Friday, October 30, 2015

Friday, October 30, 2015 Altering the Pommel

So I finally made it to the hardware store for some sandpaper so I could sand down those "sharp" edges on the pommel of my practice sword as recommended by my coach.  It is a  Hand and a Half Training Sword by Cold Steel.  As I said earlier the name does say it all "hand and a half".  As I mentioned in previously my left hand wanted to slide down and grip the hilt lower and was encountering the angled edges of the pommel.  The angles felt sharp and extremely uncomfortable.

Here is how I actually ended up doing it.  Number one I am not the most patient of people.  I started with some 100 grit paper.  Decided it was too slow.  I grabbed an Xacto knife and carved the edges down.  Then I got out the palm sander which had a really coarse grit already on it.  I used the palm sander to really smooth and round out those edges.  I finished up with the 100 grit and then some 150 grit.  What a difference! It feels so much better.  Now I can grip it where I need to without hurting my hand.  Being able to grip it a bit lower with my left hand feels much more natural.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Thursday, October 29, 2015

One thing that I realized during my first club meeting is that I was really unaware of European (or should I say to me "western") martial arts.  I tended to think of them in general as modern things like boxing, fencing, using firearms.  Learning most these skills is just as expensive if not more so than joining a dojo to learn eastern martial arts.

During the meeting I found myself comparing eastern martial arts against HEMA.   HEMA is about sharing arcane fighting skills with others.  A group of people passionate about their art who desire to teach and share it with others who desire to learn. As well as needing sparring partners.  It is still teaching the mindset, skills, reflexes and heart of a warrior. These things are still applicable for living in today's world.   This things are what I am looking for.  So I am back to learning European aka western sword skills.

I've had a pretty good day.  Despite getting off to a very slow start I feel like I accomplished quite a bit today.  I did all my morning stuff and had a nice practice session with my practice sword.  I finished up an order of replacement panes for lamp fixtures.  Did another one this afternoon.  Cleaned up the rest of my cabinet mess, worked on a counter top and put away scrap glass.  Trimmed Lacey's toenails, paid bills, cleaned out voice mail and finally set up my message for it.

This morning I actually sat down and did a real meditation session for twenty minutes.  I've concluded I don't know as much about meditating as I thought I did.  More research on it for me tonight.  I found it hard to stay in the same position for so long.  It didn't help that I was stills ore from doing five, yes only five push-ups on Tuesday.  Time to do some more.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Monday, October 26, 2015
I've decided it's a mild cold.  No real bad sinus congestion, but I am waking up congested with that sinus burn and it is moving into my chest.  The worst of it is the fatigue.  After working at my real job I just took the rest of the day easy.  I watched a good documentary on HEMA,  "Back to the source-Historical European Martial Arts" documentary.  It was very educational to me.  Now I have a much better understanding of it and how it works.  What I need to be doing to learn.

No hide nor hair of Buddy.  False alarm Sunday night.  But it wasn't him.

Tuesday, October 28, 2015
Feeling a bit more energetic today.  Or at least my determination and will power are better today.  I'm going to putter away at some stuff that needs catching up. So with that I now have the dishes all caught up-three sink loads later.  No I don't have a machine for it.  I AM the dishwasher.   I was up and in the shop in time to receive my glass order and our order from Schwan's.  I think I've got my starfish photography prop finally painted.  (Thank you journal.  As I was previewing this post I remembered that my starfish and can of paint was still outside!  It could rain and there will be frost or heavy dew in the morning. So now they are safely inside.)

Have I mentioned that what were my tightest fitting jeans started slipping down?  I had to start wearing a belt with them.  So I broke down and stepped on the scales again.  I've lost another five pounds.  I still find it fascinating how once I gave up on losing this weight and now here I am losing it.

I stretched out in front of the heater. Best way to start the morning when it's chilly over here in the shop.   Found a left over piece of doweling from a closet rod.  Perfect length for use as a tool for dagger practice.

Buddy is still MIA.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Friday, October 23, 2015
I'm rather excited.  I discovered yesterday that we have an official HEMA (Historical European Martial Arts) training club here in central Oregon, High Desert Armizare.   Armizare  is the term used by some for Italian martial arts, it is fighting techniques based on the manuscripts and illustrations by the fourteenth century master of this art Fiore dei Liberi.

Got that display cabinet cleaned of and out of the glass shop, yay!  Yes I stretched and practiced.

Saturday, October 24, 2015
I've really waffled over whether or not I was going to be brave enough to actually go to the club meeting on Sunday.  I have encouraging friends, but the clincher was the wording of the e-mail in response to my requesting information. " My goal is to create an awesome community of people that happen to like to swing swords."   I am going to be brave enough to do it.

Tired today and just no motivation to work in the glass shop after putting in my eight hours at my "real" job.  So I ended up taking it easy.   Went dog hunting for my step granddog at ten pm.  He jumped through a closed window and no trace or sign of him to found.  As he pushed through the curtain we believe he is uninjured.

Sunday, October 24, 20
No one has seen Buddy.  Tomorrow I will help my step son to fix the window.  He gets the glass and I will install it.  Hoping that dog is okay and safe.  Lack of energy is due to unhappy sinuses.  Not sure if it's irritation from stuffy air, allergic reaction, infection or a super mild cold.  Extra sleep and making sure I eat well and take my vitamins.

I went to the club meeting.  I am so glad I did.  My anxiety and fears were groundless.  I was soon at ease and enjoyed getting to know our coach, and the other lady in the club.  One thing he pointed out is that in many clubs the members go and train yet they don't really know each other outside of the club.  His goal is for us to get to know each other beyond the club setting.

I got some advice on making my training sword easier to handle as I was right about that "hand and a half" thing.  Going to be taking sandpaper to that pommel to round the "sharp" edges down so it doesn't bite my hand like it tries to now.  He also recommended where to go and what to purchase for a real training sword.

I learned about the two basic steps used in Armizare.  Then three different dagger strikes, blocking, disarming and using the disarmed weapon back on the attacker.  One thing I liked is how he pointed out openings and other things that could be done in different circumstances.  

I learned more about Fiore too.  That these manuscripts are the equivalent of a college level training and instruction.  They assume you already know the basics.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Buddy check day.  Later today I will be calling friends and family who served in our armed forces.

I have decided that I  need to be more serious about this my training.  I've reached a point where I am ready to ramp things up a bit.  I'm going to get serious about doing reps of the swings I am learning. Two sets of reps at a time is all I can handle at the moment.  I am hoping to repeat these sets twice a day if not three times.  I could probably manage three reps of two of the moves I am practicing.  But after doing two sets of a downward stroke from high striking guard on my left I realize I am very weak with this move.  This probably is where most of the pain from learning that previous move came from.

I am grateful that I've learned how to properly warm and loosen up my sore muscles.  I expect a lot more sore muscles.  Doing a move slowly helps me to analyze the movement and flow of it.  I can concentrate on making sure my grip is right, ditto the coordination of my body.  It definitely helps with control of the movement.  I think being able to do a slow, controlled precise movement helps one to master the movement while building strength.  After mastering the move one can build speed.

I have decided that for now I really need to pay close attention to my left hand and how I'm gripping it.  I am going with the theory that I am not holding my practice sword correctly and need to improve on it.

Another reason to start dancing again.  I need to practice spinning.  I get dizzy too easy.  I think this is something we lose with age because we aren't out doing cartwheels or somersaults or spinning in circles just for fun.

Today has been a rather lazy, laid back one.  Guess I needed a break from the cleaning.  I did get the stuff moved out of the display cabinet I am getting rid of and finished that one last non-Spectrum glass bin.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Tuesday, October 20, 2015  
I've discovered that as long as I start out slow and easy I can practice despite the soreness.   After I had warmed and loosened up those muscles I was able to speed up.  I did not push the speed of this move the other night.

Tuesday was spent hanging out with good friends while I cleaned more glass.  Things are looking so much better in the shop.  I remembered to stretch out and to start my sword practice slow and easy. Started working on a new move and this one was easy to get the hang of.  Need more wrist and forearm strength.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015
I love going home from work at ten thirty/eleven o'clock in the  morning knowing I have put in my eight hours already. Today I got a half an hour of overtime.  Also acquired paper copies of my paychecks  for the past six months.  I remembered to stretch out.  Sword practice is easy to do.  I will practice my short list of moves several times a day.  Every time I put the dogs out to potty I practice. Gives me something to do while they are doing their thing and I don't have to worry about them getting in the way.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Monday, October 19, 2015

I'm surprised, yesterday's entry received eleven page views....

Getting that particular step-swing, sword back up for guard, repeat, etc;  There is a "snap" to the swinging of the sword for it.  I might have it figured out, but I have to build up my forearm muscles for it.  Definite soreness today.  To me it means I am learning and building.  This soreness is also making it difficult to practice properly today.

And on the subject of meditation this came across my Facebook feed.  "Meditation Can Grow Your Brain In Just 8 Weeks".

So I did my stretching and I've practiced some swings.  I've held back today due to the soreness in my forearms.  Hopefully I won't be so sore tomorrow.

Slogged thru more glass cleaning.  Looks like it will take me at least one more day to finish the non-Spectrum glass cabinet bins.  Ugh...I am tired of it.  Still have two dozen bins to go.  Then there is all the Spectrum glass cabinet bins...I am so done with this already.  *sigh*  I will get there.

Actually it is not the snap of the downward stroke, but the stopping the momentum and the direction of the sword and bringing it back up to the high guard position for the next swing that has created the soreness.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Sunday October 18, 2015

"When all is said and done I want to be able to look back and know that I truly did my best."  The most inspiring thing that I have thought and told myself all day.

This is one of those days where I must practice perseverance.  I am one of those types of people who can have trouble "sticking to it" and following through to complete my goals.  My logical mind knows that I must repeat over and over training exercises.  To get that step and sword swing down pat, correctly.  Then to continue to repeat it to build strength, speed, agility and muscle/body memory.  My heartfelt goal is that thru the path of the sword I to learn to apply myself even when I find the chore repetitious and boring.  To transcend that chore into a comforting routine.

So today I "force" myself to keep moving forward, albeit slowly.  To slog on thru the cleaning and chores that need to be done.  And I must say the sword training exercises are a lot more fun than the other stuff I am trying to get done today.

I didn't want to go outside, lay the tarp out in the trailer and then pick up all my pruning mess and load it into the trailer, but I did.  I didn't want to go over into the glass shop, sort, dust and put the books back on their racks, but I did.  I did not desire to pick up that sword and practice today, but I did.  My reward for picking up my mess?  The knowledge and comfort in knowing it is done, ditto the books.  As for sword practice?   My unexpected reward was to attain that  moment when my body worked in harmony and I felt that "click" when the move I was practicing went right-I did it.  Now I can work on the speed of it, my agility, stamina and the burning of it into my muscle/body memory.
This also means that I can soon start on learning the next move.

Friday, October 16, 2015

October 16, 2015

Not much of anything exciting today.  I was up early and back to cleaning in the glass shop.  Another day and I should have all the non-Spectrum glass cabinet bins clean and the contents also.  I am re-organizing these bins as I have a lot of art glass that I want to break down into smaller, more easily sold pieces.

I spent an hour outside this morning pruning all the plants, shrubs and tree branches hanging over the sidewalk.   That was a good  upper body work out.  Tomorrow after work I'll start dragging them to the trailer.

Today I followed my morning routine, stretched out and practiced my swordplay-several times.   I may not mention whether or not I meditated.  I usually do.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

New Book "Modern Bushido"

I ordered a book a week ago and it arrived yesterday.  "Modern Bushido, Samurai Teachings for Modern Times" by Toshishiro Obata.   I read parts one and two.  I tried to read it slowly and carefully-not to race ahead in the manner I am so prone to doing.  For me it was an amazing experience.  I love how he pares everything down to it's bare essence in such a clean elegant manner. I am so glad I purchased it and that it is not an e-book.  I have underlined quite a bit and made notes in it with a pencil.

I was raised to respect books and to handle them with care and I always have.   I started to read it and the urge to note a particular sentence or passage struck.  As I was resisting the urge I recalled several different instances of books like this being notated and commented on as the reader read from them. So I grabbed a pencil and went for it.  This book is for me-to help me become the person I want to be. It amazes me how narrow and focused my world became in order for me to survive it.  I look forward to it guiding and broadening my thinking again.  As an hyper-active (ADD) adult I need this to prevent me from bouncing around willy-nilly and to help me see ALL areas and not miss things.

One of the things that really resonated with me is he talks about how in life one will experience three major changes.  I have felt lately that I am on my third major life change.  I look forward to my evolving and improving life.

"What does it mean to be Samurai?
  To devote yourself utterly to a set of moral principles.
  To seek a stillness of your mind.
  And to master the way of the sword."
                                                          -The Last Samurai (2003)

The above saying is from a meme I saw today on Facebook.  I did not check on and so I hope it is correct.  I have always tried to live my life in a good, honorable manner.  I will honestly say that when I was ill and using I did not always do so.  Addiction tends to take a toll on one's morals not to mention all those other areas.

I did my stretching and am practicing with my training sword twice a day.  Morning and evening.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Wednesday, October 14

Some days I have a great idea for a blog post title and many days I won't.  As this is more of a way to journal the how, where, why and whats of my life journey I refuse to worry about it.

Yesterday I was a very busy gal.  I wanted to take advantage of the nice weather and the fact my shop is closed to get the carpets steam cleaned.  My little dog has turned into quite the whizzer around here.  So I vacuumed them thoroughly, moved a bunch of stuff and spent a good eight hours cleaning the shop carpets.  It felt really good to accomplish so much in one day.  I find it very hard to put in that kind of energy and get that much done in one day.  Getting there though.  I stretched and practiced with my sword too.   Then it was an early night as I had to work this morning.

After putting in my eight hours at work I didn't want to do much cleaning here in the shop today.  But I persevered and cleaned out one top section of a glass cabinet/rack.  Twenty four bins vacuumed, the glass cleaned and put back.  Some bins also had to be washed out.  Broke down and priced a full sheet of glass out of the stash cabinet.  So I can go to bed feeling I did accomplish something today.  Did I mention I put the belly band on my little whizzer today?  Well I did, no whizzing on my clean carpet or my clean cabinets.  I also stretched and practiced my swings today.

Forgot my pedometer this morning so I can't tell you how many miles I put on today.  And I totally forgot about it yesterday.

Reclaiming myself and my energy feels good.  It is so nice to wake up with energy, hope and plans!

Monday, October 12, 2015

Still Recuperating

It's been a couple of days since I've posted.  Time to check in.  I survived a full workday on Saturday and then managed a nap before I had to open up the shop.  I didn't stretch or practice.  I was counting the minutes until I could close and go back to bed. There I snuggled up and watched anime on my laptop.  I didn't have to work Sunday and declared it a "PJ Day".  I spent the day in bed watching stuff on Netflix.  I am grateful I was able to just be lazy and do so.  Once again I did not stretch or practice.

Today is Monday.  I am feeling quite a bit better, but I am still not up to par.  I had plans for more wall scrubbing.  After my morning stretches and a short practice session I realized I am still pretty weak with no stamina and quickly breathless.  So I will be flexible and try to putter around the house and just take it easy for one more day.

I found a meme on Facebook today that I feel accurately describes my new journey.  "She needed a hero in her life so she became one."   I love it.  And with that I am out of words for today.

Friday, October 9, 2015

Head Cold Day One

I thoroughly enjoyed another session with my practice sword last night.  I had to force myself to to put down the sword and quit for the night.  If not I am sure I would of overdone it as I was having so much fun.  I started out with a bit of dancing and then practiced sword strokes.  I'm going to have to set up a playlist of music for dancing.  I always danced to the local rock and roll station in the eighties.  I couldn't really get into it last night with fifties be-bop or celtic rock.

I'm guessing I put on three plus miles yesterday.  I kept doing things that caused my pedometer to reset....

After all the fun with my sword last night I developed a sore throat about an hour later followed swiftly by that raw feeling one's sinus's get when congestion hits.  I took some Umka, my vitamin and relaxed for a while before turning off the laptop and going to sleep.  I am usually asleep by ten anymore.

So today with a good night of sleep and a dose of Elderberry syrup* I was determined to continue with my new good habits.  I followed my morning routine of stretching followed by swordplay practice.  I am determined to clean the top of another display case.  Once it is done I can take it easy if need be for the rest of the day.  I work tomorrow so tonight will be an early one and I want to ready to pass out earlier than usual.  As for my healthy diet all I can say is I will eat my banana today.   I just don't have enough will to be that good today.

*I love Elderberry syrup.  It helps reduce the symptoms and my body to get over it quicker.  I love Umcka, but found that for me the Elderberry syrup works even better.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Stretching With Dogs

Another day started nice and early.  I have once again made it a priority to start my day out with a stretching routine.  I have to admit it it gets interesting as once I am down on the floor or reaching for it my two dogs think this means playtime. While I finished stretching they played a bit with each other.  It was good to see them playing.  This looks as if it will also help my doges to get in better shape too!  The golden girl really needs it.  My little guy isn't overweight like she is but I know he could definitely use some conditioning.  So we all had fun with it this morning.

I am definitely getting addicted to swordplay.  I love how I can notice daily improvement in my skills.  I can definitely feel how it is conditioning my body.  My forearms, upper arms,  mainly triceps, core muscles in my back, shoulder blades and my ribs along with my neck.   I have always had strong legs and that is one area I haven't lost nearly as much muscle unlike my upper body.

I am wielding two handed with the goal of wielding single handed once I am stronger. Ultimately I would love to be a dual wielder.  I also know that this may not work for me.  As I learn swordplay and my strengths and weakness I will learn what works best for me.  Already I am able to do some swings using my right hand that I could not do a week ago.

I was reading today that dance has been tested as the best over all method to keep oneself fit, keep oneself smarter and ward off dementia. As a teen I danced for hours every night in the privacy of my room.  When we moved into a two story house with my bedroom above my parents I had to quit as my dad started going to bed about the time I'd start dancing.  I was extremely physically fit until my early thirties and I really miss it.  I want to start dancing again.  This time I'm going to bring my sword into it.  We'll see if it works or not.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Learning To Use A Sword Just For The Fun Of It

Day 2.  After a good breakfast and stretching out I practiced some basic swings with my practice sword. It is already starting to feel more comfortable to me.  And I think there is a definite feeling of right or not right when I am swinging.  A smoothness to it when it is done correctly.  I am enjoying it more than expected.  I love that feeling when my body moves in harmony.  That moment where one enters the flow and everything moves with precision and grace as the mind and body all work effortlessly together.

Going to sleep tonight with a inspiring thought that tomorrow is another day to work at being the type of person I admire and want to be.

Day 3.   Today I arose, got ready and went to work.  I put in my eight hours.  I wore a pedometer and had five miles on it by the time I clocked out.  I had a good brunch.  After I returned home I stretched out and practiced my swings some more.  I have decided that I need to wake up about 30 minutes earlier so I can stretch and practice before I go to work.  This might take a while.  Trying to go to sleep at six pm can be really hard some nights.

I may be working "graveyard" shifts, but it is really cool to have put in my eight hours and be headed home at 10:30 in the  morning.

I am only practicing for short periods of time and doing it several times a day.  My goal is to build up my muscles slowly.   Yes I am experiencing some mild soreness.  I don't mind mild soreness, but the kind where one can barely move?  No thank you.

Monday, October 5, 2015

The First Day Of Training

"When the student is ready the teacher will appear."  I recently decided to pursue martial arts for a variety of reasons.  As I was talking to a friend and neighbor yesterday he revealed that he taught martial arts in college.  He offered to teach me.  His advice was to start stretching to prepare.  So today I began the start of my new journey-I started a stretching routine. I know that in the future I will be adding to this routine, but for now this is it.  I followed it up by playing around with my training sword.  I practiced about four different swings.  At this point I am looking to condition and strengthen my body.  I need it.  I don't feel like I did that much but, boy oh boy I can feel it.  Some of my muscles feel like jello now.

What has led me here to this, a bit of background and information.   Willow is my alternate ego and has been for many years.  She is what I want to be and the best of me.  What follows are the reasons that have led me to this new journey or should I say stage of my life.

The past twelve months or so I have been doing a lot of hard thinking, meditating and soul searching due to two major events.  The first was the final, split with my ex-husband.  He left me in 2006, I divorced him in 2007 and tried again when he sobered up in 2012.  By this time I knew that it would never work and that we needed to be done.  His finding a new woman and quickly marrying her was actually very hard and earth shattering for me.  It left me with a whole bunch of negative emotions to work through.  I felt worthless, unlovable, redundant and obsolete among other things.  Not to mention I had to grieve the loss of our relationship and the loss of the man I always thought he could be along with realizing I most likely will always be single.  It's taken me a full year to accept that and learn to be comfortable with it.  The second although not nearly as painful event was realizing ten days ago that my baby is all grown up into a responsible man.  My focal role as a parent is over.  I have to step back ad let him go. Parenting just took a back seat role in my life.  Now I needed a new focus.  As a good friend said to me "Now you can follow all those dreams from when you where a girl."  And I was left thinking "What dreams?  They are either broken or completed."  So more searching.  What did I want to do when I was in my teens/twenties?  What did I give up on or forget about?

So here I am-a forty six year old, overweight woman who desires to learn self defense via martial arts and how to swing a sword.    I have always been fascinated with martial arts.  Back in my early twenties I sparred with my husband and my "second husband" who were both hard core Bruce Lee and Jeet Kune Do fanatics.  I loved watching all those movies with Bruce Lee, Chuck Norris, Jean Van  Claude Van Damme and Steven Seagal.   Here I am almost twenty five years later and I am still fascinated with the strong martial arts warriors.  Probably even more.  I don't know how or when I became side tracked from that.  I am past fascinated I am obsessed!  I have always been drawn to and admired strong, confident people most of my adult life.  I have decided that must mean I need to become one.

I have many other reasons than just the fact I am obsessed.  I have raised my children and need a new direction as my parenting role has taken a back seat.  I need exercise as I want my body back.  Sure I want my figure back and more importantly my energy, stamina and strength too.  I really miss that part of me.  Not to mention the fact that physical exercise improves moods.  I miss being a bubbly, bounce off the walls in a good way kind of person.

I am now divorced, single, loving it and planning on staying that way. As I no longer have a man to protect me it is time to learn to protect myself.  Sure I can go buy a handgun, take classes, learn how to shoot it accurately, strip it down, clean it, put it back together and get a concealed carry permit. But I also know that there will be times when I can't carry it or can't get to it.  I know the best defense starts with my brain, after that it is up to my body.  This makes the skills for wielding any weapon secondary for defense in my opinion.

I have come to realize that in order to survive the chaos that has been my life I have become a "warrior" in many ways already.  I have a very high standard for myself and others-my morals, ethics, beliefs, etc;  reflect that.   As I research martial arts I have come to see that I am already following the warrior's code.  It is time to round myself out by learning the physical skills I need and this will also continue to train me mentally to be the person I desire to be.

Also I have always had a very strong "survivalist" streak and consider myself a "renaissance" woman If push comes to shove I have a wide range and variety of skills and I know I can survive.  But these skills will not defend me from others.

I have spent a lot of my life trying to get it together, keep it together only to have shit happen and start over.  I've been through a lot, learned a lot and lost a lot.  It is my hope that learning martial arts and the mind frame that goes with it will be that which I need to be the person I want.  I want to keep a clean house, a nice yard, pay my bills and be financially secure.  I also want to be able to take care of myself physically and mentally.  I want all the good things, parts and habits that I had before becoming a meth head back.  I am so effing sick and tired of knowing what I need to do and not being able to cross over to the actuality of doing it.   I have been at this standstill for way to long and way to many years.  Every time since 2006 that I have finally started to live again something has come along and taken that away from me.  Events that put me into a sedentary lifestyle.  Whether it was wham-bam you now live in a hospital with your daughter or a slow spiral into depression due to physical exhaustion.  I have lost the will to take care of myself, my home, my yard, my finances etc; at least three times in my life and trying to get it back this time has been almost impossible.  I HATE IT!!!!