Nothing quite like a day of sword-fighting to brighten your week.
Fairly high up on my list of hobbies and interests is stage combat, the art of making violence on stage look real while keeping it safe. In many ways, this aspect of my life is very much like running. Both involve high amounts of energy and, when done incorrectly, potentially high amounts of pain. Both require lots of training in order to excel. And in both, it matters greatly who you go to for information.
A big difference, for me anyway, is that no one has ever asked to record my running.
I spent my Friday at Villa Antonia just west of Austin, a huge mansion that really has no business being on a hillside in texas. Think "Three Amigos," but luxurious. I was hired as part of a group to create a silent film-era fight sequence. A local theatre will be performing "Singin' in the Rain" this spring, and the main character is a silent film swordsman, so they needed "clips" of his movies. This meant five fighters (and the star of the show) went out to a luxury villa, got dressed in Three Musketeers-esque costumes, and swung some iron at one another all day.
What made this particularly special for me was the group of which I was a part. To the best of our knowledge, there are only four actor combatants certified by SAFD (the Society of American Fight Directors) in the city of Austin. Those four people were the other four in our group. And then there was me. It felt great to be among an elite group, and though I'm nowhere near as qualified as the other four, the fact that I'm allowed to play with them was a huge boost to my confidence.
In order to improve, you've got to spend time with your betters. It's true onstage, and it's true on the road. I'm definitely considering joining some sort of training group for just this reason. On my own, I simply don't have the drive to push myself (while keeping safety in mind). If I'm trying to run fast, I almost always overreach early and end up paying for it late. Perhaps spending time with runners who can identify a better pace will help me (eventually) reach my goals.
When it comes down to it, the time you spend chasing the Great Ones often isn't about surpassing them, but about improving yourself. Like a staged sword fight, you spend hours following them and learning from them, and though you won't actually defeat them, everyone looks really good in the end.
And if they get uppity, you can stab them.
Wait, that may not always be true...