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Hey all. First off, I’m sorry this is so late, life’s been a bit hectic lately. Family issues came up on Monday and I haven’t really been in a place to sit down and finish this post until now. That said, everything’s pretty well in hand at the moment, so you should have The Mind of Zeratul on its normally scheduled release tomorrow.
Also, for those interested, RPG Fitness is currently $5 off, so you can grab the best gamer fitness system this side of Aiur for just $14 from now through the end of next week. Enjoy!
So, obviously we’re not going to be sprouting psi-blades from our forearms or teleporting around anytime soon (unfortunately). You can, of course, strap a regular old sword on your forearm and go swing it around for a while (note: I don’t condone this on anything but non-living targets, obviously), but that’s kind of missing the coolest parts of Zeratul’s combat skills. Sure, forearm blades are cool and all (we’ve covered combat with them before), but in my opinion, the void-based aspects of Zeratul’s combat style are the coolest part.
So, how do we go about emulating them if we can’t Blink, or fade into the shadows at will? Well, these aspects of Zeratul’s combat are really methods of advantageous positioning. Attacking from angles the opponent doesn’t see or expect, and removing yourself from the situation before they can strike back. For this, first we’re going to work on our footwork, much like we did with Riku’s Combat Glide. We want to “explode” from point to point, and be driving ourselves from one location to another, rather than just stepping. We may not be able to blink, but by changing our footwork in combat to move more proactively, we can definitely outpace and outposition our opponents.
Additionally, we want to think about attacking from our opponent’s blind side. This is what I like to call “combat stealth.” If your opponent can’t see your strikes coming, then you might as well be invisible. This is done through proper setup, and consideration of angles. The most simple method of doing this is giving someone something to think about other than your strike. For instance, if you throw a jab at someone’s face, their options are parry it, slip it, fade away, or get hit.
If they parry, you’re made. Whichever arm they use to parry with, that’s your angle of attack. You want their arm to block their vision of your follow-up strike as they’re parrying. So, if you throw a jab with your left to the face, and they parry you across their body, their hand (and your arm) will be covering their vision to their lower-opposite side. If they went to their left, you follow up with a right uppercut, they won’t see it. If they had a non-mirrored stance, then they parried to their right (your left), and you can follow up with a left kick to the kidney/thigh/knee (depending on range).
Of course, this is just a basic example, but when sparring, start to think about distracting with strikes, and attacking from the blind sides and angles you and your opponent’s reactions create. This works for weapons, as well. Remember that every weapon (even two-handed ones) has at least two sides to attack with. Swords have points, blades, cross-guards, and pommels. Knives have the same (minus the cross-guard). Staves have two ends and a middle, as do batons and clubs. Think about how to chain your strikes utilizing these opposing ends and the attack vectors they create.
Walk the Void
We’ve discussed meditation before, and while I highly recommend you check out that starting guide, we’re going to talk about going a different “way” of meditation. You want to clear your mind, even your breathing, and be still, like in the basic instructions listed in that post, but then it’s a question of where we “go” after that. Mindfulness meditation, as discussed in the aforementioned post, is being mindful of yourself and everyone around you. However, we’re going to look inward, and explore our inner “void.”
Self contemplation and exploration is a powerful and scary thing. Sometimes self-examination while meditating can be unsettling or unpleasant for people, so take it slow and easy when you give it a shot. If you can ride out the initial bumps, you can begin to learn a lot of things about yourself. Examine your inner motivations, your darkness, your light. Think about the decisions you’ve made, examine the reasons for them, learn what you can from the situation, and discard them. Empty your mind of stress and emotion, and relax into a deeper, more tranquil sense of yourself.
Remember that emptiness and void is not a negative. We all carry a lot of baggage and stress within us. Discarding all that, if even for just a few minutes a day, can be a huge blessing. Drawing within your own mind and exploring all the nooks and crannies can be a strange and wonderful experience. Remember that in dealing with yourself, you must be completely honest. Don’t let preconceived notions, fears, or prejudices drive your inner thoughts. Wipe everything clean, and see yourself as a single whole.
The Void exists within all of us. If we embrace it, we gain wisdom and knowledge beyond that of mere mortals.
Focusing is something a lot of people have a hard time with. Honing in on one single project or task can be difficult, as can starting something AND seeing it through. The fact is, however, that monotasking (doing just a single thing at a time, rather than trying to do a whole bunch at once) is much more productive and efficient than multitasking. So how do we keep ourselves focused on that single project? How do we keep our minds supernaturally focused on task?
Well, meditation helps, for a start. Learning to control your brain is a big step. However, I’ve also got another method I like to use to keep on task. It’s known as The Pomodoro Technique! Now, over on the site they’e got a book for you to buy and a timer for you to use and stuff, and you can get totally into that if you want, but I’ll break it down for you here. Basically, the idea is you work in relatively short bursts, and reward yourself with relatively short breaks. Typical interval is you focus on something for twenty-five minutes, then take a break for five minutes or so. Repeat four times, and then take a longer break (15-30 minutes). In doing this, you keep from burning out, you stay focused, and you stay on point.
Now, sometimes those intervals don’t work well for everyone. I have some days where I work much better with a 10 focus/2 rest interval, or a longer 30 minute focus, 5 minute rest interval setup. The basic idea is to just find an interval set that works for you, stick with it, and watch your focus and productivity skyrocket. Seriously, this is powerful stuff!
So, that’s it for The Skills of Zeratul! Check back tomorrow for The Mind of Zeratul! Until then, as always, remember to live boldly, change the world, and continue to be awesome!
Dan “DaRatmastah” Wallace