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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SKIL: A model for learning martial forms

Many martial traditions, including ours, use martial forms (series of attacks and defences for solo or partnered practice) to help train martial precision, flow, and fitness. Having a form that you can practice without a training partner provides structure for improving and maintaining your martial ability when you don’t have the option of training with …

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Dimensions of Mastering the Art

The path of mastery has many dimensions, in spite of what pop-culture ninjas might suggest. One of my personal goals, reflected in Academie Duello, is to make the path of mastery accessible; To open up people’s mind about what it means to master an art and how to get there. Understanding A master of an …

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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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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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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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