How’s That Self-Care?

Swords, Pt. 2

Last week’s post is feeding right into this one, though it may not seem like it should. Lemme ‘splain. The holidays last year were more than a little disruptive here at Caer Dave. There was travel (so much travel). Mrs. Dave returned from overseas. Wee and Wee-er Dave were both out of, and then back into school. Sleep was disrupted, routines were broken, schedules feel by the wayside. The usual, really. I rolled with life by dropping my weight training work, and it showed. Not so much in the mass department, so much as the mood, attitude, and focus that consistent training improve. Also, the writing. The writing dropped off. Kinda. More below.

I haven’t written much of actual what-you’d-call fiction for the last few months. More travel, changing schedules, shifting routines, and suchlike have been interrupty there. What I have been … blessed with are three new projects. I’ve detailed the Great Pulp Short Novel Experiment a bit, and touched on the two separate (!) epic fantasies. I’m going to include my UF series in the GPSNE by adding material to Baptism By Fire to bring it to actual novel status. And then there’s the space opera I have yet to finish (sigh), and a humorous milSF project I’m working up that I think of as Prince Roger Meets Stripes, as a rough, working direction.


While I’m thrilled beyond measure (he says, with teeth gritted) to have so many great stories upon which to work, I’m not actually getting work accomplished. Not a great thing for a working writer. And I think it has to do with self-care. I don’t know how many of you this applies to, as well, but when I slack on getting enough sleep, my writing slips. When I’m not eating well (or eating the wrong stuff; see also, holidays) my writing slips. When my routines fall apart, writing slips. And most importantly to today’s post (and tying into last week’s), when my physical training stops, my writing slips.

So I’ve been putting in some time designing programming training for, well, probably not this week. You see, the denizens of Caer Dave hopped a flight across the country for Adopted Big Little Brother Dave’s wedding. I’d give you a report on how that went, but I’m writing this from the past so I don’t have to do it while traveling, or freakin’ exhausted. Anyway: training. I’m going to ease back into weights (there’s nothing like going hard the first day back, and not being able to move for a week from the DOMS), but I’m also going to introduce several other modalities into my regimen. I’m going to get up early(er?) and ruck for a mile. Hopefully every day. On off days, I’m going to use a TRX for some calisthenics, and I’ll be pushing the prowler for cardio. And I’ll be using mace and club bells for upper body joint strength and mobility. I’m going to be using some gymnastics principles to work on full body mobility. Finally, I’m going to be injecting a mess of HEMA drills.

The last is my focus, today. I’m going to build a pell for practicing binds. I’ll be getting a copy of Joachim Meyer’s 1570 treatise on German martial combat, as well as Richard Marsden’s work on European martial arts in general. Eventually, I hope to put together a solid research library on western swordsmanship (maybe even branching into eastern traditions), but that’s for the future.

As for the actual training, I’m going to be mining a lot of the YouTube videos for what I’m after. I’ll be practicing footwork (a lot) and practicing cuts maintaining good form. From the little HEMA work I did *mumblty* years ago, I’m going to work up a sweat, and build muscular endurance. Which is what I’m after. The closest actual HEMA study groups are barely 30 miles away. As the crow flies. One is a good hour drive, and the other requires a ferry ride. I have hopes of visits, but regular attendance is contraindicated, at this point. The last time I dipped my toes into HEMA, the study group fell apart when our work schedules precluded regular meetings. I’m wary of founding another group when my own experience is so limited.

Why are you telling us your proposed training regimen, Dave? Well, this is going to feed into next week’s post. I propose you get your hands on a sword, and see what it’s like to swing it around in the way our ancestors did. If you’re writing swordsmanship into your works as I am, it’s only going to help. And I’ll be touching on that in future installments. I’ll see you all back here, same sword time, same sword channel.


  1. Self care is very important.

    The mental side of managing projects and getting important work done is very important.

    As for me and swords, I’m pretty sure I don’t have what it takes. If I got into anything, it would be spear or club. (I’m not anywhere near strong enough to impress with a club.)

  2. And exercise seems to be the first thing to go and the last thing to get on-board… except then it doesn’t. (Says she who’s fitbit doesn’t often break 5K steps in a day.)

    I’ve noticed, though, whenever I read an account of a highly productive person they do some vigorous physical *something* for an hour or more a day. Sometimes quite a bit more than an hour a day. And I think, how do they have time? Where do they find it? Certainly they’re every bit as busy as I am, commute and all, so where do they fit it in?

    Maybe they don’t *fit it in* at all. I think that they don’t. I’m becoming convinced that they fit everything else in around that bit of physical “self-care”.

    So maybe I need to do that too. To *start* with putting that part of my day together, to use it to start providing structure and routine to the rest. Not “fitting in” later once I get other things in order, but exercise first to provide order.

    It’s hard, really hard, to put my mind in a place of trust that somehow the time or other things will make itself known, but I’m working on it because even if I don’t feel it, it seems as if objective evidence proves that it’s true.

    1. Maybe they don’t *fit it in* at all. I think that they don’t. I’m becoming convinced that they fit everything else in around that bit of physical “self-care”.

      I like Kris Rusch’s list of priorities:
      1) family
      2) health (exercise)
      3) writing

      I follow a regular gym schedule myself. M-W-F water walk/swim for 45 minutes. Tu-Th lift weights plus core exercises for 45 minutes. I have found that once one is 50+ years of age, de-conditioning happens fast and regaining it takes a lot of work over a lot of time. Better by far to not lose ground—exercise regularly and consistently.

      I’ve learned this hard way when illness and injury took me out of exercise for months at a time. I have not yet regained all the ground that I lost.

    2. When I weightlift 2-3 times a week, I have a lot more energy to get the other things done. When I’m off for a month, I don’t – and it’s not just the illness or injury that caused me to be off, it’s also the lack of that extra get-up-and-go that lets me roust my weary butt out of the chair and fold laundry for 5 minutes instead of, oh, clicking the same 6-8 sites online insearch of updated feeds, fresh news, or new comments to respond to.

      (A habit I am prone to. Every now and then I turn the internet off on my computer, and discover for myself just how much ritual de lo habitual I have conditioned myself into – clicking away as surely as some people say “um” or couch potatoes channel surf instead of contemplating non-tv options.)

      Kris Rusch, as J.M. Ney-Grimm noted above (thanks for pulling the quote!), really has the right of it – even for those of us who aren’t that far down. I take care fo Peter, take care of myself, and then fit everything else in around that. Some months that means I get almost nothing done beyond taking care of Peter and myself, some months it means I can get tons done. Is life; is not smooth.

  3. My first shoulder dislocation came from a parry gone wrong. I went one way, my buddy Dave (no relation to the article writer), his sword, my sword, and my shoulder went a different direction. I gave up rapier in the round after the fourth dislocation. (No, they weren’t all sword-related. The second was sound & lighting stagebuilding, the third was water polo…)

    So these days I do strengthlifting. Much safer! Much less aerobic! Just as technical! Less thrill of victory, agony of… well, no, not really. I’m only competing against myself and my limitations, not against someone else… but nobody knows your weaknesses like your own self!

  4. I found momentum to be a huge deal – particularly if it is an accident (e.g. you miss what you were trying to hit). My sword is not that heavy to lift, but [should there be a comma here?] once it gets moving, it’s quite difficult to stop it without hitting something.

    My yard is much too small – and in the middle of a city – to shoot in, but pells would be possible.

    Previous, previous summer I spent several months moving my belly to my shoulders. It’s all back on my belly again. Now that’s it’s warming up, I’ve started walking home from work (only two miles).

    I hate exercising, but I do like the effects.

    I’m becoming convinced that they fit everything else in around that bit of physical “self-care”.
    Very much so. All the buff people at the gym have “go to gym” as their priority.

  5. I was active in HEMA for a bit way back when (or perhaps, more accurately, waaaaay back when). It definitely helped my writing as far as understanding the ebb and flow of a sword fight goes – plus it was fun to research and learn about.

    I also have a nice little single-hand sword (an Oakeshott Type XII, to be specific, that may or may not have earned the name Ceiling Biter).

    1. Hmm, Ceiling Biter, Wallhammer, Curtain Cutter, This Sword is Made for One Who is Toe Bane…

        1. Before I clicked on the link, I still had some hopes for Hiltslayer, That Which Shall Never Properly Be Fitted With a Grip.

          When I first saw the cutting target, I began to dread. Clue to swinger. That hesitation should have hinted that you reconsider. You want to place the target so that either a) you cut all the way or b) you slow down before you get where you don’t want to be. Given the curve of the blade, and the relative location of the watermelon, neither applied. Rethink things.

          Anyway, Objectsmasher, the reaper of valuables.

        2. My first thought, “on a GLASS table?!?!”. Looks as if I was right.

          I did something similar to a pumpkin on a concrete post. I believe I mentioned my momentum surprise earlier. This was also “pumpkins are that soft?” surprise. Left marks in the concrete; sword is fine.

  6. I have fenced with foil and sabre, but I KNOW that a REAL actual sword/weapon will be heavier and a whole different kettle of cuttlefish when it comes to wielding it.

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