Thursday, December 29, 2011


If you've been reading this blog awhile now, you know a little bit about what I do, how I do it and why I do it that way.  I could go prattling on indefinitely, hoping that eventually I'd address your specific questions -- the same way enough monkeys at enough typewriters would eventually type up a copy of Shakespeare's "Hamlet."

OR, I could just ask you, "What do you want to know?"
So I'm asking.

We've considered making short video-clips of techniques, training drills, and/or lesson exercises -- especially for those of you who, by accident or design, have undertaken an "instructor" role without the benefit of much training on exactly how to do that.

In a perfect world, I'd have you come here and train with me every day for a year or so.
As you may have noticed, the world is not perfect.
Most people can't uproot kit & kin and trek the yellow brick road here to the and of Oz, with no means of support, while they invest 1-3 years learning the swordmasters' craft.
And I think "week-end" workshops, without any on-going follow-up, are a waste of my time and your money.
What can we do?

What can I offer you that would help you become a better fencer, fighter, teacher?
Tell me.
Don't be shy.
What do you want?  What do you think you need?

If I can help you with it, I will.



  1. I'm one of the instructors for a group which studies medieval swordsmanship, but is both rather new (3 years of serious historically-based study, ex-SCA splinter group), and in the Middle of Nowhere, Alberta (Lethbridge). For me, the most valuable stuff has been about how to teach. One part of this is how to go about it – setting up a class, dealing with “problem students”, making sure rules get followed, that sort of thing. The rest is about the basics, which are pretty universal to any martial art – timing, distance, angles, body language, etc. I'm very much interested in how to get these concepts across to new students in such a way that it gets understood, absorbed, and integrated. This blog, along with the articles on the classical fencing website, has been great for that so far. If I were to ask for anything from you, it would be more of that.

    -Kris Fischer

  2. Thanks for the feedback, Kris. I'm glad you've found some of this helpful.

    I don't get many "problem students."
    One thing is, I take plenty of time the first class to explain what we're going to do, how we're going to do it and why(almost always safety reasons). When students know what to expect of me, and know what I expect of them, the "problem" students tend to opt out. People generally are good at following rules when they understand the reasons for them and have specifically agreed to them.

    One thing about rules: never make a rule you don't need, and never make a rule you don't enforce -- and I mean EVERY time for EVERY person.
    Otherwise, it isn't really a rule.
    If you give your dog the command "sit" three time, you've just trained him to ignore you twice.
    Say what you mean and mean what you say.

    One other thing about rules: never let enforcing a rule feel personal. Enforce the rule, get the correction, and then it's over, like it never happened.

    NEVER compromise on safety rules. NEVER. Anyone who doesn't want to go along with safety rules must not be allowed to participate.

    In general it's best to praise in public and scold in private. But when the transgression is public, the correction must also be public. Justice must not only be done, it must be SEEN to be done.

    If you set the stage properly, most problems take care of themselves.


  3. With the Olympics bearing down upon us I'm curious about your prognosis for fencing's future.

    All of us know this drill: each Summer Olympic year our fencing in-boxes get saturated by appeals from parents convinced that their child is the next gold medal winner. Communities around the country (if not world) are subjected to every kind of public demo from sport clubs and re-enactment squads.

    Basically: everyone gets to see the worst fencing has to offer.

    Sport clubs succeed in promoting their fencing thanks to the Olympics and its designated NGOs; groups like the SCA succeed lately owing to a strange interest in Medieval tropes.

    After 25 years of watching this circus play out the question remains an open and unresolved one: what is the future of our science?

    Curious to hear your thoughts, where will we be in another 25 years?


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