Sixth Lesson: Muscleless

“The only thing clouding my mood when we do the ending salute is the fact that my upper back started hurting again.” I already felt hints of the pain during the cutting drill: especially the posta longa guard and the cuts that go through it seem to trigger it. I still hesitate to ask for help, but in the end me and my father (who has had similar issues) go to talk to the teacher.

It turns out I’ve got a back that is too S-shaped. Because of this, my upper back is not supported very well and the muscles there have to do a lot of work when lifting a sword. I’ve never really done much physical exercise before sword fighting, so those muscles tire very quickly and start hurting. How do I fix this? I’m told to start with one simple back exercise. The purpose of it is to increase the flexibility of my lower back and hopefully in time to straighten my back a little. First, I have to lie down. There’s a pretty big gap between the floor and my lower back which shouldn’t be there. The exercise is to simply close the gap and keep it closed for a certain amount of time. I’ve tried to draw a picture of it.

I can also do a variation of this exercise, which is to stand with my back against a door frame and attempt to close the gap there (a lot more difficult).

As we go through this exercise the teacher notices something funny about the way I get up from the ground. He asks me to lie down again and try to lift my head. Ouch. Turns out, it’s not an easy task for me. I can do it, sure, but it requires quite a bit of effort. Apparently my neck muscles are close to nonexistent, so neck strenght exercises are added to my list of homework.

Phew! That was actually difficult to write about. As silly as it is, I still feel a bit embarrassed thinking back to this. I knew from the beginning that my body wasn’t in great shape, but that doesn’t make it any more pleasant to face these facts. But knowing is half the battle, right? I leave the salle feeling awful but determined to start doing the exercises.

Anyway, let’s recap what we learned this week:

    There are three different points from which an attack (or another action) can begin: the hands, the hips or the legs.
    The final step of the first drill.
    A recap of all the steps of the first sword fighting drill.

Things I’ve Learned

  • Ways to tweak the strength and speed of an attack or defence (and why you should always go for the quickest option, even if it’s the weakest)
  • The full first drill
  • Why my back hurts
  • How I can try to fix it

Things I find difficult

  • The self-confidence rules
  • Lifting my head when laying down
  • Really understanding the different attack starting points in practice


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