So it’s my second day of the SCA challenge. Last night was…enlightening, but not in terms of my actual fighting. Again I’ll start with the bad, no real pell work, no real footwork practice, no lifting, no cardio, I fought below my skill level too much, I was unable to really put together good defense with a buckler, I got time using my axe. There wasn’t too much good in terms of my fighting. I fought two newer fighters and did as expected against them. I did try to pick my shots a bit more and work on specific combos, but in general there was little in my performance to be happy about. Still today I’m positive about the practice.
It was just me and two newer fighters, neither with more than 2 years of fighting and most of that done in loaner armor. One of them has been a semi regular at this practice for almost 2 years, sometimes disappearing for months, sometimes showing up every week. He also left early most practices and I doubt he practices at home. His lack of effort is compounded with a lack of natural talent and aggression. For most the time he’s been fighting he’s been too timid to commit to attacks, putting no power into his shots and barely holding up a guard. He would stagger in and out with tiny steps and no balance. Despite months of us giving him advice he never seemed to improve nor even put in the work to improve. The most frustrating part is that he never seemed to recognize the ability gap between him and the better fighters at practice(which I do not count myself as one). It got to the point where I stopped trying to work with him and stopped trying to give him chances in the list to learn to throw. I would come in, take the first shot that I could to kill him and move on. I hoped that realizing how easy it was for a middling fighter to beat him soundly(and often painfully) he would start putting in the effort.
Last night I spent much of the night fighting him like that. I did occasionally back off a bit to give him a chance, so he could begin to see what was hitting him and what openings were available but I tended to get frustrated by his lack of progress. In general I tried to test myself with goals of taking specific body parts in specific order or to using a specific shot to get the kill. I admit I did not do this out of a desire to even the odds or help my opponent learn, but as a way of keeping the fight interesting. That was small of me and I regret it. I was very aware of the skill gap and was uninspired by the lack of challenge he posed. I don’t say this to make me sound like a bad ass. I know there are a great number of fighters who can treat me the same way I did him. I simply am relating how I felt fighting, giving an honest account of the night, so I can make my point.
As I reviewed the night to write this blog, I realized something. The boy has come a long way. He was far from closing the gap between himself and me, but he was delivering power in most shots. He was still stumbling as he stepped, but much less and while still timid, he would actually come out from turtling behind his shield to mount some offense. His guard was still quite porous but I had to move or set him up to actually land a shot now. Most encouraging of all, after killing him a good 7 times in a row with the same move, a half step to my left with a fake thrust, followed by an offside to his head, I showed him a few ways to deal with it, including a retreating pass step away from the shot. Later in the night I killed him with that same move, than set up to throw the same one, and he was able to pass away. Normally these small improvements wouldn’t get me excited, they would just be expected, but with someone who has been struggling so long, it feels so good to see him take steps forward. I’m completely reinvested in his growth as a fighter and it feels good.