Swordsman & Geek

A Midsummer Night’s Blog

Fourteen Actions Required for Destreza

You need to know 14 actions for the system of single-handed swordplay described by the Destreza authors.

These fourteen actions are:

Defenses

  1. The Advantage of the Right Angle – The sword arm is extended forward at a right angle with the body such that the point menaces the adversary along a straight line. The arm should be extended but not locked.  The defensive threat may be passive or it may be used actively to generate obedient motion from the adversary.
  2. Atajo – Subjection of the opposing steel from above with equal or greater degrees of strength in the engagement such that the adversary cannot strike you in a single movement. Neither the body nor the sword should participate in extremes.  You will create a cross of the weapons by raising the point and lowering the hilt to intersect and capture the opposing weapon.
  3. Movement of Conclusion – The act of seizing the opponent’s hilt with your left hand.
Teaching an Atajo

Teaching an Atajo

Offenses

  1. The Thrust – A single movement attack which pierces the adversary’s body to wound with the point.  Thrusts may be linear or circular.  Thrusts may glide in opposition along the opponent’s weapon or may be delivered without touching the steel.
  2. The Half Cut – A two movement attack that cuts the opponent’s body with the edge which is prepared and delivered from the right side.
  3. The Half Reverse – A two movement attack that cuts the opponent’s body with the edge which is prepared and delivered from the left side.
  4. The Circular Cut – A three movement attack that cuts the opponent’s body with the edge which is prepared on the left side and delivered from the right side.
  5. The Circular Reverse – A three movement attack that cuts the opponent’s body with the edge which is prepared on the right side and delivered from the left side.

General Techniques (Spirals)

  1. General Technique of Narrowing – From an atajo on the inside line at the Defensive Medio, carry the opposing steel in a half circle counterclockwise to the outside low line and terminate by stepping to the right to deliver a gliding thrust to the chest.
  2. General Technique of Weak under Strong – From an atajo on the outside line at Defensive Medio, carry the opposing steel in a half circle clockwise to the inside low line and terminate by stepping to the right to deliver a thrust by detachment to the chest.
  3. General Technique of Weak over Strong – From an atajo on the inside line at Defensive Medio, carry the opposing steel in a complete circle counterclockwise to the inside high line and terminate by stepping to the right to deliver a thrust by detachment to the chest.
  4. General Technique of Line in Cross – From an atajo on the outside line at Defensive Medio, carry the opposing steel in a complete circle clockwise to the outside high line and terminate by stepping to the right to deliver a gliding thrust to the chest.

Note: The Generals can be combined together in such a way that the end of one may form the beginning of another without breaking the spiraling motion.  It is perhaps more useful to envision the Generals as spirals solely defined by the line in which they terminate to deliver the attack rather than whether they are a half or full circle.  Spirals may be used with engagement to transport the opposing weapon or to collect it in space and carry it to a new line.

Changes of Strength

  1. Movement of Increase – Changing the degree of strength in the engagement to increase leverage along the opposing weapon.
  2. Movement of Decrease – Changing the degree of strength in the engagement to decrease leverage along the opposing weapon.

Bonus:

You also need to know two of the Medios.

  1. Defensive Medio – A place, distance, and context in which you are far enough away from the threat to effectively defend yourself but from which you can begin to develop offense.
  2. Offending Medio – The place, distance, and context of the ideal strike from which you deliver a wound while simultaneously defending yourself.  The Offending Medio is the perfect outcome you seek.

2016 Election Fundamentals

The election could go either way and we’re challenged to see the pieces on the board as they actually are and not as we wish they were.  That being said, there are several indicators that Clinton has an advantage.  One way of understanding the 2016 election is that there are significant differences between the cohorts of the two parties which we can break down into three key elements:

  1. Age
  2. Race
  3. Gender
Thomas Nast Cartoon from Harper's Weekly

Cartoon by Thomas Nast from Harper’s Weekly.

Age:

One useful way of looking at election demographics is by examining generations. The generations that form today’s voting blocs are:

  • Silent Generation
    • Median age ~75
    • Shrinking cohort, very Republican, most reliable voters
  • Baby Boomers
    • Median age ~60
    • Huge cohort, small GOP advantage, reliably votes
  • Gen-X
    • Median age ~45
    • Small cohort, small Democratic advantage, reliably votes
  • Millennials
    • Median age ~20
    • Largest cohort, very liberal, votes presidential elections

Up until recently the Silent generation was the power player at the table by uniting with the Baby Boomers to carry elections for the GOP.  The Millennials are the new power player in town and when they vote, they unite with Gen-X to swing elections for the Democrats.  Millennials (like all young people before them) do not typically vote in mid-terms or primaries which is why the GOP does better in mid-terms.

Conventional wisdom says voters get more conservative as they age but the actual data doesn’t support that.  Instead, as the Silents and the Baby Boomers die, the GOP isn’t replacing them and their base atrophies.  At the same time, the liberal base is larger than it has ever been before which is why very liberal candidates like Al Gore, Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, and Bernie Sanders are even considerable on the national stage.

Analysis:  Based on the generation gap in voting patterns and the size of the upcoming Millennial cohort Democrats have the edge.

Race:

The GOP has a very white base (89% of the GOP are white) and that is usually at the expense of the minority vote.

The Winners of the White Vote by Year:

  • Nixon 1968 (Winner) – 68% of the white vote
  • Ford 1976 (Loser) – 52% of the white vote
  • Reagan 1980 (Winner) – 55% of the white vote
  • Reagan 1984 (Winner)- 66% of the white vote
  • Bush 1988 (Winner) – 59% of the white vote
  • Bush 1992 (Loser) – 47% of the white vote
  • Dole 1996 (Loser) – 46% of the white vote
  • Bush 2000 (Winner) – 56% of the white vote
  • Bush 2004 (Winner) – 57% of the white vote
  • McCain 2008 (Loser) – 56% of the white vote
  • Romney 2012 (Loser) – 57% of the white vote

Notice that no Democrat has won the white vote since Johnson but Democrats have won the popular vote in 1992, 1996, 2000, 2008, and 2012.  As a percentage of the electorate the white vote is shrinking by about 1.5% every couple of years and the data indicates that minority voters have more voting power.

With white voting power diminishing a GOP candidate has to either grab a massive percentage of the white vote (Reagan 1984) or gather a larger percentage of the minority vote (Bush 2004).  Consider that both McCain and Romney outperformed Reagan’s 1980 numbers only to lose and that is the hill Jeb Bush needs to climb.  There is no longer a path to the presidency which depends solely on white voters.

Jeb Bush has lots of experience in South and Latin America, he speaks fluent Spanish, and he is married to a Mexican immigrant.  Combine him with Marco Rubio as the veep and he could be the GOP’s best play.  The problem is that Jeb Bush has to win an overwhelmingly white vote in the primary before he can carry his strengths into the national election which can damage him.  (Romney’s remark about self-deportation is one example of how a center-right candidate can cripple himself with minorities during the primary.)

The GOP has been terrible at courting minority voters because they cannot afford to offend their white base.  Notice how quickly state GOP legislators threw themselves onto the confederate flag issue recently.  Local politicians are taking those hits from the white base to shield the GOP presidential candidates.  The GOP needs to move the party away from race issues because that conversation is toxic for their party after the midterms.

In addition, the failure to move on immigration reform and demonizing immigrants have cost the GOP another generation of Hispanic\Latino voters.  The longer Trump talks about race in the primary and the more press he gets doing it, the harder it is for Jeb Bush to gather these voters into his camp.

On the other hand, Hillary Clinton will appeal to some white voters that would not vote for Obama.  That translates to a larger share of the white vote nationally while still grabbing the lion’s share of the minority vote.  If Clinton grabs Julian Castro as her veep she can compete more effectively for minority votes and largely counters the Bush & Rubio combo.

Analysis:  Based on the voting patterns of the racial cohorts Democrats have the edge.  A better question might be, “Can Jeb Bush be the next 1984 Reagan?”  I think that’s unlikely when you look again at the way Millennials vote.

Gender:

Democrats have been taking the largest share of the female vote since the 1992 election.

The Winners of the Female Vote by Year:

  • Clinton 1992 (Winner) – 46% of the female vote
  • Clinton 1996 (Winner) – 54% of the female vote
  • Gore 2000 (Loser) – 53% of the female vote
  • Kerry 2004 (Loser) – 52% of the female vote
  • Obama 2008 (Winner) – 57% of the female vote
  • Obama 2012 (Winner) – 57% of the female vote

Republicans have not won the female vote since 1988 even with Palin as a female veep in 2008.  They are not in alignment with the majority of women in the USA on a range of issues (Same-sex marriage, abortion, equal pay, and more).  However, the overriding factor is that with Hillary on the ticket there is every reason to expect that the share of the female vote for the Democrats will reach historic levels.

Analysis:  Women are over half the American population and Democrats have grabbed over 50% of the female vote in the last 5 elections.  It is not madness to think Hillary could beat previous performance in this cohort of voters as the first female presidential candidate.

Summary

A lot can happen between now and November 2016.  However, with the economy recovering and considering the cohorts I covered above, it is Hillary Clinton’s election to lose.  Jeb Bush would need either a massive share of the white vote, an unusual share of the minority vote, or more of the female vote to cross the finish line.

The Sleeping Giant Awakens…

The ground is shaking.

  • Confederate Flags being pulled down everywhere?
  • ObamaCare upheld 6-3
  • Same-sex marriage wins 5-4

What is going on?

This could have ended differently.

Back in 2008 I made the argument that the election was primarily about the Supreme Court. Barack Obama has done some things I didn’t like but there is no reasonable counterargument that a Republican president would have done better and Obama nominated two progressive justices to the highest court. If a Republican had won, we wouldn’t have healthcare reform and we certainly would have lost the same-sex marriage decision.

Sometimes change takes time and sometimes it happens quickly. This week seems like a seismic shift as shock-waves ripple outward. If you look at the balance of power in our heavily gerrymandered system you’ll find that we’re poised for rapid shifts as the people outpace the politics.

It may not look like it but the Millennials won big today because they put Obama in the white house over the objections of the older whiter voters. The Millennials are the largest generation in history and the most liberal in their politics. The oldest of these voters are in their mid-30s and the cohort won’t reach full fighting strength until 2018 when  the youngest will be eligible to vote.

Millennials are the largest generation numbering at  95 million, compared to 78 million for the Baby Boomers.

Millennials are the largest generation numbering at 95 million, compared to 78 million for the Baby Boomers.

2016 will be an election to watch but it will be nothing compared to 2020. After the 2020 census the United States will redraw the maps of political power. Look for more major quakes when the gerrymanders start collapsing.

That shaking that you feel in the ground is the stirring of a giant awakening to take the reins of power and her name is ‘Millennial’.

Instructor’s Examination

The Sacramento Sword School is pleased to announce that Tyson Wright has passed his pre-requisite written examination which makes him eligible to take his Instructor de Armas examination covering single-handed sword in the Spanish tradition called La Verdadera Destreza.

On March 8, 2015 Mr. Wright will be publicly examined by a board of fencing masters with Dr. Mary Theresa Dill Curtis invited as an expert academic advisor to the board.  In order to achieve an endorsement from the board the candidate must perform the following requirements at a level that meets or exceeds the board’s standards for an Instructor de Armas:

  • Oral examination covering the tradition’s theory and pedagogy
  • Receive an individual lesson approved by the board
  • Teach an individual lesson approved by the board
  • Give a group lesson approved by the board
  • Teach a student impromptu fencing actions chosen by the board
  • Fence against a selection of opponents within the tradition

The candidate will be using a lesson approved by the board which is included here:

Salute

1. On command, from student’s atajo on the inside line, glide to chest

2. On command, from student’s atajo on the outside line, glide to chest

3. On command, from student’s atajo on inside line, thrust by detachment to chest, gaining the degrees of profile

4. On command, from instructor’s atajo on the inside line, thrust of half circle to flank

5. On command, from student’s atajo on the inside line, half reverse to outside cheek

6. On command, from instructor’s atajo on the inside line, circular reverse to outside cheek

7. In time, from student’s right angle, defensive atajo on the inside line against instructor’s thrust, and glide to chest

8. In time, from student’s right angle, defensive atajo on the outside line against instructor’s circular reverse, and glide to chest

9. On command, from student’s atajo on the inside line, General Technique of Narrowing to glide to abdomen, stepping left transverse

10. On command, from student’s atajo on the inside line, transverse left to middle place, glide to chest

11. On command, from student’s atajo on the inside line, transverse left to middle place, glide to chest, and clockwise thrust of the half circle to flank in second intention

12. In time, from student’s right angle, defensive atajo on the inside line, defense using General Technique of Narrowing, glide to abdomen.

13. From student’s atajo on the inside, three glides to chest

Salute

 

NOTE: In the context of this lesson the General Technique of Narrowing is being used broadly to describe a counterclockwise spiral from inside high to outside low in different martial applications as Pacheco demonstrates in his counters to the vulgar techniques.  This usage contrasts with the more tightly scoped sequence which always ends with a step to the right.

Puck’s Huge Batch of Low-Carb Winter Chili

(Low-Carb mostly)

Big stock pot full of chili

Big stock pot full of chili

Requires a large stock pot and takes 3-4 hours.

Ingredients:

  • 4 quarts H2O
  • 4 lbs. ground beef
  • 2 lbs. ground sausage
  • 2 lbs. ground turkey
  • 4 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 4 teaspoons cumin
  • 3 teaspoons salt
  • 8 teaspoons chili powder
  • 4 teaspoons black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons red pepper
  • 2 teaspoons allspice
  • 4 six-oz. cans tomato paste
  • 1 large can diced tomatoes
  • 2 green peppers chopped
  • 1 red pepper chopped
  • 3 cups shredded frozen spinach
  • 2 yellow squash chopped
  • 2 zucchini chopped
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 6 small onions chopped
  • 8 cloves garlic mashed
  • 1 can of pinto beans (cheating here)

Directions:

  1. Brown the meat in a frying pan (I did this in batches), drain the oil, then add all the meat to a large stock pot.
  2. Add the other ingredients, cover with aluminum foil, and simmer for 3 hours while stirring semi-regularly.  (You don’t want to scorch the bottom of your stock pot.)
  3. I recommend serving with a big dollop of sour cream (or cream cheese) in the bowl and a healthy sprinkle of shredded cheese over the top.  It is three shades of awesome-town.
  4. Eat yourself into a coma when the chili is ready.
  5. Take what you cannot eat and freeze batches in gallon-sized zip-lock bags.  One gallon-sized zip-lock bag feeds two adults a big meal on a lazy day when you don’t want to cook.
Lots of Chili

Lots of Chili

Additional Notes:

Instead of chopping, you can just as easily shred or even blend the vegetables listed above.  The goal is to cook them down to add body and thicken the chili.  Shredding squash and other veggies like this is a great way to sneak healthy foods into your kid’s diet.

I have no idea how much chili this makes or what the final carb count is, but it is a lot of chili and not very many carbs.