On becoming a Stickfighter.

Just finished another stickfight lesson and am still in awe at the focus and discipline necessary to protect your head. One hand is stronger than the other so I’m working on having the same kind of response time with my left hand as with my right. But apparently because I’m an ‘ambi winer’ I should get the hang of it soon. The thing that’s struck me about learning stick is that flag waving is a complimentary artform. I find the movements are similar, as are the intentions. A flag woman is a thing of great beauty and abandon but also a dread warrior on whom an entire band is dependent for direction. The style I am learning is from Moruga – pretty stick’ they call it. In other words you get so distracted by the beauty of the dancing you don’t see when the bois coming to buss your head. It’s maths and physics and core strength and left/brain right brain coordination. It is also letting go and giving into to what the drum tells you do do with your body and let it speak a language you never thought you knew. Serious Ogun tings. The warrior in me is awakening.

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On becoming a stickfighter

Had my first kalinda training session with the Bois Academy on Sunday. Really steep learning curve, given that I’ve always considered myself a pacifist and the least graceful person on the planet. But demystifying this martial tradition from the point of view of a player of stick for me is crucial as is the grounding that taking part in something so physical gives you. My shoulders still hurt and my left little finger is cramped from the terror I felt gripping that bois to protect my head, but here are the two most important things I learned:

1. Stickfighting is a beautifully deadly art that requires technical skill and a heightened consciousness of yourself in your body.

2. I am not a pacifist.