Episode 133 How to build a space rocket, with Leigh Shocki

Episode 133 How to build a space rocket, with Leigh Shocki

You can also support the show at Patreon.com/TheSwordGuy Patrons get access to the episode transcriptions as they are produced, the opportunity to suggest questions for upcoming guests, and even some outtakes from the interviews. Join us!

Leigh Shocki works for Blue Origin as an Instructional Designer – she can teach you to build a rocket, even though she flunked maths. You too can work at a space company, even if you’re not a rocket scientist!

Leigh is passionate about making both space travel and swords more diverse and we discuss the code of conduct she wrote for Lonin which builds in things like inclusive language and ensuring everyone feels safe: https://www.lonin.org/code-of-conduct/ Leigh also mentions the Esfinges Facebook group for women in HMA which now has 2k members and 6.9k followers of the page.

Here are the links for the Beth Hammer episode, the Neal Stephenson episode and the Kaja Sadowski episode we refer to.

And then on the space inclusivity side see: https://astroaccess.org/ and https://spaceforhumanity.org/?locale=en

Leigh hasn’t trained at her club since she suffered a traumatic head injury in a car crash three years ago. Obviously, there is a high risk of being whacked in the head when sword fighting, and so we talk about how best to return to training whilst minimising the risks to Leigh. It’s worth a listen for anyone who has suffered a concussion or looking to modify their training practice for similar reasons.

This is the link to Blue Origin’s New Glenn re-usable launch vehicle: https://www.blueorigin.com/new-glenn/

While we’re on the subject of space travel, here is a photo of Leigh’s embroidered Serenity:




Guy Windsor: I'm here today with Leigh Shocki, who is an instructional designer at Blue Origins and I will be asking her what that actually is; a historical martial arts practitioner; a co-founder of Swordsquatch, one of my absolute favourite historical martial arts events; and a longstanding board member of the club Lonin, which you may have heard about in my interview with Neal Stephenson a little while ago. So without further ado, Leigh, welcome to the show.


Leigh Shocki: Hello. It's so good to see you again.


Guy Windsor: It's been a long time. We’ll get into why as we get into the questions, I think.


Leigh Shocki: Yeah.


Guy Windsor: Just to kick off. Whereabouts in the world are you at the moment?


Leigh Shocki: I'm in Seattle, Washington. So, left coast of the United States for Europeans. We’re above California, just under Canada.


Guy Windsor: Kind of in the armpit of the Americas.


Leigh Shocki: Little bit.


Guy Windsor: Actually one of my favourite American cities. So how did you get started with this whole historical martial arts thing?


Leigh Shocki: Oh, gosh. So I'm definitely, like, a romantic at heart. And swords are deeply romantic. And I think that if you're at all interested in fantasy novels, sci fi, you've been raised around sort of the lore of the sword as like a way to move the characters through the story. In 2012, I read an article in io9, which was an awesome sci fi fantasy blog that I don't think exists anymore, exists in a strange state. But it talked about how Neal Stephenson was practising swords in a warehouse somewhere in Seattle. And I read it, I thought, that sounds amazing. And I did not give myself permission to look into it further.


Guy Windsor: Can I ask why not?


Leigh Shocki: There are so many reasons. I think a big thing is just general timidity and thinking like, yeah, that sounds cool. The version of me that I think exists would never try that or put themselves out there like that. And about two years later, I randomly brought it up to someone who I thought would also think it was cool. And they were like, well, we need to find it. And he went online. He said, well, here it is, it's Lonin and let's go. And him being like a well over six feet tall, giant scary guy who works security.


Guy Windsor: We’re talking about Dan, aren’t we?


Leigh Shocki: Yes, we are.


Guy Windsor: He could certainly look scary if he wanted to, but he is actually a complete teddy bear.


Leigh Shocki: Oh, absolutely. Absolutely. And so he kind of dared me to go and I said, you know what, I'm going to go. So we went it was February of 2014 and Eric Artzt was basically running the Fiore classes at that time. So it was kind of cool to hear Neal's podcast with you where he talked about sort of the early history of Lonin. I arrived obviously much later and the vibe was so great. People were so welcoming. Eric kind of like zeroed in on me from the start, I think, and recognised that this was something that was probably out of my comfort zone and he challenged me and made me basically try, which is not something I'm really prone to do. I'm not a sporty person. I think about half the people that show up to any sword fighting class are more like, I like video games and fantasy and I'm not into sports and I'm very much that person. I’m not into sports.


Guy Windsor: That's one of the biggest parts of my job is getting people who are not sporty at all, but swords are so cool they just have to do them. Getting them fit enough and strong enough to do them without hurting themselves.


Leigh Shocki: Yes. Yes. And we need to talk about that more. But it was really interesting because I've never done a physical sport before. I've done dance and ballet. And I was very excited about how much it reminded me of ballet and how some of the instructional rigour that those particular coaches in Lonin applied. Nathan Barnett I always joke that he's my grumpy ballet teacher, he teaches backsword like a strict ballet teacher and it's awesome.


Guy Windsor: He does. And I've been to one of his backsword classes and it was very, very choreographical and precise.


Leigh Shocki: Yeah. And that I dug that, that was something that I could be all about. And of course, the first thing that Eric decided was that I needed to start trying sparring once I got a little bit more into it. And I was very resistant to that idea because that's a sport, that's sweaty and I don't like it and I don't want to try it. He really got me to a place where I had that muscle memory built for Fiore. Like, I'm throwing strikes right now. Where I felt like I could do it. But then, of course, the first time that I ever sparred was in front of my great literary hero, which is Neal Stephenson was standing right there, and I was just like, how is this happening to me? What is going on?


Guy Windsor: The first time I met Neal I had no idea who he was, and I got through the entire event at WMAW, having no idea who he was. I only found out afterwards. And then when he and some of the guys from Lonin came to WMAW the next time and he was there in my class. I think I hit it, though I very nearly choked. I had this ghastly fanboy moment and it was awful. But I think I got over it. And now it's just like, when he's in my classes he's like any other student in my classes. But it does take a moment.


Leigh Shocki: Oh, yeah. And it's wild to receive encouragement from someone that you that you look up to, which is, you know, like at one point I was attending backsword fairly regularly. I've dabbled in all the classes that that Lonin offered at the time. And he was like, I really see some improvement week to week. And it's that type of coaching and validation, just we notice that you're here. I think when you're a woman in this sport or any person that's not the standard that you see when you walk into most sword clubs, although that's changed drastically since I've started and it's awesome. It's sort of you're making a choice to put yourself in a space that I'm already in every day. I'm in the corporate world, I'm in STEM, I'm surrounded by white men all day long. I'm making yet another choice when I attend class to put myself in that environment, and I don't always feel safe in that environment. The work that Lonin has done to ensure that I felt safe in that space, it was immediate and it was incredible. And it was there before I got there. Like it was baked in.


Guy Windsor: And Lonin is actually the only place, the only club that has ever got me to teach a women only class. I was the only bloke in the room.


Leigh Shocki: We were right there for that. That was great.


Guy Windsor: Yeah it was. And it was a really interesting experience for me as well because it was quite different and some of the things we had to go over were very specific to teaching a group of women and no men in the room other than me. Concerns could be aired that maybe wouldn’t have been aired if there were other blokes around.


Leigh Shocki: Mm hmm. Absolutely. And I think Eric Artzt in particular, did some work to just make me feel seen. He pointed out gear that would fit me, which is always a challenge. I think every woman, no matter what size you are, gear is just not made for us necessarily. And our bodies are so different from person to person that something that works for me isn't going to work for the person next to me. And he really worked with me to help me figure that out. He also told me, don't buy gear first, buy a sword.


Guy Windsor: Yeah. Very true


Leigh Shocki: And that was so smart. I bought my sword and I was like, oh, now I'm in. I brought it to practise and everyone gathered around. And what I didn't know is that I'd bought one of the last Gus Trims that he made that were a slightly lighter weight class for a training sword. And I found it on eBay. People came into practise and then gathered around me, like I'd brought in like a hot vintage car. Like, we were just like sitting there, like talking loosely, swinging it.


Guy Windsor: Honestly, if you had brought in a hot vintage car, most of them wouldn’t care.


Leigh Shocki: Yeah, exactly.


Guy Windsor: When students had a new sword in class, the first drill of the class where the swords would come together, I would get them to come out with their new sword and I would put the first scratch on it. So they would swing at me and I would parry it and they would all look at where the scratch was. That’s the first scratch on the new training sword. It’s a thing.


Leigh Shocki: It is a thing. I'm obsessed with it. My sword’s hanging on the wall in another room, but I'm obsessed with it. And yeah, the other thing that Lonin brought for me was the humour and the goofiness. Neal addressed this a little bit, but sort of the attitude of like, let's just try it. So we've made multiple jokes about how we need to dig a hole in the floor and put someone in it so that we can do the whole thing where it's like the woman has the rock in the sock and she swings it at the guy that's standing over the pit. We've always joked about how we need to do that. That's from one of German treatises.


Guy Windsor: The man in a pit with a club.


Leigh Shocki: The man’s in the pit. Yes.


Guy Windsor: The man’s in the pit with the club and she's got a rock in a veil, I think. It's a dispute between a husband and wife. A judicial duel between husband and wife. And if he manages to drag the woman into the pit, she loses. If she manages to get him out of the pit, he loses. And if one of them kills the other, then obviously.


Leigh Shocki: It's a draw.


Guy Windsor: If one kills the other, the one who killed the other I think has been demonstrated to be in the right.


Leigh Shocki: Right. We're sort of that humour and that there's nothing too nerdy, there's nothing we won't at least joke about trying or at least try. Hoover Ball is another good example of something that. President Hoover, around the, I want to say it's the 1920s or thirties. Should have brought my info sheet on it. But he invented a form of it's almost like volleyball but with a medicine ball is the closest way I would explain it. We have a contingent of Lonin called BWAHAHA which Neal talks about a little bit on his podcast. He's more involved in that group than I ever was but they will occasionally do Hoover Ball which is, you know, lofting a medicine ball and catching a medicine ball over a net. Potential for shoulder injury is very high.


Guy Windsor: Or face injury, if you’re not very good at catching.


Leigh Shocki: That too. So it’s not for everyone.


Guy Windsor: I speak from experience.


Leigh Shocki: But it's just sort of part of the like, let's try anything. You know, Hoover was super into physical fitness and invented that sport, apparently, or that's what they called it. And it was sort of a, hey, this existed, who wants to hang out and try it? And I love that. I love the nerdiness, the history. And that sort of lowers the mental barrier of entry for me. Of just being able to say we're not taking ourselves too seriously.


Guy Windsor: Yeah. I mean, you can take the art very seriously without taking yourself seriously at all.


Leigh Shocki: Exactly. Exactly. And again, it makes it just easier for me to make a conscious decision to be in a space where I'm the minority. We've again changed so much, just even in the past, gosh, eight years. It's changed so much. But it's still something that you have to make a decision before you show up for the first time because you don't necessarily know, which is why we make sure that there's like pictures of women and things and your books have pictures of women in them. And that was another thing that I saw. So when Eric starts showing me, I believe it was your Dagger...?


Guy Windsor: Medieval Dagger.


Leigh Shocki: Medieval dagger. I think there's a woman in those and I was all about it.


Guy Windsor: There are pictures of women in all my books where I have pictures of people doing sword stuff. Because women should be able to do this and they should do it and if they want to do it they should get to do it.


Leigh Shocki: And he didn't even say, like, look, there's women in this book. Like, it wasn't like that. It was, hey, take this book home and read through it. And I did. And I was like, oh my God, I'm here. That just made me feel more welcome.


Guy Windsor: That's good. I am very glad to hear that, because that's exactly why I have gone out of my way to make sure that that was the case. Because when you're organising a photoshoot for this kind of specialist topic, you have to have people there who have actually trained. And that limits the pool. And I never managed to get my school's female membership past about 40% of the total. So there were always more blokes than women available. But I would make sure there were at least a couple of women who could make any given date before we picked that date for the photoshoot. I just think it's critically important. I guess that why the show has a 51% female guest list.


Leigh Shocki: That's yeah. And I noticed that too. That's the thing. Yeah. You can't be what you can't see. If

you don't see yourself in these environments, you're going to assume you're not welcome from the jump.


Guy Windsor: Even when you are.


Leigh Shocki: So when you see yourself in those environments, that's just a huge first step. I think so.


Guy Windsor: Yeah. I agree. So you say it's changed a lot. Are we talking about within Lonin or in the historical martial arts world as a whole?


Leigh Shocki: Both. And part of this could be confirmation bias. You know, you look for women, so you find them. But even so, it started with the Esfinges with Fran and Marianna. So the Esfinges is a Facebook group, but also sort of a loosely organised group of women in HEMA where we just go to talk. And those conversations, it used to be, I believe when I started it was around 500 members, that Facebook group, and now it's got well over at least I don't even know. We should fact check that.


Guy Windsor: I will look it up and I'll put it in the show notes.


Leigh Shocki: Yes. Their membership has just exploded. And Sam Swords had a lot to do with that. Just that visibility in the media happened right around that same time. Then there was just an enormous amount of Game of Thrones, Brienne, happened all around that same time. We definitely saw a spike of attendance in Lonin any time any season of Game of Thrones was airing, because we used to monitor attendance, but also the club itself just started growing. And this was all pre-pandemic. And one thing that I noticed was that not only were more women showing up, but they were showing up together. So women would show up in groups, we had more gender diversity in general. Non-binary and trans folks started showing up as well. We held a few of those all-women just come out, come try it. And we'd regularly get like 30, 40 people that would show up just to learn for one day. And now, I'm not on the board of Lonin anymore, but I still see a lot of the Facebook messages that come in and I would say a solid 40% like people message us to find out when our classes are happening and stuff around that. It's consistently 40% women, just all the time. There's way more than there used to be and it's pretty great. So it hasn't been where I've shown up and been the only woman in class since like since pretty much I started. It happened pretty fast, so I don't know who to credit for that, but it was great.


Guy Windsor: Very occasionally when I was teaching in Helsinki, I would have a class that was more women than men. And once we had an all female class just by accident. But that's just a freak of people’s schedules. We had vastly more all male classes than we ever had all female. Yeah, but it makes me think actually it sounds to me like it's a good idea if you want more women in your club, you'll organise women only events.


Leigh Shocki: My thinking on that's changed a lot, actually. Well, part of it is, and again, this has changed so much since 2014, we are more open as a society for talking about gender diversity and all of that in general. And we have more non-binary folks that are out in the open, more trans folks that are out in the open, that that are living their lives openly. And we want those people to come to Lonin. So saying it's a women only event, we don't want to limit ourselves at all.


Guy Windsor: Okay. How would you rephrase it?


Leigh Shocki: We started calling it like just have like “Shes, Gays and Theys”. And so however you identify, please show up. But we also noticed that we weren't getting a ton of follow on attendance from those events, so we would have 40 women show up to those classes. Of that, we could maybe snag one or two to show up to class regularly afterwards. It was surprising.


Guy Windsor: You would think the conversion would be better.


Leigh Shocki: I know. And we did a whole bunch of different formats of doing it. You know, we had a more combat focussed one. We had one that was a little bit more scholarly focussed. It didn't seem to change. I would love to run more experiments on that, but it's, again, less of an issue than it used to be. And in general, we found that just weaving that diversity through the entire organisation was more effective. So there's a lot of women on the board. There's visible women on the website. One of the things I'm proudest of is from my time as a board member is drafting our code of conduct, which of course we all contributed to. It's on our website. We included a lot more stuff, not just about safety, but about psychological safety. And the biggest thing that we wanted to address that we were kind of struggling with is and I think every club struggles with, is over explaining.


Guy Windsor: Or to call it by its proper name: mansplaining.


Leigh Shocki: Yeah, just a little. So we would struggle with that. And it was pretty funny because I went to a spear workshop, not at Lonin, at a different location. And one of the people I went with, Dan, and Dan was standing next to me and he observed my training partner in that class, stopping me about every 5 minutes to give me feedback, even though I'd at that point had like four years of experience. And this person that was giving me a lot of information did not. And he said to me afterwards, he said, well, that's unnecessary. I've never seen anything like that before. I was like, oh, honey, it happens all the time. And I didn't even notice it. I hadn't really clocked it.


Guy Windsor: Because you are used to it.


Leigh Shocki: Yeah, exactly.


Guy Windsor: And you shouldn't have to be, but you are.


Leigh Shocki: Right, right. And so then you start thinking, well, how is that impacting the training experiences of other women and especially other women that are more sensitive to that. Other people, really. So we put in, again, very gender neutral language in the code of conduct. Don't overexplain. It's pretty well stepped out in the code of conduct like this is what we consider to be over explaining. This is what we're asking you to do when we pause a drill, we stop. Don't give them this type of feedback. We really thought about that section as a club when we were putting it together. The other thing, of course, was to have a code of conduct that included inclusivity statements and included that safety is paramount importance. People just aren't going to come back if they don't feel safe. So talking about how to modulate how you hit each other before you engage in a drill. All that good stuff, because everybody's got a different threshold of what makes them feel safe. It's something that I don't think we'll ever perfect. Everybody shows up to class with a different idea of what that means. People show up to class with no experience in martial arts, and no experience of how to ask for what they need. Which is why we put that in the code of conduct to get people in that frame of mind. It's like, don't be afraid to ask for what you need.


Guy Windsor: Well, we're definitely going to have to link to that code of conduct in the show notes. Because the listeners will be going, what are the specifics of that. I don't expect you have the whole thing verbatim in your head. Having a code of conduct is a great first step, but if it's not enforced, it doesn't help. So how is it enforced?


Leigh Shocki: Oh, God. Well, first of all, we're a non-profit comprised of volunteers. We don't pay anyone to be there. And one of the biggest things we don't want to do is put an unfair emotional load on the people that are in charge of enforcing the code of conduct, because those people are frequently women. So we're putting a burden there. And I experienced this. And I experienced a burden of being messaged quite a bit by coaches saying, hey, this happened, how do I approach it? I am always willing to help. I work on DEI initiatives throughout my life. Diversity, equity and inclusion. So most large companies have a diversity equity and inclusion group. The effectiveness of those I could go into for a thousand years. But again, getting better all the time, kind of. But one of the problems that you run into, and I ran into this a lot when I ran training programmes for an airline about sexual harassment and sexual misconduct. So training programmes for how to prevent both of those issues and de-escalate situations. Obviously, I have a background in it. I've studied it, I've worked with people who have worked on it, the bad side effect of that is if you're an empathetic person, I sort of take in all that energy. So when people are dealing with stuff in the club and they want me to help or weigh in, I am so happy to do that and I love doing it. And I don't want anybody listening to this to think that I don't want to do it going forward because I do. But it is difficult. It's almost like if and I'll answer this question later, when you talked about like what would you do with your million dollars? It's like, how do you give people the tools that they need to be an ally? One of the biggest ways that people can be an ally, and I'm going to ramble a little bit, is amplification. And this is actually something that Michelle Obama's cabinet of well, actually women in the White House that were hired into the Obama administration struggled a little bit with getting their ideas and their opinions heard. There's an awesome article, I believe, in The Washington Post about this. So they came up with this policy of amplification. They would amplify each other's ideas in every meeting that they were in. So if I'm over here and I'm pitching this idea, the woman sitting next to me says, I think that's a great point Leigh, and I support it in these ways. Just to continue to get your messaging across. I've seen a considerable amount of amplification at Lonin. The biggest one, of course, was when Eric asked me to join the board. He was specifically seeking out people that had a different perspective from him and amplifying their voices, including them in those things. The next thing that came, followed on right after that was Swordsquatch. It was, hey, we want to redo the Pacific Northwest HEMA gathering. We don't know how to do it. We think you would be a good person to help. So instead of me having to come up with that energy to volunteer, to say, hey, I'd like to be involved, somebody came up to me, somebody in a position of privilege or power came up to me and said, hey, what do you think about helping us do this? I don't walk in Lonin thinking I know everything about swords and I should be organising everything. Absolutely everything I do at Lonin is because somebody asked me for help. And that is a form of amplification, validation, that continues to message to me that I am welcome in this space and not just welcome, but like a valued member of the space that somebody that can contribute, that can continue to be heard. And again, that is allyship, that is amplification, that is bringing someone forward and forward and forward. And I've seen them do it around me with a bunch of other people, too. You know, Beth Hammer and I both started at Lonin around the same time. We were actually in different practises, so we didn't meet each other.


Guy Windsor: For listeners, Beth has been on the show so we will put a link to her episode in the show notes.


Leigh Shocki: Yeah. And we were attending different practises and so we didn't meet each other until later, but that was the same thing. They approached her separately, said how do you want to think about doing this HEMA gathering going forward? And that's where Swordsquatch was born out of. So like over half of the organising board of Swordsquatch is female or non-binary.


Guy Windsor: Yeah it was no wonder, to this day it is the only event at which I have worn nail polish and it is the only event for which I have bought special underwear.


Leigh Shocki: Oh, what? No.


Guy Windsor: Yes, yes, I did. There's a company in the States, called Me Undies and they are my preferred brand of underwear and I am not paid to say so. And so when I go to America, I order my underwear. And it gets shipped, usually to Neal’s house, because I’m usually staying at Neal’s, and that particular range when I was going to my first Swordsquatch or my second, one or the other. They had these purple with unicorns and rainbows and sparkles. And I thought that is Swordsquatch underwear. I wore them on my first day at Swordsquatch and I showed Beth my special Swordsquatch underwear. And again, I have never shown anyone my underwear at an event before.


Leigh Shocki: Yes. Oh, that was so intentional. Like the choice of purple and pink and blue for all of the Swordsquatch stuff. That was so intentional. We were like, no more HEMA black. No more HEMA black, which is fine for some clubs. Some clubs do a really cool goth like skulls and scariness aesthetic with the HEMA stuff. And I appreciate it deeply. But for this we wanted again, the colour choices were deliberate. You are welcome here. Purple, pink sparkles, unicorns, like we are queer. We are ourselves when we're in the space. The nail polish was a gift from Valkyrie. They brought the Valkyrie Club in Vancouver.


Guy Windsor: What happened was Kaja was sitting there. I got Kaja on the show and we will put a link to his episode in the show notes and he was painting people’s nails and I was like, maybe you should do mine. And he was like, OK. It was some sort of rainbow and the thing is, it doesn't mean anything specific. And it didn't cost anything but it just made it clear that you don't have to be a middle aged, straight white dude to be welcome in my classes.


Leigh Shocki: Yeah. Yeah.


Guy Windsor: It's that kind of non-verbal signalling that just makes people more comfortable. It makes some people very uncomfortable. I have one dear friend who’s, my sort of age Australian, a bit old school, whatever. And every time I see him, it has usually been years in between, I give him a big hug, kiss on the cheek and say “hello, darling”, just because it makes him blush and get very uncomfortable.


Leigh Shocki: Well, you know, I think that's the cool part about Swordsquatch is we've had instructors and other people show up and we're like, here's your T-shirt, and it's got a Sasquatch riding a unicorn on a rocket ship in space with glitter.


Guy Windsor: And throwing daggers.


Leigh Shocki: Right. One of the most fun parts of being a Swordsquatch board member is T-shirts. Every year being like, oh, can we have a bunny on the T-shirt design, whatever, whatever dumb thing we want. And sometimes we had a few people, like look at the shirt and go, I'm good, you know, I'm good. And it's like, you know what? That's awesome. We don't mind. The importance is that you can be yourself in the space. Now we do have another code of conduct for Swordsquatch that that I helped write and that we tweak and add to like every year. A lot of it had to do about the Bigfoot Brawl because that is an open space where people can do open sparring. And as such, obviously, there's people managing the Bigfoot Brawl and watching it the whole time for safety. But it's a little bit more loosey goosey. And for that, we need some just rules of the road. And that was the same thing, you know, bring yourself but bring it safely. And nothing is too weird. Nothing is too random. I think my favourite ever Bigfoot Brawl that we started doing in year one was the thumb war where you have to do a thumb war where you take the other person down to the ground.


Guy Windsor: Oh really. That’s proper thumb war.


Leigh Shocki: Yeah, it starts as a thumb war and then you end up on the ground doing some sort of bastardised jujitsu and seeing who can pin the person's thumb to the ground. And then another one that I just loved was people brought high heeled shoes because they wanted to fence.


Guy Windsor: That was Isaiah. They gave a presentation on Fabris.


Leigh Shocki: It was Izzy, Kajetan, and Dan. Different Dan. East coast Dan. And they brought Fabris and they brought their heels and they sparred around.


Guy Windsor: The Fabris guard position is easier in a heel.


Leigh Shocki: Yes.


Guy Windsor: Yeah. It was the weirdest thing.


Leigh Shocki: Mm hmm. And that was so much fun to watch. And that's, again, nothing that we planned on happening. That was just us saying, bring your weird shit. Sorry. Can I swear?


Guy Windsor: You can swear as much as the fuck you like on my show.


Leigh Shocki: Okay, good. Because I do.


Guy Windsor: Okay. I gather you’re not training a lot at the moment. Is that right?


Leigh Shocki: I haven't trained in three years. I've helped with Swordsquatch a little bit during when we went off. So we went to Cybersquatch, so had some online stuff during the pandemic. The reason why is in 2018, just about exactly four years ago, I was in a pretty bad car accident that I don't remember. Not great. And my car was totalled, but I got up and walked away. The F-150 came out of nowhere and totally destroyed my car. For the Europeans, an F-150 is the giant truck that you all make fun of Americans for having. And you should, because they are death traps, anyway, or vehicles of death. So because I walked away and I did go to the doctor and they said, well, you might have a concussion. Take it easy. Here's a pamphlet on concussion and how to take care of it. I had started my job at Blue Origin the week prior, and my job at Blue Origin is the coolest thing I've ever done in my whole life.


Guy Windsor: Even cooler than swords?


Leigh Shocki: Yeah.


Guy Windsor: We will come back to the car wreck in a minute. Tell us about how you got into rocketry and Blue Origins and how all that happened. Actually, when Neil was talking about it, he was like the final straw on Jeff Bezos’s back that made him actually start the company.


Leigh Shocki: Yeah, I know. Isn't that crazy? And I don't even think a lot of people know that.


Guy Windsor: Well, they do now if they listen to the show.


Leigh Shocki: Yeah, they do. Thank you. I'm so glad because there are employees at Blue that might not even know that. So what you heard from Neil was 20 years ago, this is what started Blue Origin. Where I'm at is I started just about exactly four years ago as an instructional designer. So what I do for Blue is I teach people how to build all the things.


Guy Windsor: How do you know how to build all the things?


Leigh Shocki: I don't. I don't know how to build all the things. I flunked maths in high school and college.


Guy Windsor: So hang on a second. You are working for an aerospace company, but you flunked maths. I think this will be very, very encouraging to many people out there.


Leigh Shocki: I hope my boss never hears this podcast. I'm kidding. No, I have I have dyscalculia, which is basically dyslexia but for numbers, I transpose things all the time. I can't tell time. My husband has to do all the bill pay stuff or I'll pay bills wrong, like it's bad. So no, what I do, instructional design, is basically I understand how adults learn and how they process information. And I started with Alaska Airlines right out of college, basically writing training for all of the customer service people that you see. So everybody, we call it Above the Wing. Then I moved to Below the Wing, which is maintenance and fuelling and baggage and all that stuff. Eventually pilots, eventually flight attendants as well. And what I do is I basically meet with people that are experts in the topic. I get a download from them of everything they think somebody needs to know to be able to do a certain task, like building a rocket. In this case, building a part of a rocket or a part of an engine. And then I from there get all of this information, organise it in a way that I think will be easiest for an adult to take in that information. I also have to take into account my learning audience. Who is my audience? Is it flight attendants? Is it rocket scientists? Is it maintenance engineers? And write it out. I then also have to figure out how to save the company the most time and money. We don't want people in training for 8 hours a day when we're paying them to build a rocket, or manage an aeroplane. So that's kind of basically what I do. So what's really cool is I get to learn slowly over a long period of time, everything anybody ever wanted to know about how to build a rocket.


Guy Windsor: That is very cool.


Leigh Shocki: My mind is blown, like, every day.


Guy Windsor: So you've been into rockets for a while then?


Leigh Shocki: Yeah. Alien is like the formative. I think I saw that movie, like, way too young. I was seven. And watching Sigourney Weaver.


Guy Windsor: That is very young to watch Alien. Oh, my God. Honestly, I feel better about my parenting choices now because I let my children watch pretty much anything. And my youngest child particularly is really into like horror and stuff. And I'm like, is this really good for a little brain or a young brain? And then actually when I think about the stuff I was watching at the same age I turned out, I think, okay, and clearly you turned out okay. So Alien didn't scar you too badly.


Leigh Shocki: Oh, no. Well, it did. But in such a way as, like, I want to go to space, I want to pilot a spacecraft, I want to be an astronaut. Very early on I realised that I was terrible at math and I sort of put that, like I used to tell my mom I want to be a ballerina astronaut. Well like pretty early on you start putting those dreams to bed as things get too difficult, right? Like math, like, oh math is so hard I can't figure it out. This must not be for me, I'm going to put it to one side. So I think every child does that. Like as they grow up, you start forming these self-limiting beliefs about what you can and can't do.


Guy Windsor: By the way, does an astronaut need to be good at maths?


Leigh Shocki: We should talk about that.


Guy Windsor: In the old days, they certainly did. Do they need to be good at maths now?


Leigh Shocki: Well, I think that's what's so awesome about commercial space. You know what all of the different not-NASA programmes are doing is democratising access to space.


Guy Windsor: Okay. But that's not to go to space. But being a passenger on a rocket, does that make you an astronaut?


Leigh Shocki: I think that's a really good question. And I would say, yes, 100% . So going up and managing the running of the ISS is a completely different discipline from getting there safely. And the FAA, or was it the government, actually created like their own sort of class of astronauts for sort of what we're doing at Blue. And they do get their astronaut wings. There's like a ceremony every year where they get their wings. Oh, yeah, because you're still absorbing a certain amount of risk. You do have to be able to make it through astronaut training.


Guy Windsor: I'm training to fly planes.


Leigh Shocki: No way.


Guy Windsor: Yeah, it's been my main obsession for the last year.


Leigh Shocki: What kind?


Guy Windsor: Just single engine propellers. So Cessna 152.


Leigh Shocki: No way.


Guy Windsor: Yes. And I'm aiming to get my private pilot's licence and, you know, fly planes just for fun because it's just awesome. Wow.


Leigh Shocki: You have a lot in common with my co-workers.


Guy Windsor: But I also fly on commercial airlines a lot. And there is absolutely nothing in common with those two things. Maybe being a passenger on an aeroplane in the 1920s was close to being a pilot in certain ways, but flying a plane and just sitting in the back and being flown somewhere. You know, sitting in that aeroplane these days is like sitting in a bus.


Leigh Shocki: Right. Except in the 1920s, not very many people had ever done that before. It wasn’t like that.


Guy Windsor: It was a lot more dangerous.


Leigh Shocki: Some astronauts are like basically superhuman. I don't know if you've seen the European Space Agency's Instagram, but they do a lot more, I think, than NASA of talking about the amount of training that's involved with being an astronaut that goes to the ISS and spends time there. Your body basically starts breaking down the moment you get on the ISS and you have to spend every ounce of your free time keeping it going.


Guy Windsor: This is to do with the lack of gravity, right?


Leigh Shocki: Yes. Yes, absolutely. So what New Shepard does is you get to experience minutes of weightlessness, minutes of floating rather than days, months, weeks. Now, one of the interesting things is all of the NASA astronauts I've had the privilege to meet have told me the same thing, that they didn't need reading glasses when they went to space. And they do need them now.


Guy Windsor: Wow. So the lack of gravity screws your eyeballs?


Leigh Shocki: Oh, yes, very much so. It's a pressure issue. The pressure that we experience on Earth is very necessary for keeping all of our ligaments where they need to be, your ligaments connect to your eyeballs, to important stuff in your brain and your skull. So, yeah, that's another reason why space isn't exactly democratic. If you are like me and you've had retinal issues. I am at a high risk for retinal detachment. Not a good candidate for an astronaut. So, again, there are people that have issues that are essentially right now cut off from space. In the future, we're going to see a lot less of that.


Guy Windsor: But it is extremely expensive, right? So there is already a cut off. So it's not truly democratic because it is only very rich people that can go.


Leigh Shocki: And early air travel was extremely expensive for the people. I think we all remember our grandparents dressing up to fly, right? It was a special occasion.


Guy Windsor: When we lived in Peru in the eighties and early nineties all the Peruvians would dress up to fly as well.


Leigh Shocki: Yeah. Yeah.


Guy Windsor: The Peruvians on the plane would be in the sort of clothing you'd expect to see them at a posh cocktail party. Didn't the Space X land the rocket a couple of years ago?


Leigh Shocki: Yes. And so do we all the time.


Guy Windsor: Yes. You’ve cracked that as well.


Leigh Shocki: Oh, very much so. The New Shepard booster and crew capsule, two parts, they are fully reusable. So they come back. Every time we refurbish and send it back up every time. So, yeah.


Guy Windsor: That that brings the cost down enormously.


Leigh Shocki: Exactly. But it doesn't exist without enormous amounts of investment and R&D to get that technology to the space where it is safe enough to fly people. I believe Neal talked about this in his podcast as well. There is so much technology that has already been thought through by everyone. And now it's the point of, okay, how do we make that cost effective? How do we make it iterative and keep going and going and going?


Guy Windsor: I mean, you may have noticed I'm fairly ignorant about space matters and that my aviation interest at the moment ends at about 10,000 feet. That's about as high as you go in a Cessna. But who knows? Maybe one day I’ll fly one those rockets.


Leigh Shocki: I do think it's shocking to me that, like, for example, the Dart mission just happened where we booped an asteroid. We sent a module up into space to hit an asteroid and knock it off target so that doesn't hit Earth. And to me, that should take up all the news for, like, three weeks. We pulled an Armageddon. We just made it reality. And a lot of people just don't know, because the explanations about how everything works is way more complex than I think a lot of the media really wants to get into. So like, for example, we booped the asteroid, we're not going to get the math back for two months, so we're not going to know how successful it was or wasn't for two months. The timelines are really long. You know, we know that Space X launched this rocket, shot this rocket. We know that StarLink is going live right now for millions of people and the Internet's going to be available all over the planet no matter where you are. I don't know that we've just become less impressed because we have phones now and supercomputers are in our hands every day, or if it's just hard for our human brains to scale to it.


Guy Windsor: I think that’s a large part of it. A lot of the really, really important stuff doesn't register because we just don't operate at that scale.


Leigh Shocki: Mm hmm. Yeah, and I hear that a lot. But also, it's hard to explain a mission that you're really, really passionate about in a short enough amount of time. I mean, I think sword people feel that way all the time as well. But I think my main thing with my work is just the ability to watch a rocket be assembled right in front of me and having a cursory understanding of how to do it myself and teaching other people. It's like 14 year old me that basically decided, okay, well, I guess that astronaut dream is dead. You know, I would never have believed that I would be driving through the desert at three in the morning to meet William Shatner as he came off the New Shepard.


Guy Windsor: You were there? Oh my God. That is probably peak nerd.


Leigh Shocki: I cried for, like, a week and a half. Yeah, like, it's the absolute privilege of my life. The stuff that I get to see that I don't get to talk about makes me crazy because I want to just scream, like, did you know that this is happening right now? The ISS is going to get decommissioned in our lifetimes. We're going to need a space station.


Guy Windsor: Unless it does a Seveneves and ends up as last refuge of humanity, parked on the moon.


Leigh Shocki: No, that's the other thing. People always talk about space habitats like they're going to be really pleasant.


Guy Windsor: Neal gets that absolutely right in Seveneves. It's like, no, this is nasty and smelly and uncomfortable and dangerous. And you're going to die of radiation sickness eventually, or cancer or something horrible.


Leigh Shocki: And your retinas are going to detach.


Guy Windsor: It's just nasty.


Leigh Shocki: Yeah. A lot of people say why are these billionaires funding all this space thing so they can live on Elysium? Elysium is not happening in our lifetimes. If you ever really want a fun Google, Google how to poop on a spaceship.


Guy Windsor: No, I bet. It is bad enough on an airliner.


Leigh Shocki: Exactly.


Guy Windsor: Don't try in a Cessna 152. The only place to go there is your trousers. There’s nowhere else.


Leigh Shocki: I seriously have to ask, because, you know, NASA astronauts have to wear diapers and stuff when they're training. Do you have to wear diapers?


Guy Windsor: Well, no, because the plane has like a maximum range of about 4 hours.


Leigh Shocki: Okay.


Guy Windsor: And the longest flight I've ever done was like an hour and ten, hour and 20, something like that. Even I can hold my wee for that long. I know that people who do serious gliding, like really serious gliders, I don't know what the ladies do, but the chaps wear a kind of there's a special name for it, something like a Texas catheter or something like that, which is basically a condom that you put on. And it's got a tube coming out of getting into a bag so you can wee without getting out of your seat because there is nowhere to go on a glider either.


Leigh Shocki: See, that's dedication to flight.


Guy Windsor: Yeah, I'm not there yet.


Leigh Shocki: Yeah, exactly. So that's there's a lot of undignified aspects of space travel that I don't think people are putting into account. And I know a lot of people are talking about how like, I'm going to go live on Mars. Your life on Mars is going to be awful.


Guy Windsor: It's going to be like living up on a mountain, in a desert, with only what you carried with you on your back for the next 20 years.


Leigh Shocki: It's camping with a serious difficulty level. And then stuff that's going to happen to your body is going to be pretty nuts. So one of the things that I love to talk about is, again, how do we make space as accessible as possible for people that have disabilities or people that aren't super scientists, aren't mathematicians? We're going to get there. The discussions are happening and they're happening all over the place. There's actually a group within Blue Origin that I'm a part of called New Hawking, and it is named after Stephen Hawking. It is our sort of employee resource group for employees with disabilities and neurodiverse employees. So we gather there to talk about navigating our own jobs and careers within the space industry with the stuff that we have to deal with. And I found it to be like one of the most awesome places for watching the smartest people in the world navigate things that we all deal with and all of the stuff that we deal with is the same. It's like a very levelling thing to be like, I have PTSD. I can now talk to a bunch of rocket scientists that also have PTSD and figure out how they get through their extremely mentally heavy workload all day long and it's really hard and I learned so much from them.


Guy Windsor: Can I ask, PTSD from what?


Leigh Shocki: Oh, my car accident.


Guy Windsor: We were going to circle back to your car crash anyway, the last we heard, you had gone to the doctor after the car crash and been given a leaflet about concussion. And then we sort of went off into astronaut training and William Shatner and stuff.


Leigh Shocki: So that was very key for me is I had just started my job and the pamphlet said avoid screens and rest in a dark room. And I was like, well, both of those things aren't going to happen. I just started a new job. I went into work the next day and could barely go up and down stairs.


Guy Windsor: Can I just say, that's very American of you.


Leigh Shocki: Isn't it so American? It's awful. Yeah. So I did that. And what I didn't do while I was physically able to move around, go to work in the morning, the physical and mental effects started piling up.


Guy Windsor: And a new job is a very cognitively demanding space. Even if it's a new job doing something very simple. Everything around you is new and you have to reorient to it to find out where is the bathroom and where is the water fountain and who are the nice people I should hang out with and the nasty people I should avoid. And that’s all new, as well as whatever job you are doing.


Leigh Shocki: As well as feeling a lot of imposter syndrome over not being a rocket scientist at a rocket company, which is a whole nother thing we could get into about work. Everybody, if you don't think you can work for space company, please apply to work at a space company because you'd be surprised where the niches are, because obviously I found mine. Anyway, so the first thing that happened was I stopped sleeping. Never had that problem in my whole life. Couldn't sleep. Went about a week without getting more than like an hour or so a day. Finally went to the E.R..


Guy Windsor: That's really bad.


Leigh Shocki: And they were like, okay, you're having trouble sleeping. Here's sleeping pills.


Guy Windsor: Oh, God, no.


Leigh Shocki: I know. And one of those issues, and I think a lot of people struggle with this, is that if you look healthy, if you look physically fit, like I've always been a little on the skinny side, but I'm not healthy. I'm not healthy. The doctors look at you and they're like, oh, you're fine. You’ll feel fine in three weeks. I kept hearing that over and over, like, oh, you're having trouble sleeping. You're having trouble. Work on stress, do some yoga. Here's some pills. It was a disaster. I finally had, like, a full blown, I don't know, a nervous breakdown in a theme park because we went on an amusement park ride that felt very familiar to the car crash to me.


Guy Windsor: Oh God.


Leigh Shocki: That's when I realised, do I have PTSD? And again, very American, mental illness is not something, I am from Midwestern farming stock. We don't get sick. We don't feel sad.


Guy Windsor: You don’t let anybody know that you feel sick or sad.


Leigh Shocki: We're very religious. God will fix everything. I want to make a point that I'm still a little bit religious. Not in, like, an arsehole way, but God will not fix everything. You have to fix yourself and get the help you need. But anyway, so that's when I started exploring actual cognitive behavioural therapy for PTSD, and that's again at work talking to people with PTSD. There's a lot of veterans in the space industry because of defence and all that stuff. So those veterans, a lot of them have PTSD and it was like, no, no, no, go get CBT, cognitive behavioural therapy. It's awesome. I think everyone should get it. It’s amazing.


Guy Windsor: Everyone should get it if they have behavioural traits that they don't want.


Leigh Shocki: Yeah. Like if you fear public speaking, if you are scared to fly on a plane. All this stuff, you should get CBT. Anyway. So I started doing that. And I went through a full round of it and by this time the pandemic had hit and I was still spending like good chunks of the day, just in bed, not able to get out of bed. That's when I went to another doctor and that doctor said, you have post-concussion syndrome, which is something that can happen when you don't take care of yourself after a concussion. A lot of people in the military and football players have post-concussion syndrome.


Guy Windsor: And I think we will find fairly soon that a lot of people who do a lot of historical martial arts tournaments will be coming up with the same thing.


Leigh Shocki: Yeah. And so that comes full circle to why haven't I trained? I am still, like I get nervous when I'm in a car, but I've done some crazy shit since my accident. Like I drove through a flash flood in Texas. Like I have done stuff that I know I can do. But the idea of going back and willingly putting my head in a place where I could get hit, freaks me out.


Guy Windsor: I have a couple of thoughts. First is, is there a good reason not to wear a bike helmet when you drive?


Leigh Shocki: So like the driving stuff for me, I would say it doesn't address the root cause mentally for you.


Guy Windsor: I mean, to prevent concussion in the first place. You got a concussion because your head got hit in some way. It would make sense to me if anyone everyone in a car had to wear a bike helmet type thing, because honestly, it would prevent an awful lot of this sort of injury.


Leigh Shocki: Yeah, I mean, it's definitely something to look into. For me, it was more addressing the issue of so like I work in rockets, right? And I work with aeroplanes, it is safer to drive a car than to do either of those things. And it's my whole life. Oh, yeah.


Guy Windsor: Really? No it’s not. Hang on, statistically speaking, being a passenger in commercial aviation is much safer than being a passenger in a car.


Leigh Shocki: I think we have to look into that.


Guy Windsor: That's my understanding anyway.


Leigh Shocki: We should look into that.


Guy Windsor: I was told when I was training for my pilot training thing, that statistically speaking, I am more likely to be killed in my car on the way to or from the airfield than I am to get killed in the plane.


Leigh Shocki: Really? Even in those single engine planes?


Guy Windsor: Yeah.


Leigh Shocki: Awesome.


Guy Windsor: The funny thing about the pilot training is learning to handle the plane is a lot of it, maybe the first ten, twelve hours or so until you get the basics down. And then an awful lot of what happens next is what do you do when your engine catches fire? What do you do when your engine fails on takeoff? What you do with engine fails at 3000 feet? What do you do when this happens or that happens? It is all disaster planning.


Leigh Shocki: 100% still. Both airlines and rockets. You just described training. You did. But I think if for me, it was more I can do it. Now, my next thing is, how do I get back to training where I'm going to get booped on the head, without getting shaky, without wanting to quit out and without re-injuring myself.


Guy Windsor: Okay. So this at Lonin? Here’s a thought. Firstly, you can train without ever getting your head hit. If you're training with competent people who understand that you mustn’t get hit in the head for whatever reason.


Leigh Shocki: I'm literally taking notes.


Guy Windsor: I mean, wear decent shoulder pads and get hit on the shoulder instead. That's one. Secondly, you can get adequate head protection. For example, the kind of helmet that sits on your shoulders. So any impact to the head is taken on the shoulders. Literally, you can move your head around inside your helmet because it's basically inside a steel box. And the box isn't touching your head. Obviously you have an arming cap in case you bang your own head against your helmet. But I mean, there are some helmets so big that obviously you would need some kind of fencing visor on. But when they are open faced, you can literally put your head out of the helmet and look around and then bring it back in like a tortoise. That’s historical. I would probably go one of those routes to start with. Also, you can use protection that is much better than fencing masks. For example, one of the Terry Tindall style masks that has suspension. But if I was in your situation, I would go with one of the first two options and/or I would do something like put a balloon on your mask. And anybody who pops the balloon owes you 50 pushups.


Leigh Shocki: Okay. That's so funny because we actually did that. We do that as a game.


Guy Windsor: Something like that. Now, maybe balloons aren’t the best thing because people might be encouraged to pop the balloon. But some way of indicating super light contact would also be possible. Training with sharps is an obvious way to go. Because no one is going to clout you in the head with a sharp sword, unless they're trying to kill you. In which case you'll have other problems.


Leigh Shocki: I have other problems, bigger problems.


Guy Windsor: So you're very unlikely to get hit hard in the head if you are training with sharps. It has other risks associated with it. So I think also I would stay the hell away from training with beginners because it's not fair to put that on a beginner.


Leigh Shocki: Okay.


Guy Windsor: What's your favourite weapon?


Leigh Shocki: Longsword. Always. I’m basic.


Guy Windsor: Getting cut in the head is a big part of that.


Leigh Shocki: But what should I explore that isn't longsword because it's been a while. So what if I go pick something else up and it feels good? Because now I have this added sort of complexity.


Guy Windsor: You can try it. You are very, very unlikely to get anything concussion related from using sport fencing implements because they're so light. Maybe somebody really knows what they're doing can do a thrust with an epee that will cause you a problem, if they do it deliberately to hit you really hard, because there are ways of holding the epee where you could put a pulse of force through it and it hits really hard before it bends.


Leigh Shocki: Oh, no thank you.


Guy Windsor: Yeah, it's really nasty. I don't think I should perhaps explain it quite how to do it on here. And I probably shouldn't explain why I learned it either. I don’t suppose you’re terribly interested in sport fencing.


Leigh Shocki: Lonin would be my club.


Guy Windsor: BWAHAHAHA probably do some version of duelling sabre. But use the sport sabre, which is too light for proper duelling sabre. And if you were wearing even the normal fencing mask, someone would really have to be misbehaving to give you any kind of concussive type strike with a modern sport sabre. It is literally designed so that Olympic level athletes can whip it at you, and there's practically no risk of injury. I mean, you might get stripes from that sort of thing, but obviously it’s something you want to test because every brain is different. Every head is different and it might feel one way or the other. But yeah, duelling sabre with sport fencing sabres. Unlikely to cause a problem, I would say. Stay away from rapiers because the thrust to the face is essential and it is actually much harder to armour against the thrust of the face in a way that protects the brain than it is to armour against a cut to the head.


Leigh Shocki: Really? Why is that? Because it’s the front of the mask?


Guy Windsor: No, it's because of where the force is going. If you think about it, the force, when you're cutting down on somebody's head, the force if it's channelled around the skull, it can go down into the shoulders so that it can be safely distributed throughout your whole body. If it's coming forwards at you and hit you in the face, there's not a lot of mass to absorb that. The force is going in the wrong direction.


Leigh Shocki: And disaster strikes.


Guy Windsor: So for the listeners, I was just miming a sword coming towards my face and I managed to knock my own headphones off. Because I am this effortlessly graceful sword person.


Leigh Shocki: That's how dangerous it really is.


Guy Windsor: Yeah. You stab yourself in the face. So it can jolt the head back. And if it's done at speed, it will give you that kind of shake to the head that’s really not good for you.


Leigh Shocki: Okay.


Guy Windsor: So I would stay away from rapier. Foil is okay because the face isn't a target and the weapon is very light. So it doesn't give anything like the same level of force as a rapier.


Leigh Shocki: Gotcha.


Guy Windsor: You could do Messer. You could do some of the heavier bladed weapons, but you can't do it the way everyone else is doing it, because they're safe having somebody just clonk them gently in the head wearing a mask. One thing I have seen that was absolutely gorgeous to watch, it was Roland Warzecha, and I think Jake Norwood, did a Messer demonstration bout wearing just these Schlager eye guards, which are like these steel fencing mask eye protectors and a nose protector, like on a Norman helmet. And it leaves the rest of the head and face totally unprotected. And again, if you train a lot with sharps, that kind of stuff is fine. And they were touching each other, but they weren't going for a bleeding head wound as would have been historical.


Leigh Shocki: Right. Okay.


Guy Windsor: So I think it's a question of training with the right people, training with the right equipment, making the right compromises and making sure that whoever you're training with is capable, in all senses of the word, of making the necessary allowances.


Leigh Shocki: Yeah, yeah. That's huge. Because I think I false started a couple of times where I did go back and it was to a beginner class and I got bonked and I was like. But because it's true, beginners, they just haven't learnt that skill yet and it’s not their fault.


Guy Windsor: It's not their fault. They're learning and they learn by making mistakes. And the thing is, what is a safe margin for error for people who haven't had a traumatic brain injury is not a safe margin of error for you.


Leigh Shocki: Yeah. Now, the interesting thing to note is that with post-concussion syndrome, it can get better over time if you baby it a lot. It still makes you prone to concussion in the future. So if you've had a concussion before, which I know a lot of HEMA people have. Y'all are bonkers.


Guy Windsor: No. Don’t include me in that. I am not bonkers. I am super careful.


Leigh Shocki: I know you are. And that's what I loved about your workshops when we had you out to Seattle to teach is that we didn't armour up for anything. You were teaching us Fiore and we learnt Fiore. We learnt spear. We learnt all kinds of stuff. But we would put on helmets occasionally, but it wasn't like full gear, let's go, throw each other into walls stuff because that's not how you learn the actual skill.


Guy Windsor: That has its place.


Leigh Shocki: It does.


Guy Windsor: But its place isn’t a day seminar that's open to beginners.


Leigh Shocki: Yes. And this is where I'm very different, I think from a lot of HEMA people are, I'm one of the HEMA people that is very different in this way, which is that like I am not a gear up and throw people into walls thing. I love to watch people do that. I think that's so much fun to watch. Like, I love going to tournaments. I did compete in one tournament in 2015 and I placed dead last. I had so much fun. I don't think I scored a single point. I'm just not a competitive person. I don't get like the happy high that people get from competing. It mostly it just kind of freaks me out, but in another way, it's more like I just enjoy watching other people do fun things and organising it. And I'm not a competitor. It's one of the things I like about HEMA is I don't have to be a competitor to be involved.


Guy Windsor: Oh, one thing. Just circling back to the safe ways to train post-concussion. The nylon longswords and most padded longswords are not a safer option.


Leigh Shocki: Really? Not even the little foam guys?


Guy Windsor: Okay. If it's a very lightweight foam sword intended for children to hit each other without being hurt each other, maybe. But at a regular weight nylon or wooden waster is probably more dangerous to you than the steel sword. Because of the nature of the impact.


Leigh Shocki: I've had the worst bruises in my life.


Guy Windsor: And if it's padded it’s worse. Because with a sharp strike metal on metal, basically, the energy gets dispersed really quickly. Like a bare knuckle punch to the face. It's not pleasant, but when you cover the thing that’s striking or make it softer, what happens is instead of it being a slap, it becomes a push, right? And the slap will maybe split your scalp, maybe hurt the outside of your head, but it won't give the brain that kind of “brrrr” joggle in the same way. I mean, yes, you absolutely can get concussion with a steel sword and a mask. Absolutely. And that's probably how most people who get concussions from swords get it. But it's a mistake to think of a nylon sword or a wooden waster or a padded sword that’s reasonably heavy as a safer alternative. It’s probably worse. I thought I'd better just throw that in there.


Leigh Shocki: That's interesting. I'm going to take that to the club and ask them some questions.


Guy Windsor: Now, I have a question that seeing as you are an expert in how people learn and in organising information so that adults can learn it efficiently. You’ve read my books, you’ve been to my classes and stuff. What could I be doing better?


Leigh Shocki: Oh, gosh. That's, first of all, I don't even. I've been doing instructional design for 16 years. And I still don't feel like an expert because every time I read a paper, it contradicts what I learnt five years ago. Like the science is changing so much, but honestly, one of the coolest things, like one of the coolest things we ever did with your work was Eric Artzt made us learn the form.


Guy Windsor: Yeah.


Leigh Shocki: And it was hysterical because it's very sort of dance influenced, I think. We were moving through it as a whole club, slowly, practising, before you showed up in Seattle.


Guy Windsor: That's not how I train it, but yeah.


Leigh Shocki: Oh really. Oh, well I thought it helpful.


Guy Windsor: It’s okay.


Leigh Shocki: For me the muscle memory doesn't kick in until I've done something a thousand times in HEMA. Maybe not exactly a thousand times, but a lot. And I think the challenge that I've had in the past with your work and this is the advice that I would give to all clubs that have you up for symposiums is you should train before you get there to your work very specifically and like pick something to focus on because this is huge. This is a big book with a lot of information.


Guy Windsor: You just held up The Medieval Longsword, incidentally, I'm not recording video so no one can see.


Leigh Shocki: Oh, okay, I didn't know that. So this is a big book and adults tap out in attention span to something they memorise, it depends. It can be like 20 minutes, can be an hour, but repetition, it actually takes somebody hearing something for three times before they learn it. So we always say three times. That's in the corporate training world. I think for HEMA it's way more than three times. I have to hear it. I have to see it. I have to do it three times; do, do, do. And what I would advise clubs to do before having you out to do the work is train two specific things in your work. Talk to you in advance and say, hey, these are the things we want to train, or what do you think we should train and then train to it. And then after you leave, that learning has to continue. It can't just be that we have Guy out and I think we did do this at Lonin, but we could have done more, which is we have you out and then you leave and it's like, okay, back to sparring, right? But it's like, no, let's cover what we covered in Guy’s thing.


Guy Windsor: This is the story of my fucking life. I go to a place, I ask them what they want to cover. I teach in that stuff. All of it is on video somewhere and I make sure they have access to it in book form and video form and everything else. And I come back six months later or a year later or whatever it is, and it's all gone and I have to show them the whole lot all over again because they don't lock it in. It is the story of my life, but it doesn't bother me. Just let me just be really clear about this. I am completely fine with that because I'm not naturally a terribly patient person, but I honestly don't care how many times I have to take somebody through a particular thing until they get it. If it is once or a thousand times, it makes no difference to me because I'm doing what I want to be doing, which is teaching somebody what they want to learn.


Leigh Shocki: Yeah, exactly. So that's the instructor's challenge, right? You can lead people to water, you can lead people to water, you can lead people to water. You can't make them drink. I'm also not criticising what our coaches did in class because it could be very well that you came out, you taught, and then I skipped practise after you left and they covered it and then I missed it. However, there's also the forgetfulness curve, which is something that all adults have, which is people always say, oh, it's like riding a bike, forgetting that most of us learn how to ride bikes as children. That is locked into our heads. We know how to ride bikes because we started doing it when we were five, six, seven years old.


Guy Windsor: But also, the bike is a natural feedback mechanism that never, ever lies to you. When you get on a bike, you either ride it or you don't. And every time you make a mistake, the bike will wobble or it will fall over, every single time. And that doesn't change. That is absolutely consistent. And it doesn't change as you get older. It doesn't matter what kind of bike you have. It is like riding a bike because it's always the same and it is a perfect feedback mechanism. Whereas swords are not, because I might be doing some horrible mistake and this opponent isn't experienced enough to notice it and hit me for it. And that opponent is. And so sometimes I'll get hit, sometimes I won't and I won't know why. I would hope that me personally, I had to figure it out because it’s my job. But it's one of the hardest things for us to do in teaching this art is to create these consistent feedback mechanisms that are always the same. When my kids were learning to walk. I would tell them, when they were very little, like two years old. Mr. Gravity is your best friend because he will never lie to you.


Leigh Shocki: That's awesome.


Guy Windsor: Right. Kids learn to walk really quickly. Even though it is a fantastically neurologically complicated skill because the feedback mechanism is absolutely consistent. They never get to walk wrong and get away with it.


Leigh Shocki: Whereas we get to train wrong and get away with it all the time. So again, like the forgetfulness curve, you walk away from something for too long as an adult, it's not baked into your brain. We just have less neuroplasticity. We just don't have it baked in to the same extent as children do. The other day, I was goofing around with my nephew, who is six, and I taught him how to do a fendente, like, I don't even know, like, six months ago. And he's six. He's also small for his age. He doesn't have full control over his body yet. And he threw a fendente at me as soon as I walk through the door and I was like, how do you remember this? That was six months ago. I know for a fact I don't remember things I learnt six months ago if I didn't practise them, if I didn't do it. And I said to his mom, is he practicing? She's like, no, she's like, I didn't know what a fendente was. I don't know what that is. So it's just children adapt and they learn. Adults don't because adults are very geared towards, why do I need to know this information? Another thing that you teach that I think is really valuable is you always talk about the end result a lot. Like if you don't want to get hit, do this. And that's how adults learn. That is how we learn. We want to know why we need to know the information. I'm not just going to sit down and listen to you lecture about swords. I'm going to sit down and listen to you lecture about swords because I want to be better at this thing and I don't want to get hit.


Guy Windsor: I have a standard mantra thing. One of the things when I'm teaching teachers: every thing you teach your student should be a solution to a problem that they have experienced. So you want to teach them this particular technique. Okay. What problem is that technique solving? Someone is trying to hit me like this and this solves that problem. Okay, so hit them like that first and hit each other like that first. And then they go, oh, I don't want to get hit with a sword, I want to do the hitting. This thing against that thing. And it makes sense to have this kind of it's not arbitrary. It's not this unconnected thing that they just have to learn in isolation. It is a solution to a problem that they've actually experienced.


Leigh Shocki: And that is such a thing in instructional design too. Bringing you back to rockets and aeroplanes. We call it scenario based training in our industry. And I want to sit somebody down, let's say a rocket scientist whose speciality is fluid dynamics. Fluid dynamics is the world's most difficult thing in the whole world to learn. People get PhDs in it and I will be like, explain fluid dynamics to me and they’ll laugh. And they'll say, I don't have enough education. And so sitting down and someone's like, okay, we need to teach these people this thing. And I'm like, great, give me the synopsis. And they will drop a 400 page document on my desk and say, this is how it works. None of that's going to matter to the person who needs to learn it unless they know why they need to learn it. So then I say I need to get an example of when you fail. That is such a hard question to push people for. People hate failure, engineers hate failure, airline pilots hate failure. You have to think about what the end result is, right? If I fail, what happens? The stakes are incredibly high. So talking about failure is really scary for people, but it's also unfortunately super memorable. It's how I sink my teeth into that information. I always laugh about how Eric Artzt would describe things about like when you take down this this opponent, then you can use your sword like this. And I don't even remember the name of the move, you know what I mean? But I do remember him saying “And then you can pry open their armour like it's a can opener.” And I'm like, I will never forget that sentence. That's a new sentence. So that's the kind of thing learning through failure that everyone needs to work through and the best coaches structure their lessons around it.


Guy Windsor: Right. Every drill has an optimal rate of failure. From a safety perspective, the optimal rate of failure is zero. But from a learning a physical skill, the optimal rate of failure in martial arts is usually somewhere between 20 to 40%. When you're doing a drill, let's say you're hitting me in the head and I'm learning how to defend against it. You should be doing the strike to my head at a pace and intensity where I get the action to work about 60, 70, 80% of the time. Because if it works all the time it is too easy, I’m not learning anything. If it doesn't work enough, I get discouraged thinking there’s something wrong with the technique. But if it's in that happy zone then the learning is extremely fast. It’s the Mr. Gravity's thing again. Mr. Gravity's job, when teaching children to walk, is to make sure they fall down every time they get it wrong. Now, you said lots of nice things about my work, but I haven't actually got anything that I can fix.


Leigh Shocki: About what?


Guy Windsor: About my work. I asked you to tell me what I could do better.


Leigh Shocki: God. Um.


Guy Windsor: If that's not a fair question, because you haven't read any of my stuff in a long time, then we can skip it. It’s OK. Just when you have an expert sitting in front of you, you want to actually extract maximum value out of their heads.


Leigh Shocki: No. Again, feel uncomfortable with the expert title and then laughing at myself because I really do have a lot of experience. Cutting down on lecture. Unfortunately, and I hate this, is the number one thing that you and almost everyone can do.


Guy Windsor: I know, I know. My number one piece of advice I give to every instructor I teach to teach is to talk less.


Leigh Shocki: Yes. And it sucks because some people want to talk a lot about the stuff and they learn through discussion. However, the average attention span of all of us is degrading every time they put out a new app where the time limit on a video is a minute long, you know. So yeah, fractured attention spans are my biggest challenge in my career that I have to deal with. You know, people give me content and it's eight, nine, 10 hours long. I have to tell them, I'm sorry, I've got 20 minutes before I lose them. And there's a lot of ways around that. Because I still have to teach all the material. So it's activities, it's scenario based, it's memory tricks to get the learner around sitting because the minute they sit, they look at their phones and I am not the kind of instructor that's going to make them put their phones in a basket in front of the classroom, because these are adults. But we also have to account for neuro divergence and a lot of people do have attention, stuff that they're dealing with. ADD. and ADHD is super, super skyrocketing on the rise because more and more people are getting diagnosed and we have to be able to work around that. And the only way to do it is to add more activity, more like co-op based play. So like break into breakout groups and do this and then come back and then talk about what you learnt. Getting them to do a lot of the talking or a lot of the lecturing is another way to get people to keep their attention. But overall lecture.


Guy Windsor: I have been working on talking less for a long time and it's been about four years since you were last in one of my seminars.


Leigh Shocki: I know.


Guy Windsor: So the next time I'm in Seattle.


Leigh Shocki: I want to come.


Guy Windsor: And even if you just want to come and just watch for a little while because maybe you don't want to risk your head in that particular environment as fine. But I want you to tell me whether I am talking less than I used to. I think I'm talking about half as much.


Leigh Shocki: Okay. Yeah. And I hate telling experts to not talk because really what I want to do is just sit and listen to you talk all day. When I have a captive audience.


Guy Windsor: You know, on the podcast, that's fine. In the pub, that's fine. But in the class with people who are supposed to be learning physical skills, it’s not fine. You tell me to shut up all you want. That's fine.


Leigh Shocki: I'll bring a flag and I'll wave it when you start talking too much.


Guy Windsor: Yeah. Or get one of those air horns.


Leigh Shocki: Yes, that wouldn’t freak people out at all.


Guy Windsor: So time me, like I've got 30 seconds. Actually, when I'm teaching people to teach one of the things I do, and also when I examine, I have a stopwatch and if they talk for, I forgot the exact rules. It’s been a little while since I've been in that situation. But it's something like if they talk for more than 3 minutes at any time, that's an automatic fail because no one is going to remember the first few minutes anyway. And in the course of a class, if it's more than 2 minutes talking to 4 minutes people doing stuff, I've got it written down somewhere, I should know this. That's also an automatic fail because they're talking too much and the students aren’t moving enough. I sit there with the stopwatch that's ostentatiously timing it. So when I start talking it goes on and I show them afterwards and they're like, I stood there and talked for six and a half minutes? Oh, yes, you did. You told them all about the economic conditions in the city of such and such, in such and such a year which led to this particular development. It's like, that's fucking irrelevant. You’re trying to teach them to hit each other in the head.


Leigh Shocki: But please make a podcast about it, because I would listen to that. And yeah, that's true. And that's when we talk about learning modalities. What's the most appropriate way to teach the material? And the most popular way in the corporate training world is multimodal. So you've got your lecture, you've got your hands on, you've got e-learning, which is like everybody's kids had to do during the pandemic. Everyone hates that. We can talk about that but you can tell I don't want to. You've got e-learning, you've got surveys, you've got devices in the classroom, simulators, a big one in aerospace, simulators, games. I actually designed a board game for Blue Origin that really is played by new hires.


Guy Windsor: Can anyone buy it?


Leigh Shocki: No, no, no, no. There are actually some great space board games. High Frontier is a really good one that a lot of people in the space industry really love because it's very real. It gets into sort of the realness of it. But yeah, I know you designed that card game. That's an awesome learning tool. People call it a game. It's not a game. It's a learning tool.


Guy Windsor: It's a learning tool that's designed as a game. Actually the original impulse for it was people find it difficult to learn the Italian names for things like fendente. And so having it on the cards they learn it super quick.


Leigh Shocki: Yes, 100%. It's such a good learning tool. So yeah, board games are great. Yeah, that's the only thing.


Guy Windsor: Now you have been extremely generous of your time already and I have a couple of questions I have to get to before the end. Let me just jump in there. So what is the best idea you haven't acted on yet?


Leigh Shocki: Um, so like, personally, I want to learn more sewing and I want to start making historical clothing. Obviously, the Venn diagram of people that are into historical clothing and are into swords is like basically a circle. So I've been volunteering at the Renaissance Faire out here in the past, not since my accident or actually yeah since my accident, because I don't have to get hit in the head when I do it.


Guy Windsor: If you get hit in the head when sewing then something has gone very wrong.


Leigh Shocki: No, no. I mean, like at volunteering, we have a group that does volunteering at the Renaissance Faire every year and teaching swords to children. So it's super fun. Anyway, but need a costume for that. So I would like to start getting more into that and long term, really my plan is to just stay at Blue Origin until I get to go to space.


Guy Windsor: Do they give you a good employee discount?


Leigh Shocki: Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah. Flights are free. Return flights probably are going to be more expensive.


Guy Windsor: Fantastic. Okay, so you're looking into recreating medieval garments.


Leigh Shocki: Yeah, that's actually why I started doing embroidery during the pandemic. I mean, part of it was because all of my actual hobbies, travel and swords, went bye bye. And I missed stabbing things.


Guy Windsor: So you see a connection between needlework and swords because it's a sharp pointy object and you stab things with it.


Leigh Shocki: And you need to have a lot of patience with yourself, just in general.


Guy Windsor: I do a lot of woodwork. Most people don't see any connection to swords and woodwork. And it's like sharp steel. And actually in woodwork you actually get to cut stuff all the time.


Leigh Shocki: But you just said you're not patient, but you have to be super patient to do that kind of detail oriented handiwork.


Guy Windsor: Yeah.


Leigh Shocki: Like, are you are you throwing things across your workshop on a regular basis?


Guy Windsor: Actually, no. Because it is different headspace. Also, I used to work as a cabinet maker like 40 hours a week for some four or five years. So I'm actually really fast, when I choose to be. So, you know, I’ll cut a row of dovetails, dum dum dum dum. So there's no need to be patient because I’m moving quickly. So it’s not this kind of spiritual sliding of the plane, very, very occasionally, maybe. But generally speaking, it's like, okay, I want to get the wood to this condition. And I might have three different planes. One for fast knot removal, one for making it straight and another one to put a finish on it. And I'll be working, like, flat out. It's very physical.


Leigh Shocki: Wow. Okay. Well, I had no idea.


Guy Windsor: Just because I was trained in a professional environment where time is money, literally. And that's how I learnt to do it. It is satisfying to get it done and get it together and get it working. You learn where the compromises matter. Like I have this little chest of drawers under my monitor. It has these visible dovetails on outside. I spent a lot of time on those dovetails because they are immaculate. That's where I did it super carefully. But, you know, the dovetails in the backs of the drawers, they're pretty clean, but they're not quite to the same level because no one except me is ever going to see them. Where I made mistakes because I move quickly and I make mistakes. Instead of hiding them like there's a groove that doesn't belong in this drawer side, I patched it with a contrasting word so I could see where the mistakes were. Because I don't mind making mistakes when I'm making.


Leigh Shocki: Everything that you're describing is still a study and patience and creativity.


Guy Windsor: Compared to having kids. Not really.


Leigh Shocki: Okay, I don't have kids, so maybe that's the difference. And then the other thing that I needed time away from screens. I think that there's another reason. You play video games with swords in them and you're like, well, I'd prefer to do this in real life. So that's what leads you to swords. Same thing with embroidery. I needed time away from screens, but I'm also kind of dabbling in this sort of concept of like,  old things and new technology. And so embroidery being an art that like was embraced by mostly women, mostly as they literally couched it historically, especially in the Victorian era, as a display of Christian patience, which is just like, oh my God, like, no, we just like stabbing things. But what I wanted to do is kind of get into the headspace of that time period and what it's like. And I see people doing this in my costume dramas. You know, I'm obsessed with like all costume dramas ever made, Pride and Prejudice, all that stuff, and I want to try it. So I just started trying it and it ended up being like one of the best things in the whole world for my brain, which is damaged. Not damaged, I'm fine, but in terms of like, hyperfocus and staying away from screens, staying away from the news, it's been brilliant for my anxiety. So I also have the hard and fast rule where I'm never going to monetise it so that I never stress about it. A lot of people monetise their hobbies and it's very, very bad. I know a lot of people in HEMA do it and you do it.


Guy Windsor: Originally I monetised my woodwork. And I went to work as a cabinet maker and it was not good for me at all. I have to go. Now, I don't monetise my woodwork at all. I make stuff for my friends. I make stuff for myself and my family and whatever. And if someone wants me to do something for them woodwork wise and it would be kind of uncomfortable for them not to pay me. They can bring me wine, or they could make a donation to my favourite charity. Either one of those work. But I will not take money for it because it makes it into a job. Whereas for some reason, for me, the sword thing , I don't mind getting paid for it. It doesn't take away the swordiness of it. So it has nothing to do with the intrinsic nature of swords or wood. It has everything to do with the nature of my brain. So just for me, it's. It works.


Leigh Shocki: Yeah. So that's where I started dabbling, it’s like old and new, so I'll hold up this one. I'm starting to do spaceships embroidery.


Guy Windsor: Send us a picture for the show notes. This is like Serenity in embroidery. It's this beautiful kind of coloured background with the Serenity spaceship from Firefly on it.


Leigh Shocki: And I'll be doing a lot more. I just found out that NASA has, like a ton of really cool, like, specs online. I will send you the link to if you want to see that. And I'm just going to take them all and embroider them. Because I can't do it with stuff from work because that's proprietary. So I'm going to do it with the NASA stuff and I notice people at work doing it all the time. One of my friends at work has a 3D printer and so he printed for me this is the winged victory of Samothrace from the Louvre. This is like such a cool combination, cool thing. It's just such a cool combination and the sort of intersection of the 21st century and the 18th century. Well, The Winged of Samothrace is way older, that's like 300. So I just love that and want to keep doing it as art until I get bored of it.


Guy Windsor: Yeah, art for art’s sake.


Leigh Shocki: Exactly. And that has been really good for my brain as well, just maintaining craft.


Guy Windsor: Yeah, I think it’s important for most people. Now. You mentioned money. You know the question is coming. I'm expecting a blisteringly good answer. Somebody gives you $1,000,000 to spend improving historical martial arts worldwide. How would you spend it?


Leigh Shocki: Oh, my God. Okay, so my first response is I work in aerospace, so put that up to a billion. No, I'm kidding. You would not believe what things cost. It's crazy, anyway.


Guy Windsor: I fly planes. I have some idea what things cost.


Leigh Shocki: Right. Oh, yeah. Anyway, no, I thought about this a lot. And what I would like to do is form a grant programme for people who contribute large amounts of their time and resources to HEMA. So events, resources. You mentioned Michael Chidester. People that are doing really amazing scholarship translation work, forming events like Dance Fight, like Swordsquatch, that we are dumping so much time into this stuff, Lonin, you know, anything that's volunteer. I mean, at one point, especially in the early days, of Swordsquatch before we were able to sort of automate a lot of it. Oh my gosh, it was my part time job on top of a full time job I already have. And burnout in the community is happening. You know, we've also all been through a pandemic. And I experienced a little bit of that as well. So it's something that I want to prevent and money prevents burnout. That's just me saying I want to pay Michael Chidester for his time for the resources that he's donating the community.


Guy Windsor: Okay. But the problem is, once you pay somebody for doing something in money, it becomes a job.


Leigh Shocki: Yeah.


Guy Windsor: And if they're doing it for love and you pay them, it doesn't always help.


Leigh Shocki: Really?


Guy Windsor: Really not. Because, well, like, I will not accept money for my woodwork. Because it would make it into a job. And I have already got a job and I like my job. So I think it's a really good idea. But for some people, yes, absolutely. Totally appropriate to pay them. For people who want to get paid, they absolutely should get paid. Here's a way to think of it. If you came to my house, like, if you're ever in Britain, you would come to my house?


Leigh Shocki: Yeah. Oh, yeah.


Guy Windsor: And we would cook you dinner. If you offered to pay for dinner, it would be massively offensive, wouldn’t it?


Leigh Shocki: It would. But that's what's so brilliant about a grant programme, right, is that you have to apply for it. So we're going to get the folks that are looking at their, let's say, our balance sheet for Swordsquatch and being like, oh my God, like we just barely have enough money to cover the event and we're putting in 15 hours, 20 hours a week as an individual just to do all of the stuff. And I mean, like when you think about gas to and from each other's houses to plan things, you know, long meetings at the loft where we're just working into the night. The idea that we would be able to say like, hey, with this grant money, we can buy dinner for all of us while we're working or we can cover all of the gas that we're spending to get to and from different venues while we're working on all this like this. These are just super like.


Guy Windsor: Also maybe like hire an accountant to do the money side of things.


Leigh Shocki: Oh, my God, that would be amazing. So and then with a grant programme you're never going to get the people that don't want to get paid or think about the hobby the way you were saying where I don't want to get paid for this. Like if somebody was like, Leigh, you can apply for a grant programme to get your embroidery funded, I'd be like, well, I'd really like more thread. But I don't want to monetise my hobby, you know, I'm done. I'm not going to apply for it. And the people that want the money, that need the money that will put the money to use ideally are the ones that are applying, right? So that's what I would do. And then grant programmes are so fun and I see so much good that they do in the space community with the clients we work with on like New Shepard and the university system and how they utilise grant funds. It's cool to watch.


Guy Windsor: Okay. A lot of my guests have suggested some kind of grant programme.


Leigh Shocki: Oh, they have?


Guy Windsor: Yeah. For one thing or another. Are you telling me you don't listen to every show and make notes?


Leigh Shocki: I’ve listen to, like, ten of them.


Guy Windsor: So less than 10%. Right. So basically what you're looking at is a grant programme to subsidise volunteers working on cool historical martial arts stuff.


Leigh Shocki: Yes. I mean, I'm just thinking about the amount of personal funds I poured into the first few years of Swordsquatch when we were all in person. It's like you have to feed yourself while you're running an event. Coffee.


Guy Windsor: Does the event not feed you?


Leigh Shocki: No. Like sometimes, but budgets can get really tight, so like if you're expected to be at the venue 15 hours a day, whereas most people are there for the eight that we're running the event, you know, stuff like that. It's just like you end up doing so much running around and then you're like, whoa, I spent a hundred bucks today. Over time, yeah.


Guy Windsor: That's not trivial.


Leigh Shocki: So just little things where I'd be like, oh, well, I'm going to cover this because the event, you know.


Guy Windsor: Or maybe the event could get a budget, could get grants for looking after its volunteers.


Leigh Shocki: Yeah. Yeah, that would be great.


Guy Windsor: The event organisers would apply and say, kook, we're doing this thing and we want this much money to get special t shirts for our volunteers and this much money for gas money. We want this much money to get the food we would need to make sure that they didn't have to leave the site to get food or whatever. We can just feed them on site.


Leigh Shocki: And again, like so much has changed, now, after the first couple of years of eventing. Swordsquatch is doing awesome, although we lost our space. Most clubs have, right? So you know Lonin lost our space. We had to find a new one. Fortunately we did. But it was a struggle and it's smaller and we lost our event space for Swordsquatch. So I know a lot of clubs are in the same place.


Guy Windsor: So with that billion you can also have grants for helping clubs get spaces.


Leigh Shocki: Exactly.


Guy Windsor: And helping events get spaces short term.


Leigh Shocki: And covering insurance for those events and all that stuff.


Guy Windsor: So actually, for the cost of a nose cone and a tail fin, we could do this.


Leigh Shocki: Right. Exactly.


Guy Windsor: Priorities. Have a word with Jeff and get him on the case. Take your sword into work.


Leigh Shocki: There is a little bit of a sword club at Blue, or at least basically like the Venn diagram again of people who think swords are cool and nerds is a circle. So at a place where there's a lot of nerds, there's a lot of people that think swords are pretty cool. And so there are definitely sword people scattered throughout. It's a thing.


Guy Windsor: Maybe we should insist on medieval Italian knightly combat training for all astronauts. I can help you with that.


Leigh Shocki: Right. And Seveneves had an awesome example of attempting jiu jitsu in space. So, like, we're they're like, let's do it. I don't want a sword anywhere near any equipment. Thanks.


Guy Windsor: Yeah there is that. That's why they need to be trained so they can control their sword.


Leigh Shocki: They need the training to control the sword on the spaceship. I think you've nailed it. Yeah.


Guy Windsor: Well, thank you so much for joining me today, Leigh. It’s been lovely talking to you.


Leigh Shocki: Oh, no, thank you. This is crazy. And now I guess I have to go back to training because I just talked about it for 2 hours. That's part of the reason I agreed to do this. I was like, well, now if I say it I have to.

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