The Stages of Ignorance in Mastery

Mastery—the pursuit of something to a high level of proficiency—is a challenging and hard to plot journey. Our capacity to stay on the road and move through its various stages is highly connected to our relationship with ignorance. How comfortable are you with not knowing? How at ease are you with setbacks and long roads? …

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3 Injury Prevention Tips for Rapier Fighters

One of the things I focus on in my recent book Introduction to Italian Rapier is healthy bio-mechanics. These are important not just for performance but for your long-term health. Martial arts done well can improve your strength, endurance, and physical comfort. But done poorly, they can have the exact opposite effect, leading to strain, pain …

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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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An Argument for Training with Diverse Weapons, Part 1

Recently, I was asked why we teach rapier and longsword together in our Instructor Intensives. The questioner postulated that it was like teaching sky diving and skin diving in the same program. Sure rapiers and longswords are both swords but aren’t they as distinct as these two types of “diving”? I think it’s a great …

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Mimicry: How to use it, how to beat it

Ever sparred with someone really good and felt like you were at your best, then right after sparred with someone less experienced and felt like you got as sloppy as they were? Mimicry is one of the brain’s most powerful tools for both learning and fitting in (an important tool for survival). Jared Diamond in …

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Choosing the Right Rapier for You

I am asked routinely how to choose the right rapier for practice. This article, cribbed from my forthcoming Introduction to the Italian Rapier book, looks at the range of historical rapiers and my opinion on how to best select a modern reproduction. The Real Thing Historical rapiers varied in dimension both throughout their evolution from …

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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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Why Do We Fight?

To get out of danger. Self-defence is one of the oldest reasons for conflict. To uphold honour, right wrong, and make just. Both noble aims and righteous justifications. To tell a story. To explore characters, their conflicts, and their motivations and take the audience along for the journey. To challenge ourselves. Keeping the body in …

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A Conversation on Binding at the Sword

Not long ago, I had a conversation (online of course — who talks on the phone or in person anymore?) with my student Xian from Halifax. He asked a question about the nature of longsword fencing as it is often seen now in tournaments and in many videos online: “Why don’t we see more play …

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