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Off The Clock

Ever wonder what your coworkers do in their spare time?

Photo of employee performing martial arts with sword. Credit: Courtesy of Cvetan Pavloski.Pavloski works out with the Katana sword during the period devoted to Iaido training.

Photo of Glenn employee Pavloski. Credit: Courtesy of PavloskiPavloski gets focused to begin Kendo training.

Pavloski Exercises with an Edge

Cvetan "Steve" Pavloski's longtime interest in Japanese animated action films and a desire to increase his physical fitness, led him to try the Japanese martial arts Kendo, also referred to as Japanese fencing, and Iaido (pronounced ee-eye-doh).

"Kendo involves using a bamboo sword, called a Shinai, which was devised by early Japanese fencing schools to safely teach their warriors the most effective techniques of combat. The Shinai is still used in modern day competition," said Pavloski, an SGT, Inc. employee who serves as senior server administrator for the Logistics and Technical Information Division. "Iaido, the noncombat art of the Samurai, compliments Kendo by stressing perfect and elegant control of the body while using the Katana sword."

During weekly two-hour sessions at the Kiraly Fencing Academy in Fairlawn, Ohio, Pavloski moves through basic foot drills, weapon drills and tactics designed to enhance mental concentration, coordination, speed, agility and timing traditionally associated with martial arts training to master the intricate maneuvers of Kendo. Mastering Iaido, often described as "moving Zen" because of its intense concentration, aids fluid motion and precise movement.

"I was never really into sports before, but Kendo speaks to me on many levels: it's a great physical outlet, requires strategy, can be easily practiced on your own and offers the cultural value of a very ancient Japanese training," Pavloski said. "Armor is worn during training or competition that must be adorned in a specific order and laced perfectly. The helmet is painted blood-red inside "to hide the fear in your face" before you go into battle. From the moment I begin the ritual of getting into my armor, until the moment I spring into action, is such an adrenaline rush."

Since joining the Kiraly Fencing Academy six months ago, Pavloski's regimen and zeal for the sport have helped him progress up a rank. Although defeated in the early rounds of a recent competition by a female opponent, neither Pavloski's pride nor his zeal was deflated.

"I experienced firsthand what I've learned early on about fencing -- it's dominated by skill not strength, so women can do as well as men," Pavloski said. "It took only one bout with her to realize the quality of the strikes versus the quantity is what determines a winner."

Did you know? The word 'martial' derives from the name of Mars, the Roman god of war. The term 'Martial Arts' literally means arts of Mars. This term comes from 15th century Europeans who were referring to their own fighting arts.

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By S. Jenise Veris
NASA's Glenn Research Center