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Sander Marechal




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PostPosted: Mon 21 Dec, 2009 4:26 am    Post subject: Training exercises         Reply with quote

I have been doing weekly WMA training for a little over a month now. I have noticed that my condition and strength are not up to par. I am always quite sore for a day or two after the training. Especially my shoulders and forearms. I would like to do exercises at home to improve this, but I am wondering what do to?

What's important for WMA? Upper body strength? Endurance?

Perhaps you can recommend some exercises I can do at home to improve this? I don't have any training equipment at home (e.g. weights) and I would prefer to spend my money on basic protective gear. So I would like some exercise tips that don't require much in terms or equipment. I do have a sword so perhaps there are some solo drills I can do?

Alternatively, any idea how people in medieval times trained? I assume not much, because slogging around in mail and training with swords daily would probably keep them in good shape, as opposed to me sitting behind a desk programming computers all day long :-)
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Christopher H





Joined: 06 Mar 2008

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PostPosted: Mon 21 Dec, 2009 4:47 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hi Sander,
(I'm a physio by trade so just a little safety message to take care with advice you get on the net and to obviously work within your own abilities!)
In the absence of equipment don't despair! The old standbys of pushups and pullups and their variations can be very useful. Some of the more advanced ones are with one arm or performing a clap at the top of the movement and would be challenging for most people and require some working up to.

With regards to WMA, some of the instructors here (and indeed your own instructor) may be better equipped to answer that, but it is always useful to target your own weak points and it seems like you've identified the upper body... so it's not a bad idea to get to work there!
If you're just getting started on conditioning exercises a sensible way to start off is seeing what you can do and work from there, then specialise later into endurance, strength, power, etc.
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Martin Murd




Location: Pärnu, Estonia
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PostPosted: Mon 21 Dec, 2009 4:49 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Take a piece of iron pipe or a heavier branch of wood and start drilling (30minutes to an hour) daily or at least 3 times per week. If you are using a shield, carry that as well. Solo exercises at continued pace will add quite a bit to your endurance as well as to shoulder and wrist strenght. Mainly, because the "tools" are unbalanced and therefore add additional tension. At least, i started that way. I found, that heavy sticks of wood gave me better grip, stronger wrist and shoulder plus a better stamina. And it is mainly endurance and strenght training.


Edit: I forgot to add, take it as any other training. With caution.

Merlon
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Zac Evans




Location: London
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PostPosted: Mon 21 Dec, 2009 5:26 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Shotput is something you see in period manuals, as well as running, pushups and handstands. This is quite a fun video that shows some stuff:
http://www.youtube.com/user/astragand#p/u/9/7pwHK2n44OA
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Sander Marechal




Location: The Netherlands
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PostPosted: Mon 21 Dec, 2009 6:10 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thanks all .

Quote:
take care with advice you get on the net and to obviously work within your own abilities


Thanks, I will. In the past I have trained and played volleyball for over 10 years, so I am aware of proper training procedures, warming up, stretching, etcetera. I still play volleyball weekly but I haven't properly trained for years. These days it's just a bunch of people coming together to play a few games for fun, not serious training or competition play like I used to do.

Quote:
Take a piece of iron pipe or a heavier branch of wood and start drilling (30minutes to an hour) daily or at least 3 times per week.


Could you recommend some specific drills? The video that Zac posted shows the man doing some interesting solo drills with a sword, but I don't know any of such drills (yet). As a WMA beginner, the focus during my training so far has been on footwork, poses/guards and the individual master hews. We have had a few specific drill routines but they were all paired, not individual.
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Jessica Finley
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PostPosted: Mon 21 Dec, 2009 6:25 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Solo drills are simply one half of a paired drill. This is the easiest way to come up with something to do alone.

Additionally, if you have a pell, you can practice hitting things.

You also should be able to ask for suggestions of ways to train alone from your instructors. Depending on what specifically you are studying (German Longsword, Silver, Italian Rapier.... something else?), there are a few solo drills that have been developed and shared freely on youtube.

Jessica

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Etienne Hamel




Location: Granby (QC) canada
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PostPosted: Mon 21 Dec, 2009 6:46 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

i think if your doing some training with an iron bar as said earlier, you should do basics movements like vertical strike horizontal and diagonal. i think 20 to 50 each would be good for me. if you can do more then do it but don't overdo yourself.
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Vincent Le Chevalier




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PostPosted: Mon 21 Dec, 2009 6:58 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

For shoulders and forearms, cutting drills are good. The most basic would be to choose one starting guard position and one cut, then do that repeatedly. Work on stopping the sword on target, this is perhaps the most demanding move for the arms and shoulders, it's a very good skill to have and you can do that without hitting anything. Then you can chain more cuts together. One important thing to focus on is keeping proper form even when you start to get tired, and this is perhaps more difficult to check alone.

Personally I prefer doing that kind of things with the proper tool for the job (i.e. the weapon you're learning) rather than an heavier version. You just have to get more repetitions but at least you get more and more familiar with your sword's behaviour, instead of becoming familiar with that of an iron pipe.

In my JSA studies we regularly warmed up with something like one hundred strikes that way, sometimes more, sometimes less. The goal is to be a bit tired but not completely burnt (there was the training proper after that Wink ). Don't hurt yourself! And don't forget that your group training time is already bringing you some muscular reinforcement, that's why your limbs are sore...

Regards,

--
Vincent
Ensis Sub Caelo
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Bill Grandy
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PostPosted: Mon 21 Dec, 2009 7:09 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

There are some good suggestions above. Light jogging is an excellent way to develop better stamina. I'm not talking about marathon training; Just a few minutes a day. I find it should be almost a mandatory warm-up to do enough jogging to get the heart rate up, at minimum.

Push-ups are another great conditioner, as well as any core body warm-ups. People underestimate the core muscles quite a bit. Its much easier on the body to perform throws and falls if you have developed better abdominal strength. I don't necessarily mean to develop six-pack abs or anything, but you should do some sit ups, crunches, and general ab exercises just a little bit a day. You can google ab excercises and find a million good ones.

I *love* using medicine balls for conditioning drills. They can be combined with any other type of conditioning. For example, while jogging, take a medicine ball and hold it at the chest, then lift it straight above the head, then bring it behind your head, then lilft up again, and then back to the chest, and so on. Or hold it while doing stretches, or while working on the core muscles, etc.

Working out needn't be super strenuous if your main goal is general fitness. I think you'll find that even just ten minutes of some light excercises witll start making a difference. Obviously the more, the better, but start out light, and most importantly, keep it up on a regular basis.

Virginia Academy of Fencing Historical Swordsmanship
--German Longsword & Italian Rapier in the DC Area--


"A despondent heart will always be defeated regardless of skill."
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Sander Marechal




Location: The Netherlands
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PostPosted: Mon 21 Dec, 2009 7:09 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Quote:
Depending on what specifically you are studying (German Longsword, Silver, Italian Rapier.... something else?), there are a few solo drills that have been developed and shared freely on youtube.


Our WMA group studies a wide range of topics, but everyone begins with German Longsword training. I'll see what I can find on Youtube.

Quote:
Work on stopping the sword on target, this is perhaps the most demanding move for the arms and shoulders, it's a very good skill to have and you can do that without hitting anything.


Yes, I noticed :-) During my last training I used a steel blunt instead of a thick plastic waster. It takes a lot more force to stop the steel sword than the plastic waster (air resistance, among other causes I guess).

Great advice all. Thanks :-)
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Bill Grandy
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PostPosted: Mon 21 Dec, 2009 7:13 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Vincent Le Chevalier wrote:
Personally I prefer doing that kind of things with the proper tool for the job (i.e. the weapon you're learning) rather than an heavier version. You just have to get more repetitions but at least you get more and more familiar with your sword's behaviour, instead of becoming familiar with that of an iron pipe.


I think beginners should, yes. I think its very important early on to be used to the weapon. But after a certain point, I think drills with a heavier substitute are an excellent conditioner, provided you still are relying on your main sword for normal training.

Quote:
In my JSA studies we regularly warmed up with something like one hundred strikes that way, sometimes more, sometimes less. The goal is to be a bit tired but not completely burnt (there was the training proper after that Wink ). Don't hurt yourself! And don't forget that your group training time is already bringing you some muscular reinforcement, that's why your limbs are sore...


Very good advice. In fact, I recommend doing this daily if you have time.

Virginia Academy of Fencing Historical Swordsmanship
--German Longsword & Italian Rapier in the DC Area--


"A despondent heart will always be defeated regardless of skill."
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Timo Nieminen




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PostPosted: Mon 21 Dec, 2009 12:38 pm    Post subject: Re: Training exercises         Reply with quote

Sander Marechal wrote:
I have been doing weekly WMA training for a little over a month now. I have noticed that my condition and strength are not up to par. I am always quite sore for a day or two after the training. Especially my shoulders and forearms.


Sounds normal. Sounds good; that means it's helping your fitness. Training 2-3 times per week can be much better for fitness than once per week (your WMA session would count as 1, so 1 or 2 sessions by yourself would be good).

Your shoulders will be sore from holding a weight you're not used to in you hands, out from your body. Just practice with sword in hand, and you will get used to it. You don't need to do anything fast, slow work or even almost-static work will build this strength. Forearms could be just from the same, or you're gripping too tightly. Hold the sword, don't strangle it.

But if you notice it mainly in your shoulders and forearms, perhaps you're standing too narrow, too high. OK, it's a style thing, so this might not be appropriate for your WMA, but I'd say this means that your feet should be further apart, you should be lower in your stances. In the first month, your whole body should hurt, not just your shoulders/arms!

Solo drills, with stance appropriately low. Slow work is fine. Do some with longsword in 1 hand only. (Both hands!). Do some drills mirror-image (i.e., left-handed) - this is to make you think about what you're doing right-handed, not to make you ambidextrous (but if you ever do polarms, this can be important).

As others have already said, drills, pell, conditioning exercises, all good.

Sander Marechal wrote:

What's important for WMA? Upper body strength? Endurance?


The first task is the fitness to get through training without pain. Beyond that depends on what you want out of it. You need to be able to hold 1.5 kg at arms length for a training session, and swing it. You need to be able to stand appropriately low in your stance for a training session. Your training session is longer than any likely single bout - if you can get through your training session, that is enough fitness. Enough, but more is better, and you might want more. It isn't battle-fit, and isn't armour-and-shield fit.
[/i]
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Sander Marechal




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PostPosted: Mon 21 Dec, 2009 3:38 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Quote:
But if you notice it mainly in your shoulders and forearms, perhaps you're standing too narrow, too high. OK, it's a style thing, so this might not be appropriate for your WMA, but I'd say this means that your feet should be further apart, you should be lower in your stances. In the first month, your whole body should hurt, not just your shoulders/arms!


I try to keep my feet apart at least as far as my shoulders are wide and my knees bend. That's about 60 cm (24") apart and my knees bend at approx. 30 degrees. Is that too narrow? Another possibility is that my lower body is simply better trained. I still play volleyball which involves a lot of quick feet movement, running around and jumping. I also ride my bike regularly. Not for sport but just to get to the supermarket, pub, friends, etcetera.

Thanks for all the advice so far. I'm aiming to do about 20-30 minutes of exercises every day. I started today with push-ups, crunches and some slow sword work. Just repeating mittelhau and unterhau cuts. My ceiling isn't high enough to practice oberhau in the house or anything involving a Vom Tag, and the weather has been terrible so I couldn't go out in the garden. I hope the weather clears though :-)
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Timo Nieminen




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PostPosted: Mon 21 Dec, 2009 4:07 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Sander Marechal wrote:
Quote:
But if you notice it mainly in your shoulders and forearms, perhaps you're standing too narrow, too high. OK, it's a style thing, so this might not be appropriate for your WMA, but I'd say this means that your feet should be further apart, you should be lower in your stances. In the first month, your whole body should hurt, not just your shoulders/arms!


I try to keep my feet apart at least as far as my shoulders are wide and my knees bend. That's about 60 cm (24") apart and my knees bend at approx. 30 degrees. Is that too narrow? Another possibility is that my lower body is simply better trained. I still play volleyball which involves a lot of quick feet movement, running around and jumping. I also ride my bike regularly. Not for sport but just to get to the supermarket, pub, friends, etcetera.


In my opinion, you should do at least some of your training in a lower, wider stance. I think about 24" apart is intermediate, neither narrow or wide (from ball of foot to ball of foot; if you can fit a 60cm stick between your feet without touching, or just touching them, that's moderately wide). So it might be OK, but I think it is good to practice wider as well. Two questions:

1. Can you move your body forwards or backwards significantly, by shifting your weight between front and back foot, without stepping?

2. Can you avoid being hit in the legs by stepping back with the front leg (while counter-cutting to the arms)? Too narrow, and you'll still get hit in your original back leg.

If "yes" to both, then your stances are wide enough.

That's my opinion, but you're not learning from me, so the opinion of your WMA instructor is what you want.

It's true that legs are used to carrying a lot of weight, but going wider/deeper means that some muscles are working much harder than they normally do; they're the ones that will hurt.
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Hadrian Coffin
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Location: Oxford, England
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PostPosted: Mon 21 Dec, 2009 7:41 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hello,
The suggestions above are brilliant, I would advise doing one thing though. If you are practicing a cut, say a hundred times, be sure with your instructor that you can do the cut properly. People say, "practice makes perfect"... it doesn't, perfect practice makes perfect. If you practice a movement a hundred times every day and you are doing it wrong, you are only re-enforcing a bad habit. Harder than learning is unlearning a learned habit.
Two books I would advise buying are The Swordsman's Companion by Guy Windsor (it is aimed at Italian Longsword, but much of the advise about when and how to train, and even some of the exercises, can be applied to other systems as well), and The Little Book of Pushups also by Guy Windsor (also available in ebook form for free, so you can preview before you buy). The Little Book of Pushups pushup book can be purchased at http://www.lulu.com/content/paperback-book/th...ps/7843196 and downloaded at http://www.lulu.com/product/download/the-litt...ps/6102671. The Swordsman's Companion can be purchased at http://www.chivalrybookshelf.com/titles/sword...panion.htm
Cheers,
Hadrian

Historia magistra vitae est
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Sander Marechal




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PostPosted: Tue 22 Dec, 2009 12:28 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Timo Nieminen wrote:
I think about 24" apart is intermediate, neither narrow or wide (from ball of foot to ball of foot; if you can fit a 60cm stick between your feet without touching, or just touching them, that's moderately wide).


I meant the latter. I can fit a 60 cm stick between my feet.

Quote:
If "yes" to both, then your stances are wide enough.


It's yes to both.

Quote:
That's my opinion, but you're not learning from me, so the opinion of your WMA instructor is what you want.


True :-) Unfortunately by WMA group has a holiday break and doesn't start again until January 8. One of the reasons I want to do exercises at home is because I don't want to sit still for three weeks.

@Hadrian: Good book suggestions, thanks.
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Sam Gordon Campbell




Location: Australia.
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PostPosted: Tue 22 Dec, 2009 6:14 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Well, having a maille hauberk I put that on first; Then I for one do the various moves (Silver in this case) slowly first up (like tai chi I guess) after some light half-hearted streaches of course, then at 'normal' speed, then I move to the pell and lay-on as it were! Laughing Out Loud
And after that, I just do the same thing, but viceversa as a cool down.
Here in Australia they've got ad campaigns saying to at least 30mins of light work a day, but that's probably because we're the fattest nation per capita Wink



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