A Different Kind of Cross-training

“Cross-training” is a phrase you hear a lot nowadays.  Want to be in the NFL?  Take ballet then.  Want to run?  Then go the wait room.  Want to be the best trumpet player?  Then you have to learn how to play piano (something I paraphrased from Dizzy Gillespie)

Normally when you hear the phrase “cross-training”, someone is telling you that to get better at one thing, you should go train in something else.  That something else though, is most often in the same field.  Athletes are told to go cross-train in other sports, musicians are told to learn different instruments, sword fighters are told to learn a different martial art.

These past few months I haven’t gotten a chance to practice much with my sword.  Before this last week there had only been two days in the preceding three months where I had a rapier pointed at me.  Although I likely promised myself I’d drill on a regular basis multiple times, there was only three hours maximum where that actually happened.  There was one thing I did spend a good deal of time practicing though.  In the last five weeks I’ve spent roughly half an hour each day practicing my juggling.  As I mentioned in a previous post, I had finally learned how to juggle at the beginning of January.  Contrary to popular belief, there is more to juggling than just being able to always have one of three balls in the air.  In fact there are easily thousands of patterns for what you can do with just three balls that jugglers before me had figured out, of which I have learned about half a dozen.

Finally I was able to meet up with the fencing group I started with last Tuesday and I was doing a whole lot better than I had previously.  Then I went to an event this weekend where I continuously ended facing off with one fighter in particular.  This man, despite his age, is one of the best fencers I have ever met and as long as I can remember was one of those people who without a doubt could come in and take my lunch money.  Although I had gotten a few lucky wins in over the years, he had consistently bested me, which is something that was in no way hurt by his being one of the preeminent scholars on Giganti.  Come this weekend though, and time after time I was able to beat him.  They were all close matches and were some of the toughest ones I’ve yet to fight, but I was still able to win most of them.  And I’d bet you that juggling had something to do with it.