Monday, April 23, 2018

Scythe Calisthenics -- Then and Now

(Source:  Watson's Manual of Calisthenics, 1864)

To get a wider swath, use a wider stance with more knee bending, as shown below, at right:


A report from some recent scything instruction:

Once all the peening and sharpening was done, I did an experiment with the 12 of us (including me) doing a "group calisthenics" warmup starting with David Tresemer's idea of letting one's arms hang loosely while swinging/twisting hips and torso from side to side. This progressed to doing this while having the elbows bent and hands partially closed, as if holding a scythe. This swinging progressed further to include a shifting of weight from side to side, in sync with the arms. This progressed further to have increased bending of the knee closest to the hands, while the heel of the other leg comes off the ground at the end of each left or right swing. This progressed further to have each foot move forward a couple inches as it is unweighted and the heel is raised. By now, everyone is doing the scything motion, including the forward advance with each stroke. This progressed further by having everyone slow down the pace of swinging so that it matched one's breathing, exhaling during the swing to the left, and inhaling during the return swing to the right.

It was like practicing scything without holding a scythe. It seemed to prime everyone for the actual scything that immediately followed. Right off the bat, they were doing it better than I expected, including a guy who never held a scythe before who came along with a friend. So I consider the experiment a success.


Watson's Manual of Calisthenics: A Systematic Drill-book Without Apparatus, for Schools, Families, and Gymnasiums. With Music to Accompany the Exercises
by J. Madison Watson, 1864

Scythe Connection, Mowing Technique

Personal correspondence