We all get to the point where we’ve finished our training and we’re not quite sure what to do next. How can we keep improving ourselves after we’ve been taught all the classes? You’re in luck because there is always more to learn. After you have a firm grasp on the basics, it’s a good time to come up with a plan on what to do next. This usually means you assess yourself to know where to focus. So lets go through an assessment that you can do on your own.

Start by taking a good hard look at yourself. Try to think or describe yourself as a fencer. How do you view yourself? What is your vision for yourself as a fencer?

Now go through your strengths and weaknesses, ask yourself these questions and any others that you can think of:

  • What do you LIKE to do in a duel? What do you hate?
  • What distances are comfortable? Which ones aren’t?
  • Which opponents give you the most trouble? Why?
  • Which opponents do you find easy to fight? Why?

What about other parts of fencing? Give yourself a grade from 1 to 5 for each principle or style (1 is Needs Work and 5 being Mastered)

  • Offense:
  • Defense:
  • Mentality:
  • Physicality:
  • Training:
  • Gear:
  • Balance:
  • Footwork:
  • Stance:
  • Single Sword:
  • Sword/Dagger:
  • Sword/Deathstick:
  • Case:
  • Sword/Buckler:
  • Sword/Cloak:
  • Melee:
  • Etc…

Hopefully by now, you’re starting to see certain areas that you do well at and other areas that could use a little work. With that information, you can prioritize and decide where you want to start. If you’re amazing defensively and your blocking is pure gold, then start working on being more offensive and aggressive. But there’s one thing that’s better than a million personal assessment. The best thing to do is to get in the habit of asking for help and taking it to heart.

Seriously. Need more help? Ask! Ask other fighters you respect to comment on your fighting… “What am I doing well?” “What am I missing?” “How did you kill me just now?” (If they can’t tell you, ask someone who can. Great fighters can tell you everything, I mean everything, that happens in a bout. Step by step.)

You can always keep improving and learning. It may be slow at times, but don’t get discouraged. There’s always help when you need it. Practice hard, train when you can and always keep assessing yourself. Even look into an Apprenticeship if you can. Just keep learning!