Tom is a husband, father, novelist, opinion writer, and former Navy Corpsman currently living in Georgia. He's also someone who has lost almost 60 pounds in a safe, sustainable way, so he knows what he's talking about.
Yeah, you in the back holding the banner dripping with the blood of your enemies. Sit down. Seriously. There’s a time and a place.
No, that headline is *not* a joke. I bring it up because I’m late with my column. Again. While twice can be coincidence, I’m not thrilled with the emerging pattern, as I imagine Tom is not, either. We’ve bemoaned our mad skills in this arena (as in, we’re mad, and got no skills. Or at least I don’t) that I feel I’m safe dragging him under the bus with me. If he’s added another skull to his throne by next week, we’ll know otherwise.
Tempus fuggits, just as hard as it ever can, and it often seems to disappear just ahead of my grasping claws, y’know? I don’t mean to wax lyrical, so much as I’m a writer trying to describe the incredible feeling of never having the time or energy to manage to do everything I feel I ought. Continue reading “Time Management for the Modern Barbarian”
What? No, we’re barbarians, here. Not superheroes. Though, spoilers will be dealt with appropriately.
Dave, what are you saying?
I’m saying you should be bench pressing a planet. Probably every day, depending on volume.
Dave, I thought we were talking HEMA and-
Yeah, yeah: I’ll get to that. First, though, we need to talk basics. Why is that? Because I’ve been going untrained for months and coming back hurts. While the end goal here is to support my HEMA work, and build general physical preparedness for the next 60-120 years (what? I’m optimistic), there’s a lot to do to get to the point where I want to be. And that starts first thing in the morning. With push-ups. Continue reading “Dave Goes Barbarian: Bench Press A Planet”
Real-world fighting isn’t a lot of fun. It’s nasty, brutal, and the anything-goes nature of a fight means people can get hurt. Badly.
Yet, let’s be honest for a second. Learning to fight can be a blast. Especially if you’re a history buff and are learning a historical method of fighting.
However, the question I’ve asked and seen asked more than almost any other is whether or not any of this is practical for the real world.
I took a look at that question myself a while back, as an outsider to the world of Historical European Martial Arts (HEMA) and offered my take. Over a brief time, I’ve started modifying some of my thinking a bit, but I’m fairly well settled on the validity of pugilism as a valid style of fighting for both HEMA uses and application on the streets.
Or rather, I drew the sword. After all, the metaphor is specifically HEMA-related, and that’s what I’m talking abo- Oh, never mind. I’ll come in again, shall I?
Yesterday, I joined Schola Saint George. I quickly received an email from Dr. Brian Price, one of the co-founders of SSG, and I’m ready to begin my journey into the martial instruction of Fiore dei Liberi. Now to recruit some sparring partners…
For now, I’ll be continuing my work on body-weight calisthenics and basic gymnastic practice, and integrate some free weight barbell training into that.
I’ll be honest, here, though: I kinda feel like I’ve just enrolled in an advanced degree program. The more I dig into HEMA, the more I’m going to have to learn just to keep my head above water. No twice a week sessions at the local dojo. This is going to need to be something every day. And a lot of it is going to be book work, at least to start with. For one, there’s an entire glossary of terms I’m going to be learning. Some of which I recognize. Posta di fenestre, for example, is the Window Guard, or as the Germans refer to it, Ochs – the Ox Guard. The sword is raised to the side of the head in both hands, with the point aimed at the opponent. I suddenly wish I’d taken Latin, y’know, ever.
Fortunately, there are a number of things upon which I can work while getting up to speed on the theory. I’ve found several videos on the Tubes of You that show exercises one can perform with a sword to limber up the joints and get the muscles ready for practice. I spent a few minutes performing these, and already feel a difference. Which is a good thing, as an old impingement issue in my right shoulder has been cropping up again. Basically, my neck is too tight, and pulls the ball of my humerus deeper into the joint than it should be, where it rubs against one of the tendons, generating annoying inflammation. It genuinely sucks, but there are a number of things I can do to alleviate the problem. Squatting heavy, for one. Indian club and mace swings, for another. And (trumpet fanfare) swinging a sword around! I’m debating an indoor sword trainer, as well, which is a nifty device that looks like somebody melted a sword blade down until it was all of a foot and a half long past the crossguard. It’s the same weight as a sword, has the same balance, but I’m not going to lop the blades off the ceiling fan, or accidentally vivisect one of the kids. I’m sure Mrs. Dave will appreciate that.
The big thing going on right now isn’t the HEMA. It isn’t the resumption of physical training. It isn’t even picking out a new handgun (I’ll fill y’all in on that, when it happens). No, Dave is coming to grips with his limitations, and I’ll be frank: it [REDACTED] sucks. I believe I mentioned that Mrs. Dave travels fairly regularly on Uncle Sam’s dime. That leaves me to do the hands-on raising of Wee Dave and Wee-er Dave (not their real names) more or less by my lonesome. I went into this with eyes wide open, or so I thought. Those of you who are also parents will nod when I say: I had not clue the first. I had zero idea of the levels of frustration small children engender on a daily basis. I had no idea how exhausting just getting the basics accomplished could be. I really had no way to know. If you haven’t been a parent, there’s almost always a sunset clause built into any childcare you’ve provided. (Okay, realistically, that’s likely true here, as well. It’s just that I’ve got fifteen more years, and that’s if we don’t increase the clan, again.) I signed the check sight unseen, and now it’s coming due. And I’m tired. I’m flat exhausted most of the time. And it’s not a lot of fun. It’s fun sometimes, and it’s usually good (what’s that line about not being tame, but being good?), but it’s not easy. So my efforts as self-improvement and professional development are, while not outright frozen, at least slowed by a good bit. I suppose I’m increasing my WIS (and maybe my CHA), but I’ve never before found that to be a particularly pleasant endeavor.
So the littles are running me more or less ragged (and I’ll talk about that more in columns to come: You, too, can act as a pseudo group therapy for Dave!) and I’m not getting done the things I want. I have novels to finish, y’all, and it’s just not happening. I have skills to develop and projects to finish. And I have to let that be okay. It’s not my natural disposition, let me tell you. But that’s not a choice I get to make. Or rather, it’s a choice I made long before Wee Dave arrived on the scene.
Next week, I’ll be going into my further exploration of Fiore and his work, as well as treat you to a thrilling discussion of PT methods. I’m sure you’re waiting with baited breath (old chum). Until then, get supple and try not to rage on the effete city-dwellers around you, you furious barbarians.
IN THE BEGINNING … NO MAN WAS HIGHER IN BIRTH THAN ANY OTHER, FOR ALL MEN WERE DESCENDED FROM A SINGLE FATHER AND MOTHER. BUT WHEN ENVY AND COVETOUSNESS CAME INTO THE WORLD, AND MIGHT TRIUMPHED OVER RIGHT . . . CERTAIN MEN WERE APPOINTED AS GUARANTORS AND DEFENDERS OF THE WEAK AND THE HUMBLE.
—The Book of Lancelot of the Lake
I came across this quote while reading a book on the history of knighthood. I’ve always had an interest in knights and the medieval period, and now that I’m delving into the world of HEMA, I find myself looking more deeply at that era, which is how I came across this quote.
Little of that matters, though, because this spoke to me. It spoke to me on a deep, deep level.
You see, in my life, I’ve found there are people who are wired just a little bit differently. They’re the people who train for violence, who live for it, not because they’re violent people, but because they’re the poor bastards who can’t step away from it.
By most measures, I’m a successful father at this point in my kids’ lives. They’re fairly well adjusted, smart, independent, and so on. They have little trouble making friends and, at least with my almost 18-year-old son, doing so without betraying who they truly are.
But I still feel a bit like a failure.
You see, while most parents probably feel that way to some degree, for me, it’s about my kids and their health. My son is badly obese, though he’s lost about 25 pounds in the last few months.
My daughter, however, at 7-years-old, isn’t. And I aim to keep it that way, which is why I got her a kettlebell of her own. My hope, to help her never get to where I was or where her brother is.
When I first started losing weight, I set two goals. One was a short-term goal of losing 20 pounds. The other was loftier. I wanted to get down to 185. Based on what I suspected my lean body mass was, this would have put me at a pretty healthy weight, but I had 185 fixated in my head.
But as I started losing weight, I realized that 185 was still fine as a goal, but it wasn’t the endpoint I really needed.
Talking with a friend yesterday, I brought this up and he suggested I write about what to do when goals need to change. After all, it applies to not just weight loss.