Feeling the Way

Posted: November 18th, 2023 under Horngard, Life beyond writing, Research, the writing life.
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A week of working with the saber and I’m definitely getting more of a feel, including the feeling of sore shoulders, forearms, and hands.   But right-handed, I can hold the saber out straight in front, arm straight, with much less quivering, and raise the tip and lower the tip to level again, over and over and over….twice as many up/downs as when I started.    Then rotating the wrist, thus the blade, so that sharp edge is to the outside/down, outside/down ten times, then inside/down, inside/down, inside/down ten times.   Elementary first steps to controlling the blade.  Switch to left hand, which is weaker.  More quivering in the straight front hold (even today)  then on the right.  Can’t do as many up/down or rotational turns as with the right…but more than I could do on the first day.

Whole-arm swings, to loosen up, in a figure-8 pattern, right handed first for a gradually increasing number of swings,  then left handed , passing hand to hand in the middle.  Then added another exercise on Thursday:  elbow “motionless” as much as possible at my side, wrist only moving blade in figure 8 swing without letting my right shoulder lean sideways or forward.  A work in progress, not there yet.   Several other exercises, also not yet mastered, but working on them.

I’m working on both sides, because I have a big strength difference between left and right that I want to reduce, not because it’s in any of the written or demonstrated exercises.   The one-sidedness goes back to the encephalitis I had as a child, which left my left side much weaker for quite a while and was exacerbated by playing tennis in HS–right-handed–which selectively strengthened the already strong side and left the weaker side to itself.   I’m thoroughly enjoying the saber and hope I end up “straighter” on top after another half year or so.

Meanwhile this week Horngard II is sitting at 32.8K words in spite of everything else that’s gone on.


  • Comment by Jazzlet — November 18, 2023 @ 1:19 pm


    It is lovely to hear you are incorporating the sword into regular exercise. A friend who introduced me to the concept of price per use, if one wanted something expensive you needed to convince yourself that you would use it a lot, thus the ruby slippers would not be justified, but the jacket well made, well fitting, and made from sturdy material would. Of course you have to be honest with yourself about how much you will use something, but I have found it a useful tool. For both for the OED and for the sabre you will certainly get your moneys worth 🙂

  • Comment by Jace — November 20, 2023 @ 8:55 am


    Is this exercise routine one from back in the day when you were part of a sword reenactment group or is it one that troopers were taught in basic training to strengthen the sword muscles.

  • Comment by Asher — November 23, 2023 @ 9:13 am


    All this talk about swords has me interested – do you have actual swords similar to all the characters’? Or reference photos? I would love to see what you had in mind for Dorrin, and Kieri’s elven sword!

  • Comment by elizabeth — November 25, 2023 @ 4:55 pm


    I don’t have all the “character” swords. Dorrin’s magic sword (first three books) was a straight-bladed, single-handed cut-and-thrust sword heavier and somewhat broader than my swept-hilt rapiers, but not as broad as a broadsword. Simpler guard then a full swept-hilt, but giving more hand protection than just the cross-hilt. Could be used on horseback or afoot. I’m not sure she took it with her on the journey to Aarenis with the regalia…she had a sword, but it may have been just a good “ordinary” sword. Kieri’s elven sword changed when he held it, both lengthening the blade and shaping its grip and guard to his now-adult hand.

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