Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Looks like I'm teaching at GNEW!

With the kind encouragement (and buttkicking) of others, I've signed up to teach a class on Gaining the Blade and Guards and Counter Guards at Great Northeastern War.

I feel a little like I might be combining two classes here. I could probably teach a whole class on Gaining the Blade and a lot of little technicalities and drills and nitpickiness around it, but the thing is - I don't think many people would find that really enthralling for 45-60 minutes. But I do think it's necessary to have a basic understanding of the fundamentals of how it works to really apply using Guards and Counter Guards. (Which means that I'll end up at least touching on using and abusing tempi, because of what happens when you form a good counter guard, but that's neither here nor there. I'm pretty sure that if I teach a class and mention neither tempo nor distance that I have wildly screwed up.)

So I think the plan at the moment (which is open to change at least until I write up a handout, if not until I actually start teaching the class) is to do maybe 15-20 minutes on what gaining the blade is, how it works, and lead into how you do that to form a good counter guard to your opponent's guard - then how you can keep playing the guard-counter guard game and then mention tempo and measure in terms of how this lets you hit someone.

I will also no doubt use the phrase, "simplifying your decision tree" because that is still, I think, the best summary of what you're trying to do with this whole thing.

There may be a bit of playing around with blades involved, based on what Christian Fournier did at the last KWAR. (Note to self: find that handout, cite accordingly, abuse for ideas.)

Anyone got any thoughts on this (or things you'd want me to cover)?


  1. Obviously I love the idea, but I'm biased to this stuff.

    I'd definitely say try to make the class as interactive as possible. I think fencers get bored easily if they're just standing around for too long (though there's the crop of us that obviously love to talk shop and theory). But having people try the guards and gaining blades as soon as possible in the class I think will keep people's interest longer. And also getting feedback on what folks are doing right and what they should tweak.

    So kinda like we do at practice but on s larger scale, I guess.

  2. I think that Justin's point is well-made.

    One thing that I also like to do, with classes that are about framing guards, is to do as little explaining as possible. Pose a question, make a space for students to explore and experiment with answers, and ask the ones you think are finding interesting things share those out with the group.