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A Blow Calibration Exercise

by Pieter van Doorn


Erect a narrow pole between 46" and 58" tall and draw three circles on the ground around the base of the pole. Use the table below to determine the appropriate radius for each circle. Balance a bowling ball on top of the pole, then strike it with a level blow and observe the point where it first strikes the ground. According to a survey of over 600 fighters from throughout the Known World*, 80% of all fighters would agree that a "good" killing blow should deliver the ball to a point somewhere between the inner and outer circles. The center circle corresponds to an "average" killing blow. "Light", "low average", "high average" and "heavy" blows are indicated by the other areas shown in the diagram. This exercise is designed especially for new fighters who do not have experienced trainers to teach them how to calibrate their blows. Veterans may wish to use this exercise as a way of comparing their blows to the Known World standard.

NOTE: The blow must land squarely on the center of the ball, and the ball must be driven straight off the pole. If the blow glances off the ball or drives the ball either upwards or downwards, the results will not be accurate. A trainer can assist the novice fighter by checking for level blows and observing the point where the ball lands.

* A Survey of Blow Calibration Standards in the Combat of the Society for Creative Anachronism by Pieter van Doorn (m.k.a. Vance VanDoren, PhD), Barony of Rivenstar, Middle Kingdom, August 15, AS XXV (1990).

Ball Weight Pole Height (inches) How to use this table
  46 49 52 55 58  
8 lbs 3738394041 The top value in each set of three gives the radius of the inner circle appropriate for the ball weight on the left and the pole height above.
56 58 60 62 63
76 79 81 83 85
10 lbs 3030313233 The middle value in each set of three gives the radius of the center circle appropriate for the ball weight on the left and the pole height above
45 47 484951
6163 65 67 68
12 lbs 2525262728 The bottom value in each set of three gives the radius of the outer circle appropriate for the ball weight on the left and the pole height above.
38 39 404142
5152 54 55 57
14 lbs 2122222324 Thus, for a 14 pound ball and a 58 inch pole, the inner circle should have a radius of 24 inches, the center circle should have a radius of 36 inches,
32 33 343536
434546 4849
16 lbs 1819202021 For a 16 pound ball, the three circles should have radii of 21 inches, 32 inches, and 43 inches, respectively.
28 29 303132
3839404243

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