Sunday, October 23, 2011

One Size Fits...?

One of the most common errors I've seen amongst martial arts teachers -- including fencing instructors" -- is teaching exactly the same thing to everybody who comes in the door.
They try to teach a monkey, an elephant, a giraffe, a snake and a lion all to fight the same way.
That's just foolish.
They don't all have the same tools.
You wouldn't take a part written for the piccolo and give it to the tuba, would you?
I hope not!
And so does the tuba player.

There are certain basics that are almost the same for most everyone. But even those things have to be adapted to the individual student, right from the beginning.  For example, we say there should be approximately 1 1/2 to 2 foot-lengths between the heels in second position (the on guard stance). But when you have a student with exceptionally long legs, or small feet, you might have to change that.

What's important is understanding what you're trying to achieve in balance, line, focus and distance, and knowing that the "1 1/2  to  2"  rule will help get you there most of the time.
But there's nothing sacred about it, in and of itself.
It's a means to an end.

I think part of the problem is that there are three "levels" of a fighter's education: the technical, the tactical, and the strategic.  It takes a tremendous amount of patient, loving practice to excel at the technical level --and most people quit before they get there.
The tactical level is about feeling, letting go of your ego/intellect and learning to trust your intuition.
The strategic level is about the assessment of yourself, your opponent and the environment in order to decide on a course of action (we call that "finding your strategic position") and setting the stage so that your opponent will help you execute the tactics appropriate to your position.

All this pre-supposes impeccable technical precision.
Part of that comes from molding the student to the sword.
Part of it comes from molding the sword to the student.
Too many instructors scarcely do the first.
Be sure you do both.



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