Is Full Speed and Full Contact Required?

A good friend of mine is a special forces combatives trainer. I asked him how much of their training is devoted to full-speed and full-contact simulated sparring. He told me “no more than 5%”. For him it was a matter of balancing value and risk. Full speed, full contact sparring has the value of exposing […]

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Proficiency by counting strikes on a blackboard

Lots of Practice, Not 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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Why Is the Rapier Part of Our System?

Recently, I began a blog series answering, in broad form, why we teach the rapier and longsword as part of one system at Academie Duello. I started in the first post by looking at the historical precedent for multi-weapon study that spans many original fighting manuals from both the medieval period and the Renaissance, as […]

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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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The Pedestal: What We Expect From Our Teachers

I have come to wonder if placing our teachers on pedestals is about elevating them, or if it’s really about lowering and restricting ourselves?  Elevating our teachers to a realm beyond what is humanly achievable can be a strategy for minimizing our own expectations, and thus our disappointments. If the goal is unachievable there are […]

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Learn to swordfight again from scratch. Learn new things about yourself!

What Have You Failed At Today?

“What have you failed at today?” This question is one that a friend’s father used to ask her and her brother every day at dinner. I found the story inspiring. This question, as well as her father’s warm approach in how he asked it, contained so many positive questions and affirmations: What did you try today? […]

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How to Create Empowered Learners; Not Just Competent Practitioners

A good teacher doesn’t just impart information to their students, they empower their students to be excellent learners. In my classes, I’m thinking not just about how I can increase my students’ ability with a given technique in that moment, but what I can give them that will help them meaningfully practice, implement, and build […]

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Learning swordplay is different for everyone.

Taking Charge of Your Learning Environment

This past week during my polearms class one of my students, who is hard of hearing, asked me to put on a wireless microphone (worn as a necklace). This microphone connects to a receiver in his hearing aids that allows him to hear me more clearly regardless of where I am in class, which way […]

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