As I’ve talked about previously, I have been working on developing a new curriculum and training regiment for our local SCA fencing practice. In the past, our group would routinely do drills and practice basics, but we’ve moved away from that. I hope to take some steps back in that direction, not just because there seems to be a huge interest in doing so, but because that’s one of the things that first attracted me to this fencing group, and I miss it.
For most of October, my friend and I prototyped drills, distilling our past two (or so) years of training in a new, more period/Italian style. Since many of our fellow fencers did not have an extensive martial arts background, we tried to streamline the new style, reducing it down to its key components using language that was clear and concise (earlier attempts borrowed language from our older, French-based style, which seemed to just add confusion). Small-group beta testing showed that we were on the right track, and with a few tweaks to terminology, I think we’re ready to start drills again.
I imagine drills are going to take some time to get used to again. It’s been a while since our core group has done them regularly, and we’ve added people that have little to no experience with them (positive or negative). So we’ll have to ease people back into them. I plan to start with the very basics, as everything else will be more easily built on a strong foundation. Doing so will get people used to doing drill, as well as give me more time to iron out a few of the remaining bugs in the curriculum.
My friend made a good point: by the time most of us started fencing, the old style was fairly formalized in its teaching methodology. Prototyping had been done, and what remained worked. Our effort, on the other hand, is still very much in the early stages. I hope people won’t be put off by that, but the best way to figure out what does and doesn’t work is to try it and see.
So am I excited? Yes. Am I nervous? Of course. But I have faith that if I can set aside my nervous ego long enough for my teaching experience to come forward, things will go well. After all, there’s definitely a demand, and early responses have been encouraging. There’s nothing quite like seeing someone finally “get” a concept that they’ve been struggling with thanks to your teaching. It’s an ego boost, of course, but I’m more excited by the ego boost it gives them.
So wish me luck. If you’re at practice tonight, come join us. While I may not know everything, I may have some nugget that can help.