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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Training to Relax for the Very Tense

Being relaxed is a key component to good fencing. Relaxed muscles are quicker to respond, easier to adapt and change, and more capable of feeling connections through your weapon. Yet, so many of us have a difficult time being relaxed or even being aware of our current state of tension. In this article I’d like …

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Three Things to Say to Yourself and Your Students

I no longer teach students. I teach teachers. I say this not because I only teach people who intend to share the art with others. I say this because over time I have realized that every student is a teacher, at least of themselves. All I can do from the head of the class is …

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Revisiting A Post on Help and Failure

I’m part way 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 …

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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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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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Ready, Willing, and Able: How to Change 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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