Book Review: “Self-Defense for Gentlemen & Ladies” by Col. TH Monstery (Ben Miller ed)

In about 1877, Colonel Thomas Hoyer Monstery wrote: “I hold that every gentleman should be able to protect himself from insult and violence, with or without weapons.” [1] Words as true now, as they were more than a century ago! [2] But why listen to Col Monstery? In Self Defense for Gentlemen and Ladies, Ben Miller…

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Consistency is Vital

About 18 years ago I took over running a rapier practice and class for the Society for Creative Anachronism. I was new to being in a leadership role and I sought out the advice of one of the senior members in the area about how to run a successful group. He gave me one piece…

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Why you should wrestle, and everyone throughout history thought so as well!

There is a fallacy that is often presented in martial arts (and physical culture as a whole) that for people on the outside looking in there is no point to practicing. Why learn to fight with a sword, choke a person out, or lift a heavy weight if those things do not translate to a…

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Let Your Subconscious Work On It

Research has shown that we humans use a tremendous amount of our brains in spaces beyond our conscious awareness. Learning is a process that is far broader than simply the conscious practice of new skills. I have found many situations in my personal experience where, after having worked on a problem extensively one day, I…

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Pursuing the Ridiculously Challenging

“Alright, the next drill is even more difficult!” I said to a chorus of groans. It’s accuracy night in line drills and I have been progressively making each drill more challenging. Each target is increasingly smaller, requiring that much more precision. The drills have essentially moved into a realm where even the most experienced students are…

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Don’t Get Hung Up on Perfect Practice

There is an interesting phrase pair I have been hearing from a lot of instructors recently. I hear: “Practice makes perfect.” Then an admonishment: “No. Practice makes permanent. So make sure you don’t practice poorly!” The first is a message of hope and resilience. If you practice and stay the course, you can find mastery.…

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Three Sources of Quality Feedback

If you plan to improve in your martial practice you need outside feedback. Here are three quality sources that you can seek out to get the most of your training time: 1. Well-Designed, Feedback-Oriented Exercises Instead of having to self-observe whether your mechanics are correct, a good exercise and good training partner will give you…

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Keep Solo Practice Effective by Not Over-Focusing

One of the main errors I see people making in solitary practice is over-practicing a single action. Generally this comes in the form of practicing a complex, multi-part action, without the needed external stimulus (meaning an opponent/partner) to give the technique its contextual relevance, timing, and feeling. The negative outcome I have seen, for many,…

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Special Guest Instructor: Bob Charrette

  March is underway which means that the Vancouver International Swordplay Symposium is almost upon us.  We have a  star-studded list of HEMA instructors and lecturers coming in from around the world.  One of the guests is particularly near and dear to my heart and that would be Bob Charrette.  Not only will Bob be offering…

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Take Agency in Learning

In the Western martial traditions the master of a school was an employee of the student. In an art where a successful instructor was teaching many above his social station, the bowing and scraping went the other way than we may see in other cultures. Having come from an Eastern martial arts background, this is…

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