“A wrestling tournament crash-landed at a Renaissance Fayre and they all intermarried,” was my thought. I'd tagged along with a trio of friends to SoCal Swordfight, a weekend-long HEMA competition: That’s “historical European martial arts,” three days of armored people fighting politely but hard with steel longswords, rapiers, daggers, and sabers. I’ve been practicing with... Continue Reading →
So it feels like an ever-new mystery to get overpowered in fight training by short, thin, or otherwise gracile people who, it seems to me, can’t possibly have as much power. Not just outmaneuvered and outskilled, but manhandled or just plain pounded. I’m talking thin teenagers, featherweight women, even a girl who’s too young for PG-13 and weighs less than my checked luggage. What gives?
Good news: The “core” isn’t the all-important missing link anymore. The cool kids have moved on. Now feet are the new core. Thank heaven, because I got bored of direct midsection work long before the fools in marketing renamed it the “core.” When did they coin that phrase anyway? I missed the Nineties, living in... Continue Reading →
A further installment in our series on Hats of Defeat and the charms of French surplus gear. Not even a quagmire. France's Fourth Republic didn't survive this, but its bush hat became a favorite with American yuppies.(AP, 1951. CC) It’s 1949. France grasps at torn shreds of empire like a gut-shot man clutches spilled entrails.... Continue Reading →
A further installment in our series on French gear. Some people deal better than others with losing. France doesn’t like to lose, but for a great power, it’s endured a tough couple of centuries. It lost its bid for global hegemony to Britain, and it lost Paris three times to Germans (twice before Germany was... Continue Reading →
"However, the champ often 'took ill' with a pathogen transmitted in oak barrels known to disparately afflict the Irish community."
Ever look at old-time photos showing their era's paragons of manliness? Ever notice how many of those turn-of-the-century sex symbols are proudly repping dad bods? It actually gets stranger: other models from the period look every bit as sculpted and Grecian as Brad Pitt in Troy, but no one seems to care. There's no indication that anyone in 1900--the photographers, the models, or the audiences--preferred the buff guys to the dad bods. What changed?
Part II of our series, "Sherpas of the Desert: How South Africa Mastered Rucking in Dry Heat." Imagine your daughter is a figure skater with Olympic potential. She needs new skates. Should you spend money now on a good pair that she will outgrow? Or should you gamble for now on budget skates while you... Continue Reading →
The Kalahari and Namib deserts. Except for the red sand, these could almost have been taken within walking distance of my home. Here at Lean, Solid Dogs, we think a lot about backpacking in hot, arid landscapes, and we're always seeking wisdom for dry heat from neglected corners of world. Why? Because of a cosmic... Continue Reading →
This is the inaugural post in our new series "The Je Ne Sais Quoi of French Surplus." The French army has done things its own way since at least the Revolution and nurtured a distinct military tradition quite separate from those of the Anglo and Germanic countries. And this independence has showed up in its... Continue Reading →