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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The Solitary Path of Mastery

“At their heart, martial arts are a solitary path. No one can walk that path for you.” I’m paraphrasing one of many great bits of wisdom shared by Mark Mikita, a 50-year martial arts practitioner and teacher, at his talk on longevity in martial arts at the 2017 edition of the Vancouver International Swordplay Symposium …

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Am I Learning Fast Enough?

It is tempting as a teacher to always respond to this question with “Yes”. I have found that people these days seem to be hard on themselves and are terrible at accurately assessing their own progress—I certainly have seen this in myself. It is difficult to view progress subjectively because with learning comes a greater awareness of what you …

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How to Create Empowered Learners; Not Just Competent Practitioners

A good teacher doesn’t just impart information to their students, they empower their students to be excellent learners. In my classes, I’m thinking not just about how I can increase my students’ ability with a given technique in that moment, but what I can give them that will help them meaningfully practice, implement, and build …

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10 Steps for Running a Successful HEMA Study Group

A study group is a group of peers devoted to helping each other get better in a particular martial practice. If you don’t have an experienced and savvy instructor in your area, or you want to pursue learning something that is not offered by your group or school, or you simply want to get in …

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Three Things You Should Be Saying to Your Martial Arts Students

When you’re standing in front of your students you have an opportunity to not only convey martial arts technique but also to positively shape thinking. The psychology with which we approach learning and practice is incredibly influential over our success at that practice and our energy to keep at it long term. Here are some things …

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Taking Agency in Learning

The drone of uniformly delivered content to rows of kids locked into desks is the initiation into formal learning that many of us come from. A system designed to output little industrial cogs who are themselves uniform. This is a system that is unfortunately devoid of passion and builds a habit for learning that places …

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Fathers and Sons; Teachers and Students

When I was a young boy I remember truly revering my father. He was intelligent and wise, he read to me, shared insights into the world around me. He read me the hobbit, introduced me to Narnia, he taught me how to play cards, play chess, and got me hooked on strategy games. My dad …

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