Getting the Most from Mixed Experience Levels

We were all newbies once. We were all the person who worried that our lack of skill was holding others back in their practice. And in some cases maybe we did. It is difficult to manage levels of challenge within a mixed level group. The needs of the experienced practitioner and those of the newcomer are quite …

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The Skills of Excellence

Excellence is the evidence of diligent, attentive, and purposeful practice. Not all of us will achieve excellence, nor is it a requisite for enjoying or being fulfilled in martial arts. In fact I would say that much of what holds people back from excellence is that in many ways its pursuit can be grueling, repetitive, …

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Making Masters

At Academie Duello we have an ambitious goal: Make 1000 Masters. The challenge is that as of yet, we are yet to make our first. What is a Master? Within most European martial traditions, a master is someone who not only practices their art with a high level of proficiency but more importantly is able …

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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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