The Flat Spot: Plateaus in training

I can’t figure out why my mind makes the decisions it does. I know my problems, and they are many. My body is not only broken, but misshapen. Scoliosis, a curved back, is only one thing that prevents me from doing what others find are simple actions. Even so, I have a lot of experience. I know how to overcome my flaws. I know the technical steps needed to get better. I know the drills it will take to reprogram myself. I’ve done those and more, but I’m still faced with the question of why I don’t get better. Everyone goes through plateaus. We learn something new, we get better, and then we stop getting better and just get stuck for a while. Then some sort of eye-opening breakthrough happens and we get better again. For a fencer, it’s often a literal eye-opening experience. About the two or three year…

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It’s okay to suck

One of the more valuable lessons you can learn in martial arts is that things are hard. New things are difficult and awkward, and you will feel like a fool as you learn. It’s unavoidable. Sometimes you look like a fool even after learning something. I remember when I finally nailed the jump-spinning inside crescent kick. The kung fu form I was learning at the time required me to execute three of them in a row with no pause. I received zero instruction in how to do it. A senior student demonstrated the movement precisely once, and told me I wouldn’t learn anything else until I could perform it. It took about a week…15hrs training time. I moved from awkward hops and flailing to a sharp spin, jump, and quick kick. Land and repeat. Easy-peasy. Then I got cocky. I started to pick the speed up. I tried for more…

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Letting go: Martial arts mind

A few years ago I was lying on my back, on the cold asphalt ground, screaming, staring at my right leg in utter disbelief. A moment before I was happy…confident. I knew the future precisely. It was unfolding in front of me with a smooth ease. The student was doing the hip throw incorrectly, and I knew why. So I partnered with him and showed him how I could stop him from throwing me by centring my weight down. Showed him what I expected from him, and asked him to try again. He kinda waffled through it, looked a bit hesitant and nervous. I told him to really put some oomph into it. I wasn’t going to let him go until he performed at least the lift part of the throw correctly. I was prepared. I expected a strong sweep and twist of my upper body. I would lift my…

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Bounce A Little Higher: Moving Past The Squat

Bob Charron teaches some epic weekend workshops. It was at one of his workshops I was first introduced to the “Farmer Burns” workout. I loved it. It opened my eyes up to the value of old-fashioned calisthenics, and also got me into Catch Wrestling, which became a real love. The Farmer Burns workouts became a staple warmup for the classes I taught, and I shared them at workshops. When Devon and I start putting together the workouts for Academie Duello, there was never any question of the good old Burns being the staple. The squat is the key of the workout, and it’s a good exercise. If you’re a Western Martial Arts student, you’ve probably tasted the pain of a series of squats. I’m guessing most AD students can probably still do a minute worth of squats without any real effort. One of the problems of a squat, for students…

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