Tag Archives: vocabulary

How to Expand Your Vocabulary

The first thing you need to do when working with a rifle or sword/saber is to be comfortable with that piece of equipment. Your comfort level determines how well you will drill. When you have mastered the manual of arms and have begun to explore single hand spins, double handed spins, behind-the-back (BTB) spins and even over-the-head (OTH) spins, and are comfortable with these moves, you can then explore different ways to manipulate the rifle.

A wide vocabulary helps create variations which then expanded the vocabulary even more. But how does a Driller widen his or her vocabulary? Through experimentation. There are several ways you can experiment.

Hand Placement
Let’s say you are spinning a rifle in a flow segment that you have created that goes from single front spins with the left hand into a BTB spin while turning your body 180° twice to end up at Port Arms. Moving through that sequence as slowly as you can you can feel the rifle in each hand- but what if you change the position of one of your hands? What if instead of catching the rifle on the bottom to move into the BTB you actually catch the rifle with your hand on top? Where can this position then take you and the rifle? Or you could extend your reach and catch the rifle underneath closer towards the end where the barrel is, where would this take you and the rifle?

This may be stating the obvious but, you have to let the rifle’s momentum work for you.

Stopping the rifle with different parts of your body (arm, foot, thigh, hand) is another way to experiment.

Individual Move Variations
So, you can execute a Ninja well. How about a backward Ninja (rifle spins the opposite direction and hands directly opposite on the rifle)? Do you spin the rifle only in one direction? Start spinning in both directions. Spinning in the opposite direction can open up new move variations.

Are you right- or left-hand dominant? Start using your less dominant hand. This will open up all kinds of opportunities for variation.

Be as creative as possible. If you need some personal help, shoot me a message through the Contact page. I critique videos all the time.

What is Articulation?

Articulation is to speak so that one is understood. It is not only about speaking clearly (enunciating words), but also about speaking clearly (using words that are easily understood for your audience). Got that? (photo courtesy of stripes.com)

But what does this have to do with drill? Plenty.

A Driller can step onto the performance floor and not be clear; not articulate well. How is this accomplished if the Driller is not speaking? Through movement. A Driller communicates through movement. The Driller’s language is movement and an audience can ‘read’ that language.

Considering the Language of Movement
A written/spoken language is made up of words which create sentences which, hopefully, communicate coherent/articulated ideas or thought. The same goes for a non-verbal language like drill: individual movements (words), body and equipment, create phrases (sentences) which communicate which again, hopefully, communicate coherent/articulated ideas or thought.

Consider each move a Driller makes as a word: facing movements, the positions of the manual of arms and then more advanced “words” would be exhibition-type movement. Movements make up a Driller’s vocabulary.

Youwouldneverwritelikethis,becauseit’sverydifficulttounderstand and not writin al of th letter of all o th wor wil driv yo mad! Not using punctuation (run-on sentences) creates frustration- you never know where the sentence ends and where to take a visual breath or break. Without punctuation, the ‘voice’ of what you are reading is lost: where are the highs and lows? Are these several words a phrase or are there two phrases? Plus there are other problems.

Just like the sentence above where the words are not completed, the most common way to not articulate well is to not complete movements. This is extremely common among Drillers. The Driller is thinking of the next move before the last one is finished and tends to not complete the last move. This has a great deal to do with the performance maturity of the Driller.

The sentence above without spaces between words mirrors the routine that is one long super-move or a routine of several super-moves (this is not a good thing). The audience needs to be able to see a separation between moves- not all moves, you need to find that balance.

Having a Wide Vocabulary
I talk about vocabulary here. And here.

Once you begin to increase your vocabulary, you will find it easier to create new moves. Vocabulary isn’t just about the rifle, sword or arm movements that you know. It’s also very much about marching/step style, head and body movement.

While you need to vary your sentence and paragraph length and not repeat the same words over again, the same goes for a visual performance like military drill. Repetition is an effect killer and so is making your phrasing the same length or same style- like always ending a phrase with a big move (exclamation point).

Variation also applies to the same move executed a little differently.

Clarity and Logic
So, articulation is about clear communication. It’s also about making logical sense: placing moves where they follow others in a logical order and, if you are a soloist are part of a tandem, allowing the rifle to take you around the drill pad and not pushing the rifle around.

What do I mean by allowing the rifle to lead? A good example of “pushing the rifle around” is during your solo routine, executing a facing movement and then drilling of in that direction, facing another direction and doing the same thing. This kind of routine communicates a lack of understanding of routine design.

What is Vocabulary?

When speaking in terms of drill and performance, vocabulary deals with the amount of different movements displayed in a routine. For the body there is vocabulary for your feet, the head, arms and hands, and the torso. When armed, vocabulary deals with manipulation of the piece of equipment (sword/saber, rifle or guidon).

Vocabulary means each individual movement. A set of movements is called a phrase and a phrase can be long or short. When designing a routine you want a good deal of vocabulary and you want long and short phrases. It’s the same with writing: if you have a small vocabulary and use only short sentences or have no variation, the reader is not going to be entertained or informed as well as he or she could be.

Along with vocabulary and long and short phrases, a Driller must use variation. Performing the same move more than once with slight variations increases the displayed vocabulary and keeps the audience active versus the repetition that can bore the audience.

Let’s look at the presidential honor guard drill teams. In particular, the Silent Drill Platoon (SDP) relies on the least of vocabulary. Their rifle manual is basic movement with slight variations that are specific to the platoon. The entertainment value in this performance is the high level of excellence and also the tricks performed during the company single file front formation where the team’s non-commissioned officer does and “inspection” of two of the team members. The crowd also loves the tradition of the SDP.

The Army and Air Force drill teams have a relatively high vocabulary and the Navy and Coast Guard drill teams have a moderately low vocabulary. Next time when you watch one of these performances see how many variations of movements you can find.