Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Training with Randy

Yesterday I got the privilege of training under Randy Packer over at box-wrestle-fence with a dear friend and old training partner, Jordan.
Let's start at the beginning.  I met the man for the first time, after much acclaim from Jordan and Kaja at CNAT.  I knew that he was Devon's former partner, that he was a white scarf, and that he had a beard.  Other than that, I could infer that he had a much different focus than Devon from how Jordan and Kaja's fighting had changed and developed since they started training with him, though I couldn't articulate what it was.  Outside of that, for all I knew, him and his (epic) beard could have been fueled by the blood of his enemies*.
* Jordan has not explicitly denied the possibility of this.  I remain necessarily curious and wary.
We arrived at his house shortly after 3:30, and after affixing my tips to my weapons, we set about to slow work.  He told me just to work on flow and to really try and get my joints loose, to try weird and goofy stuff, and to fight with my dagger unless I was exceptionally uncomfortable with it.
After that, he had me and Jordan mask up and fight a few full speed passes.
Then he recorded me lunging from a few different angles.
Then he inquired about my diet, and I earned a disapproving look from him for several months of poor choices.
Then there was more full speed sparring, some slow work woth just daggers, and yet further sparring, and then holy mother of god do I need some water, and it's already been an hour?  No way.  That's almost impossible.  I don't hurt NEARLY enough for that to have been an hour of training.
My classical fencing looks terrible according to him.  He made me stop thinking about footwork, and just focus on my fighting.  He did that in a fairly novel way, too.
He told Jordan to kick my ass.
He made Jordan set his dagger down so that he would be forced to be aggressive and high energy, and then after Jordan was moving quickly and aggressively and being fairly consistantly foiled by my dagger, he was instructed to take his dagger back up again.
Then it started to get furry.
The passes were intense, and combat flowed quickly.  Far more quickly than most combat at Duello.  There were cuts.  More than I've ever seen in any rapier fight.  And it felt almost like a dance.  I was shifting from a long guard into a refused guard and batting attacks away with my dagger and testing him with my sword and voiding my legs and body.  And through all of it, Randy was quizzing me on previous combat and sport experience, looking for a movement that I was used to that could be inserted into my fighting.
He was puzzled by some of my defenses and motions.  Not because they were bad, but because he hadn't seen anyone fight like me before; becuase my horizontal attacks and defenses were rock solid, and most fencers lack strength on that axis.  He was less surprised when I told him that I was an archery teacher, and that Patricia was training me.
He let me know what wasn't working.  What postures were bad, what was making me get hit, and what his fixes were.
He told me that I was good; that I was better than I thought I was.  That I have good reflexes, and that he can help me learn to fence comfortably.
It was an intense hour, but not uncomfortably so.  He's easy to talk to, very casual in his language, prone to cussing, and willing to explore the mechanics of my body.  It was enlightening, invigorating, and sweet god, it was FUN.
I look forward to training with him more in the future.

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