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#1 2006-04-07 13:13:21

Adam Adrian Crown
Maître d'Armes
From: Ithaca, New York
Registered: 2006-04-04
Website

Ideas

Here are a couple of ideas, just to see who might be interested.

1. One of the difficulties of having so few colleagues so far apart is that it's the devil's own chore to pull together an exam board. What are the possibilities of using videotape for this purpose? One riding instructor organization I know of requires candidates to submit a lesson tape. 
And what about putting some our own lessons on tape for each other? I'd love to see how other people are teaching, show what I do and why, see if we can't get some good ideas from each other.

2. One of the things I admire about boxing is the systematic and craftsman-like way they approach training. Go into your average boxing gym and you'll find a specific training tool for every job: speed bags, heavy bags, uppercut bags, hooking bags, double-end bags.
I'd be very interested in developing one or more such tools for fencing -- something a bit beyond the beanbag on the wall or even the typical fencing dummy.  Have any ideas?
What tools do you use and how? What tools do you WISH you had and what would they DO?

3. Sometime back in the distant past, somebody noticed that when you raise your arms up -- say to parry sabre 5nte -- your jacket rides up. We certainly don't want your love handles sticking out all soft and vulnerable. Part of the solution was to wear high-waisted breeches.
And part was to nail your jacket to your crotch. 
OK. Not literally.
Am I the only one who thinks that the old cuissard up between your legs is uncomfortable, restrictive and stupid-looking?  Anyone know of a serious injury occuring due to cuissard failure?
What if we just put gussets in the underarms of the jacket and a bi-swing yoke in the back ?(anybody ride a motorcycle or been in the Marines?) You could still wear high-waisted breeches, of course. Anyone have any thoughts on a uniform that would be functional, comfortable and flattering?

4. Something I've always wanted to try: suppose you take an extra-wide fluted blade (Triplette calls theirs the "musketeer" blade, I think) and wire it up like an epee. (Or even like a foil). I love the way these blades respond in the hand. John Sullins and I played a few exhibition matches with them (unwired) several years back and they look and sound great, in my opinion.
Right weight, right feel, right timing. And the crowd knew it, too.
Anyone using these blades or interested in doing so?

OK.
That's enough out of me.
Any thoughts, ladies and gentlemen?

AAC

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#2 2006-06-06 15:01:00

Akilles
Member
From: Saint Louis
Registered: 2006-06-06
Website

Re: Ideas

Maitre Crown,
These are interesting thoughts - thank you for sharing them.

1)  I like these suggestions.  Getting initial advice from a professional AV person might eliminate complications due to poor taping/video.  The board members would want the best possible POV from which to view.  Also, would fencers, such as myself, be submitting to a 'general' board for examination or would there be guidelines as to the curriculum the board would be basing its judgement upon? For example, candidates undergoing examinations in San Jose or Sonoma know that it will be following Scuola Magistrale.

2) Something often thought of.  Every time I start to concieve of a device I come back to the realization that a person serves the purpose better.  An ideal training partner is hard to replace by mechanisms.  Such a partner will "give you what you need" and hopefully "what you deserve".  A small digression" sometimes I think people/fencers need a frame of reference for just how sharp and efficacious blades were.  This has lead to the thought of having  something similar to test cutting used in kenjetsu only test thrusting for smallsword/dueling sword.  Some kind of target that would recieve the thrust from a sharp.

3) I gave up jackets with croissards years ago.  We have been using the TCA (now Zen [sic] Warrior) tunic jackets for some years.  They are far from perfect but they address your concerns above.  In the end, a custom jacket may be the best way to go.

4) Yes we've used them.  We've also used the "X" series blades at Zen Warrior.  Did you use those blades on Robert MacPherson's Barbasetti recreations?  I think their weight and rigidity demand that they be fitted to a proper weapon.  I have also seen one fitted and cut to a 31 inch smallsword blade.  Very unforgiving.  Blades, the bane of all fencers.  Bah!  The nice touch on those blades is the shallow fuller.

Dave

Last edited by Akilles (2006-06-06 15:03:08)


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#3 2006-06-06 15:58:10

cfaustus
Member
From: Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Registered: 2006-04-20
Website

Re: Ideas

1) The only problem I see with this is that one would lose the spontineity of an examining board and the ability to probe further if the board would wish to. By this I mean that the board would only have what is on the tape and the board and the examinee would both lose out on the expirience of being 'tested' with demands of unrehearsed performance. I think that a tape review would be at best an initial weeding out prior to a proper live examination upon passing the taped portion.

4) The Zen Warrior blades main short coming is that the distal taper is almost non-existent. I have gotten around that on my cut down smallsword by literally grinding a taper into the blade. It is still quite stiff compared to a historical piece, but I am gradually getting it better. The thing is, I am not a metalurgist or a smith. My work is at best an approximation, so, for safety's sake, I am still quite ginger when using this blade in practice.

I spoke with Walter Triplette about this a while back and he said that since the main buyers of these blades were SCAdians and actors, he had had them made heavier and with the thick foibles (no distal taper) to stand up to the beating these groups put the weapons through (it sounded like he believed they were using them more like sabers or broadswords than thrusting weapons). Perhaps we could petition Walter to supply the traditional fencing communitee with shallow fullered blades with an appropriate distal taper. He has always seemed willing to oblige where the market showed demand.

A note on the cut down blade I am working on refining - I cut down a 35 inch blade to 31. Since then, Walter has begun offering both 40 inch and 32 inch versions of the blade. Unfortunately, they all have the same lack of taper, so a cut down 32 will be just as thick as a cut down 35.

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#4 2006-06-07 13:41:52

RHogg
Member
Registered: 2006-04-03

Re: Ideas

Getting swordcutlers these days to make good blades is like getting the proverbial camel to walk through the eye of a needle.  Even when they SAY they're going to do what we want, they go ahead and do something different anyway b/c they know they can sell their crap to SOME yahoo out there.  Even foil blades are ghastly these days, and look at what happened with Paul MacDonald's sabre prototypes at Hanwei...

I have noticed that American Fencer's Supply is starting to realize that there's a market for classical stuff, though -- they've got a "classical" area on their online catalogue now, and they're starting to fill it with a variety of stuff -- none of it probably super, but what's important is that they've shown a willingness to meet the market.  They've always had good customer service, and I think if they hear more from us, the customers, the quality will steadily improve.

Of course, that doesn't fix the blade problem, since they don't have their own forge....

I think we as a community need to start becoming more vocal with equipment suppliers and start offering them numbers; the market is growing quickly, and you'd think that somebody out there would want to get in on it while the getting was good.  Once we can get a dialogue going rather than the "this is what you want" mentality that most vendors/manufacturers have, things'll get better...

Cheers,
Russell

P.S. since this is a bit of a digression I'll post this as a new thread on equipment, too...


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#5 2006-06-14 19:16:33

Akilles
Member
From: Saint Louis
Registered: 2006-06-06
Website

Re: Ideas

I have a follow up question about review boards for examinations:

Have all the prospective masters to serve on such a board a good working knowledge of what it is one another teaches?

It seems that there may be a few fencing masters out there who may have never actually met one another and whose acquaintance is known primarily via the internet and other long distance media.  Also, Maitre Crown himself has said - "I'd love to see how other people are teaching, show what I do and why, see if we can't get some good ideas from each other."  I apologize if I took this the wrong way, Maitre, but I see in that statement a kind of request to *see* the fencing of other masters _because_ you have not seen them in action.  Yes?  No?

Maybe there is a need for a kind of Masters Conference where, without much of an agenda, you can all do just that.  For the rest of us - fencers and students - I think it would go a long way in helping understand what our current milieu is in this country with the benefit of your collective professional opinion.

As a group of fencers we are slowly making our way to working with as many masters as is feasible and I just wonder, given similar limitations, whether this makes more sense for the masters to be doing with one another, too.

Dave


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#6 2006-06-15 06:57:39

Adam Adrian Crown
Maître d'Armes
From: Ithaca, New York
Registered: 2006-04-04
Website

Re: Ideas

Thanks for your thoughts, Dave.
My comment about seeing others teach is not about foundational things. I assume that's pretty much the same all around since a sword is a sword is a sword. Rather, I'm curious to compare what we've discovered on some finer points, things that probably woudn't mean much to a non-teacher. Each person, being unique, will have a slightly different way in the details and it's fascinating to me to see what lattitude there is -- or isn't -- for individual expression within a fairly constrained context. Like different guitarists playing the same bouree by Bach. Same tune, same notes, same everything. But they don't all sound alike.

On another note, regarding studying with as many masters as you can. Having done that myself a fair amount, I'd recommend you find ONE and really learn what he/she has to teach. And when you've absorbed all that, or when they recommend it, you go on to the next, compare, contrast and eventually synthesize.
Otherwise you cane spend a lot of time inefficiently chasing your tail with a "one from column A, one from column B" Frankenstein approach. I know I did.
You can take the best parts of a good bicycle and the best parts of a good lawn mower and cob them together. But will you be able either to mow your lawn or go for a ride?
Systems are delicate things. Change one thing, you change everything.
It isn't the individual parts that make the system work; it's the way they're assembled.

Any of that make any sense?

AAC

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#7 2006-06-15 11:51:19

Akilles
Member
From: Saint Louis
Registered: 2006-06-06
Website

Re: Ideas

Maitre Crown,

Then the examination board would be general in nature and look more to the candidates pedagogical ability rather than the school they represent? and any variance would be mitigated by the review board due to this?  I also agree that our uniqueness bears out a variety of methods.  I have found delight in the fact that one teacher's content may be lacking but their method is so engaging and vice versa.  Personally I have always had a fondness for Ian Anderson's interpretation of bouree ;)

Regarding the cafeteria approach to fencing masters I also agree.  However, once bitten twice shy.  We have tried the solo master path and it ended as a horrible disappointment, both personally and for the fencing.  In fact, I am harassed to this very day by the man.  Details I would discuss offline, even though as a case study it may serve as a prototype for the kind of deception that is going on these days.

The CFS, mindful of sage advice such as you offer above, has aligned itself with two principle fencing masters.  As you may know, the CFS is bilocational with myself serving as a kind of prime fencer here in St Louis and Alexis La Joie doing the same in Milwaukee.  I have always followed a more Italian approach.  Alexis, for his part, is learning French fencing from Maestro Martinez.  The relationships we are currently forging are not for our own glory but to insure our fencing is the best it can be.  Frankly, I think a man the fool who won't take advantage of the resources currently availble to him for this end.   It is a simple matter and far more rewarding than claiming some knowledge one does not have.  Maestri Hayes and Martinez have been instructive to our pedagogy as well as our overall "curriculum".

I have little time for the large cafeteria style workshops that are now in vogue around the country so when we host a fencing master we bring them to us and almost always only for the members of our group.  In this setting we are not being  Frankenstein, but rather, as you said enjoying the "individual expression within a fairly constrained context".  In fact, if it is possible we would enjoy inviting you to the CFS someday soon for this very purpose.  Afterall, meeting one another face to face goes a long way in dispelling much of the negativity so common behind the computer monitor.  For that matter, I must again reiterate my thanks to you for accepting my past indiscretions in such a gentlemanly manner.  I endeavor to improve.

Dave


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#8 2006-06-17 12:26:20

Adam Adrian Crown
Maître d'Armes
From: Ithaca, New York
Registered: 2006-04-04
Website

Re: Ideas

In my opinion, Dave, the examining board should be concerned with how well the capenter builds a house, not with how he holds his hammer. A fencing master is, by definition, a master teacher, not a master fencer -- tho, he or she may indeed be both. So I'm concerned with the candidates' pedagogical ability which boils down to two things: 1) Can the candidate instruct (safely, logically, pedagogically correctly) and 2) Can the candidate inspire?

I'm fascinated to know how you are managing the logistics of studying with either Mr. Martinez or Mr. Hayes. They are both quite far from you, no?  Seems quite a commute.

I naturally applaud your desire to make your fencing "the best it can be."  Indeed, why do less?  And some part of this will come from having an impeccable foundation. The other part will depend on how hard and how intelligently you train. I have seen innumerable fencers take lessons -- and then not do much between times.  Be sure that you are holding up your end.
There is nothing the master can do to compensate for what the student does NOT do.
But then, here I am preaching to the choir, I'm sure!

Having "master classes" is quite common in music schools. Nothing wrong with that. As long as you understand just what it is you're doing and why, you can get a lot out of it.

If I understand you, there's something of an invitation between your lines.  I rarely leave Shangri-la anymore, but who knows?
As for your past indiscretions -- I'm quite sure I don't recall.

all the best,


AAC

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#9 2006-06-21 11:14:44

Akilles
Member
From: Saint Louis
Registered: 2006-06-06
Website

Re: Ideas

Maitre Crown,

Thank you for the reply. Your comment raises an interesting question my wife and I were discussing recently.  You write:

"A fencing master is, by definition, a master teacher, not a master fencer -- tho, he or she may indeed be both."

We were discussing other disciplines and professional or 'master' level teachers and it occured to us highly improbable that a master teacher could in any way _not_ be a high level practitioner of their art.  Some questions if you don't mind:

1) How can a fencing master not be an excellent fencer?
2) Is the need to choose between becoming an excellent fencer or a fencing master absolute?
3) Regarding #1 above, why should a prospective student study under a fencing master who cannot 'walk the walk'? (I mean no disrespect in this - it just follows my conversation with my wife; why would you sign up for a writing course with an instructor who has never been published? take a fine art course from a person who cannot paint or draw? - assuming you had the options)

Also, my original queston ("Have all the prospective masters to serve on such a board a good working knowledge of what it is one another teaches?") spoke directly to how you discribe the evaluative process: "So I'm concerned with the candidates' pedagogical ability which boils down to two things: 1) Can the candidate instruct (safely, logically, pedagogically correctly) and 2) Can the candidate inspire?"

It appears that there have been significant differences of opinion regarding these very matters.  By what concensus would such a board operate?  Just curious.

It can be argued that teaching ability/pedagody boil down to one thing - content.  Content, or the material being taught, is by neccessity under the very scrutiny of such an evaluative process.  If a sitting master on the board had significant reservations about a candidate's interpretation of a given set of techniques because he, for example, did not agree with the practical application that was being taught and another sitting master on the board disagreed with the other master, that would be a content matter between the two masters. The effect this would have on the evaluation is what I was interested in.  Again, just curious.

As you say, it is difficult these days to get the kind of training one desires, if for no other reason than expense and geography.  With the best of traditional/classical fencing masters still on the East and West coasts we can only do as we can.  It is opportune, perhaps, that we are smack in the middle.  Our intention is to help bridge the expanse by bringing masters here as often as possible while simoltaneously making travel and other study opportunities for our students and fencers as easy as possible.  And as you say, "...why do less?"

with great appreciation for your time and thoughts,

Dave


all conditioned things decay - seek liberation diligently

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#10 2006-06-22 06:15:10

Adam Adrian Crown
Maître d'Armes
From: Ithaca, New York
Registered: 2006-04-04
Website

Re: Ideas

Here's my view, David:

****1) How can a fencing master not be an excellent fencer?

I did not say that a fencing master could not be an excellent fencer -- depending on how you define "excellent."  Too many people, I think, define it as " competitive success" or the like.
It is certainly necessary that he/she be at least  COMPETENT fencer.

But nota bene that there is an enormous difference between fencing and teaching fencing. The two activities require very different sets of technical skills,  a different theoretical base, and a different mind set.  The skills and knowledge specific to teaching are in addition to and separate from those of fencing.
When we use the term "fencing master" we are NOT referring to the persons fencing skills, whether they be modest or exceptional. We are referring to their TEACHING skills.

****2) Is the need to choose between becoming an excellent fencer or a fencing master absolute?

Perhaps I'm not quite sure what you mean here. But I advise you never to try to ride two horses at the same time.
Either of these goals requires 100% committment. Therefore, I believe they are better taken in turn rather than simultaneously.

****3) Regarding #1 above, why should a prospective student study under a fencing master who cannot 'walk the walk'? (I mean no disrespect in this - it just follows my conversation with my wife; why would you sign up for a writing course with an instructor who has never been published? take a fine art course from a person who cannot paint or draw? - assuming you had the options)

It is a common error to assume that one who can DO a thing is automatically capable of TEACHING the thing. Nothing could be more false. Look around the world a bit and you will find innumerable examples of teachers who were exceeded by their students --- as I hope I will be by mine. Must a student be limited to the level of accomplishment attained by his teacher? I think not. At least, not if she has a good teacher.
I repeat, the teacher must be competent at the subject matter. But measuring that ability by competitive or commercial success is both inappropriate and inaccurate.
When I choose a teacher I ask two questions: 1.) Can he/she DO the thing I want to do? 
2. Can he/she TEACH ME how to do the thing I want to do? BOTH things must be true, not just the first.

***By what concensus would such a board operate? 

Members of my hypothetical exam board would grade the candidates' teaching abilities.

****It can be argued that teaching ability/pedagody boil down to one thing - content. 

Anything can be argued. Is this YOUR argument?
:)
I must say that I couldn't possibly disagree more.
There are countless people who know the content who cannot even begin to teach it.
We call content "methodology" which is, as noted, different from Pedagogy.

****Content, or the material being taught, is by neccessity under the very scrutiny of such an evaluative process. 

Within the technical, tactical and strategic framework there is lattitude for individual expression. Anyone who would bicker over minor points of technique doesn't belong on the board. Only those things which violate combat-logic should be so noted.

****If a sitting master on the board had significant reservations about a candidate's interpretation of a given set of techniques because he, for example, did not agree with the practical application that was being taught and another sitting master on the board disagreed with the other master, that would be a content matter between the two masters.

In my experience it is an EGO matter between the two so-called masters.

****Our intention is to help bridge the expanse by bringing masters here as often as possible while simoltaneously making travel and other study opportunities for our students and fencers as easy as possible.

If your interest is academic, I think that works just fine. Or if it's a "show" for the purpose of inspiring, that works, too.
If your interest is training, however, I'd advise you to choose one you trust and go as far in that direction as you can before going on to something/someone else. Wandering from teacher to teacher can benefit only a student who is already highly skilled; it won't do much for anyone without a solid foundation.

I hope you find these comment useful.

AAC

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#11 2006-06-22 11:45:38

Akilles
Member
From: Saint Louis
Registered: 2006-06-06
Website

Re: Ideas

Maitre Crown,

Yes, your comments are most useful and appreciated.

Also, I apologize if my description of our operations gave a false impression.  We do not wander from teacher to teacher.  As an organisation designed to communicate the best of fencing to a population separated from classical masters we see it as part of our duty to expose our membership and communities to the best that we can offer.  Sometimes this means bringing in the same master - as is our want - and other times it means bringing in somebody new to witness their "individual expression".  Many people, for example, may know your name because of your website but have never met you and have no idea of what your teaching would be like (many more may not even know your name).  Inviting you to a workshop has many benefits. It exposes you and your teaching to a larger audiance. This is important, I think, because it creates bonds between masters and fencers that would otherwise not exist. Fencers will know you not by name alone, but through an appreciation for your teaching and point of view.  Who knows, it may have a reflexive benefit for you, too.  You write, "I'd advise you to choose one you trust and go as far in that direction as you can before going on to something/someone else."  I agree.  I also think that meeting a person goes a long way to developing this kind of trust.  A fencer who meets you or another fencing master at a workshop may go on to pursue a committed course of study.

We have never met in person.  However, I have had the pleasure of fencing some of your students and their excellence has made me curious about your teaching.  One day soon I hope that we may meet in person, both as master and student and as men who love fencing.  It would only make me happier to share such an experience with those who work with me each week.  Through these experiences our shared community can strengthen and our fencing ever improve.

Kind regards,

Dave

Last edited by Akilles (2006-06-22 11:46:22)


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#12 2006-06-22 12:32:05

cfaustus
Member
From: Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Registered: 2006-04-20
Website

Re: Ideas

If I might humbly pose a few questions,

I shall take the liberty of combining quotes from several past posts. I shall place quotes in italics and my questions in bold.

"people, I think, define it as " competitive success" or the like."
"I repeat, the teacher must be competent at the subject matter. But measuring that ability by competitive or commercial success is both inappropriate and inaccurate."

I agree that such success is a poor measure of competence.
What Criteria do you then suggest for testing competence?

The sort of board you are suggesting seems to be acting at least in part, as an accredation board. Accredation certainly is concerned with quality of instruction, however it also often includes a standard of content being taught. One can teach one's students astrophysics based upon a geo-centric model, but it does not help them obtain positions at NASA. Or, to use your analogy, it is important to be able to build a house well, however the house should also be built to meet its environment. A house with a finished basement and only one floor above ground may not be very good in a swamp or flood plain.

"When we use the term "fencing master" we are NOT referring to the persons fencing skills, whether they be modest or exceptional. We are referring to their TEACHING skills."
"My comment about seeing others teach is not about foundational things. I assume that's pretty much the same all around since a sword is a sword is a sword."

Given the above, why not just go through the USFCA, rather than forming a new board?

As one who has recently gone through a certification with the modern USFCA (done out of curiousity), what the USFCA is asking instructors to teach often flies in the face of what I have been taught traditionally. As you say, "Only those things which violate combat-logic should be so noted." The teaching skills are largely the same. They certainly do focus on making sure one is capable of instructing. Unfortunately, implicit in the testing, they also want the instructors to teach certain things - specific content. In order to pass the exam, I had to alter WHAT I was teaching, i.e. what I was asked to teach in the exam is NOT what I would teach to traditional students. When I delicately suggested alternative theory, it was heavily implied that not to teach the suggested material was not acceptable as the instructor's job was to help his students WIN. Defense oriented technique was considered a hinderance to winning since being hit does not matter, only when one hits (before the opponent hits you) and how (in foil and sabre, by getting the ref to believe that you had right of way). That competitive focus altered the very content of the lesson.

It seems to me that by the sheer fact that a different 'product' is being offered by traditional Masters than by sport Masters, a review board would have to set some standard as to what they meant by "things which violate combat-logic" since the implications of the logic of combat seems to be differently viewed between sets of masters. Yet they are both 'Fencing Masters' and as such well trained instructors. Doesn't content become important in such a context?

"When I choose a teacher I ask two questions: 1.) Can he/she DO the thing I want to do? 
2. Can he/she TEACH ME how to do the thing I want to do? BOTH things must be true, not just the first.


In an area like fencing, where there is so much dissent among its professionals about its distinctions, how is a novice to know if the thing a teacher does and teaches is in fact what the student wants to do?

When I started fencing over 17 years ago, what I really wanted to learn was to defend myself with a sword. Today I would say that I wanted to learn traditional fencing, however, back then, noone had even suggested that such a distinction existed (classical/historical vs. sport). I joined up with the local highschool fencing team. It seemed odd to me and not at all what I had thought of as fighting with a sword. More like a game of tag, but the coach made the usual references to 'enough pressure to pierce the skin' and 'derived from the style of combat done by the musketeers'. Such language as well as the coaches self-confidence was enough to convince a 15 year old that I was just naiive and that this was what I had been looking for. When I finally ran across my first experience of classical fencing, it was as if the veil had been lifted. THIS was what I had wanted all along. But it took the experience of the former for me to realize the later. It is a simple fact that a student, especially a young student, of fencing may be lulled into a false belief that what he is being taught is sword play, simply because he is being taught by a 'Master'.

As I see it, traditional masters are the most learned of the traditional fencing community. If they could use thier vast and diverse knowledge to establish standards for historical and classical fencing, it would not only improve the level of instruction (by giving guidance to those on the periphery as to what does or does-not defy combat-logic), it would also help clear up much of the confusion existing which has people calling everything from SCA rapier fighting to dry sport fencing 'classical' or 'historical'. With the diversity in and dispersion of knowledge of the area in question, such standards could only be established by the masters coming together and discussing what they teach. As you say, that they are good at teaching is given by the fact that they are masters. Shouldn't WHAT they are teaching be at least ascertained?

Thank you for your patience with my inquiry and your continued consideration of these matters.

-Alexis

Last edited by cfaustus (2006-06-22 13:11:23)

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#13 2006-06-22 15:22:58

RHogg
Member
Registered: 2006-04-03

Re: Ideas

I think it's important to test both, though perhaps the particulars of any certain system are not relevant to a board.  I think the IMAF exams specifically test fencing skill as well as teaching ability, and I imagine that stems from a desire to be sure that the candidate can practice what he/she preaches in addition to being able to preach it.  "Fencing master" has become such a dumbed-down thing in the USFA world that we have to be doubly sure that our own masters are of the absolute highest caliber, so that they stand out from the rest of the crowd.  Fewer people will make it that way, but that's OK -- a rapid proliferation of teachers would only dilute the quality of instruction and, in the long run, would do more damage despite the short term gains.  Slow, steady growth is the only way to get back the strength that fencing had a hundred years ago, especially as law & custom have made it less likely that the wackos will weed themselves out anymore.

To me, "fencing master" has a double connotation: a mastery of the art as well as a mastery of the student... I think the current generation has done a good job of this, and I see it as the next generation's job to preserve that and nurture it.

Damned if it isn't hard, though. :)


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#14 2006-06-22 18:17:56

Adam Adrian Crown
Maître d'Armes
From: Ithaca, New York
Registered: 2006-04-04
Website

Re: Ideas

Good questions, Alexis.
I'm afraid my response may seem a bit uncharitable.
I understand that it is still the practice to call fencing-game coaches "fencing masters." They might as well call them cheese sandwiches. It would be as close -- perhaps closer -- to the truth.
In my opinion, they are not fencing masters. They CAN not be because what they teach is not fencing. They do not use swords, and have either no knowledge of their use or no concern for it. They are coaches of a game that no longer resembles swordplay but is still called "fencing" in a grand and detestable "bait and switch."
So. I assume, for the purposes of out conversation, that we are discussing those who treat a sword like a sword, understand and respect its nature. Whatever "fencing" coaches do, I consider pretty irrelevant to my practice, and outside my sphere of interest.
As for NOT going through something like the USFCA, I believe from your description, you already know the answer.

Perhaps the best formulated ideas of treating the sword as a sword can be found in the un-Orwellized version of the "phrase d'armes" section of the rules, at least those circa 1970-1980.

My criteria for a fencing master includes broad-based understanding of the foundational principles of combat -- noteworthy by its absence from the coach's curriculum.
Part, too, would be the character of the candidate. Elsewhere I've noted that I consider integrity to be an indispensible attribute of the professiona of arms. Someone who teaches a LIE, whether by intent or incompetence, cannot possibly satisfy this criterion.

How does that strike you?

AAC

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#15 2006-06-23 14:31:03

Flanconade
Member
Registered: 2006-05-30

Re: Ideas

Adam Adrian Crown wrote:

How does that strike you?

It strikes me as phenomenally arrogant.
What tangible results have you produced that can lend credence to your arguments?
Surely if what you teach is the true fencing we would have seen at least a few people who had notable sucesses, after all good fencing should beat bad fencing!

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#16 2006-06-23 15:03:03

Linda Wyatt
Prevost d'Armes
From: Danby NY
Registered: 2006-03-26
Website

Re: Ideas

1. Good fencing does beat bad fencing. But what the USFA does now is not fencing.  Different rules- in fact, the exact opposite of the rules of fencing.  BAD fencing is rewarded.  Good fencing is penalized.  Therefore, any "competition" is ludicrous.

2. I don't see winning tournaments as "tangible results" of good fencing. I see it, at best, as a byproduct which has fairly little significance.  Fun?  Sure.  Important?  Not really.

Tangible results of good fencing include many different improvements in a student's life, including the ability to take the lessons learned from the study of combat theory and put them to good use in the community by upholding the truth and by speaking out against all forms of deception.  Our "tangible results" are exceptional people, not trophies.

What tangible results has anyone currently involved in FIE fencing produced that even suggests that what they do is fencing?  Every USFA tournament I've ever seen has been ugly, rude and distasteful.  The World Championships that I happened to catch on TV were no better.  Two idiots throwing themselves at each other and screaming.  Look at the plethora of photos available on the web that show "fencers" in contorted positions, off balance and unable to defend themselves against anything- or even stay on their feet.

3. The "fencing" done by students of people in the USFCA is evidence enough that what they do is no longer fencing, is not based on combat theory, and holds no internal logic.  What "tangible results" anyone produces elsewhere is irrelevant.  A lie is a lie, even if NO ONE tells the truth.  Even if no one knows the truth.

Fencing is swordfighting.
Calling something that is no longer based on the sword "fencing" is a lie.  Period.
Has nothing whatsoever to do with what happens elsewhere.


Linda

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#17 2006-06-23 15:07:07

Linda Wyatt
Prevost d'Armes
From: Danby NY
Registered: 2006-03-26
Website

Re: Ideas

Alexis said:

It is a simple fact that a student, especially a young student, of fencing may be lulled into a false belief that what
he is being taught is sword play, simply because he is being taught by a 'Master'.

True enough.

It drives me mad- both angry and insane.

I know there are uncounted people out there who want to fence, think that's what they're being taught to do, and simply don't know any better.

On the other hand, a fair number of them show up here questioning the validity of things that they've seen elsewhere but can't reconcile with their image of swords and swordfighting.

I wish more people had more options closer to where they live so that no one had to be in the position of a lack of information and/or resources.


Linda

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#18 2006-06-23 18:52:43

Adam Adrian Crown
Maître d'Armes
From: Ithaca, New York
Registered: 2006-04-04
Website

Re: Ideas

Alexis said:
It is a simple fact that a student, especially a young student, of fencing may be lulled into a false belief that what he is being taught is sword play, simply because he is being taught by  a 'Master'.

So true.
Bad students of good teachers are sad enough.
But Good students of Bad Teachers really break my heart.

AAC

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#19 2006-06-23 20:14:53

Adam Adrian Crown
Maître d'Armes
From: Ithaca, New York
Registered: 2006-04-04
Website

Re: Ideas

Flanconade wrote:
>It strikes me as phenomenally arrogant.

Thank you, my friend.
I'd be inconsolable if I thought my arrogance was merely "average." 

>What tangible results have you produced that can lend credence to your arguments?

Could you define "tangible results?"
And compare and contrast with "intangible results," if you'd be so kind?
And could you explain how these "tangible results" would lend more credence
to arguments that have their own merit, in and of themselves, apart from whoever
makes them? 
If the Wizard were to give me a medal, would that suddenly give credence to
all my erroneous beliefs? Or would it take a medal, a diploma, a heart AND magic
slippers?
Yes, I AM being silly.
It's the way I respond to ad hominem attacks. I laugh.
I note that you did not offer any rebuttal to anything I said, but merely attacked
my right to say it. Or my credibility. Or my mustache. Or something.

>Surely if what you teach is the true fencing we would have seen at least a
>few people who had notable sucesses, after all good fencing should beat bad
fencing!

Well said. On this point we are in utter agreement.
Once upon a time, in another galaxy far, far away, it was so.
And then certain persons, for wicked reasons of their own, decided to undertake
to first obfuscate and then to REVERSE the traditional rules, thus effectively
eliminating any possibility that good (traditional & combat-logical) fencing
could "win."
You know.
The sort of thing we're doing here now with that old, out-moded Bill of Rights
thing.

There's nothing much I can do about any of this at the moment except
to "bear true faith and allegiance" to both.

As for "notable successes" I trust you are asking how many made-in-a third-world-country-by-oppressed-child-laborer trinkets my students have won in these anti-fencing competitions.
NONE, I am happy to say. Nor do I anticipate any in future, if I have my druthers
on that.

But here let me offer you, if not an olive branch, my favorite bit from CYRANO:
"I carry my adornments only on my soul, deck'd with deeds instead of ribbons,
mantled in my own good name and crowned with the white plume of freedom"

No relevance. I just happen to love that quote.

I can just imagine how I'm scoring on your arrogance meter now!
:)

all the best,

AAC

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#20 2006-06-23 20:31:54

Adam Adrian Crown
Maître d'Armes
From: Ithaca, New York
Registered: 2006-04-04
Website

Re: Ideas

RHOGG wrote:
I think the IMAF exams specifically test fencing skill as well as teaching ability, and I imagine that stems from a desire to be sure that the candidate can practice what he/she preaches in addition to being able to preach it.

IMAF, Gracie??????
Sorry, don't know, or don't recall that one. Explain?
Thanks.

AAC

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#21 2006-06-23 20:35:03

Adam Adrian Crown
Maître d'Armes
From: Ithaca, New York
Registered: 2006-04-04
Website

Re: Ideas

Akilles wrote:
However, I have had the pleasure of fencing some of your students and their excellence has made me curious about your teaching.

Oh? That's interesting. With whom among  my students have you crossed blades?

AAC

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#22 2006-06-23 22:10:05

Akilles
Member
From: Saint Louis
Registered: 2006-06-06
Website

Re: Ideas

Maitre Crown,

Love the quote from Cyrano.

My reference to your students is probably to those who have long since left your salle.  Ron Lis is one and I most sincerely apologize for not remembering the name of the other gentleman.  I met him at a TCAS function in 2004.

Also, the IMAF is the Independant Mortgage Advisors Federation.  Or, http://www.scherma-tradizionale.org/  (<FGI>)

Dave

Last edited by Akilles (2006-06-23 22:11:36)


all conditioned things decay - seek liberation diligently

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#23 2006-06-23 22:16:56

Linda Wyatt
Prevost d'Armes
From: Danby NY
Registered: 2006-03-26
Website

Re: Ideas

Dave said:
(<FGI>)

Fashion Group International?
Free Government Information?
Free Golf Info?
Finnish Geodetic Institute?

Or my favorite:
Fungal Genome Initiative

:-)  :-)


Linda

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#24 2006-06-23 22:21:16

Akilles
Member
From: Saint Louis
Registered: 2006-06-06
Website

Re: Ideas

I like you, Linda.   Lets arrange to meet and fence soon.


all conditioned things decay - seek liberation diligently

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#25 2006-06-24 20:38:52

Adam Adrian Crown
Maître d'Armes
From: Ithaca, New York
Registered: 2006-04-04
Website

Re: Ideas

A friend sent me this and it seemed a propos to part of our discussions -- and supports the notion that what's true is true, for everyone, all the time.

AAC

John Wooden, the winningest coach ever in college basketball, put it this way:

"To me, success isn't outscoring someone, it's the peace of mind that comes from
self-satisfaction in knowing you did your best. That's something each individual
must determine for himself.

You can fool others, but you can't fool yourself. Many people are surprised to learn
that in 27 years at UCLA, I never once talked about winning. Instead I would tell
my players before games, 'When it's over, I want your head up. And there's only
one way your head can be up, that's for you to know, not me, that you gave the
best effort of which you're capable.

If you do that, then the score doesn't really matter, although I have a feeling
that if you do that, the score will be to your liking.' I honestly, deeply believe
that in not stressing winning as such, we won more than we would have if I'd
stressed outscoring opponents."

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