Spring is almost here! And with that comes the start of a glorious new season. No need to deny it, you’ve looked forward to the first practice of the season all winter. It’s been a part of your daydreams, the anticipation has kept you up at night, and it’s made the inevitable sleep-deprivation bags under your eyes the next morning absolutely worth it. You can’t wait to hold a sword in your hand again, to make new friends, and then stab them in the head (safely, of course). Trust me, I know the feeling, and I know you’re just itching to get back at it.
So, in the months since the end of last season, what have you been up to? Have you been practicing? Have you participated in the beautifully crafted Winter Warrior Challenge (at least in part)? Have you perhaps looked into attending TerraSylvae events besides fencing practice? All of those things are excellent, and if you’ve been doing those, good for you! If you haven’t, and have been working on hibernating, not to mention getting through the holidays, work, school, family stuff or whatever, don’t despair! There’s no reason to think, “Oh no! Winter slipped away from me, and I didn’t practice at all! I’m going to embarrass myself at practice, which will ruin my social standing and self esteem, leading to an inescapable chain of events which will make me an utter failure and quite possibly end the world! I’m just a cotton headed ninnymuggins…”
Like I said, worry not, friend. In the Order of the Rose, we pride ourselves on being non-judgemental, helpful, ready to reach out, and befriend you, teaching you as an equal. If you haven’t practiced much during the winter, and you feel you’ve gotten a little rusty, don’t worry, it happens, and we’ll be right there to get you back into the swing of things (pun absolutely intended).
Excellent puns aside, let’s get you ready for the new season. You may have decided to forego the Winter Warrior Challenge, which is fine, you can absolutely try it next year, and I would encourage you to do so. But, for now, let’s focus on giving you a couple ways to shake off that accumulated winter dust/rust. I’m not going to work you super hard, and I can’t force you to do anything, but just try a couple of things to get your mind and body back into shape for the start of the season (it’s the first Friday of March, in case you haven’t checked the Calendar).
Mild Body Exertion
- Do some stretches. No, for real, you’re gonna want to. If you don’t feel like braving the sub-zero temperatures yet and going for a run, at least get your body into a level of flexibility so that when you first start lunging and stabbing at your opponent (safely), you won’t pull something. When you get up in the morning, after meals, and right before you head to bed, take a few minutes, and do some quality stretches. You’ll thank yourself (and me) later. Here are some stretches you can try, along with some simple exercises. The guy in this video also explains, better than I can, WHY this is important. Here it is:
- Practice hand movements. Muscle memory is a key tool in fencing, and it’s part of what will make you a great sword fighter. I personally would recommend that you practice the movements of the 8 BASIC BLOCKS. If you haven’t practiced blocking during the winter, trust me, you’re going to want to. The joints could use a little grease, and while it’ll help you defend yourself better by practicing and help you be safer, it’ll help you ACT safer, making sure your opponent doesn’t have to worry for themselves either. You don’t need to be in a full fencing stance, though that is preferred- just work on the wrist and hand movements, and repeat them over and over, until you feel comfortable with them again.
- Practice breathing techniques. “But Lorcan,” you say, “I can breathe just fine.” I’m sure you can. Nevertheless, I think it would help immensely if you were to try some breathing exercises. By learning to better regulate your breathing, there are benefits that would be great for you. Firstly, breathing exercises are proven to reduce stress and anxiety. Secondly, it can help you better regulate breathing when you’ve been working out, and are exhausted. Worried about facing Veron and his fancy new shield? Take a few minutes to breathe. Finding yourself winded after a particularly energetic Bear Pit? Take a breather, count as you inhale and exhale, and let your body put your lungs back into control. You’ll perform better, recover quicker, and not hurt your throat from hyperventilating.
Mild Mind Exertion
I think this is just as important, if not more so than exerting your body. Mind over muscle, young grasshopper, mind over muscle. Try to keep yourself in shape, treat yourself well, and all that. But, if your mind is healthy first, everything else will follow. If you have a good attitude, it doesn’t matter how many times you are (safely) stabbed in the head; you’ll be right back at it with a smile on your face. If your mind is sharp, you’ll learn quicker, be more patient, easier to teach, and deadlier with a blade, guaranteed. Do things to keep your spirits up, and get you in the mood for fencing and the study of swordplay. You will automatically have a better experience with this season, and, frankly, you’ll feel like a boss. Here are some things you can do to get your mind in the right place.
- Make yourself a fencing playlist. Whether it’s your favorite movie or video game soundtrack, your favorite band, or just some good instrumental work, snag all the music you can, and make a specific Fencing Playlist for yourself. I have one, and I call it my Battle Music. I have music like Two Steps from He** (edited for family friendliness), Fall Out Boy, Bon Jovi, Audiomachine, the Undertale Soundtrack, and groups like that. I listen to it on the way to practice, and I’ll tell you what, I’m ready to smite the armies of my foes with holy vengeance when I arrive.
- Play board games. I’m not kidding, PLAY GAMES. Especially if they’re guessing/deduction games. From Clue, to Risk, to Chess, and how many others, play games with people. They’ll get your mind into a place where you’re constantly planning, solving problems, and getting into other people’s heads. See how that mindset might be useful in a duel? If you’re competitive, like me, you’re playing board games to win, and crush your friends and loved ones without mercy. But you can’t do that unless you’re smart about it. Sharpen your mind, get into the habit of solving problems, learn how to see things from an opponent’s perspective. With practice, you’ll know where your opponent will strike next before they do.
- Go on the TerraSylvae website! Yes, this is a selfish request, maybe. Yeah, you’re already on the site, or you wouldn’t be reading this. Congrats! Keep coming back! There is a TON of really cool stuff here. Go to the Library; there’s some really cool information and background knowledge about TerraSylvae. There’s Bardic songs, artwork, photos, lore, all those answers to your burning questions. Check out the Lore page, and read some really cool stories written by your friends, or maybe even consider writing something yourself. Visit the Forums page, and find some tips and tricks on how better to train yourself, or chat about movies, or just goof around with your friends. There is a lot of fun stuff on this website, and it will get you excited to participate in this upcoming season.
I’ve been rambling for a good long while now. I said this would be a MILD exertion, didn’t I? Well, here’s the tl;dr version. There is so much stuff to be excited about for this upcoming season. We are really excited to see you back in Woodland, and we want to continue our adventures with you. Winter is a long period to get through, and you’ve probably gathered a little dust on your shoulders, and your skills have gotten a tad rusty. There’s still some time before the season starts, so get your body all limbered up and ready to stab your friends (safely). Practice your movements, stretch, and wake yourself up. Sharpen your mind, and get excited! You have a lot to look forward to, so get ready for it, and make the most of this season. You’re gonna do great.
See you on the end of my sword.