After watching me fight at a recent heavy practice, my knight asked me a question: why wasn’t I throwing shots to the front leg? Was I just not seeing them? Was my helmet obstructing my vision and creating a blind spot?
This got me thinking. Now, I really like my helmet. It’s a flat-topped, closed-face helmet, which I think really looks the part for my persona. The caveat to this, of course, is that I’m looking through a 1-inch slit, and visibility is thus impaired (at least compared to an open-face bar grill). I’ve gotten used to it, and it sits close enough to my face that the visibility isn’t as limited as one might think, but that hasn’t stopped people from giving me grief about it.
I’ve learned to work around it, could this be a case where my helmet is adversely affecting my fighting? I really hoped not. Like I said, I like my helmet. But I thought about the issue. My knight was right that I wasn’t throwing any shots to that lower quadrant. But why? Like many fighters I have a tendency to throw most of my shots at the upper body and head, but I still threw the occasional offside leg shot. Why was the on-side leg that much different?
And I think I came up with an explanation: I’m not seeing openings to that target, but not because of any physical obstruction. I’m not seeing that leg as a target because I’m not even thinking of it as one. My reflexes are completely ignoring any openings there, and thus have no reason to pass that information on to my brain.
Of course, I couldn’t just leave it there. I had to ask the next logical question: why wasn’t I thinking of the on-side leg as a target? And I think it’s because I was worried. Worried about hitting someone in the knee or below (which isn’t a valid target area). I probably tried throwing the shot earlier in my fighting career, but may have lacked the precision or control to reliably put it where I wanted, so I just removed the tool from my bag. Much like I didn’t throw wrap shots for years, because I couldn’t thrown them without tweaking my elbow. Now, wraps are one of my favorite shots.
I find this all really fascinating. I’m also kind of excited: finally, a concrete thing to work on at practice! Something that I set out to do, and work on until I’ve improved. It’s given me direction that is often sorely lacking in SCA practice training. I’m also happy that the issue was mental rather than with my equipment. After all, I don’t really need to see everything on my opponent. I’ve been fighting long enough that I (or at least my reflexes) can infer where someone is or isn’t based on what I can see. After all, if someone’s shield is way up high by their head, it should be pretty obvious that their legs are wide open.
Definitely going to be playing with this more in the future.