Dealing with Criticism

“To avoid criticism say nothing, do nothing, be nothing.” - Elbert Hubbard Putting yourself out into the world is a surefire way to invite criticism. All who do encounter those who detract. Yet is there really any other way one would want to be in the world? When we embark on a new pursuit like swordplay, …

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Taped Up, Braced Up, and Strapped Down

I consider myself to be relatively lucky in regards to injuries when it comes to martial arts. I have broken some fingers in intense bouting, separated a shoulder while doing armoured combat, and have certainly had my share of sprains and strains. That being said, it has been a relatively healthy career thanks to a …

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Tumbling Down the “Why” Hole

Why do you practice martial arts? If it’s for fun, once you’ve achieved a good level of fun, why seek to get better? If it’s to win, why does winning matter? If it’s for artistic or personal mastery, why? Like getting caught into a conversation with the pedantic child who always asks “why?”, down the …

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Pursue Your Art Your Way

Do you like to put on full protective gear and really feel the rush or high intensity combat? Or, do you simply like the feel of the sword in your hand, weaving through patterns, an extension of your body? Or, perhaps you like the dance, smooth and intricate, collaborative as much as competitive. Martial arts …

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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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Growing HEMA in Istanbul

This past weekend, I was teaching in Istanbul, Turkey, a city that was arguably the centre of the western world at one time. It is a city steeped in both European and Asian history. Every site you visit reveals layer upon layer of history that goes back at least 2000 years. This makes Istanbul both …

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An Amazing Swordplay Weekend in Italy

A little more than a week ago, I was arriving in Italy to the sala of Roberto Gotti for a special gathering of swordsmen called Giocatore. This was a weekend of martial encounters across disciplines, opportunities to share knowledge, and time to immerse oneself in study and camaraderie. First about Gairethinx Gairethinx in the Lombard …

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Reading & Writing Strategies for In-Class Learning of MA

If you feel that you learn best by reading or writing, you are not alone. For many these are the learning skills that they’ve had the most practice with, since our school system focuses so much on them. This in itself is an important note. It may not be that you are “wired this way”, …

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Kinesthetic Learning: Just Do It!

Luis Preto gave a wonderful analogy in the instructor section of his Jogo do Pau level 1 instructor seminar where he compared how we teach martial arts to how we teach someone to catch a ball. The typical martial arts approach to teaching catch: Demonstrate the catching motion. Have the student practice catching as a solo …

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Strategies for Auditory Learning

At the end of a workshop delivered by Guy Windsor recently, Guy asked all of his students “Did you have every opportunity to get what you wanted from today’s session?” This was a subtle shift from a question I had heard him ask two year’s prior “Did you get what you wanted from today’s workshop?” …

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