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Fencing lessons.doc

Fencing lessons.doc

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Published by gagimilo
an informal guide on how to structure your training sessions in the fencing-like activities.
an informal guide on how to structure your training sessions in the fencing-like activities.

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Published by: gagimilo on Nov 07, 2013
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11/07/2013

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Here’s the foundational principle of all fencing lessons.Training generally incorporates one or both of two simple objectives: 1) to diminish sensitivity/awareness/responsiveness or !de"sensiti#e$% or &) to heighten sensitivity/awareness/responsiveness or to !sensiti#e.% 'or e(ample we want to !desensiti#e% the student to meaningless actions no matter how suddenly uic*ly or forcefully they are made and we want to !sensiti#e% the student to the subtle cues that reveal the opponent’s true intentions.+ cat who once lived with me ,iger the -reat by name was the master of !cool% and a perfect e(ample of the *ind of desensiti#ation ’m tal*ing about  though  certainly didn’t train him. 0ne day my blac* lab puppy was ma*ing a goofy fool of himself cavorting all around ,iger in moc* aggression. ,iger sat as immobile and calm as the sphin( while the silly hound did his capering  out of distance. nfortunately for the pup his distance perception and control was not as precise as the cat’s. +s the dog ventured just a tad too close ,iger shot out one paw in a stiff jab reminiscent of 2arry Holmes in his  prime. 0ne jab. 3ust one. ,ailed that pup right in the eye and sent him whimpering to a neutral corner sha*en but not too badly injured.-ave that cat some respect after that  can tell you.+nd it was an e(cellent fencing lesson for me.There is no finer e(ample of sensiti#ation than a good horse.4y partner doesn’t need spur or leg or even rein. 5ometimes all  have to do is turn my head and loo* where  want to go  and he goes there. +t the same time he can distinguish that from any random turns of the head just loo*ing at the scenery as we ride along.6hether we want to sensiti#e or de"sensiti#e we employ graduated e(posure i.e. progressively greater or lesser !cues.%To sensiti#e you begin with the greatest possible stimulus or !cue% one that is easily perceived and recogni#ed by the subject then gradually diminish the cue until it is as subtle as possible.To de"sensiti#e you start at the opposite end of the scale with the smallest cue your subject can perceive then gradually increase the stimulus until it is the ma(imal cue that you can give.Here’s how the process wor*s.5uppose you’re not comfortable with heights but for some reason have joined a volunteer fire company. 2adders are in your future.7ou might set up a &8"foot e(tension ladder and step up onto the first rung and then step bac* down. 7ou do this as many times as it ta*es for you to be completely comfortable on the first rung. 7ou might go up and stay there a while sing a song have a coffee.Then you go up T60 rungs and repeat the process. 6hen you’re completely comfortable with T60 rungs go up to TH9. Then four and five and so on.
 
7ou might if you’re clever use positive reinforcement for each success  maybe a bite of carrot ca*e or some other treat. This is progressive de"sensiti#ation by graduated e(posure.6e do this with horses all the time.  do this with my students all the time too.The main difference is that horses are a lot smarter learn a lot faster and seem to never forget once they’ve learned.5uppose your goal is to !sensiti#e% your student.2et’s say you want your student to learn to slip under a left hoo*.7ou start by e(aggerating the set"up for the punch in slow motion so that your student perceives it easily and has all the time in the world to deal with it.2ittle by little you increase the speed and decrease the amplitude of the preparation until you’re throwing a serious punch.Two uic* fencing"specific e(amples:
Sensitization
:5uppose my objective is to sensiti#e my student;s hand to ma*e a thrust as early as possible as the line of engagement <opens.<'rom an engagement in si(te  might give the cue =opening the line) so big that ;m practically parrying uarte with my hand on the floor. t;s an opening the student is highly unli*ely to miss. 0ver time  ma*e the cue smaller and smaller. ventually the student correctly perceives the opening when my weapon just slightly lessens the pressure of the engagement.
Desensitization
: want my student to have sang"froid that a reptile would envy remaining calm and composed enough to ma*e the smallest possible parry.  need to disconnect his/her startle refle(. begin in slow motion with very little aggressive energy fi(ing my student;s hand in the right position until it is reliably correct.  then gradually increase the amplitude speed force and energy of my attac* =even shouting or stomping my foot on the attac*) until my student;s parry cooly remains >+?T27 where it should be and not one bit bigger. This is the <auto"pilot< level of s*ill.The most important parts of the process are:
Start Easy
. 5elect the proper !si#e% cue. f you don’t you and your student will both get frustrated.
Go slow
. @rogress by the smallest increment possible. Ta*e whatever time it ta*es.
Review
. ach training session start at the beginning. +s your student adapts you can progress to the !real thing% sooner and sooner. Aut the early reps are still e(cellent practice and a warm"up and good confidence"builder. should mention that feedbac* or <reinforcement< is vital "" on B97 repetition.t should be both tactile =the action is successful) +,C verbal.6hen ma*ing corrections do it in a  positive confidence"enhancing manner. @raise your student for +,7 degree of progress in the right direction.-ood horsemen call that <rewarding the try.<
 
6e;ll be putting up a <5tructure of the ndividual 2esson< in several parts. wrote it originally for the half"do#en apprentices  had at that time. f you;re teaching fencing or want to teach fencing something in it may prove useful. ,ote the use of the masculine pronoun.  don;t mean to imply that the field is e(clusively the domain of males and if any should accuse me of <se(ism< ;ll stand on my record of having taught sabre to women long before it was officially permitted.7es language structures thought and perhaps we can devise something better. 7et on a scale of 1"1D  thin* we have much more serious problems to address "" at least ;m not aware of any mechanism whereby the use of the masculine pronoun will destroy the environment cause millions of deaths of innocent women and children or create a global corporate"slave state. -ood to see things in perspective.The direct passing on of *nowledge and s*ill from teacher to student is a strong lin* in the chain of tradition that has *ept fencing alive and vital for so long. The swordmaster;s apprentice it is to be hoped will learn not only the master;s technical s*ills but will also absorb the master’s manner composure integrity dignity courage and joi de vivre. The student will then one day pay the teacher the highest  possible compliment" by e(ceeding the master;s stature. The individual lesson is a large part of the fencing master;s stoc* in trade and it has been so for many generations. The intimacy and intensity of the individual lesson far surpass that of the group lesson. The master can give the student his undivided attention concentrating on perfecting even the most minute imperfection not allowing even the slightest error to slip by unnoted. This ma*es the individual lesson as  potentially demanding "" and satisfying "" for the master as for the student mentally and emotionally as well as physically. -roup training is no substitute for individual lessons. @rogress reuires continual evaluation and adjustment and there simply isn;t enough individual attention possible in a group even if of no more than E"F students "" and even then it;s inferior to the attention possible in an individual lesson. -roup training is most useful for absolute beginners who all need to get an introduction to the basic very broadest stro*es and general concepts. f the master wishes to introduce as many people as possible to the sword then he can do so far more efficiently with classes than with individual lessons. There;s no point in telling one  person at a time to <turn out bend your *nees close your si(te...< for half an hour when you can deliver the same essential directions to &G people at the same time "" and at a lower cost to each of them.-roup training can also be useful for a homogenous group of very s*illful fencers who are capable of self"evaluating and self"correcting. Aut everyone can benefit from individual lessons and greater progress can be made in a much shorter  period of time than with group training. deally there should be a balance between individual lessons and group practice but the balance should be heavily weighted toward individual instruction The demanding nature of giving good lessons =and why give any other *ind) limits the number one can give per day or per wee*. -iven that limitation  generally give priority for individual lessons to <serious< students who have made a commitment to e(cellence and have earned them by dedication and hard wor*. 5ometimes  will wor* individually with a student who has a special e(traordinary need for it. Aut  don;t simply mar*et my sword to anyone who has enough money$  may be available for rent but ;m not for sale. + lesson is an investment of my time. ;m happy to invest it but ’m very disinclined to waste it. 

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