June 2, 2012
Today was my first rank exam. The first time I was called on to demonstrate a measure of proficiency with the weapon as a whole. It was an important lesson and learning experience, but I'll get into that below. The exams make me realize just how damn special that the school and it's students are: we all/as many as are able, come together to test and help each other grow. There's a high standard for success, and fortunately for those of us who aren't quite ready, a large network of superior swordsmen/women who will help train the areas where we are deficient. Anyways, a breakdown, and an AAR.
Warm Up- Standard mastery warm up, with movement added to the medicine ball tosses.
Solo Drills- N/A
Partner Drills- demonstrating techniques for gaining control, maintaining control, and regaining control; defending against cuts in mezzo, contra, and dui tempo; covers and stringere with the offhand.
Slow Work- lots of slow work. must have been at least 10 straight minutes
Full Speed- Two ten minute rounds of sparring, with a 5 minute break in between.
What Worked- I controlled the measure of the fight well, controlled my opponents' swords well when preparing for a strike, and moved in good tempo. Demonstrated well with my off hand.
What Needs Improvement- my grappling needs more intention, my footwork needs to improve (keep a consistent distance between my feet, don't let them gather, don't use so many passing steps) need to brush up on defenses against cuts in contra tempo, and I need to adjust my posture so that my weight is resting over my rear leg instead of in a more central position.
Follow-up for Next Time- Movement drills and body alignment in a mirror. Follow up with Clint and Greg for ways to construct effective drills for the points I need to improve on.
Other Notes- From a non technical perspective, I felt rather unprepared for the exam. Physically, I was gearing myself up for a test in August. I had only managed to get one night of conditioning in during the four sessions that got lumped into a single post. My arm was ready to quit on me at the end of the slow work section. I'm going to need to start strength training in addition to the technical training that I've been focusing on. And mentally, I was grossly unprepared. The exam was stressful. I had to stop and center myself on several different occasions so that I would stop rattling. Now that I know what I'm in for I can train up my deficiencies, and prepare myself mentally and physically.