DADA 201 Journal : Week Four

Continued from DADA 201 Journal : Week Three.

I have been practising all the mental training exercises Professor Silvers taught us last week. I think my ability to focus, concentrate and remain calm under pressure has substantially increased over the past week, and I am pleased with my progress! I also cornered Marcius in the common room last Sunday and challenged him to a disarming duel. This time, however, I won. Because I was ready. Because I have been practising so hard every evening.

Today’s lesson was all about dueling in the dark. Professor Silvers gave us a few tips before we were sorted into pairs again. My partner for today’s lesson was Rhi Fleetwood, that blonde kid from Ozzieland. “I’m gonna take you out mate, ahahah!” she said. I raised an eyebrow. “Yeah? We’ll see.” Soon it was our turn to duel and the Professor turned out the lights. I couldn’t see or hear anything.

True to what Professor Silvers had taught us, Rhi wasn’t making any noise or movements, which was making me very difficult to guess her location. I waited, crouching quite still myself. A few minutes later, I figured she wasn’t going to make the first move. She had decided to wait until I showed myself and then attack me. I groped around in the dark and my hands hit a desk. I bent down behind it and said, “Lumos!” I couldn’t see her anywhere, I held the wand up for a moment and quickly extinguished the light. Clearly, she was hiding behind a desk too.

Now that she knew my position, the moment it was dark again, I heard her yell “Expelliarmus!” and saw a flash of light somewhere from the far right corner of the room. I ducked behind my desk just in time. The desk flew out of the way and I had to dive behind another. She sent two more spells my way, but they were way off the mark. It was all quiet again.

This time, I decided to wait. Sooner or later, she would have to make a move. Had she moved too or was she still in that corner? Should I just send a spell across the room and risk giving up my position? I stood up again, but before I had arrived at a decision, something very hilarious happened. Rhi sneezed!

I guessed the direction where the sound came from, and before she could run, I sent my spell in that direction and disarmed her immediately. It wasn’t really fair for Rhi, but then, that’s life. It can be unfair sometimes. And today was her unlucky day.

Continue to DADA 201 Journal : Week Six.

DADA 201 Journal : Week Three

Continued from DADA 201 Journal : Week Two.

Wow. That was one exhausting session of DADA training today!

Professor Silvers had asked us to read the fourth chapter of the textbook before coming to class, and to remember to bring our wands. Thankfully, I did both. The chapter was about Training, Foundational Techniques of Dueling – Mental, Psychological and Physical. So I pretty much knew what to expect in today’s class. And I was not disappointed.

We began with mental training. Mental training is required to help us to know what to expect in a duel, stay calm and level-headed, and remain aware of our surroundings and the situation at all times. We began with a few exercises to help increase our concentration and focus.

In the first exercise, we had to pull away from our desk and sit still at the edge of our chairs, with both hands on our laps. We were to sit completely still without moving for ten minutes, blinking being the only exception. It looked easy at first, but I realized, as did the rest of my class, that it is not as easy as it appears. It requires a great deal of effort to sit still for so long, the minutes drag like hours. Most of us ended fidgeting with our feet, yawning, giggling, etc. and were sternly told to start over by the Professor. In the end, we gave up and she asked us to practice every day until we are able to do it effortlessly, and then raise the time duration as we get better and better.

The second exercise was a lot easier, especially when compared to the first. We were to hold a glass in our outstretched hand, at eye level, and stare at it for two minutes, without allowing our eyes to wander anywhere else. Now this would have been as difficult as the first, but I guess after all that sitting still, another two minutes looking at a glass didn’t take much effort, except for the holding it up. My arm began to ache within a minute, but I managed it in the first attempt. Kudos to my will power!

Then we moved on to a different kind of mental training. We practiced the art of meditation in order to control our emotions, be able to think clearly and keep ourselves calm and avoid panicking while dueling. We did some basic breathing and relaxing exercises to calm the nerves and release tension in the body muscles.

After mental training, it was time for some physical training. For this, we got into pairs and had to practise dodging. Each pair was given around fifty bean bags. We had to take turns to throw it at our partner, sometimes two or three at a time, and he/she was to try and dodge it by jumping, rolling or crawling out of the way. My partner was Marcius. I went first. For the first 20 bags that I threw at him, he managed to dodge them all. He was quick! But then I noticed his dodging techniques. For the next 10 throws, I deliberately allowed him to dodge me, just so I could study his pattern of moves. Once I had a fair idea, I knew how to second guess him and I hit him with all the remaining bags, sometimes two at the same time! By the time it was my turn to dodge, he was seething. The bags flew thick and fast and I was hopping, jumping and diving to avoid them. He still managed to hit me 14 times. Not bad.

The last part of today’s class was learning defensive spellwork. Professor Silvers taught us our first defensive spell today, called the Disarming Charm. The incantation is “Expelliarmus” (pronounced as “ex-PELL-ee-ARE-muss”) and the wand movement is slashing it down and to the right followed by a spiral motion going anti-clockwise. We paired up again and since it was our first practice of an actual duel, we had to follow all the rules. We began by bowing to each other and then took up dueling positions. Marcius managed to disarm me in his fourth attempt. In my defence, I don’t think I was completely ready as I was surely looking the other way. But then, the fault was mine. You don’t simply look the other way in a duel. Now that I have learnt my lesson, that’s not going to happen again.

Continue to DADA 201 Journal : Week Four.

DADA 201 Journal : Week Two

Continued from DADA 201 Journal : Week One.

I am into my second week of second year at Hogwarts, and it feels as great as ever! I had DADA today, and we continued from where we had left off last week – the basics of dueling. Before that, Professor Silvers talked about the two kinds of duels – formal and informal duels.

The basic difference between the two kinds is that in a formal duel, the witch or wizard formally issues a challenge to their opponent, which they have to accept for a duel to commence. There are rules and regulations and seconds and mediators involved. Any duel that does not involve these could be called an informal duel.

We also later discussed about the need to bow before a duel and the proper stance for a duel. Formal duels usually take place in a dueling club or a competition, whereas informal duels are mostly started in the heat of the moment. That is why they mostly result in serious injuries or even death.

The most famous formal duel of the last century has to be the one between Albus Dumbledore and Gellert Grindelwald in 1945. Dumbledore sought out Grindelwald and challenged him, which he accepted. But Grindelwald lost to Dumbledore and was imprisoned. We also discussed two informal duels that changed the course of history to quite an extent. Both these duels, interestingly, involved the death of a third party, a person who was not supposed to be playing a part in the duel. Whether their deaths could have been avoided has been a matter of debate ever since.

The first one was a three-way duel between the Dumbledore brothers and Grindelwald, all in their teens. Ariana, their sister, tried to intervene and ended up paying the price with her life. This, in my opinion, could definitely have been avoided had the brothers given a thought towards their sister’s protection. But perhaps they were too busy fighting amongst themselves to see that their sister was in the danger zone too.

The other duel that took place at the Malfoy Manor in 1998 resulting in the death of Dobby the House-elf. Now this was an unfortunate accident. The knife thrown by Bellatrix Lestrange in a fit of rage at the about-to-Disapparate group of people, could have hit anybody, or nobody at all. It happened to strike Dobby just before they disappeared, so the knife vanished along with them, killing the elf. Avoidable or not, but this murder, just like the case of Ariana Dumbledore’s death, was not a planned one. I would even say that these are perfect examples of collateral damage in the case of an informal duel.

Continue to DADA 201 Journal : Week Three.