Category: Teaching Methodology

The point of sparring

While sounding like a simple thing to define, sparring can have quite a few and very different goals and purposes that are sometimes hard to keep in sight in the heat of the sparring session. With experience this becomes easier to separate as you get accustomed to the intense situation and learn to handle it, but especially in the beginning it is easy to forget what you are actually doing, or mistaking it for or even wanting, it to be something else. So what are these different goals and purposes of sparring then? Let’s have a look at some of...

Read More

“Take great pains in your knightly practices” – A brief review of Medieval and Renaissance training methodologies

Few men are born brave; many become so through care and force of discipline. – Flavius Vegetius Renatus Many pages have been written on the subject of medieval and renaissance combat treatises, every year new translations, books, essays and blogs are added to the bibliography of weapons and combat during the Medieval Ages and the Renaissance. However, the subject on how knights and period fencers trained, especially as related to physical conditioning and strength remains nearly unexplored. There is a mildly generalized understanding that these groups trained their bodies swinging heavy weapons, moving large and heavy objects and throwing...

Read More

Troublesome Student -The Winner, the Solver, the Heretic

As a teacher, you prepare to show a student a technique from the treatise of your choice. You have art, text, and experience, you’re qualified, you know what you’re doing. Everything is set as you prepare to share your hard-earned wisdom. Besides! Said student came to learn from you- so that’s something! And yet, as you demonstrate the technique, slowly, the student decides to thwart it. – And now I have your arm behind your back, from here…. – I’d totally just grab your nuts or wriggle out of it like this. – That’s great. I suppose the only way...

Read More

All is Not Lost; Or HEMA on the Cheap

My first contact with what I know now as HEMA took place in the spring of 2009. I was attending a military re-enactment event at Jamestown Settlement in Williamsburg, Virginia. One of the re-enactors gave a demonstration on Fiore de Libre’s Armizare. I was intrigued by the combination of unarmed and armed fighting techniques as well as the fact that these methods had been preserved in medieval manuscripts. There were a couple problems with trying to learn from these manuscripts.  I was put off by the lack of good translations available and lack of clubs to practice these martial...

Read More

How computer based systems can help improve our fencing skills.

Prolog: Epic Meaning The goal of every HEMA-fighter is to “survive” a duel – fought with protective equipment and as little rules as possible – achieved through years of training, practice and research. Certainly not an easy task as each group, club and organization emphasise different core areas in the art of fencing. Some want to fight as realistically as possible, others want to establish a tournament system, while still others have their focus on entertaining spectators. Our association pursues a clear goal: Focus on the human being, while observing individual and human capacities and encouraging continuous development. This...

Read More

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...

Read More

Bored Students

The most knowledgeable of instructors can also be some of the least effective teachers. There are many reasons for this, but today’s article will focus on alleviating boredom in students. First, what is boredom? It is when a student is no longer actively engaged. What does actively engaged mean? It means a student is actively using one or more of their senses when taking in information from the lesson. Why does a student cease being actively engaged? Let’s look at the senses of Hearing, Sight and Touch, to answer that. Hearing One of the easiest ways for an instructor...

Read More

HEMA Pedagogics Part 3: How to create a good learning environment

This is the third part of my brief article series on HEMA and pedagogics. Starting with the first HEMA Pedagogics article where we looked at the gymnastics and pedagogics pioneers that laid the foundation for modern teaching we then looked closer at the implications of the 15 points listed at the end of that text. With this small foundation on some different modern pedagogics, here is a fairly pragmatic list of some of the things I think are important to strive for, based on what has already been discussed. Create a joy filled and relaxing mental environment If it is the first time, then welcome the students properly and...

Read More

From Treatise to Exercise- a model for turning text into action

An often overlooked aspect of historical fencing is how to go about turning all the information contained in a fencing text into a structured means of teaching and learning. At first it seems as if this would be pretty obvious- do what the text tells you and mimic what you see in the pictures. However this can often lead to incomplete understanding and poorly honed skills with a lack of the fundamentals. What if you want something more? This is where you need to develop your analytical skills and read between the lines in a text or treatise in...

Read More

GHFS’ guide for instructors now available in English

It is with great pleasure that I am able to present How we train – a guide for instructors in English. This is our primary study material for instructors on how to teach in our club, and I hope that people outside of Sweden will find it useful. This text came about as a result of my own need to write down my thoughts on training methodology, and I then realised that there was much that I didn’t know. So I started to do some research, and adding things to my own ideas. Writing How we train was very much a learning experience. I hope that I will continue to learn from the community, from my students and fellow instructors, so that I get the pleasure of updating and revising this text many times over in the future. I also hope that all of you interested in this subject will join me in a conversation on how we teach and train HEMA. If you have input, criticism or just want to share ideas, please don’t hesitate to write to me. There are a few people that I have to mention for their outstanding work. Axel Pettersson translated the English version, and I can’t even begin to express how grateful I am to him for taking the time to do it. I would not have been able to do it myself, and just as...

Read More