only with holding his weapon and maintaining his guards but also with striking and thrusting. His legs are important because the support the entire body and propel it forwards and backwards during a fight.  Finally, if a fighter does not practice his footwork he will not be able to move properly during the fight, thus leaving him open to attack. 

In his treatise, How a man by privat practise may obtain strength of bodie therby, Di Grassi goes on to make recommendation for practicing that will help fighters to advance with in his system. If you are interested in Di Grassi’s method of fighting I high recommend reading it. 

It is important that we as fighters take care of our bodies and maintain ourselves in the best level of fitness that we can. Not only will being physically fit help us to excel in our chosen art form but it also helps prevent injuries. Not to mention the added side effect of looking better in our armor. There are three main components of fighting: strength, endurance, and agility. Thus there are three main areas we should strive to incorporate into our fitness regimens: strength training, cardio, and flexibility training. Likely some will think that one is more important than the others. That’s ok. Personally I think all three are equally important. Because without strength how will we maintain our guards with our weapons or strike a strong blow or parry when it is needed. Without cardiovascular fitness how will be able to endure to the end of the tournament and find the additional wind to keep going through that final bout. And without flexibility how will we be able make the body voids that are so important to our art. 

I am currently in the middle of my own fitness journey so that I can be the best fighter possible and I plan on incorporating all of these exercises into my fitness regimen. If you haven’t already, consider adding one yourself. If you already have, how is it working for you? Do you have any tips or advice you’d like to share?

Just so you guys know, I’m going out of town this weekend. I’m not sure what kind of internet connection I will have so I don’t know if I will be able to post over the weekend or not. But know that I’m thinking about you guys and I’ll have a new post on Monday.