Author: Luis Preto

From WHAT to teach to HOW to teach: A coaching contribution for the HEMA of the XXI century

Tactical intelligence tends to be made out to be more complex than it actually is, by being seen as weapon specific. Furthermore, it also tends to lack specific and straight forward training guidelines … which has tactical skill being frequently cast aside as a natural ability that one either has or hasn’t. As you can easily get, I don’t share this view. I view tactical training as mostly non weapon specific (through universal combat concepts such as distance, reaction time, strikes’ angles, reach, etc) and, additionally, as something that can be systematically trained in an effective manner by relying on very specific guidelines. Ultimately, this might be seen as a body of knowledge that embodies a kind of fencing mixed martial arts approach if you will. This is my stance, and the latest DVD I’ve released focuses on just that, presenting many guidelines geared towards shedding a better understanding of the: Nuts and bolts of combatants’ tactical tools, Decision making process that oversees their usage.   This overall summary mostly suffices for pragmatic sparring (output) oriented trainees and instructors who are looking for a short-cut to 15 plus years of brainstorming on my part, meant to provide an informational edge in training so as to achieve improved sparring skill. However, if you are interested in learning more concerning what brought about this project, its historical ties with HEMA and its contents, do continue reading. JdP & HEMA: A difference in focus...

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HEMA, Figueiredo (Montante) and … outnumbered combat

I have always fully understood HEMA researchers’ reasons for staying mostly away from the topic of outnumbered combat, an issue rarely approached by authors and, when talked about, done so in a vague manner. At the same time, however, I thought that this situation was unfortunate and always hoped that it would eventually change, for Jogo do Pau’s preservation of both outnumbered and duelling has enabled:  The preservation of a martial heritage in its whole, A more complete understanding of the tactics, in the form of the tactical purpose for which each technique was developed. Recently though, I have been extremely pleased to witness a growing interest in the Montante, a long sword of the same length of the commonly used walking and combat staff. On this topic, and for starters, as the following clip looks to demonstrate, the tactical constraints brought about by the need to confront multiple foes force these different weapons, staff & sword, to be used in the same manner. [jwplayer mediaid=”14479″] Still, within outnumbered combat, the similarities do not stop here, as showcased by the following explanation of how to adapt to narrow locations. (please note that the clip was put together for demonstration purposes, and that the intended hand strikes were pulled back for obvious safety reasons) [jwplayer mediaid=”14480″] The staff and the sword may not be brothers, but they are probably cousins at the very least, and close cousins...

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Jogo do Pau as a window to historical fencing’s past: Understanding the effect of combat context on technique

Techniques and tactics in martial arts evolved over the centuries in response to, either prevalent strategies used by the majority of foes, or to a significant change in those strategies. This model for interpreting the development of martial skill according to the specificity of combat environment is called “meta game”. Consequently, the context centered approach of focusing on creating solutions to existing or new threats is called “meta gaming” . Jogo do Pau The historical root of Jogo do Pau originates in a meta game of being outnumbered by multiple opponents, such as fighting on a battlefield or being in...

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Jogo do Pau returns to the WWOC

It is my pleasure to announce that, after sadly missing the 2012 event, I’ll be again teaching at the WWOC (Hannover). More, this time I’ll be happily teaching with the assistance of fellow JdP instructor Patrick Scheler, whose skill, knowledge and enthusiasm will be energizing to both myself and all the trainees attending class. Here’s a short description of the 3 classes we shall be holding. Hope to see some of you there  1 – HISTORICAL EVOLUTION OF JOGO DO PAU An in-depth intro into the historical evolution of Jogo do Pau’s technique and tactics, together with an analysis of parrying refinemnet strategies. 2 – OUTNUMBERED COMBAT A presentation of the main guidelines that govern outnumbered combat, including its application to long swords, such as the Montante. 3 – COMPETITIVE JOGO DO PAU FORMAT A comprehensive analysis of Jogo do Pau’s competitive rule set and combat tactics, including free play sparring. Hope to see many of you there and, until then, wish you all the very best! Luis...

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Physical conditioning, health & sport readiness

Humans attempt to make sense of their environment results, quite often, in the systematization of knowledge into boxes commonly (and quite wrongly) made out to be independent, as is the case with the existence of sport specific coaches, physical conditioning trainers, etc. However, by looking closely at physical conditioning, one must question him or herself about its purpose. In this regard, and as clearly pointed out by Kurz, sports training should be very objective and, thus, only include drills that either: Improve sport specific performance Help prevent the chances of each sport’s most common injuries. As such, these should be physical conditioning’s overall goals which, translated into actual training goals, entail gearing physical conditioning so as to maximize sport specific motor skills … which, some years ago, brought about the concept of functional training. Additionally, it is crucial for folks to start realizing that the myth of sports technique being, at the same time, the most effective and efficient motor patterns available is quite false. Instead, time constrained techniques mostly focus on effectiveness and they do so to a point that they actually entail a greater physical exertion which, in turn, requires a greater development of performers’ physical abilities. In the absence of such crucial supporting pillars trainees who only focus on sport specific training without adapting their technique so as to match their movement potential actually incur in...

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A two way street between Jogo do Pau & Historical Fencing

Being the Jogo do Pau instructor with the closest international ties to the HEMA community, I have learned a lot from this interaction, while also getting a better grasp of how much Jogo do Pau can be of use to HEMA interpreters … which I would suggest includes everyone. Being a living tradition, Jogo do Pau offers, not only a very practical understanding of the many different (combat specific) contexts that brought about each skill set, but does so while also explaining the relationship between outnumbered & single combat. That being the case, and from my many interactions with the HEMA community, I truly believe that the history behind JdP’S technical development (in the form of how different contexts brought about the need to develop equally different parrying skill sets) can be quite interesting for HEMA practitioners to look at. However, doing so requires avoiding the temptation to judge a book by its colour … only in this case, judging an art by its weapon. Yes, JdP is mostly practiced by means of staffs & batons nowadays. However, it is our firm belief & understanding that its main technical & tactical foundations closely relate to what is now called Historical Fencing. Those interested in learning more about Jogo do Pau as a whole can do so through my second edition of the book: Jogo do Pau: The ancient art...

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Learning may be tough, extremely tough… Time to wise up!!!

Throughout my years involved with martial arts I have seen, time and time again, instructors in the most varied arts who spar effectively but do not know how they do it. The reason I say this has to do with the fact that: I came to diagnose that these instructors teach certain contents but yet they perform them differently when sparring; However, knowing these instructors well and therefore knowing that they truly teach according to their most honest convictions, they simply teach the way they honestly think they perform, though that is not the case. Relatively recently I came across yet another example of this. As I was observing two senior instructors performing a flow drill, I noticed that their visual strategies differed. While one looked straight at his opponent’s weapon / upper limbs, the other looked straight at the opponent’s face, even when parrying. Funny enough, of these two senior instructors, the one who directed his eyesight towards his opponent’s weapon / upper limbs does not recognise that he does so (and therefore does not teach it that way) and, in live sparring, is the better performer of the two. For me, the main things to take from this are: The principles regarding defensive visual strategies which I describe in my book on developing parrying skill have one more empirical element to support them; When taking classes, do...

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Teaching martial arts

Quite recently, while exchanging all sorts of points of view with everyone’s good friend Roger Norling of GHFS, and upon stating that Jogo do Pau’s footwork does not entail any deliberate positioning of one’s feet, but simply managing one’s body in order to manage distance with proper balance, Roger presented me with his different view on this topic: “… you move in a sometimes rather particular way that I don’t think is just a matter of stepping back/forth or to the sides to be able to hit at a specific distance, but also to hit/parry in a special way...

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