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Bob Haynes




Location: Mount Perry, Ohio
Joined: 06 Apr 2008
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PostPosted: Sat 02 May, 2015 1:24 pm    Post subject: Hard pell shock absorption?         Reply with quote

Hi, I'm looking to start pell training, and have found a presentable wooden fence post on my new country property that the previous owner left behind, and decided for the sake of saving funds to just use it as a pell.
I have it planted solid and stands about as tall as I at about 6 feet in height and is nearly oblong in shape, moderately thick.

Now I need to think of a practice weapon, what are some good options for absorbing shock? Would foam practice weapons be a good for being able to really lay in it, so to speak, without worrying much about battering my joints?

I've thought about things like cushioning the pell itself, but I'm wondering if going with a training weapon alone would be a cheaper and simpler alternative?


Last edited by Bob Haynes on Sat 02 May, 2015 9:46 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Ben Coomer




Location: Colorado
Joined: 06 Sep 2011

Posts: 184

PostPosted: Sat 02 May, 2015 5:11 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I've had good luck with pool noodles, a wrap of duck cloth, then another wrap of heavy duct tape.

Twenty bucks and its good for years of heavy practice.
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Craig Peters




PostPosted: Sat 02 May, 2015 5:57 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Bob,

You don't need to beat the tar out of your pell. It's more useful for you to practice cutting against various targets rather than flailing away on a pell. Besides damaging yourself, you can also damage your sword; even a good sword will eventually suffer stress and shock from you striking a pell with a lot of power.

In my view, a pell has one main purpose: helping you to develop proper range when fighting. If you try striking at an imaginary, visualized target, you'll find it's very difficult to have an accurate and consistent sense of distance. This can especially distort the techniques you practice that would be from a bind in real life. The pell gives you a much clearer sense of distance to your target.

There isn't much value in really whaling on your pell. It will not teach you how to strike with power any more effectively than cutting against more robust cutting targets like coconuts or carpet tubing. Besides, much more valuable in your training is to develop a high degree of control and precision with each and every action you perform. A powerful cut that tracks unevenly through the air (poor control/precision) will not perform as well as one that has less power but excellent edge alignment and all of the sword's motion committed to following the same downward line of striking (assuming a descending cut).

I recommend that you make no more than moderate contact with a pell. If you want to get good at cutting, do it by cutting against resilient cutting mediums that won't destroy your sword- or you. ;-)


Last edited by Craig Peters on Sat 02 May, 2015 9:44 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Philip Dyer





Joined: 25 Jul 2013

Posts: 493

PostPosted: Sat 02 May, 2015 7:29 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Craig Peters wrote:
Bob,

You don't need to beat the tar out of your pell. It's more useful for you to practice cutting against various targets rather than flailing away on a pell. Besides damaging yourself, you can also damage your sword; even a good sword will eventually suffer stress and shock from you striking a pell with a lot of power.

In my view, a pell has one main purpose: helping you to develop proper range when fighting. If you try striking at an imaginary, visulized target, you'll find it's very difficult to have an accurate and consistent sense of distance. This can especially distort the techniques you practice that would be from a bind in real life. The pell gives you a much clearer sense of distance to your target.

There isn't much value in really whaling on your pell. It will not teach you how to strike with power any more effectively than cutting against more robust cutting targets like coconuts or carpet tubing. Besides, much more valuable in your training is to develop a high degree of control and precision with each and every action you perform. A powerful cut that tracks unevenly through the air (poor control/precision) will not perform as well as one that has less power but excellent edge alignment and all of the sword's motion committed to following the same downward line of striking (assuming a descending cut).

I recommend that you make no more than moderate contact with a pell. If you want to get good at cutting, do it by cutting against resilient cutting mediums that won't destroy your sword- or you. ;-)

^Seconded, it is actually pretty easy to hit really hard (I'm a sprimp and I can break cinderblocks with a stick*it is quite another to be able to swing multiple spots in quick sucession understand range and hit a moving, activitely defending target without exposing yourself to getting the crap beat one of you. The pell is for building muscle memory, accuracy, sequencing and range understanding this should done with the weapon you are planning on using or something heavier, not lighter, most of the swing could be very slow, controlled and methodical, so you body can feel it as you doing the swing/ thrust, swinging really hard and fast whereas really satifyinh, sadly does encode any muscle memory. you should probably also invest in a good mirror so you watch yourself as you practicing, sorta see yourself through your opponents eyes.
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Bob Haynes




Location: Mount Perry, Ohio
Joined: 06 Apr 2008
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PostPosted: Sat 02 May, 2015 10:27 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thank you guys very much for the input. I understand what you guys are saying and is appreciated. However, I should have been clearer.

I'm not looking to be a gold medal medieval fencer, so to speak. I don't spar or look to get all that serious with this stuff. When I strike I do go for precision and velocity with a healthy dose of force for physical conditioning.

What I am thinking to use is something like a foam baton, would you guys think that would be a good alternative?


Ben Coomer wrote:
I've had good luck with pool noodles, a wrap of duck cloth, then another wrap of heavy duct tape.

Twenty bucks and its good for years of heavy practice.


Hmm, interesting and nice. Years of heavy practice? Say aren't they foam as well? I'm wondering how well a foam weapon would hold up against a wooden pell.
Because I've had one of those foam nunchuckus before, and it wasn't long before they started to crack and flake from mere contact with my hands from frequent solo air drills from catching them.


Last edited by Bob Haynes on Thu 07 May, 2015 2:21 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Craig Peters




PostPosted: Sun 03 May, 2015 2:37 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Bob Haynes wrote:


I'm not looking to be a gold medal medival fencer, so to speak. When I strike I do go for precision and velocity with a healthy dose of force.



I see it a bit differently. It's less a matter of becoming a gold medal medieval fencer, and more a matter of developing really solid core technique.

You might look at striking with a sword similar to any sport requiring precision. Take golf, for example. If you were starting to learn to play, you could focus on hitting the ball with as much power as you can muster. The problem is that your technique is going to be poor. You might be able to drive the ball a long way, but your accuracy and consistency will be terrible. If you want to even learn golf at all, you will be much more effective if you work at developing precision and consistency, and completely ignore how much power you have at first. Otherwise, you won't even be a good beginner golfer.

I strike with a lot more power than many people you will see in the HEMA community. It has nothing to do with strength; there are many people in the community that are far stronger than me. Rather, it has to do with the bio-mechanics of how I strike. But I realized a long time ago that if I didn't have good control, my technique would be sloppy and worthless. Nevermind things like actions from the bind- without good precision, even the most basic cuts you can strike will be poor.

I really advocate cutting against more resilient test cutting targets (the aforementioned things like coconuts, carpet tubing, moderately thick bamboo stalks, etc.). Even quite recently it was embarrassing for me to see some of my powerful blows only hack into the husk of several coconuts because my edge alignment was not ideal and I had not kept all of my motion tracking downward along a single line. You'll learn a lot more about actually cutting if you keep practicing against resilient targets than you will in three years of solid pell practice (yes, that figure comes from personal experience). If you haven't spent a significant amount of time cutting with sharps against robust targets, the strikes you will practice against the pell will be teaching you to hit with a sword, rather than hewing with it. If you haven't learned to really cut well with a sword, can you even meaningfully say you've developed the most basic aspect of sword fighting?
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Craig Peters




PostPosted: Sun 03 May, 2015 2:55 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

There's another point worth making in regards to striking with force and power. So often when I have been training, I want to begin striking a particular cut with speed and power after having practiced it extensively. Yet time and time again I have realized that I needed to slow down, and spend more time practicing the strike/action with much more control and precision. To a large extent, my current ability and technique are the product of the number of times I have foreced myself to slow down, again, and develop even better precision and form.

Regardless of whether you're aiming to reach this level of ability or not, striking with precision and control is necessary even to develop the basics of the art- and this cannot be done by striking with force against a pell.
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Bob Haynes




Location: Mount Perry, Ohio
Joined: 06 Apr 2008
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PostPosted: Sun 03 May, 2015 9:28 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I agree wholeheartedly and commend such passion for the arts, and will note this for a medieval-fantasy book I've been working on, as well as when I'm working the pell.
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Matthew P. Adams




Location: Cape Cod, MA
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PostPosted: Sun 03 May, 2015 1:33 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I agree with all these guys. Strike and stop just before touching the pell, that's a good practice to get into. Put some marks on your pell, and strike to, and stop before, hitting those marks. Also, hand a tennis ball and thrust through it, another good drill.

One of the first things learned in fencing is defending against a "Villano" or villager. IE someone not trained. A big telegraphed swing with overcommitment is very easy to see coming and remedy. I imagine it's the same in KDF.

"We do not rise to the level of our expectations. We fall to the level of our training" Archilochus, Greek Soldier, Poet, c. 650 BC
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Jean Thibodeau




Location: Montreal,Quebec,Canada
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PostPosted: Sun 03 May, 2015 10:40 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

For accuracy one thing I found to be fun was using a steel ring about 2" in diameter and hanging it by a rope at about head or chest height and from various guards trying to hit the ring, once the ring is in motion keep on hitting it from whatever guard seems best after a previous swing and keep hitting the ring over and over again with as few misses as possible: This develops accuracy and also changing and choosing guard from which to make the cuts at the ring.


( Note: I also wrapped the steel ring with black electrical tape to not damage my sword's edges although I wasn't using a sharp, and I was using a training blunt. With a sharp I might want to use a wooden ring to not damage the edges ).

Most cuts happen when transitioning from guard to guard in any case, so one gets to practice accuracy with the edge and also practice going from guard to guard in unpredictable ways since the ring can bounce and turn in surprising directions forcing one to chose those guards with little time for conscious thought.

When you can hit the ring when it's in motion, and keep it in motion, half a dozen times in a row 80% of the time your control of your swords edges and tip is starting to be effective.

Also, it's fun to do. Wink Big Grin Cool

Trying to thrust the point of the sword into the small 2" metal ring is a different exercise that is even more difficult than hitting with the last few inches of the edges of the sword.

You can easily give up your freedom. You have to fight hard to get it back!
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Harry Marinakis




Location: Kingdom of Æthelmearc
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PostPosted: Wed 06 May, 2015 5:03 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Bob Haynes wrote:
When I strike I do go for precision and velocity with a healthy dose of force.

Pell work should be slow, deliberate and gentle. Pell work is for developing muscle memory and technique, not for beating the hell out of a pole.

I wrap my pell in carpet pad scraps and duct tape.
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Jimi Edmonds




Location: Dunedin, New Zealand
Joined: 25 May 2009
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PostPosted: Wed 06 May, 2015 12:07 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

A point there from Craig about slowing down your action while in practice, I do this a lot and did this a lot on the pell.
Often you will get new people, you show them the action/strike etc. even when you go slow - they in turn go 'whoopa!' and try to do it in a quick smart fashion thus disregarding what you have just said and shown them.

You get the people that think if you go slow it doesn't work certain muscles and is no good for practice (well in the words of Master Ken "This is Bull@!$*").

When using the pell if I wish to go hard I'll use a big stick, when using my sword I'll go hard but stop before my sword takes the impact which in turn helps with control, also my pell is wrapped in old carpet and moving blanket to add in padding.
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Bob Haynes




Location: Mount Perry, Ohio
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PostPosted: Wed 06 May, 2015 1:46 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I've been enjoying the comments and learning about pell training and will adjust. I just ask no more condescending comments about 'not needing to beat the hell out of it.'

I know you guys are just trying to make a point and drive it home, but its already been made long ago, and am now can't shake the impression that I'm being judged and talked down to as though I'm an overgrown child or something.
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Craig Peters




PostPosted: Thu 07 May, 2015 2:27 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Bob,

I appreciate that you have awareness of what's going on for you and for having the courage to share how you're feeling. Got it.
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Matthew P. Adams




Location: Cape Cod, MA
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PostPosted: Thu 07 May, 2015 7:15 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Agreed. No condescension intended.
"We do not rise to the level of our expectations. We fall to the level of our training" Archilochus, Greek Soldier, Poet, c. 650 BC
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Frank Anthony Cannarella




Location: Medford, Oregon
Joined: 02 Sep 2013

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PostPosted: Tue 12 May, 2015 10:15 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

One thing I learned about using the pell, was that its use is to build speed and control. With speed-- comes power, with control--accuracy. There's more to it of course, but I found it to be a simple way to remember. The goal should be to stop the swing as close as possible but not to touch the pell its self. An eighth to a quarter(this is a bit of an exaggeration but, if you can't get a balance of speed and control here, then keep at it, you'll improve) inch or so. On average, for every ten swings, the sword should lightly tap the pell five times or so(four is ok, six is ok). If, for instance, you only tap it three times out ten, you are focused too much on control and need to work on your speed. If you hit seven or more times, you need to slow down and work on your control. I liked to go through each of the six cuts (eight if the pell has arms), ten swings per each of the cuts. The more you work at it, the faster and more controlled your swings become.

The pell is only one training tool and shouldn't be the only thing you practice with. The 'ring-on-a-string' mentioned earlier is great for accuracy. And of course, you need to practice cutting as well. Using the pell--combined with other practice tools, is a great way to improve your sword play.

And, of course, there is not one way to work with anything. This is just what I've found to make the most sense and work for me.

Populus stultus viris indignis honores saepe dat.
-Quintus Horatius Flaccus
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Bob Haynes




Location: Mount Perry, Ohio
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PostPosted: Tue 12 May, 2015 8:51 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hmm, alright I've been thinking about what you guys have said, and now I'm thinking about getting a Cold Steel polypropylene trainer, I just need to think of what for the time being. I need to watch my money right now anyways.

I already have a red oak staff, as well as a Chinese hollowed iron staff, but I don't want to ding them up. I also have a Hanwei Mercenary sword, and Cold Steel Warrior katana, as well as some wall hangers, and I'd like to keep all of them unscathed.

I think until I'm ready to purchase something for pell work, I'll just start doing non-contact work with one of my staffs, probably my iron.

I might start off with a hand-and-a-half- http://www.coldsteel.com/Product/92BKHNH/HAND...SWORD.aspx
and later get their buckler- http://www.coldsteel.com/Product/92BKPB/MEDIEVAL_BUCKLER.aspx

My thinking is I'll start with just the sword due its versatility, and take advantage of its two-hand capability.
This is just my current thinking though, I am open to thoughts and suggestions.
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Craig Peters




PostPosted: Wed 13 May, 2015 2:32 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Personally, I almost never do solo training, including pell work, with anything except for a sharp sword (by "sharp sword" I mean a sword with a thin edge like those of the Albion Next Generation or Museum lines, for instance, rather than a sword that has recently been sharpened). The reason for this is that I find any other type of sword really distorts your training, especially with edge alignment and the sword's handling/dynamics. A thicker-than-normal or rounded edge, even on a steel sword like the various practice blunt swords that exist on the market, already creates significant distortion. When you switch over to other materials like wood or polypropylene for a practice sword, this distortion becomes magnified in other ways. Swords with a proper thin edge and proper balance are so much nicer in hand when you practice, and give you the opportunity to truly learn to cut properly. Doing practice cutting against tougher media, as I mentioned in an earlier post, is really critical to learning how to cut with a sword- and you obviously cannot do this with anything except a sharp.

Although this thread is focused on pell training, it's important to note that any type of sword except for one with a reasonably thin edge will bounce when you try to bind with a training partner, likewise messing with your technique. Since binding is fundamental to the long sword, it's pretty much impossible to learn to do it if your swords are bouncing as wood wasters, plastic swords, and blunt steel swords do.

One attitude that helped me was to realize that my sharp swords were meant to be used, dinged, scuffed, and yes, even have the edges gouged, as part of practice. I need to emphasize that this does not mean being simply uncaring or careless with your sword and having a fatalistic attitude of "if damage is going to happen, it's going to happen". On the contrary, I try to avoid having damage occur, and I still don't like it when it does. However, realizing that edge damage is part of the process of learning to use a sword well helps you to accept it when it happens and have the courage to use your swords as part of your growth.

Think of it this way: the vast majority of people on this planet who buy swords either have them hanging on display somewhere, stored in boxes, or lying around, and they never even learn to really use their swords. At least if you use your sword for solo work and practice cutting, you can have the satisfaction of knowing "I'm actually using my swords and learning from them."

It's a little bit hard to tell how thick the edges are on your Hanwei Mercenary from the photos online, but given your limited budget right now, it's definitely the sword I would be using to practice against the pell.
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Bob Haynes




Location: Mount Perry, Ohio
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PostPosted: Wed 13 May, 2015 5:31 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Well now, if you didn't enlighten me... I'm considering using my longsword then. I'd say that made a freighter load of sense about not pampering one's blades too much.
About the same philosophy as 'If you don't screw up every now and again, you ain't trying.' as in 'Don't be careless and carefree, but don't worry yourself if you mess up.' I can see that sort of thing in what you said about having some marks on your blade, how it would only give it character.

My brother once said something similar about skateboards when we were teens, that if you can't trust the durability of your board, then you aren't being serious about and won't go anywhere in learning.

I'm still going to mull it over though. Because once damage no matter how big or small, its still done. But I might just might go for listening to you though.

Well when it comes to real swordsmanship, I'm sure as hell going to heed that nice bit of combat physics you described for the fictional book I'm at least chipping away at.
Hmm, which is likewise also having me consider finding a sparring partner after all, but I don't know about going that far.
I can sure as hell appreciate the logic behind it, mind you.
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Craig Peters




PostPosted: Wed 13 May, 2015 7:15 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

The other thing to consider is that just because your edge gets nicked or even gouged does not mean that the damage has to be permanent. You can, of course, leave it. However, you can also re-sharpen your sword and remove the damage that way. You can read more about it here: http://www.myArmoury.com/talk/viewtopic.php?t=1466

What I like about the idea of using the Mercenary is that you don't even need to spend any funds. You can put the $60 or so of the polypropylene sword (plus shipping) towards something else, which might even be saving up for a steel buckler, a good single handed sword, or another long sword.

By the way, one thing I should mention: if you're using thin bladed (“sharp” swords) to practice with a sparring partner, you do need to use a lot of care. Doing practice work in the form of a structured drill is safer, obviously, but you still must be careful. Guy Windsor has an article about using them here: https://chivalricfighting.wordpress.com/2014/02/18/why-you-should-train-with-sharp-swords-and-how-to-go-about-it-without-killing-anyone/. For another perspective that allows you to spar with a bit more intensity, see Hector A.'s first post here, about halfway down the page: http://myArmoury.com/talk/viewtopic.php?t=154...p;start=50

Maybe you should put the $60 towards a good gambeson!
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