Sparring Games: Alternate Target Objectives

Feeling in a bit of a slump in your sparring? Perhaps overwhelmed or under-challenged? Sparring games, where you create restrictions and alternate objectives, can be a great way to up the strategic challenge and interest or allow you to focus on a smaller subset of skills. The first batch of games I’m presenting are all …

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Eat the Book: A Process for Digesting Historical Sources

One of the awesome things about Historical European Martial Arts is that they come from a rich historical tradition. And this tradition includes a wealth of instructional books written from within the period where those arts were most actively practiced. Picking up a 15th-century fighting manual is by no means necessary to learn, practice, and …

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5 Tips for Effective At-Home Practice

Classes are a great place to learn, but proficiency comes from learning in between sessions by practising on your own. Here are five ways you can make the most of your personal practice time: Keep your commitment small If you’re new to home practice, make a commitment that you feel very confident about keeping. In the beginning, …

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How to Do Slow Sparring Effectively

I’m a big fan of slow sparring as a training tool. It is an ideal way to focus on mechanics and precision, develop strategic and tactical awareness, and work on the necessary relaxation and fluidity required for high-speed combat in a more manageable setting. The main challenge with slow sparring is that it is difficult to …

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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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The Five Minutes Per Day Practice Regimen

In light of Duello.TV’s upcoming Online Collaborative Longsword Course, I thought it would be a good occasion to revisit this post on the five minutes per day practice regimen. Rhythm is the most important thing to cultivate on the path to mastery. Whether you leverage this course or simply get started with your own practice …

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Exposure is the Key to Deeper Learning

In his Jogo do Pau training seminar in Vancouver in 2016, instructor Luis Preto demonstrated a basic fact of learning. To get good at catching a ball, there’s little utility in rehearsing the catching action in isolation; you need to have a ball thrown at you. The mind is an incredible problem-solving machine. It can …

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Making Tournaments Useful in Mastery

Last Saturday morning at 5:30am I began a trip from Vancouver to the town of Monroe in Washington state, about 3 hours south of Vancouver, with five of my students from Academie Duello. It was our yearly trip to a rapier tournament held by the Society for Creative Anachronism called Ursulmas. This particular tournament gets …

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Inspiration not Competition

Competitiveness plays a big role in sport. Cultivating the competitive spirit is often used to drive one to harder training and to overcoming one’s opponents in a game or tournament. It can be a font of energy positively harnessed. Yet, if it’s based in making negative comparisons to others, I think competition is something you …

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Why Do Martial Arts

Martial arts have been a big part of my life since I was a child. I started first with Kung Fu then Arnis/Eskrima and then I began my longest-term exploration, Western Martial Arts. I am often asked why people practice martial arts or why I practice swordplay specifically – considering it’s unlikely that I’ll be …

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