Monday, March 18, 2013

Somewhat Cathartic Ramblings

My most common response when someone inquires about a skill-set of mine is:

"Kinda sorta"

I have always been a Jack-of-All-Trades personality. It probably started with Boy Scouts. When I turned 18 I had 30 some-odd merit badges, ranging in everything from emergency lifesaving to weaving baskets out of reeds. The idea behind merit badges is to promote the maxim of "Be Prepared" - this is done through shallow to mid knowledge across a broad spectrum of skill-sets. It also is there to give boys a teaser for a skill-set, allowing them to delve deeper on their own. Somehow I guess I never out-grew the broad-range knowledge set.

Can I juggle? Kinda sorta (I can do 3 balls at a time for a short period)
Can I do card tricks? Kinda sorta (I know one that I can do off-hand)
Can I play the harmonica? Kinda sorta
Can I fight with a rapier? Kinda sorta

This "Kinda sorta" has, unfortunately, become a mantra in my life - to the point that my wife never believes I'm actually interested in something unless I am still interested in it 3 months from now. To be fair I come by this honestly, my father is the same way. This self-assessment as a Jack-of-All-Trades is what I believe causes me so much discomfort over the idea of beginning to learn a new sword art. Because I know myself, and my tendencies, I fear that it will be very easy for me to then "give-up" on Armizare and embrace this new art, only to find something else new and shiny in a few months or years. Most of the people in WMA that I've talked to about this do not seem to share my concerns. They have what I honestly consider the healthier mindset - that all the arts are worth studying and there should be no worry about learning more. I love learning. I mean, I LOVE learning new arts. I am just trying my best to stay dedicated.

The other cause of my "Kinda sorta" response is who I compare myself to. So the above question about skill with a rapier - can I fight with a rapier? Yes, but not as well as Sean Hayes, Puck Curtis, Tom Leoni, Steve Reich, Bill Grandy, John Sullins, Pamela Muir, and many, many others. Therefore my response is "kinda sorta". Can I draw? Sure, but not nearly as well as my friends who are professional artists. "Kinda sorta". I need to be more willing to focus on myself and gauge my skills based on how I did yesterday vs. how well other people are doing.

Some of these feelings also come, I think, from ego. I am not really an ambitious person. In most areas of life I want to be one of the best, but I don't need to be the best. For some reason, WMA is different. It's not that I need to be the best, but I desire to become one of those names that gets connected with a certain style, manuscript, or weapon.

"Oh, you're interested in ________? You should talk to Alex."

I think I have somewhat succeeded in this as most folks in WMA know of my love for the poleaxe. So what if I decide in a few years that I no longer really want to study the pollaxe?

At the end of all this is the last bit that bounces up in my mind - that it is stupid of me to worry about this stuff. I should just just up and train.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Unarmoured Poleaxe

It's been awhile since I posted anything here but I just have a quick poll type question:

How likely do you think it was for poleaxes to have been used while unarmoured? That is, in gambeson, gloves, etc. No real armour to speak of.

I know that we see some illustrations of unarmoured fighters in Talhoffer (I think) but I've always been told that these were simply the artist not wanting to have to draw all that freaking armour in all the images.

I personally don't see why you couldn't use an axe while unarmoured - I wouldn't consider it the most ideal weapon for unarmoured combat - then again I do enjoy smashing things so that could just be it.

Anyways, what are your thoughts on this?