This weekend was the first of the second part of the three part Stage Combat class that I am taking at Freehold. A few people didn’t continue on with us so we are now a small group of 6. It is unfortunate that they had to drop out mostly for financial reasons, but we will benefit from the smaller class size.
I had missed the last class of part one, so it was review for the others, but not for me. We worked on some rapier and dagger, which I like a lot. It was hard having the month off, I was fuzzy on the numbering system that we use for targets. OK, is Number 4 a thrust to the sword hand side of the chest, or the non-sword hand side of the chest?
We mostly did the rapier and dagger, but the last 40 minutes or so of class we did some unarmed stuff, which mostly consisted of reviewing forward rolls and learning backward rolls. Now I missed the last class, so I didn’t realize they had moved onto rolling, and it made me very glad that I already knew how to roll.
It is funny, but in Aikido (at least at our school) we take a long time to train people how to roll. We break it down into phases starting from the ground up. We have some pre-rolling exercises that we do to get people comfortable. Some people pick up rolling right away, and some people (and this was me) take a very long time to get it. For a lot of people rolling is scary (as it was and sometimes still is for me).
But I have gone to other martial arts schools, and now in Stage Combat, and when the time to roll comes up, it is about a half a minute speech of put your arms like this in a wheel, and then…roll. A few demo rolls follow, and then people just throw themselves into it. A literal crash course in rolling.
I remember the first time this happened to me. I was so glad that I could roll. Some people got it, but some were crashing pretty hard. I have done quite a bit of crashing myself, and I know that it hurts. If not right then, then the next day. And for those people like myself who find it scary, it might be such a turn off that they don’t come back. I think we lose a fair number of people in the first three weeks of Aikido class, because of this.
So now in Stage Combat, I found myself once again saying, boy am I glad I already know how to roll. My problem stemmed from the fact that I roll too smoothly. In Aikido you want to get down and up off the floor in as smooth and continuous a motion. However in Stage Combat you want to hit the floor and make it look like it hurts.
Of course you learn how to do this safely, but I kept finding myself rolling and then starting to come up. I had to really concentrate to learn how to flop on the ground. Still I prefer that problem to the problem the others had of cranking their necks by going over the wrong way.
We incorporated the rolling into a little scenario where we karate chopped someone on the back of the neck, and then “flipped” them by the arm. Classic Avengers stuff. The people being “thrown” actually throw themselves. You are just doing the arm movement, they put in the momentum, thereby controlling the move and making it safe for them.
Now I throw people pretty regularly for real, so when it was my turn, I walked up, did my chop, grabbed the arm and “threw”. There was some laughter behind me, and one person said, wow, your so matter of fact about it. Well, what can I say, I’ve had a lot of practice.
Just a note to those people who read my blog. I have started another blog with some other friends tracking our attempts to lose that flabby midsection that we all have. There are three of us blogging on there. If you are interested in that sort of thing, you can check it out at:
I have to warn you though. There are “before” pictures of us in bathing suits, and it ain’t pretty.