On Talent

Kaja demonstrating sword and buckler, 2010

I've had a few conversations lately about the corrosiveness of emphasizing talent or "giftedness" in a physical instruction context. Something I've encountered a lot is a weird sort of predestination framework: folks born with "natural talent" will be good at a thing, and folks without it will just struggle and flail forever. It's a really [...]

Adrenaline

I've had a complex relationship with adrenaline my whole life. I got into what some call "extreme sports" very young. At twelve, I started snowboarding religiously. I'd be on the slopes alone every weekend, pushing myself to go faster, to tackle harder terrain, to hit bigger jumps and longer rails. I loved nothing more than [...]

The Price of Leadership

There are some amazing perks to being a martial arts instructor. A month ago, I was in London, England, teaching at a swordplay event. The organizers covered my flights, put me up for my entire stay, fed me delicious food, and ran an instructors' beer tab at the pub we went to every night after [...]

Queer Toughness

I had a really great conversation after today's self defense talk that solidified a lot of floating ideas I had about why we need queer spaces for teaching this stuff. One of the things we discuss a lot in the "observation" material of our talks is body language. How unconscious cues can betray a person's [...]