Giving Yourself an Idiot Mark

We’ve all got one. That self-inflicted bump on your head, scrape on your arm, or a knick on your cheek. We’ve all had that moment.

The moment when you made a bad parry and deflected your sword into your own face. That time when you were making a circular flourish with a stick and clipped the side of your head. When you attempted a forward roll and ended up sprawled ingloriously.

I’ve been practicing martial arts and movement for a long time now and I still make stupid mistakes. All of the above are foolish things I have personally done, and not just early in my career.

Mistakes are for Creative People

Mistakes are not the realm of the beginner, they’re the realm of the innovator. If you’re not making errors you’re not trying hard enough, challenging yourself, or pushing your edges.

Embracing the fool is what allows you to really practice. The student who throws themselves in shamelessly gets more practice. They’re not restricted by the need to hold to perfection. They’re willing to truly understand what works by immersing themselves fully in what doesn’t.

Experience is more a product of failure than it is of success.

Safety note: practice responsibly. Set up a safety net. Wear appropriate safety equipment. Train with care and respect. But don’t think that good training means never screwing up. It’s exactly the opposite.


Devon Boorman is the Co-Founder and Director of Academie Duello Centre for Swordplay, which has been active in Vancouver, Canada since 2004. Devon’s expertise centres on the Italian swordplay tradition including the arts of the Renaissance Italian rapier, sidesword, and longsword, as well as knife and unarmed techniques.
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