Guy Windsor: I’m here today with Ginny Beatty, who is a historical fencer in the SCA, and she took up arms in her late forties. So without further ado, Ginny, welcome to the show.
Ginny Beatty: Thank you, Guy. I am happy to be here.
Guy Windsor: Whereabouts in the world are you?
Ginny Beatty: I live in the United States, in Columbus, Ohio, capital of Ohio. Here, I’ve lived in this city for about 25 years. Before that I lived in Dayton, Ohio, Cincinnati, Pittsburgh, Florida, and Connecticut. So I’ve travelled around a bit.
Guy Windsor: So what’s wrong with the West Coast then?
Ginny Beatty: Right now it’s falling into the ocean because of all the flooding.
Guy Windsor: Well, I only ask because you seem to have avoided it, you’ve been like top and bottom of the east coast. And a little bit in the middle.
Ginny Beatty: I have a lot of friends there. My partner actually moved from California to Ohio for the same reasons, you know, the weather, the politics and all that. But currently, you know, it’s flooding. You know, there’s fires. I mean, the most we have here in Ohio are tornadoes, you know. And those happened very rarely and not in the cities.
Guy Windsor: And they take you to Oz.
Ginny Beatty: Right. And, you know, California is a great place to visit. There’s Disneyland. There’s the woods, the forests.
Guy Windsor: Most importantly, there’s the Getty Museum in Los Angeles where they have the Getty manuscript.
Ginny Beatty: Yeah. Mostly I’ve visited Northern California, but Southern is definitely on the on the radar sometime in the future to the Getty and all that. But I enjoy the Bay Area.
Guy Windsor: What’s so nice about Ohio? I’ve been to a lot of America. I’ve never been to Ohio. So what’s the attraction?
Ginny Beatty: Well, it’s flat. For one thing. We have four seasons. We have a variety. We promote a lot of small business here in the area. I live in the capital of the state. So there’s a lot of industry surrounding government, insurance, banking, a lot of white collar work. There’s a large entrepreneurial spirit here. And we have swords.
Guy Windsor: Right. Well, I’ve been to state capitals in America. Well, I mean, Lansing, Michigan, is not exactly the most thriving metropolis.
Ginny Beatty: No, no. Columbus has a thriving metropolis. We do a lot, I mean, along with the capital, there’s a lot of expansion into some of the areas around it that promote small business, maker spaces. I have a friend of mine who’s a professional blacksmith who has a shop right outside of town. He appeared on Forged in Fire, and that helped promote his business as a blacksmith and a teacher. We have professional sports teams, we have hockey, we have a large collegiate presence, which also attracts a lot of international students. What I like about Columbus is the food. With the culture that comes into Columbus they bring their food. So just along my street, I live in a suburb. I can get Korean food, Chinese, Thai, Russian, French, Japanese. It’s just a lot of different cuisines here are available. Yeah, we have a Honda plant up north.
Guy Windsor: Yeah, you’re selling me on Columbus. I have to include it in my itinerary.
Ginny Beatty: Okay. Yeah. It’s a great place for a foodie and thrift shops. And the culture is very, you know, it’s very relaxed and welcoming. We do like our sports, though. Yeah, we do like our American football, collegiate football specifically. And our professional teams that are in the surrounding areas but mostly Columbus is Ohio State College football. Yeah that’s our that’s our pro team more or less.
Guy Windsor: Okay. And speaking of food I understand you also are interested in historical cookery?
Ginny Beatty: Yes. I started cooking when I was in Girl Scouts when I was a kid. And my mother and I actually helped develop and produce my first feast when I was in college. And so I started out, back then there wasn’t many research materials available except in research libraries. And when I was at college, they had a really good reference library. So starting from manuscripts and, you know, this also plays into a lot of the historical sword work and starting from manuscripts. So I started with manuscripts in the library and over the decades, it has developed into a more scholarly body of work, more publications, more scholars and everything like that. So I just took an interest in historical cooking because I’ve always loved to cook. And within the SCA, one of our things that really people enjoy are banquets and feasts. So I design essentially historical themed banquets. I have a team that I’ve developed over the last 20 years or so, and we produce banquets. Last weekend we did a 12th Night theme, sort of a buffet style where there is activities and revelry during the day, dancing, socialising and all that. And we produced meals every couple of hours, sort of like an all day feast. You know, the hobbits would love it. But yeah, feeding people brings me a lot of joy and that brings people together. So that’s one of the things I really enjoy about cooking, is the just the body of work that’s available out there. I mean, I have an entire bookshelf of nothing but historical cookbooks. And when I go to antique shows, antique stores or thrift stores, I try and find like editions of cookbooks, like The Joy of Cooking. I have several editions starting back in the forties through present day because the content changes over time. I can find a recipe for like mincemeat pie from 1948 that doesn’t exist in a current volume of the same book, same title. But so it’s preserving history in a sort of way, preserving the culture of the time. And it gives you a snapshot of if you wanted to produce like, you know, a 1940s American dinner. Here’s where you can draw from and all that. And it’s about providing that dining experience that I find really rewarding and enjoyable.
Guy Windsor: So what’s your favourite period to cook in?
Ginny Beatty: I’ve studied a lot of the European cookery styles, but my favourite is actually in the Asian cultures. I developed an interest in Asian cookery a long time ago and I found it was an unexplored niche in our organisation. So I decided to sort of major in that and explore where it took me and what I found, and I focussed on the 14th century of China, which is right before the Mongol invasion of China, and the capital city at that time was Hangzhou. And what I found was that the urban development of sort of the urbanisation, the cities and everything like that was far more developed than what I can see comparatively in Western Europe. So there you’ve got a lot of city cooking, street food, restaurants, catering, banquets. And I explored that area and I found it really fascinating to find out that in the 1300s that takeout was authentic and that was like sort of a light bulb moment for me.
Guy Windsor: The Chinese were doing takeout in the 13th century?
Ginny Beatty: Yeah, there’s pictures. There’s drawings of street food and restaurants and woodcuts in museums that show this thing. And there’s excerpts of how these banquets were just so elaborately designed for nobility and the royalty in the time, the emperor and all that. And so I find it fascinating that you have this this microcosm and at the same time over comparatively, they’re still emerging from plagues and other things happening in the area. And so I have it most of the manuscripts of Western Europe at the time are mostly focussed on the nobility. Like you have the Duke of Savoy’s banquet and a whole elaborate description of that, but you really don’t hear about peasant food or city food or anything like that. It’s sort of a strange compare and contrast that you have all this culture, this deep culture in Asia that was largely unexplored until you had Marco Polo, who was a great tourist, other people describing it and bringing it back to the west. And they were like, I thought these people were barbarians. It’s like, well, that’s a no.
Guy Windsor: No. I have a question. So if you’re, say, reconstructing food from 14th century China. I’m assuming you don’t read Chinese yourself.
Ginny Beatty: I do not. There are a lot of translations.
Guy Windsor: So what sources are you using?
Ginny Beatty: I have a book. There’s actually a book called Soup for the Con. It’s a translation done by Eugene Anderson and his compatriot, whose name I can’t remember right now. They have had it translated and highly annotated, which they have the woodcuts and the prints from the book, from the actual manuscript itself, and then they translate it. So you have all of these lists of recipes that explain what this is, maybe not. And they have measurements which are in the 14th century Central Asian Chinese at the time. So you sort of have to do a little bit of math and try and get the equivalence to do that. So it’s a little bit of extrapolation and a leap of faith. This is kind of how I interpret this dish and this is how I would present it based on based on the material. So a lot of the work in any kind of historical context that doesn’t have like specific recipes or plates, because we don’t have photographs, we have drawings, we have prints and everything like that. And the ingredients obviously have changed over the centuries. So you have to sort of give it your best shot as what’s the closest thing you can get to it? Also, fortunately, I have a lot of Asian grocery stores around town so I can get equivalent food for that. It’s not just, you know, dim sum and, you know, a lot of Americanised things like chop suey or fortune cookies or anything. It’s nothing like that. These were elaborate banquets designed to, it’s conspicuous consumption. This is how wealthy I am, how important, how powerful I am. And it was clearly a demonstration of power what you provided your guests that you can provide them on silver and porcelain and plates like that, and have these entertainers and this elaborate tableau of this experience. There’s a picture of a scholar’s banquet where everything is all in small dishes. You know, there’s a basically a low table. You have all the scholars sort of milling around in this courtyard and all the dishes are presented on this this low table. And they’re all like small plates. It’s all very much sampling. It’s not a sit down, pile your food up to the top, banquet. It’s all like just small plates, samples and everything like that.
Guy Windsor: Like a tasting menu in a modern restaurant.
Ginny Beatty: Yeah. But it’s the background to this picture. So yeah.
Guy Windsor: So you’re, you’re clearly very interested in the historical food side of things. But at some point you decided actually to swing swords around.
Ginny Beatty: So I use knives in one place, so might as well switch to something else. I mean, when I was a kid, my father took me to a Renaissance fair and at the time the SCA did a demo there. And so here I am this eight year old kid looking around and someone puts a rattan sword, the armoured combat weapons form is rattan, not steel. So there I am, this eight year old kid. They put a helmet on me, I swung the sword. I’m like, this is really cool. And then, when I went to college there was a demo. I went to Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, and there was a demonstration on campus of the local SCA Club on campus, and I found out about it from a from a floor mate of mine and figured out that this is the same group that I saw when I was a kid. So I told my dad about it and so I joined up in college and there was a local event coming in Cincinnati, which was a coronation event, which is we have a semi-annual changeover of the leadership. And so there’s this elaborate ceremony and daytime activities and feasts and everything like that. So I went and just the pageantry struck me of they were in this cathedral and Catholic Cathedral in Covington, Kentucky. So you have the large facades and stained glass and everything totally medieval gothic about it. And it was like, wow, this is really cool. So I stuck around and developed interest in other things. And then over time I’ve done a lot over my participation in the organisation, so I’ve done archery, I’ve done heraldry, I’ve done cooking, I’ve done cast, I make my own costumes, I’ve made cloth armour for other people. I’ve made armour for myself. I learned how to make steel armour, learn how to make weapons, things like that. And I decided I had a lot of friends who are fencers and at the time. So, you know, I was getting a little bored. I was like, I wanted to try something else because I always feel it keeps you young and active if you always explore outside of your comfort zone. So I said, I want to try this. There was the local chapter here in Columbus, had a really good teachers named Mike Morabito, who used Di Grassi as his platform, his curriculum, and he always promoted fencing. It’s fun. You should try it. So he had a lot of people involved. He had, you know, weekly classes at our practices. And I decided, you know? What’s the worst that could happen? I could try it, not like it and move on, but at least I could say I can try it and I can develop an appreciation for those who do like it. So I kept with it. He was a really supportive coach. We followed a basic curriculum of just getting started with the basics of, you know, Di Grassi has a very basic curriculum, that’s not overloaded for your basic students. So we started with the guards and the wards and the drilling and footwork and all that. And so it just progressed through it and I kept up with it. I liked it, I also liked the community itself that was doing swords. And so I built this whole new friendship network of people who really enjoy swords. And so I’ve developed a lot of friends over time, and I progressed in my studies, you know, continuing with Di Grassi and then, you know, exploring other schools, I should say Capoferro, Giganti, Fiore. And in our organisation we follow different weapons forms. You know, we started with single rapier and dagger longsword case and buckler and cloak.
Guy Windsor: Hang on, what is longsword case?
Ginny Beatty: Longsword, comma, case, two swords. Sorry. Two different things. I’m sorry.
Guy Windsor: Okay, so case as in case of rapiers.
Ginny Beatty: Those are your weapons forms, basically. You can do single rapier, single rapier and dagger. And a lot of people like to prefer single rapier and dagger because it provides you offence and defence but at the same time, no one is really working on buckler as much and I sort of just fell into buckler and I kind of like the idea of having a defensive cone around me when I’m fighting because I’m more of a defensive fighter than a very more aggressive fighter. So I like to have that cone of defence in front of me before I actually go in for a shot. And that’s sort of been my claim, I wouldn’t say fame, but it’s my interest, is buckler more than any other weapons form, than like say dagger because that is very popular. But I like to promote other weapons forms.
Guy Windsor: So you have a buckler in one hand, is it a rapier or single handed sword in the other?
Ginny Beatty: A rapier, usually. I have several rapiers. I’ve got a dark wood, usually a 42 inch. I have a steel arms 40, and I think I have another. I just picked up another dark wood 40. It’s a little lighter for me and it helps. It just feels more balanced for me to have a shorter sword. Not a really long, you know, I know people who use 45 inch swords, which I think is that’s a lot of sword to play with.
Guy Windsor: And it depends how tall you are. The sword length should be proportionate to your height.
Ginny Beatty: I’m five foot six. So I would prefer a shorter sword, which means my range has got to be a little closer. So getting in range is a bit challenging, especially when I’m going up against taller opponents with longer arms. I really have to sort of move around them a lot more and then use my defence more before I can get in a decent shot. So what I like to do with that is, keep my buckler in front of me and actually work angles. Di Grassi, in his forms, had a lot of things with compass step. A lot of people still seem to be in a very linear front and back approach, but if you can change your angle just ever so slightly, you can get in under that, cover their sword and get in. So I tend to try and move on to the sides a little bit in order to get my target in. And because our sport is more circular than linear than like Olympic fencing.
Guy Windsor: So you were in the SCA for about 20 years before you took up fencing. And the trigger for it was basically you sort of done a lot of stuff and thought, oh, that looks kind of fun. So taking up fencing, which is really very physical, relatively late. Okay. The oldest student I ever had, who successfully took up fencing, he was 65 when he began. So, yeah, you’re actually in a nice safe comfortable zone, starting in your late forties. But what was the biggest challenge associated with age when you started?
Ginny Beatty: I would say recovery. There’s a few things. A lot of the sport doesn’t promote knowledge of body mechanics as well as you would from like a professional coach. So we tend to get a lot of injury, specifically repetitive stress injuries. Tennis elbow, rotator cuff.
Guy Windsor: It’s not good.
Ginny Beatty: Things like that. And so you have to sort of deal with injury. And so I had a couple of bouts of not as much rotator cuff as tennis elbow. So I had to do physical therapy for that. And while I was trying to rest my right arm, I basically switched to working with my left hand to basically fight left handed. So that’s how I sort of made the best use of my time, was basically fighting with my left hand. Another thing that I’ve had to contend with, with recovery and age is, just staying in shape, which is where I’ve gotten into cross-training with some other activities. And I think cross-training helps build what you need to do in fencing. Fencing is essentially an aerial sport. You’re doing it in short bursts of speed. So you can do on the side, you know, other activities, high intensity interval training that promote that kind of memory to move faster and short bursts of speed as well as endurance, because you’re going to be out there. Bouts don’t last very long, but sometimes there’s going to be that waiting period where you and your opponent are like facing off against each other. And one of you blinks. And then there’s the fight. You have those kind of showdowns. Those are kind of fun to watch. Where you are just going to sit there and wait and wait and wait and you have to hold your sword in in position without letting it drop or else your guard is down and you’re open. So you kind of have to have this mindset of patience. You know, it’s not just the physical things you’re contending with, with fencing, I mean, you have to keep your body in shape. That’s one thing. But having your mindset tuned as well, I mean, learning to wait out for the right moment for that tempo, get that right shot. And so it’s a waiting game. And a lot of I think a lot of younger people in the sport just want to go out there and just stab and stab and stab. They just want to like keep hitting a shot until they get something. And it’s like, I don’t have that kind of endurance to do that. So I have to sort of wait them out and wait for the right moment. So I’m not going to go out there with a flurry of dodge, spin, parry, strike and everything like that. I’m going to wait. My game is more patience and see what happens so that I can basically be more can be more conservative in my action, but be deliberate at the same time. So I know I’m doing the right thing at the right time rather than just like flailing out there. I think that’s one of the advantages of age is a little maturity and a little perspective.
Guy Windsor: Okay. Can we just dig into the physical training side of things? So what exactly have you been doing to get fencing fit and stay that way?
Ginny Beatty: I participate in several activities. One of them is aqua aerobics, which is a pool based aerobics activity, where it’s endurance training, it provides water resistance because you can support your body better in water and you’re not dealing with gravity and movement as such.
Guy Windsor: It doesn’t stress the joints as much.
Ginny Beatty: And I go to a good fitness centre here in Columbus that is more geared towards the older crowd. It’s tied to one of the hospital networks that does heart health, cardiac rehab, physical therapy and all that. So they have a very good pool, they have a warm water pool. They have a lap pool. So the aerobics classes are done in the pool and I do an interval training class where you’re doing bursts. You’re basically building up speed and then going down. And so you do like 30, 60, 90 intervals of a certain activity, and then you switch to a different activity like jogging or lunging.
Guy Windsor: So the acrobatics and the high and high intensity interval training, they are two separate things?
Ginny Beatty: No, they’re the same.
Guy Windsor: Okay, Because how do you jog in water?
Ginny Beatty: You just jog in water. You’re not going very fast.
Guy Windsor: So are you feet on the ground?
Ginny Beatty: Yeah, it’s in the pool. It’s a four foot depth of a pool. So you’re basically up to your chest in water. I mean, you’re not treading water. That’s a different activity. But you’re basically jogging in water. You’re running in water. And then when I’m not doing that, sometimes I’ll book a block of time to run laps in the pool. Just do jogging in the pool. So you get that resistance training. you’re trying to get more strength. You don’t get necessarily speed, but your muscles are definitely being worked harder.
Guy Windsor: Yeah. And you don’t get the impact from the ground that damages your ankles and knees.
Ginny Beatty: And all that. So aerobics is really good. I also do recumbent cycling, which again is supporting my back but still working my legs at different rates of speed.
Guy Windsor: So is that a static bike or is that on the road?
Ginny Beatty: It’s a seated bike.
Guy Windsor: So you’re not moving because I have a friend who has a recumbent bike that he cycles around the streets of Helsinki.
Ginny Beatty: Yeah, it’s a recumbent bike in the gym. You’re basically seated, you have a screen, it has different programs you can plug in to. You can do different rates of speed or you can just cycle as much as you want. So I do that sometimes as a warm up to getting my legs warmed up for other activities. And then I also have an occasional weight routine with, not like weightlifting, not like barbells or anything like that, but there’s machines for legs and abductors, adductors, chest presses, rowing, you know, the seated row where you’re pulling back small amounts of weight because you need to build up your musculature as well to support holding a 3lb sword. I mean, yeah, it doesn’t weigh much but when you’re holding it for this amount of time you need to support your frame.
Guy Windsor: Honestly, most of my training, maybe 90% of my training is done without a sword. Because most of it is getting strong enough, flexible enough, fit enough for the sword work to actually be useful.
Ginny Beatty: The sword. The sword is almost like the last thing you want to do. But how we’re trained is it’s the first thing they put in your hand.
Guy Windsor: Not in my salle. In my salle you learn how to do a proper push-up.
Ginny Beatty: But my experience. So that’s, you know, unless you have a really good trainer who’s going to say, no, we’re going to put these swords down and we’re going to work on everything else up to that. When I’m coaching a beginning fencer, I like to start with footwork. I like to start with the feet because you need to move in order to move the sword. So unfortunately, some of these are like, I wanna hold a sword. All right, here’s a sword. You do this and then we’re going to get back to footwork later. So I’m a big promoter of footwork and that gets into the other thing that I do. One of my other favourite hobbies is ballroom dance, because I think ballroom dance is a great complement as far as cross-training goes, because you’re working, you’re building, you have footwork, obviously footwork patterns, you have repetitive steps, you also are building your framework. You have to keep a stable frame. And you’re working with a partner.
Guy Windsor: Although it is quite different. I did Tango for a while. Many years ago when I was single, I thought I’d go to a tango class and maybe I’ll meet some girls there. And that part of it didn’t work out. The tango was fun. The for me, the critical moment where it went from being this is really hard to this is really easy when I realised it’s not like wrestling where your opponent is working against you, it is more like riding where you just have to give the correct signals, right?
Ginny Beatty: I mean, I’ve done ballroom dance for four years and my teacher, Joey White, is a really good instructor because he understands how I’m wired. He’s not just teaching me dance. I mean, that’s where we started out. We had to learn the pattern first. We had to learn how the feet work. I had to learn how to trust my feet essentially to make it more automatic. And then we were sort of worked our way up to working with a stable frame because, as a woman, you’re mostly the follower. But that doesn’t, you know, dismiss you from keeping your frame and learning how to follow the cues of the lead. So I have to be physically able to feel those leads because it’s basically it’s a pressure. It’s a touch, it’s a turn. And your body, your entire body has to be completely engaged in this performance, in this communication. You know, there’s this connection that you have to stay connected with your partner or else the entire dance fails. The load of the dance is not entirely on the lead. It’s a cooperative partnership. And so there’s where the communication is going. It’s a conversation, and you’re moving on the floor to a certain rhythm and a certain tempo and a music and a style. So you’re building a trusted relationship with your partner because you have to trust them to get you through the right area and they have to trust you to listen and pay attention or else it’s a failure. And the same thing I think works in fencing combat as well. You have to trust your opponent. You and your opponent are actually having a conversation with swords, you know, and then you sort of dance around each other. Then eventually there’s that moment like, all right, now we go. And it’s that’s what makes it enjoyable, is that energy, sort of that energetic connection. You know, you’re just playing tag with swords and having fun doing it in different forms. But no, fencing and this is where I’m getting into with ballroom dance or any other cross-training activity is fencing has made me a better dancer because I pay attention to tempo and timing and movement. But dancing has made me a better fencer because of all the ancillary skills that I’m learning with stability, with agility, with endurance, and the mindset and patience and body mechanics awareness. I’ve had friends who’ve seen me do this as I was learning how to fence, going, Hey, your fencing is improving, your defence is better, you’re doing this and you feel more comfortable. The thing is being comfortable in your skin, that’s the important thing is you can just let the movement take care of itself because you’ve already trained everything into it already. So all you can do is once everything is focussed and plugged in, it’s more autonomous, it’s less silly, it’s less work. And discovering now with my teacher working more on finesse, I mean, we have the patterns down, the muscle memory’s there. We’re doing a much more fine tuning of the footwork, the musculature. I mean, even doing ankle exercises, calf, you know, working the legs, working the core. The core is really essential because not just your legs, just don’t lift your legs. Your entire core is going to help you move your body. So keeping your frame stable is going to move your legs forward rather than just moving your legs forward. And that eventually promotes a little more speed. Speed is the last thing you really want to focus on because you want to work slow because your muscles have to learn how to do this. And eventually, as you become more comfortable, more accustomed to it, as it becomes more automatic, speed will eventually happen.
Guy Windsor: Yeah, the mantra is slow is smooth, smooth is fast.
Ginny Beatty: Slow is smooth. And another thing with dance and this is where I attended a seminar a few months ago hosted by Kajetan Sadowski, Kaja Swords, in Baltimore, Maryland, on the Atlantic side of the coast. Hosted by a HEMA school there in Annapolis. And she had a seminar called Dance Fight.
Guy Windsor: He had.
Ginny Beatty: I’m sorry. My apologies. Yeah, that’s a new transition. Yes, at the event finally. And so, Kajetan and other instructors, Da’Mon Stith. There was also a longsword instructor who taught Waltz as a turnover into moving your body and moving the longsword better. You’re more engaged. You’re using the whole body to move the longsword rather than just your arms. We had a modern dance instructor where we did some little out of the box movement, you know, leg work, footwork, crawling on the floor, things like that. She was more. She’s also a sword person. And she does longsword.
Guy Windsor: Do you remember the name?
Ginny Beatty: So we were learning some groundwork movement, we had a ballet instructor who’s also a longsword fighter. She’s from Texas. I apologise for I don’t remember all of the names.
Guy Windsor: Was that Anna Beard?
Ginny Beatty: I believe so. I believe so.
Guy Windsor: Yeah. Because most of the people who are at that event have been on this show before. Kaja was like episode four. And Da’Mon’s been on and Anna has been on. Yeah. So it was basically you hanging out with a bunch of my crew.
Ginny Beatty: I was really excited because this is kind of where I was leading to with dancing and fighting, being complimentary activities. And so I was thinking about this earlier this year about, well, you know, I could maybe like show my fencing community in the SCA the connections, because in the Renaissance sword masters were also dance masters as well. There’s definitely a connection there. Commonly, yeah. So why not shine a light on that and people making the same connection. So I took what I had learned from that six hour seminar and for even someone my age, I still kept up. I was sore as heck the next day. I mean, it was a two day seminar and I was so exhausted the next day. But because of the training I was doing, the endurance and all that, I was still able to keep up marginally, not the same as some of the younger people. But I didn’t drop out. I kept going with it. So that’s a credit to me. And I’m not the most competitive person, but I still get out there and try, I still get out there and keep just keep moving. I think that’s a key to not ageing and getting old and having an old, tired mindset. I think you need to keep moving, keep growing, keep learning. I think that keeps you young.
Guy Windsor: Okay, here’s something that will make you laugh. A friend of mine, who I went to University with, after we graduated, not long after, she said that she was thinking about going back to university to become a doctor because she wanted to be a doctor. But she’s like, you know, maybe I’m a bit too old for it, I don’t know. And my response was, well, in five or six years’ time, you’re going to be five or six years older anyway. But you can choose whether you’re five or six years older and a doctor or five or six years older and not a doctor. It’s up to you. And so she went back to university and she graduated and became a doctor. But she asked me that question when she was, I think, 27.
Ginny Beatty: Okay.
Guy Windsor: Right. So I have the same thing when someone says, you know, well, you know, I’m 55 or whatever and I really like the idea of swords and stuff, but I’m too old for this. I’m like, you’re never going to be younger than you are now, so you might as well start now.
Ginny Beatty: Right. I mean, I was on one of our large events in Pennsylvania in the summer, Pennsic War, where we do basically fencing, we do fencing melees there, which is a whole nother creature entirely. Don’t get me started. It’s weird. It’s, you know, running with swords and playing tag. They’re trying to emulate what the armoured combatants do. And it’s a whole different game entirely. And they try and get us to do both tournament and melee and it’s completely different sports, different mindsets and all that. But a lot of people go like, yay team, we’re all going to do Melee. And I’m like, no, I’ll, I’ll be happy to referee and marshal and keep you all safe, but you go do your thing. I love what they do. I’m glad it builds camaraderie and it gives them a venue to do this. But it’s not my jam, it’s not my thing. And I applaud everyone who wants to put the effort into building cool strategies and battles and line fights and all that. But it’s not my thing. But I admire everyone who wants to do that. Anyway, getting back to that and age, I was on a unit that was assigned a task to go attack the other line. Now that unit was basically made up of people whose average age was about 50. So I was the youngest one of that, and this is about five years ago. So I was like just 52 or something like that. So we did this thing, you know, there was about five or six of us called the Angry Bird Squad because we all had bestowed awards for service in our organisation called The Pelican. And the Pelicans in the medieval period are known for like sacrificing themselves for their children, everything like that. So this unit was made up of old grizzled pelicans, who were fencers. And so we were tasked to go get this unit on the other side, which was made up of the other side’s leaders and royalty and everything like that. So we went there and we defeated them and we mostly just went there and in our unit and mowed them down and came back and let go of the outcome and had fun doing it. And then we got recognised for that. We got a group bravery award for doing that. And the King at the time was a really good friend of mine and he said he gave us this award for just doing something spectacular. We didn’t know we were going to get an award for this. We just went and did it. We’re having a lot of fun. So we got recognised for bravery for this unit whose average age was 50. And so the young kids around us were like, what? You can still do this. Oh, yeah, it’s the old age and treachery line.
Guy Windsor: Right. My old fencing coach Bert Bracewell used to say youth and vigour are no match for old age and treachery.
Ginny Beatty: Right. So yeah, we’re still out there playing and it’s great. And these are friends of mine who’ve been fencing for a while since their late twenties. So they have decades more experience than I do. Decades more injury, decades more this or more renown. But we all came together and did this thing. It didn’t matter, age level, experience level or you know, rank level or anything like it. We just went out collectively and did the thing. And that’s a lot of fun. That’s a lot of the joy I like out of this sport is the collective, the community, the camaraderie and everything like that. Not just a single thing. I mean, yes, when you’re on the list, when you’re in a tournament, that’s you and your opponent, that’s the singular thing. And I wanted to do that because I wanted to do something that’s an individual thing. When I’m cooking, that’s a team activity and I love it. But I wanted to do something that really helped me individually that I can do myself, you know, even though there’s an entire community around me, it’s just me and my opponent on that field just like that, rather than, you know, hey, I need you to do this and this and this and this. It was a shift I feel I needed to keep growing and all that.
Guy Windsor: Now you’ve brought up cookery again. So what are your views on sports nutrition?
Ginny Beatty: Oh, I’m a fan of sports nutrition.
Guy Windsor: Specifically.
Ginny Beatty: Specifically, it’s important to have a plan, have a nutrition plan while you’re training.
Guy Windsor: And so what’s yours?
Ginny Beatty: My daily nutrition is a high protein breakfast, usually eggs or nuts and fruit and toast when before I train, before I go to practice, I have a small meal because they don’t want to load down my system with a lot of carbohydrates and calories and everything like that because it’s going to slow me down. All the blood flow is going to go into the system and, you know, do that. So I have a light meal before practice. We go out afterwards, so I have a more of a recovery snack after that, usually salad, lots of fluids and everything like that for recovery. And then during the day when I’m at a tournament, my snack plan is to have a meal in the morning, a protein based meal in the morning, fluids, hydration, small snacks during the day to keep my energy level up and then recovery afterwards, because you need to keep the calories going. You’re not going to be able to process them immediately. So you kind of have to have a store of glycogen energy and everything like that to the moment. So your plan ahead of time has to be building up your energy stores so you have a tank to draw from.
Guy Windsor: So, what are you having for snacks? So, snacks is the hardest nut to crack. Meals are quite easy to get right, but it’s hard to find snacks that don’t screw you up.
Ginny Beatty: Mostly my snacks include like nuts, cheeses, liquids, small, digestible, easily digestible meals not like sandwich, not like heavy sandwiches or pasta or anything like that. It’s got to be something small and just easily digestible.
Guy Windsor: So like a handful of nuts and a glass of water, maybe a piece of cheese.
Ginny Beatty: Dried fruit gives you that sugar, gives you a little bit of sugar to keep your blood sugar up. It’s also going to depend on what your body type is, especially if you’re diabetic. It’s going to be individually tailored. No one can actually have the same kind of meal to be able to do that. So I’m a fan of smaller, smaller, more frequent meals because I’m hypoglycaemic. So I need to keep my blood sugar level rather than having this giant carb loaded breakfast of like waffles and Danish and donuts and stuff like that because that’ll spike my blood sugar within an hour and then it’ll crash and bad things happen.
Guy Windsor: So why, if you don’t mind me asking, are you hypoglycaemic?
Ginny Beatty: It’s genetic. It’s something I’ve recognised over time that, that’s just how my body is. It’s been like that since I was a young adult. So I recognise that I can’t have all the sweets and sugars and things like that because it’ll knock me out. It’s the opposite of diabetes. It’s a different condition.
Guy Windsor: But the treatment is almost the same. It’s avoid sugar.
Ginny Beatty: There’s different outcomes. I’m not on insulin, you know, I’m not on medication for it. It’s something that you have to control through diet and nutrition. So the moderate amount of protein, the lower carbohydrates, vegetables, fresh fruit or something like that are key to having a balanced level of balance, level of nutrition and energy, as well as blood sugar, because there have been times where during late afternoon or something like that before I was more aware of my nutritional needs. Where 3:00 comes around, I’m starving, or I had this really big lunch and I fall asleep right after work. So I have this huge burger, sandwich, whatever, shake, coke, whatever. And an hour later, I’m conked out on my desk. So then I counter that by all right. I had to get something to eat and a cup of coffee to spike it up again. And that’s not a very good cycle to have. So now I have a balanced breakfast, a moderate lunch, like a wrap, you know, a chicken wrap with tortilla or a chicken salad or tuna fish with something small. A small snack after work like cheese and crackers, a little bit of something. And then dinner is a little larger, I mean, I love to cook. My partner likes to cook. And then usually Thursday after I come back from dance class is pizza night.
Guy Windsor: Sounds like you earned it.
Ginny Beatty: I’m not cooking that day. Because I have a lesson from 6 to 7:30, and I’m coming back and I’m like, All right, I don’t have the time and energy to cook. So it’s usually either buying frozen pizza, cooking it, or ordering a pizza from the local pizza shop around here. So that’s that. And otherwise, I love cooking breakfast, you know, waffles, eggs, biscuits and gravy, things like that, which is American Southern.
Guy Windsor: Very American, very American.
Ginny Beatty: American southern treat. What I like to put on top of waffles and all that. That’s the part where nutrition and recovery important. So and then after events, everyone likes to go out to dinner or eat feasts for your recovery. Anyhow I find milkshakes very restorative because you have the dairy, it’s easily transported, easily digestible than like something solid. So you’ve got the liquid, you have the sugar, you’ve got the milk protein, the lactose to help restore you. And then more fluids. I like a fruit based energy drink that’s not that’s not all sugary like Gatorade. It’s called Scratch. It’s more fruit sugars rather than like high fructose corn syrup or any other of the other.
Guy Windsor: I think high fructose corn syrup does not belong in the human diet. I don’t think anyone should ever eat it. It’s disgusting.
Ginny Beatty: We actively avoid any product with high fructose corn syrup, especially like bread or anything like that. We check. Yeah, we’re label checking when we’re grocery shopping. We try to eliminate anything with high fructose corn syrup, natural sugars, like even maple syrup. It’s expensive, but you’re not putting this crap in your body. You know, I don’t use white sugar a lot, I don’t add sugar to things unless I’m baking. Even my morning coffee is like coffee and milk and that’s it. Or tea is straight up, you know, no extra sugar, anything like that. No real lumps of sugar because I can taste the difference. Sure, I don’t know if it’s me personally, but sometimes after I have like something with sugar in it or sugar solid, it tastes sour a few minutes later. It’s a weird sensation for me that I do that. So I tend to avoid sugars and artificial sweeteners as much as possible for me, because I like the actual flavour of the item itself.
Guy Windsor: Yeah. So what is your preferred recovery drinks? Milkshakes are one option.
Ginny Beatty: Usually I make a fruit smoothie. Frozen fruit, some protein powder, some water. I have a little blender. I make that up. Especially after water aerobics, my legs feel like Jell-O after that. So it’s really shaky. So I have to recover fairly quickly to do that.
Guy Windsor: Also in the water, you’re losing a lot of energy through heat.
Ginny Beatty: Yeah, I need to replace it quick, as soon as I get home or on the way home. The other day, the front desk of the of the facility has a case of different drinks and Gatorade, Vitamin Water, everything like that. I like the product called Vitamin Water, which is restorative. It’s not as cloying as Gatorade and it tastes good to me. So that helped me get at least get my blood sugar up to a level where I can function and then I go home and then it’s dinner time. So there’s like chicken salads.
Guy Windsor: We should probably highlight the fact that you are naturally hypoglycaemic. And so you’re taking these sugars to restore your blood sugar to a normal level, correct? Someone who is not hypoglycaemic following the same dietary program would probably put on a lot of weight really quickly and be really unfit because all that extra sugar is not necessary.
Ginny Beatty: With hypoglycaemia also comes conditions known as insulin resistance, which I have insulin, I just process it differently. So it’s hard for me to lose weight. So I need the higher protein, and less sugars to store because I’m five, six and you know, I’m a little fluffy around the edges, but I’m still active. All of this is not all fat. There’s muscle underneath it.
Guy Windsor: Tat’s what I keep saying as well. It’s like, no, I have abs, they’re just underneath.
Ginny Beatty: This layer, this nice curvy layer is all that.
Guy Windsor: It’s essential installation, you know, especially if you’re going to be swimming.
Ginny Beatty: I am derived from good hardy western European peasant stock. I’m not going to starve any time soon.
Guy Windsor: Excellent. So what is the best idea you haven’t acted on yet? You seem to have done loads of things. What’s next?
Ginny Beatty: One thing I’m getting started on is this concept of dancing and fighting, you know, coordinating the activities. I’ve just got this idea of this is important for people to know about cross-training. They want to understand their structure. So I took the ideas I learned from the Dance Fight seminar, Kajetan and all them. I mean, that was like 12 hours and condense some of the highlights into like one hour where I talked about, I sort of did a top down approach, sort of head, shoulders, knees and toes, you know, like your head does this, your shoulders keep a stable frame. Your core is important, your legs are important, your feet are important. And this sort of went through like layer by layer of the why behind it. Your shoulders and your scapula hold your weapon more than your arms do. And having that supportive frame will reduce injury. You’re not just taking your arm and just going out there wailing on someone more like holding a baseball bat, because that’s going to lead to your repetitive stress injury with your joints. So you need your shoulders in there too, and your core to help move the sword forward faster. There’s a better flow. So we actually demonstrated that. I had a friend of mine who was a massage therapist in my class and basically I stood there and she pointed out all the different muscle groups and why they’re important to support. And then I had some partners in the audience help me demonstrate just swinging a sword with my arm versus swinging a sword with my entire body, with the whole core rotation. And there are a lot of people going, Oh, that’s really cool. Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. So moving your legs, using your engaging your obliques to move your legs forward and not just your legs and all that.
Guy Windsor: So, yeah, I mean, it’s been my experience that almost everybody is holding their sword at least slightly wrong. And so their mechanics are slightly out already as soon as they pick it up. And yeah, I spend a lot of time on the mechanics, really going down into the depth and detail.
Ginny Beatty: Do you notice a difference between female body mechanics and male body mechanics when you’re training people? Is there a difference because of the way our bodies are constructed?
Guy Windsor: Somebody should we say somebody with a female pattern pelvis is going to have a different sort of organisation, particularly ankles, knees and hips. The knees are going to tend to come in a little bit so there are things you have to do about that. From the waist up, it’s less of an issue except that female skeletons tend to be more prone to hypermobility. So there are things you have to do. For example, in a push up position where somebody with a male skeleton can usually lock their arms out and rest on their arms without doing any damage. If someone with a female skeleton, female joints, does that the elbows slightly hyperextend and particularly with the sword, that hyperextension of the elbow is really damaging. So the rules are the same, the specific implementation of the rules changes depending on your hypermobility, depending on the shape of your pelvis. Although, I would actually say that there is as much variation between one male or female and the next as there is between male as a group and female as a group. So it’s not like this is correct for all male pattern skeletons because there are some hyper mobile men.
Ginny Beatty: I know several people who are hyper mobile of both genders, and all that entails.
Guy Windsor: So the male/female distinction is useful, you need to know about it, and it’s a useful sort of division, so long as you understand that it’s a Venn diagram that overlaps, it’s not two separate circles.
Ginny Beatty: Yeah. Okay.
Guy Windsor: And the thing is, it can lead to lazy teaching because you say, okay, women do this, men do that. And that leaves the non-binaries completely unrepresented.
Ginny Beatty: I’ve seen more non-binaries enter the organisation and all that. And so we have to be very sensitive to everybody’s physical needs as far as teaching.
Guy Windsor: But also the thing about the knees and the pelvis, it’s true for most people with a female skeleton, but not all. Because some people that are born female have skeletons are closer to a male pattern and some people who are born male have skeletons that is closer to the female pattern.
Ginny Beatty: It’s not cut and dry. There are a full spectrum of conditions for any person.
Guy Windsor: So what I try to do is I teach students the correct relationship between ankle and knee and hip and how to connect the sword to the ground etc. And then we come up with adjustments for that specific person’s specific skeleton. And yes, generally speaking, these kinds of emphases or approaches are going to be more commonly used with women. But that’s not a hard and fast rule. So there is a difference. But we’ve been talking about what you have done. What is there in the back of your head thinking, well, I really would like to get to this one day? Is there anything?
Ginny Beatty: I don’t know. I’ve got a lot on my plate right now.
Guy Windsor: It’s OK. I mean, it’s seriously quite a common
Ginny Beatty: I’ve got a lot on my plate. It’s a new year, I want to meet in my work life goals here, goals and other places and everything like that. So it’s been balancing act for quite some time. So a lot of it is like finding the time, the space, the budget, to travel to, to do things like that. That’s sort of where I’m at right now.
Guy Windsor: So maybe work life balance is the thing to fix?
Ginny Beatty: Part of it is balance. I mean, my job is fairly stable with what I do here. I work for a health network, a hospital network here in central Ohio as an analyst. So I do a lot with reporting, spreadsheets, a lot of that with the insurance industry. So that sort of keeps my mind active to do that. I do a lot of reporting for management level for our revenue cycle part of our division. So I do a lot of analytics. I’m in my head a lot during the day. So when I’m not on the clock. I want to do something that’s not exactly in my head all the time. I want to be a little bit more out there. And I work from home, I work remotely, and so usually I want to be out of the house as much as possible. So I would like clock out for the day, shut down my computer and then go somewhere, go out, go to the gym, go to a park, walk in the park, if it’s a nice day out or bundle up if it’s not. You know, there have been times in the middle of winter I bundle up, coat, hat, gloves, ski pants, just go to a lake and sit on the beach for a while. It’s cold, it’s dreary, but it’s outside.
Guy Windsor: Yeah. Away from the computer.
Ginny Beatty: Away from the computers is great because I’m on too much screen time all the time. So I want to be outside doing something open air, live with other humans rather than on a screen and all that, you know? That’s where I’m at right now and my both my partner and I love to travel. We like, have great adventures. Even during the covid shutdown here, we tried to get small outdoor trips to parks around the area, other places. I mean, planning a trip was challenging with all the regulations during the time we were trying to plan a trip to Maine. And we were almost at the point of going and then New York shut down, you know, if you come here, you have to isolate for two weeks and then go. So we had to plan another trip. Where can we go that’s fun, isolated and safe? And so we ended up going another direction entirely and made a little mini vacation out of that. And we ended up going more southeast to West Virginia to these Cold Springs which was near Maryland. So we went to a couple of battlefields. We went to Gettysburg to see that, the national park there, see the presidential home of Dwight Eisenhower, and just sort of see the country itself, back roads kind of travelling. The stuff you don’t see in your travel logs, off the beaten path kind of stuff I think is fascinating.
Guy Windsor: So if there was one place in the world that you could go, where would you like to go?
Ginny Beatty: I really want to go see Italy, northern Italy, like the Milan area.
Guy Windsor: Good choice.
Ginny Beatty: Northern Italy, the Italian Alps. I think that area’s fascinating.
Guy Windsor: It’s fabulous.
Ginny Beatty: Yeah. I love to see the museums and all that. I haven’t done much international travel. I mean, you know, Canada is right there. I’ve been there. But the British Isles, I’ve been to England, Scotland, and Ireland. And I love the countries. I love the country there. My favourite place in Scotland is Glasgow. I love that. I really love it. It’s modern and ancient at the same time. It’s got this grit about it that I find fascinating. I mean, Edinburgh was lovely. I loved going through the old areas, places where movies were filmed. They were filming the latest Avengers movie when I was there back in 2017. So that was kind of fun to see. And then we’d go off to the Highlands and we took a bus tour of Highlands, Loch Ness and all that, but Glasgow really resonated with me. It was really, really nice. I really enjoyed that film that.
Guy Windsor: Did you get to go to the Kelvingrove Museum?
Ginny Beatty: I can’t remember if I went to that.
Guy Windsor: Enormous place. They have a Spitfire literally hanging up inside.
Ginny Beatty: We did go to the automotive museum there.
Guy Windsor: Oh, okay. Next time, Kelvingrove museum. It has a fabulous arms and armour collection.
Ginny Beatty: And we were on kind of a schedule. So we couldn’t see everything. I mean, in Scotland, we went to Culloden and we went to Edinburgh Castle and spent the day there. And then Ireland was lovely.
Guy Windsor: But the Kelvingrove.
Ginny Beatty: Kelvingrove. I got it.
Guy Windsor: It has the best arms and armour collection Scotland.
Ginny Beatty: When I go back to England I’d love to go to where is it now? Leeds. The armoury.
Guy Windsor: Leeds. The Royal Armouries.
Ginny Beatty: Yeah, yeah. Leeds was fun. The Cleveland Museum here in Ohio has a great armour exhibit as well. You know, it’s got a very nice exhibit hall of swords and armour, arms and armour and all that. So if you’re ever in the area I know people who can give you a tour.
Guy Windsor: Oh, fantastic. Okay, the last question. Somebody gives you $1,000,000 to spend improving historical martial arts or indeed historical cookery worldwide. How would you spend it?
Ginny Beatty: First of all, I mean, once I get the money, I think I would need some time before I start dispensing it. So it’s going to be sort of held in escrow and investments for about a year or so. And then what I’m going to do is start canvassing the people of interest who want to do something like this, either cookery or armoured combat and say, this is what I have, this is what I want to do to promote more scholarship. I mean, we do have a lot of scholars, but a lot of them are self-funded or they’re professors or they’re people like you, independent scholars. But I want to promote sort of the new era of scholarship, the new masters, you know, so people who take the manuscripts. But there’s got to be something beyond that. Who promote it, make it relevant to today. So what I want to do, and as well as the equipment that goes along with it, to recreate all the equipment so you can actually have a more accurate experience with the equipment, either making more authentic cooking equipment or making better swords. I mean, we do have, you know, several great sword manufacturers here in the United States, but Eastern Europe is also a hotbed.
Guy Windsor: There are fabulous arms and armour makers all over the place these days. When I started this in the nineties, it was almost impossible to get a longsword you could actually fence with. Now you can go off the internet and you’ve got a choice of like 20 different suppliers in three different continents. It’s insane.
Ginny Beatty: I mean, now that some of them are currently deployed elsewhere in Eastern Europe, you know, with the Ukraine, Russia conflict and all that. So some of those people are making tank traps now instead of caltrops. But I don’t want that knowledge to be lost. So I think promoting, either through scholarships or small business loans, I think having a foundation for that and people applying for grants to either travel to these historical areas or to the scholars or having the scholars travel elsewhere to promote their scholarship or build programs that will promote the next level of scholarship. I know I think in California there’s a school there, and then I think there are other seminars around the country, like in Atlanta has Serfo. They have other scholars down there, Dori Koblenz and other people just promote the people who, you know, they have a day job, but they’re also scholars as well to help support that.
Guy Windsor: You know, and again, Dori has been on the show.
Ginny Beatty: Dori’s been on the show. Have you had David Biggs on the show yet?
Guy Windsor: No. David Biggs and I are friends, we’ve been friends a long time. I’ve seen him in person as recently as last year. And so when it comes to inviting people on the show because of the goals of the show, I tend to prioritise people I don’t know personally. I prioritise women. Because the show has a 51% minimum female guest list. So David is definitely on my list of people to invite and I know him really well. I know he would come on the show in a heartbeat.
Ginny Beatty: You know Wendy Colbert? She’s a student. She’s out of Pittsburgh. She retired as a Montessori teacher. And she became a personal trainer, so.
Guy Windsor: Okay, Wendy Colbert.
Guy Windsor: Look at her. She’s brilliant. She’s a good friend of David’s. So it’s sort of like a second degree of generation.
Guy Windsor: Yeah. And, you know, any friend of David’s is probably a friend of mine.
Ginny Beatty: Wendy is a firm believer of teaching the mechanics, I mean, we’ve taught in similar events where she brings all of her equipment, like her balance ball, some of her weights. And what she does as a fitness routine. She’s more on the on the fitness side. And I’m like the nutrition side. So it’s complimentary. So she’s another one. She’s been fencing most of her life and now she’s doing now she’s retired from that. And now she’s doing her next her next thing is being a personal trainer. Which is great.
Guy Windsor: I will have a little research and I might ping you for an introduction.
Ginny Beatty: Yeah, she’d be thrilled.
Guy Windsor: Excellent. Okay, so with your million dollars, you’d create a sort of grant program to support the scholarship side of things.
Ginny Beatty: And the equipment.
Guy Windsor: Yes. And the kind of equipment and small business loans for people like me.
Ginny Beatty: Yes, exactly.
Guy Windsor: That would be fantastic. Brilliant. Well, if I had the money, I’ll probably give it to you.
Ginny Beatty: Oh, thanks. I know I’m a great financial planner. Having money is key to success.
Guy Windsor: Yeah, absolutely. Well, thanks so much for joining me today, Ginny.
Ginny Beatty: I really enjoyed getting to know you. And I’m glad to be part of your journey with promoting more women in this sport that we all love dearly and all that. And hopefully I can provide some insight into what it means to be an ageing female athlete. And I appreciate the opportunity, so I look forward to hearing it and then of course telling all my friends saying, hey, look at this thing that I did, isn’t this really cool? I was excited because when I got the message I went, “No! THE Guy Windsor?” And so when you told me, Oh, Okay, I’m good. I’m good. Okay, I’m excited. But thank you so much for the opportunity. I appreciate it. And I wish you the best of luck and everything. All right.