Speed and Perfection Are the Enemy of Hard Learning

“Speed and perfection are the enemy of hard learning” says Carol Dweck in her insightful book Mindset. When we praise our students for doing things quickly and without error we tell them that speed and perfection are more valuable than challenge and failure. Yet to truly master difficult things we need to put ourselves into …

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The Mechanical/Contextual Spiral

It’s easy in a technical art to develop a mechanic that functions as a solo action but fails when it meets the application environment. Yet attempting to develop a technique in a purely tactical environment can be overwhelming for many who are working to build governance of their body or in the absence of having …

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Don’t Take Shortcuts – Think Longterm when Learning Martial Arts

Don’t fall for the seductive allure of early combative success when pursuing this martial art. Everything from guts to a healthy dose of chaos can lead you to success against the mediocre but you have to think long-term. If your goal is to be the most kick-butt sword wielder around you have to set your …

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Sprinting – Creating Bursts of Productivity in Your Day

The world these days is made for distraction. Even with the best of intentions its easy to find yourself opening up your email program to write a reply to someone and next thing you know you’ve read a Facebook notification, browsed 10 LOL cats, and found yourself researching the Swedish Lynx on Wikipedia before you …

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If You’re Failing Perform Differently Not Better

If you’re failing in a performance, perform differently, don’t try to perform better. Doing the same thing again and again while expecting different results is the definition of insanity. Don’t allow yourself in a fencing tournament to get caught trying to apply the same strategy over and over again against the same opponent if it’s …

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Don’t Get Snippy – Staying Receptive in Learning

I had an experience recently in a class where a friend who teaches dance (at a much higher level than I do) gave me a correction in form. It got my back up and I snipped back at him. The class wasn’t a form class, it was a class on teaching dance, and at that …

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Why I Won’t Fight With You

“So and so never fights; it’s because they suck.” “I totally beat that teacher, he has nothing to offer me.” “I can kick their butt so I think I have as much to offer as they do.” “Don’t listen to them, they’ve never won a tournament.” This is why I won’t fight with you. This …

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Developing Emotional Skills

I frequently have people tell me that I have a talent for communication and emotional connection. I appreciate hearing this, however I don’t think people realize that these aren’t talents, they’re skills, and I’ve developed them. Talent or a natural inclination to connect with others can certainly give you a good head start. Having a …

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Employing Different Training Methods

I recently engaged in a Facebook discussion regarding Historical European Martial Arts (HEMA) specifically about whether training with sharp swords is responsible or not. This has been a discussion born primarily out of the work of Roland Warzecha of a school called Dimicator in Hamburg Germany who has recently incorporated use of sharps into his …

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My Experience at the HEMAC-Dijon Swordplay Conference

A weekend ago I attended the HEMA gathering in Dijon, France. This is one of the oldest events in Europe and has grown from a small gathering of friends to a very large gathering of friends. This was my first time being at the event and it was a pleasure being there as an instructor …

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