The Death of Chivalry

Is chivalry dead?  I think a lot of people would be willing to believe it is.  It seems that whenever Chivalry is brought up in any context it is all about instructions like, “don’t hit girls,” and, “hold the door for Ladies.”  So I think the first question we have to ask is whether or not we, in a modern context, understand exactly what Chivalry is.  Is Chivalry just a matter of not hitting women but holding the door for them instead?  Actually yes, I would argue that’s about as complicated as it has to be.  Sit tight and I’ll explain.  First though a little history lesson for you all. Continue reading

The Case For Books

There is a magical little shop I know.  A tiny place where you can go and lose an hour or two without trouble and oft times come away with a belly full of tea and sweets.  The place is Barbara-Jo’s Books to Cooks and I seldom leave without at least one new cookbook tucked under my arm.  Needless to say, I have a fairly extensive collection; many I have bought myself, many were gifts and many more I inherited from my grandmother.  It’s my own private Library of Alexandria. Continue reading

Dear Prudence

Prudence is a word, I think, that calls to mind its synonyms.  I believe that most people when asked to define the word would say it’s related to wisdom, or perhaps tied to caution.  Certainly when your mother tells you to be prudent, what she’s really saying is to be careful.  When the four classical virtues are mentioned the first and most important is sometimes listed as Wisdom.  The problem with this is that, especially in a modern context, wisdom is seen as something you have or you don’t.  When our culture speaks of the Wise Man, instructions are lacking as to how to become this person.  Suggesting someone be prudent is easier to swallow than telling them to be wise.  It is partially for this reason that the original texts and teachings of stoicism tell us the prime virtue is prudentia.  Prudence. Continue reading

Cold Comforts: Cinnamon Buns

The weather grows ever colder.  Comfort food is the order of the day.  It’s a natural desire, really, instinct, even, to want rich, filling foods.  As the Starks are known to declare, winter is coming and that means cinnamon buns.  I may have added the last bit myself.  Our culture is waging something of a war on calories and around this time the calories seem to be winning.  Many people blame the holidays, but I personally think that feasting is not the cause of this but a symptom of the season.  As the weather turns our bodies tell us to pack on a few extra pounds for survival purposes.  This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, so long as it isn’t taken to extremes. Continue reading

Of Katas and Curios

Katas are somewhat lacking in Western Martial Arts.  Although pretty much universal in Asian Martial Arts, these sequences of movement are an excellent training tool that I think we need to bring to the Western practice.  If nothing else, katas mean that solo practice becomes more engaging.  After all, there are only so many times you can practice basic motions before wanting more.  Katas provide a way of linking these motions together in a set form.  Historically, only a few Masters wrote down anything that can be accurately be described as a kata, but we can build a few more from context within some manuals. Continue reading

Remembering

Remembrance Day seems a time for reflection and thought.  A time for meditation.  Unfortunately meditations are seldom a part of daily life.  This was not always so.  The Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius wrote a series of thought exercises, titled in fact, Meditations.  Indeed, insofar as I can tell from what I’ve read, meditation has been a part of European tradition for at least couple thousand years. Continue reading

Sharing My Toys

A part of why I enjoy baking and swordplay both, is the potential for collecting.  There are always new things to play with and a learning experience to be had with every new tool.  When it comes to baking, I divide these tools into two categories: those that make production go faster, and those that make the finished product prettier.  Sometimes it can be both, and occasionally a piece of equipment can be an essential tool.  Essentials are fairly limited, though.  All you really need to bake (besides an oven) are bowls, spoons and some method of measuring. Continue reading

Paradoxes of George Silver I: The Sword

The Renaissance was a fascinating time for swordplay.  This is in part because of the fact that so many fencing manuals survive from this era, but also because in the late 16th century we see the first truly civilian swords.  Prior to this time duels were fought only with consent of local rulers and therefore the grievances were primarily of a legal nature.  Due to this fact, the weapons used were generally the same that would be used in battle, complete with full armour. Since these Trials by Combat were set up well in advance, it was alright that plenty of gear was required before fighting could commence.  Once people began to use the duel as a method of settling personal disagreements it became impractical to carry so much equipment and the swords changed to reflect this.  Thus the rapier became the preferred weapon of the civilian classes. Continue reading

Piefecta

I like pie.  Who doesn’t, really?  Although I have briefly talked about it before, I think it’s time for a more in depth look at my favourite pastry creation.  There is of course the traditional 3-2-1 pie dough, but we’re going to make it just a little better.  Rather than the odd 66% butter we’ll increase it to 70%.  Water we’ll do at 30% and salt, as always, 2%.  Let’s go with the following measurements for our Pie Dough. Continue reading