Revisiting A Post on Help and Failure

I'm partway through writing part 2 of my series on training in multiple weapon disciplines, but sometimes the craziness of running a sword school holds you up. So while that gets finished, I thought I'd reach back to a post from 2014 that I was reminded of today. This post explores how our desire to…

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The Red Spur: Mounted Combat Curriculum

The Mounted Combat Skills curriculum for the Red Spur comprises six sections: Swordplay from the ground Swordplay from horseback Sword and shield Spear versus sword Mounted Games Knowledge In the next few months of this blog we'll be looking at the first section, swordplay from the ground. Red Spur: Swordplay from the Ground For this…

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An Argument for Training with Diverse Weapons, Part 1

Recently, I was asked why we teach rapier and longsword together in our Instructor Intensives. The questioner postulated that it was like teaching sky diving and skin diving in the same program. Sure rapiers and longswords are both swords but aren't they as distinct as these two types of "diving"? I think it's a great…

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Team Riding: Pas de Deux

In September, I posted on the importance of team riding to develop mounted combat skills and delved into how to make successful hand-offs.  Today I'm focussing on precision over speed as we look at drill team riding. Riding Level 4: Team Riding, pt II For Riding Level 4 you will need to demonstrate: 15. Simple…

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Mimicry: How To Use It, How To Beat It

Ever sparred with someone really good and felt like you were at your best, then right after sparred with someone less experienced and felt like you got as sloppy as they were? Mimicry is one of the brain's most powerful tools for both learning and fitting in (an important tool for survival). Jared Diamond in…

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Burn out: when the fire is gone

Sometimes, I have hated swordplay. This is something I truly love and has been an enduring passion of my life. But when the fire is gone a sense of resentment, frustration, or anger can remain in its place. It can bring a tremendous feeling of loss; when something that has so readily fed you before…

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Autumn Riding and Swordplay at Red Colt

With the evenings getting shorter, its time to switch the hours of our Riding & Horsemanship classes back to Sunday mornings.   This is your last chance to get a series of classes in before our winter break! Autumn Riding, Horsemanship, and Mounted Combat Youth Riding & Horsemanship This course for kids aged 6-13 will introduce…

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Ready, Willing, and Able: Changing Your Training Behaviour

This past Friday, Jon Mills, a member of the Academie Duello instruction team and the principal fitness trainer of Black Dog Strength and Nutrition here in Vancouver, lead a workshop on coaching practices for the Duello instruction team. One of the central themes was Motivational Interviewing as a tool for helping students move toward behavioural…

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Choosing the Right Rapier for You

I am asked routinely how to choose the right rapier for practice. This article, cribbed from my forthcoming Introduction to the Italian Rapier book, looks at the range of historical rapiers and my opinion on how to best select a modern reproduction. The Real Thing Historical rapiers varied in dimension both throughout their evolution from…

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Collaborative vs Competitive Practice Environments

Early in my days of swordplay, I remember a common piece of training advice was to "never give anything less than 100% to your training partner". Because the only form of training our practice group really did at the time was sparring, this often lead to situations where a more experienced opponent just hit a…

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SKIL: A model for learning martial forms

Many martial traditions, including ours, use martial forms (series of attacks and defences for solo or partnered practice) to help train martial precision, flow, and fitness. Having a form that you can practice without a training partner provides structure for improving and maintaining your martial ability when you don't have the option of training with…

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Team Riding: Hand to Hand

Before I put swords in the hands of participants on horseback during our Intro to Mounted Combat workshop, I have people high-five each other.  I tell them it's the friendly way to start hitting one another.  The comment is light-hearted, but the principle and the practice is important.  Co-operative riding is a key part of mounted…

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Carosella 2017 Photos

Another amazingly fun and exciting Carosella has passed us by.  Congratulations to our high-point tournament winner Robert Borsos, and all the other riders who took home prizes!  Here are a few photos from Sunday courtesy of Double Exposure Photography.  Enjoy! A huge thank you to all the instructors, assistants, and volunteers  who worked to make…

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Why Do We Fight?

To get out of danger. Self-defence is one of the oldest reasons for conflict. To uphold honour, right wrong, and make just. Both noble aims and righteous justifications. To tell a story. To explore characters, their conflicts, and their motivations and take the audience along for the journey. To challenge ourselves. Keeping the body in…

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Congratulations to Our Blue Spur Pioneers!

The last day of Carosella is always special, as the competition is the culmination of the weekend's – and the year's – work in the Mounted Combat Program.  This Sunday was even more special as we had our first cohort of apprentices challenge the scholar level of our program, the Blue Spur. For the Blue…

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What is a Part of Historical European Martial Arts (HEMA)?

People often try to use the term HEMA (Historical European Martial Arts), often pronounced phonetically as "hee-mah", as if it were a specific martial art such as karate (technically a family of martial arts), or taekwondo (a martial art, practiced in the Olympics, of Korean origin). However, HEMA is truly a much broader term that…

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