weapons training progressions

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    weapons training progressions

    What would be the best way to progress weapons training say you the 1000 cuts workout would you just add more strikes use a heavier weapon try to do it faster or try to do it one arm at a time?

    #2
    Traditionally, it's a combination of just more cuts, trying to do the same number of cuts faster, shouting louder (unlikely to matter in Darebee-land but I can shake your windows), and also working on individual items like ensuring your hands are correctly aligned or your footwork is better or your hips are more open...

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      #3
      acarpenter89 I am not sure if this helps, and I don't do 1000 cuts very often, but I typically work some practice on tricks into it (like this). Though I am not very coordinated with the sword and can't do most of them, but it does add in more elements of coordination and agility to the workout, which is often lacking in most workouts.

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        #4
        Some very interesting responses to the question raised by acarpenter89. We were the first fitness website to bring in weapons as part of fitness training and the decision was not an easy one to make. Everything Darebee does is about accessibility and ease of use and the introduction of weapons makes things more expensive (even if it's by a little) and more complicated. In the end we decided for it for several reasons which I shall explain here and I will then add a little more information about the benefits of weapons training and the 'progression' question for the benefit of readers of this thread.

        First, the main reason why we decided it is worth introducing weapons in exercise routines: Despite the fact that having to buy or make a prop and then start to get familiar with handling it introduced 'barriers' to fitness we felt that the mental focus that goes into holding such a prop produces a sufficiently strong motivational responses (in psychological parlance this is called the "weapon pull") that the benefits outweighed the difficulties. It makes it more likely for someone to get excited about training and then exercise more, plus there is the unquestionable benefits in visualization that are key to some of our RPG Programmes and workouts. So, we went with it. Second, the introduction of weapons in fitness training added an element that required better coordination, better conceptualization of physical routines and a deeper understanding of spatial modelling in the participants' brain, all of which we saw as benefits. We are committed to helping everyone be the best version of themselves inside and out. That means the cognitive aspect of the individual is an element we take fully into account and devise exercise routines and programmes that help it develop further. (In a small digression our current expansion of the diet and nutrition sections of the site is entirely in keeping with our focus on the "inside and out" aspects of fitness).

        Now, to tackle the 'progression' question really I need to explain a little about the science of blunt and edged weapons and for that I need physics. In their majority all swords, cudgels, axes, etc are of roughly the same weight category that is between 2 and 5 lbs (900g - 2.26kg for our metric friends). That includes short bladed weapons like the Roman gladius that was at its lightest just 900g (1.984lbs though with proper wrapping at the grip it would likely make 2lbs) and 1.1kg at its heaviest (2.24lbs) and long bladed monsters like the Scottish broadsword that was 1.3kg (3lbs) at its lightest and 2.2kg (5lbs) at its heaviest. To put it in perspective consider that the Katana that is considerably longer than the Roman gladius weighs roughly the same (900g at its lightest and 1.4kg at its heaviest (translating it roughly to between 2 and 3lbs).

        Without going into a lot of detail the story of a weapon's weight repeats as we examine axes and cudgels and so on. The reason for this remarkable homogeneity across cultures and historical times lies purely in physics. A weapon represents an external weight that must be powered by the body in order to function (this is an important point and I will return to it again). As such it can't be so light that is negligible and it can't be so heavy that it cannot be wielded with efficiency and speed time and again. Because we are all powered more or less by the same muscles and neurochemical processes that control them, the optimum weight of a wielded weapon is roughly that (unless you're Kratos of course but he ain't real ).

        This leads us to usage and progression which is the question that started this thread. You cannot, reasonably, learn to use a heavier weapon (like a 10lbs sword for instance) because, again, of physics and the biomechanical properties of the human body. In essence a weapon is a borrowed hard edge. It transforms the reach of our limbs by extending it a little and adds the hardness of the material we are using as a weapon (i.e. wood, stone, metal, etc) to make us more dangerous. What this means is that the true weapon is not the weapon we use. It is the human body and, even more precisely, the human mind. In order to make a weapon dangerous we need to learn to transfer our body weight behind it at exactly the point of impact. We need to learn to position ourselves correctly, visualize attack angles, control our breathing so that it is in tune with our movements and learn to use our feet so that we move in some kind of coordinated flow that has 'attack" and "recovery" processes in it. During the attack phase we place our body weight behind the hardened edge of our weapon and during the recovery phase we recover balance, speed and position so that we can repeat the movement if necessary or flow into another one (plus it is handy when it comes to defense, otherwise we'd all have just one single attack move we can perform only once).

        To do all this the brain has to map the extension of our body in line with the weapon (which is why we say a weapon is only an extension of us) and to do so it uses complex mental modelling (called mentalizing in neuroscientific research) that allows us to understand how to best move our body and the weapon it holds through different environments and in different situations - and consider, here, just how complex this process becomes when we have a situation like a sword fight where we also need to predict in advance some of the moves of our opponent so we can defend against them or use them to lure him into a position we can attack.

        Having said all this, in order to train to use a weapon we can sometimes use heavier weapons and practice specific moves. The Romans, famously, practiced using two Gladii in order to develop the physical strength and endurance required of them in battle. That is the purely physical aspect of weapons training. The mental one requires repetitions at different speeds until the weapon stops feeling like a foreign object in our hands. That's the point where the brain has developed the complex neural pathways that allow all the mapping to happen and the weapon to feel like a true extension of our body.

        Kanary mentioned the need to include a shout if necessary. Again, the use of shouting to enhance physical performance is something that has been studied and its benefits documented. Shouting (as well as timed breathing) help create a rhythm to the complex flow of movements required with a weapon that helps better regulate our energy output. There is even a thesis on the use of "Ki" to increase physical strength.

        So, my long-winded, explanation to the seemingly simple question of progression is that when a weapon feels so natural to use that you can use it with the same precision and dexterity as you use your own hand, then it's time to up the ante and either change weapons or double up on it (like using two swords like Miyamoto Musashi did) and start learning anew. The path to that point however is one of perseverance, lots and lots of repetitions and they produce the progression necessary. I hope this helps.

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          #5
          When I did Aikido weapons (4 years) we practiced cuts with a bokken but had to get the right bokken sound and cut technique. We also always made a vocal sound with each cut.

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            #6
            I am happy to see the many responses, currently I am not ready to progress I am doing 250 reps of the 1000 cuts workout and slowly working up, however I am using a 5lb splitting maul which is a type of axe(maybe i should change from warrior to barbarian lol) and doing it very slow and controlled as i figure power should come as technique improves, and doing it in addition to the darebee program I am currently on, I can say since ive started though my shoulders dont hurt like they used too anyway thanks for all the feedback

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              #7
              Nice post that Damer writes, and I have not thought about some of these. I want to add that in kendo one of the reasons why you are made to do 1000 cut is that it forces your body to use the right muscles in the right way to continue when you has become really exhausted but have to keep going.

              You can imagine that there are always guys that come in and think their arms are strong and they can do a 1000 without fatigue, but in kendo you never swing the shinai with power generated from your upper arms, which are completely irrelevant. So in that case it's not about finishing 1000 cuts, but in other situations we also use the many reps for building up endurance, in a good way.

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                #8
                acarpenter89 I once used the jumpe rope challenge for progressing up to 1000. I made it till day 29 and then things happened so I stopped. It's a pretty good one.

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