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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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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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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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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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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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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