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Teaching


by Celwyn
   
 

This is simply how I teach, everyone will have a different teaching style, but I've been told I'm a good teacher and wanted to give some suggestions for others who teach.

Approaching the student

Sometimes new fighters, especially women, are afraid of embarrassing themselves. They are afraid they will look foolish by fighting when they don't know what they are doing. The shyer they are, the more likely they are to be afraid of looking like they don’t know what they are doing.

But it's way more fun to participate then sit on the sidelines, and that's what I stress to potential fighters - fighting is fun. Also, let them know that everyone started somewhere. Letting them fight you first, one on one, is a good first step.

Also, every new fighter needs his or her own weapons. Getting them out to a weapons workshop or having someone build a weapon for them helps immensely. Using a different weapon all the time makes it difficult to learn to fight. They will be trying to adapt in their head and in their body to changes in weapon length and weight instead of focusing on learning to use the weapon effectively.

Getting to know people better can help you be a more effective teacher. You can then figure out what may be keeping them from the field and address it, be it a mental block, lack of physical skills or equipment-related, or any combination of those. You can figure out what goals they may want to set and it will help you teach them and get them out there on the field. Setting concrete goals like “learning to block” can help your students more than “learn to be a better fighter”. It’s easier to measure progress and work on concrete goals then on abstractions.

Drills and one on one

Slow work is one of the drills I use. Have them perform an action at half speed, you also move at half speed to block their action.

Also, when I start with people who are very new, I tend to just have them practice throwing shots and trying to attack me, while I sit there behind my shield. I don't hit back, I am watching how they are swinging and reacting to my movements. For example, are they swinging from their shoulder? Their wrist? Are they pulling their arm back? Are they attempting to feint? Are they telegraphing their shots?

When I start attacking them, it is specifically so they practice blocking. A lot of the times when people attempt to "train" newbies, they just spar with them, don't offer suggestions, and the new person dies real fast and grows frustrated.

I ask them not to worry about taking wounds when I am trying to train, as I am focusing on their aggressiveness, repetitive motion, and techniques.

Another drill I use is a shots placement, or Hack and Slash drill, where you and the partner face each other in a dueling situation. No one takes wounds, you just call out what's been hit. For example, you hit me in the arm, I call arm. I hit you, you might call "torso" or "leg" and we continue until we need to take a break.

I also tend to use a lot of verbal communication whenever the student lands a shot on me "Good leg", "good", "again", "faster" "graze". The student might be very focused on just hitting, and it's good for them to hear feedback. Verbalizing can also set an example of communicating their hits with their future opponents rather than the opponent guessing whether or not a particular shot hit.

Miscellaneous

Look at how they are holding their weapon. Sir Squeak! showed me this. A lot of people don’t think about how they hold their weapons, particularly if they are new. See if they are holding the weapon in a comfortable but secure hold. You may want to get the book The Armored Rose, which mentions the female grip.

Maintain control of the environment. Sometimes, people are standing around watching me teach. Once in a while, I ask for one of them to step in so I can watch, or have my student face a more intimidating opponent. However, at least one person in my shire has tried to jump in and offer advice that contradicts what I am saying or is not relevant to what I am discussing with my student. I've cut him off, asking him to go train someone else or be quiet - this is MY time with my student. It's difficult for me to fully concentrate on my student, and not fair to the student when I have to field comments from the peanut gallery. Don’t be shy about guarding your time and your authority with your student. Remember, they can be overwhelmed with too much information at once.

If you see someone training and you want to help, ask to have the person next or ask if you can make a comment. The trainer might welcome it, or say “later.” It's far more polite to the student and the teacher than just butting in with a suggestion or comment that may or may not be appropriate, especially if the statement is an excuse for a war-story.

Let the student know that they will learn better with their own weapons, using a common weapons combination with a weapon or weapon and shield in each hand. They should practice single sword at a fighter practice, but not fight with a single sword at battlegames. They need to learn the coordination that comes from using both hands, and they will survive better with two weapons.

Let them know that you are teaching them what works for you, and eventually they will find what works well for them. Encourage them to ask questions of other fighters, and train with other people.

Finally, teaching can be very rewarding. The feedback I've gotten from some of my students, and seeing them progress, or getting compliments from those who've watched me teach makes me feel very proud. You also learn a lot, from techniques to physiology to psychology.



This page last updated 02/26/03

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