Oct. 3rd, 2011

hawkwing_lb: (Bear CM beyond limit the of their bond a)
Books 2011: 131-136

131. T.A. Pratt, Broken Mirrors.

Serialised online here, and dear sweet godless heavens, how did I manage to miss this? It's the fifth Marla Mason book - a series which I love with unreasonable love - and lives up to the kick-arse-and-take-names speed, tension, and interest of its predecessors. I recommend it very highly.

132-136, Barbara Hambly, The Silent Tower, The Silicon Mage, Dog Wizard, Mother of Winter, and Icefalcon's Quest.

I'm supposed to post on these at Tor.com, so I'll linky when that happens. But Hambly is pretty brilliant, so I recommend them.

Wonder if I'll break 170 books this year? That hasn't happened since 2007, at least.
hawkwing_lb: (DA 2 scaring the piss)
I'm trying to write a post about Barbara Hambly's Sun Wolf and Starhawk series (hopefully for Tor.com), and thinking about the training that goes on in The Ladies of Mandrigyn is making me think a good bit harder than usual about my own experience with martial arts training.

I'm not a good martial artist. I lack the discipline - and, to be honest, the ambition - that lifts a student from average to good. The kind of discipline that puts in fifty situps and fifty pushups before breakfast and ten katas before bed, that's what gets you to good. You have to repeat everything until you're exhausted, until it's your muscles that remember, not your brain. Because your brain is actually kinda stupid, when it comes to getting your body out of harm's way.

When I was seventeen or so, I took up Shotokan karate. For about three years I trained regularly, twice and three times a week: I have my brown belt license around here somewhere, if I were to go look for it. It was a fairly relaxed kind of training: M. was serious about getting kata flawless and training for the right techniques to win competition sparring, which occasionally got a little intense (I've walked into one or two punches that rattled my brain, and I never want to get a sidekick to the gut again). But despite his own history as a bouncer, very little of what we did had much application outside training.

Oh, there's some. Ridge hand strike (which is bloody dangerous to your hand if you miss your target) and hammerfist strike, as well elbow strike, sidekick, and downward stamping kick. But we never learned to integrate the strikes and defensive techniques in a way that really made sense for real-world application, and we never trained for conditioning. (Although my muscles still remember a bunch of techniques I hope I never have cause to use outside a dojo.) But mostly, I remember training to make kata look elegant and to score points, not to work through pain and exhaustion.

Compare this to German Jujutsu, which I've taken up in college since the spring (and hopefully the Mad German will be sticking around to teach it for a good while longer). It's all about application, about being able to take what you've learned and use it immediately - and a single class led by our Mad German is in itself some of the most intense conditioning training I've ever had the misfortune to be subject to. I can count on getting dizzy and nauseous at least once every other session. Also, bruised and sore.

The training scenes in The Ladies of Mandrigyn feel like training with our Mad German. They feel real and solid. And that's kind of brilliant, really.


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