How to Create Tangible Results from Martial Arts training

This past Tuesday night, I got home from the school at about midnight. After class, which ends at 10pm, I spent another hour and a half with Greg committing more rapier and sidesword exercises to video. This is our third week of shooting this particular content.

To support this month’s 30 for 30 Swordplay Challenge, Greg and I decided that we’d like to contribute more resources for solo training. In particular, we wanted to make exercises for rapier, sidesword, and longsword that could be easily absorbed and learned, and could be both accessible to less experienced practitioners and inspiration for more advanced ones. Thus, a separate 30 for 30 Swordplay *Meta* Challenge was born.

Now, we’re working to keep a steady stream of drills shot, and I’m constantly scrawling down notes on all of the various drills and exercises I’ve devised over the years, as well as new ones that are coming to mind now. It’s been fun and has added an extra dimension to the original challenge for me.

One thing I enjoy about shooting swordplay videos is that it gives a tangible output to the martial arts work that I do. Now, I enjoy teaching, in fact I love teaching, and I realize the payoff of my work will always be the many excellent practitioners that have come out of the school. However, before publishing, the practice of my art often felt very ephemeral. A painter enjoys the process of painting but also creates a physical piece of art.

The product of a martial artist is very internal. Your product truly is your own physical and spiritual growth. This is perhaps the most meaningful product that one can have. Yet sometimes, it’s nice to be able to hold (at least metaphorically) the creative output of your work.

To this end, for myself, I have now found joy in related projects like these videos, Duello.TV, swordplay-related DVD projects, and a forthcoming book on Academie Duello’s system for the rapier (actually slated to come out this year!) For people in the school, there are ways to reap tangible benefits from their work as well. We’ve started providing opportunities for students to join our performance and demo team where we shoot videos of technique demonstrations, choreography, and combat. The results are fun to see and to show off. They also help to expand knowledge and inspiration within the greater swordplay community. These videos and performances culminate in a much more physical, visible, and shareable end result that can be valuable for some.

If you’re at Academie Duello and these activities appeal to you, please ask us about the performance team and how you might join. Alternately, if you’re out in the world, consider documenting your work. Even the most amateur product can provide inspiration for greater work from yourself and others, and it’s fun to truly see and not just feel your own work.

The exercise videos from this month’s 30 for 30 Swordplay Challenge are being collected on our Youtube channel, linked below:

Playlist: 30-for-30 Swordplay Challenge

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.
Read more from Devon Boorman.