So, yesterday, I had a pretty good day getting stabbity in the park Mostly sparring, a little teaching (and I'm still really chuffed with how the guys look- they won't embarrass themselves in competition and may even get past the first round)
This morning I'm totting up the aches and pains. There's the usual slight stiffness and there's the core stuff- this core workout is one of the reasons why women have more of an advantage than they think. All the yoga, pilates and suchlike focuses on muscles they need to use when sparring... there's lots of reasons why duelling is for girls, including the historical precedents but I digress.
Bruises can be seen in several ways. Badges of honour, killing blows (even in non-vital areas- as the cut can be enough to open defences to a fatal attack), and... how I'm starting to see them... error messages.
I've got 3 bruises. Unfortunately (or fortunately) they're not spectacular, but they feel distinct and will help me explain the concept.
The thing with a good fight is that you "turn off" your brain. There's nothing more important than the fact that inattention will hurt. Your world is, basically, reduced to your immediate surroundings. All your processing power is focused on making sure that you don't get hit and exchanges are pretty rapid. This means that video and external eyes are very, very useful training aids allowing you to see how you went wrong.
Seeing where you went wrong is pretty easy.
I have an isolated bruise just above my left kidney. It's a long line but fairly "soft" as bruises go. With sharps it would probably have been a fatal blow. Eventually. I possibly would have been able to carry on and "win" the duel by dying last. I know where I got this and I vaguely remember what I was doing. But it's a bit hazy- one of my weak spots is grappling and that level of close range, it's one of the reasons I prefer a dagger in my off hand. I think I went in to choke up the cut.. but no idea.
I have a bruise on the outside of my left thigh. Nice, clear line (which means a well controlled hit, fairly decent blade alignment), would have made fighting difficult.. I may have got one or two more hits in but I'd be fighting lame.
I have a bruise on the inside of my right thigh. This is probably the most dangerous one. It's close to a major artery and could have nicked it. Resulting in a high pressure fountain of blood that could have me dead within moments. It's a wider bruise- so blade alignment was off and that clumsiness on my opponent's part is the difference between corpse and combatant.
You can't really tell what happened with the kidney bruise. It could have been a lucky shot, it could be a regular failing of mine, it could have been an inspired adaptation by my opponent... it could be anything in between. It's only one hit.
The thigh shots make more sense when looked at together. In a standard guard position, the bruises align, more or less, and come from the same angle of cut. What really distinguishes the two targets is a matter of range. Outside thigh is from the opponent being quite close- voiding wasn't an option and I'd have to charge forward. Inside would have been from me not voiding properly.
However, both are due to crap defence on that line. I know I need to do a lot more dagger drilling, and now everyone is up to a level where they can work on their own, I can start building in the body mechanics that I've been teaching to others. Stronger dagger work probably won't help too much, considering that I need to be defending below the waist... but it's worth it for the deterrent and extra chances.
Anyhow. Bruises are just like computer error messages. In isolation they just tell you that you've done "something" wrong. But if you find clusters of errors and obvious patterns that shows a distinct bug in your technique that needs to be analysed and addressed.