I stepped forward and took a swing at the leather-padded dummy, striking its ribs and then pulling back to aim a thrust. I stuck the point of my sword into the leather and then yanked it out again with a slight wrenching of my shoulder. Grimacing, I rolled my shoulders to loosen them and backed up to try again.
“Did you feel the difference? You used your bodyweight to push forwards. That’s why your shoulder hurts. Next time, let the twisting of your body snap your arm straight out to deliver the thrust. It will keep you in balance.”
Nodding to myself, I again swiped at the dummy and then rocked back to thrust—only this time, I made sure to let the turning of my back bring my arm forward to deliver the blow, instead of throwing my bodyweight forwards. As I pulled out the sword, I realized that I was still in balance and so took a couple more swings at the leather padding. One cut fell crooked, the blade angled so that it didn’t slice into the leather cleanly, and I frowned.
“Rule number one: point the sword away from your body. Rule number two: make sure the blade is angled the same way as the strike, or else you won’t even cut a piece of paper.”
With this in mind, I practiced a few cuts and slices in the empty air, making sure that the angle was okay. The first couple times, the sword whistled noisily and I knew that it was catching the air the way it wasn’t supposed to. When the issue was corrected, though, it split the air silently—“You know the sword’s happy when you can’t hear it complain.”
I attacked the dummy a few more times before deciding that I’d had enough practice for one day. Leaning against the padded post, I stuck the point of my sword in the ground and took a long drink of water from my canteen. Wiping the drips off my chin with the back of my hand, I looked down at the beautiful blade and thought fondly of the man who’d taught me to use it: my dad.
My dad had taught me everything I knew about sword fighting and adventuring, and it was thanks to him that I had become a warrior. He had introduced me to a world I’d never imagined when I was young and it was a world I’d fallen in love with and now felt irrevocably a part of.
Of course, the sword training hadn’t all been smooth sailing. There had been a lot of frustrated tears—on my part—as I struggled to find both the fearlessness and the skill required to wield the elegant weapon. Many times, I wanted to stop. I was convinced it was too hard and that I would never learn. But my dad had kept pushing me to try again, to keep striving, and eventually I had caught on. I was glad that he’d encouraged me—it had been one hundred percent worth it.
Every once in a while, when my dad and I would have a father-daughter day, we would talk about some of our adventures—some of the people we’d met, foes we’d defeated, and places we’d explored. We exchanged tales with a mutual understanding of the thrill and excitement that had captured our spirits.
If it hadn’t been for my dad’s teachings, there were many battles I would never have fought and won with my sword. I would never have met the Small Folk and known their magic, and I probably wouldn’t have met Nolan either. If my dad hadn’t given me the passion and skills I needed, I would never have had the bravery or the means to go out and see the world.
Smiling as I sheathed my sword and went to leave the training yard, I remembered one last piece of advice I’d often heard from my dad while learning to fight: “Crying doesn’t do any good. You just have to try it again until you get it right.”
Though it hadn’t made his struggling daughter very happy while she was trying to learn something that frustrated her, the advice had certainly helped to make me into the strong and proud warrior I was at heart.
I again interrupt the LotSF timeline for yet another birthday–this time, my dad’s.
I’ve got quite a few memories of my dad teaching me how to do stuff, but surely the most traumatic was learning how to ride a bike. Plenty of tears were involved and quite a bit of fear–resulting in me wanting to give up on it several times. I did eventually learn, though, and now I love going on bike rides on forest trails. So while it was a stressful experience, it certainly paid off.
And it was through watching my dad play Guild Wars that I fell in love with the game and created my own character–seen in the picture at the top. It’s been a huge inspiration to my personality and my writing, and I don’t know if I can thank my dad enough for starting me on this path.
Have an awesome birthday, dad! I love you.
May you never give up on something worthwhile, no matter how many tears are involved.