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Dear Brennon and Arthon
[06/03/2004] [Brennon and Arthon]

Dear Arthon and Brennon,

I almost feel silly writing this, but Im having problems maintaining my aggression on my local field. I have no problems when I fight at any interkingdom, and I haven't topped out as a fighter, but I have problems pushing myself and fighting to the best of my abilities when not challenged by better fighters. Any tips or hints that you could give me would be great.

Not Rising in the Rising Winds

Reading your letter, it appears that you just aren't getting a lot out of fighting your peers. The reason you fight is because of the challenge it presents. Who really wants to walk around just clubbing baby seals? A fighter wants to use his brains and his body to best a worthy opponent. If your home group has no one who can fight on the same level with you, there are a couple of things that you can do to level the playing field and make the game more exciting.

But before you do that, you must have drive.

Drive is something that can't be taught and can't be given to you. It has to come from within. It is the burning urge to excel that exists within all good fighters. Drive is what makes you the first on the ditch field and the last to leave it. Without drive, you will never be anything other than mediocre no matter what inherent talent or abilities yours genes have given you. So how can you find this thing called drive? That's a different answer for everybody, but it tends to break down into a few broad categories.

1.The Superiority Complex: This type of drive is determined from the fact that you are better than everybody else. You don't just think you are; you know you are. If you lose, it's because you weren't fully applying yourself. It was your failing that caused you to lose, not your opponent being better than you. You must win because your opponent is not worthy to beat you.
2. The Perfectionist: This drive stems from your obsession with doing everything perfectly. If you threw the shot right, if you blocked just so, if you had anticipated their movement, you would have won. Fighting is a sort of puzzle to these people and they see winning as the final piece to that puzzle.
3. The Competitor: Your drive is derived from your desire to constantly one-up your opponents. You don't necessarily push the envelope yourself, but you feel the need to be constantly just one step ahead of the people in your area. You strive to be the best in your environment.
4. The Hater: I will beat you! Losing is not an option. I will crush you; I will rend you limb from limb. I will beat you into the dirt and then spit on your corpse. If you beat me, I will come back stronger and thrash you so badly you will wish you had never picked up a sword. There can be only one ultimate outcome to our conflict, and that is me destroying you. You will die!

Find where your drive to succeed comes from and harness it. More than anything else, it is what you need to excel.

If you don't already have one, start a week-night fighter practice and get members of your group to attend. At fighter practice, you have the leisure to practice new and difficult shots without a battlegame's outcome riding on your skill level. Also, at fighter practice, I suggest mentoring one or more people who have potential in your eyes. Fight with them enough so that they are inspired to become better. Within six months to a year, they will be good enough that it will be a struggle for you to stay one step ahead of them.

You could also try handicapping yourself. Make sure that killing one person takes all your skill. The easiest way to do this is to fight single sword against florentiners and shieldmen. If that is too easy, make it off-hand single sword. Or you can pick two or three people and tell them you are going to teach them team tactics - a valuable skill in its own right. Then have them fight against you. These exercises will teach you aggression, blocking, footwork and tactics. Your opponents will learn as well and your fights will become progressively harder as they learn to work together and exploit your weaknesses.

The important thing is to set goals. Setting reasonable goals is a good technique for progressing as a fighter. Make sure the goal is achievable, reach it, and then set a new, higher goal. You dont get discouraged that way, and youre always progressing and can keep your edge.

Send your questions to Brennon and Arthon.

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