Feeling overwhelmed in a fight is normal, even feeling overwhelmed with information is normal. We have given the students in our training program so much knowledge it can become burdensome in a fight. If you are going through training, and you are feeling this; try to focus on one thing at a time. If you are a swordsman, and you aren’t working on something specific, focus on what is most important in that fight.
Starting out with those not particularly working on something, or those who are just feeling overwhelmed in a fight: Before you walk into a duel think about 2-3 things that your opponent is most likely to do. i.e. Do they snipe a lot? Do they block a certain way? Use specific footwork? etc.
Once you have some of those in mind, come up with 2-3 ways to overcome each of those possibilities. Then when you walk into a fight you now have only a handful of things to think about in comparison to everything in the manual. You don’t need to worry about the rest, in the fight at hand, they are insignificant compared to the major parts you have already thought about. As you get better at this skill you may break it down further to what will happen if you throw a specific shot or a most likely response from your opponent at any given time.
Though if you aren’t to the point that you can know what your opponent is likely to do, focus on things like where do I keep getting hit? Along with: How can I defend that area better? These simple questions lead to developing your style and growing.
These questions are a great place to start, though if you still need help simply ask. These questions are great for yourself, but they are also good conversation points to talk to whomever you are fighting or a third party that is trying to help you. If you are worried about not being able to phrase it, that’s okay. You can start as simple as what did you do to kill me? or what do I do when I get stuck here? (show an example)
Now let’s talk to those going through training: If you are working on footwork, focus your brain’s energy on your footwork. Learn your footwork, it will become natural the more you use the correct footwork.
If you are working on how to use a cloak, don’t worry about the other lessons you got about the dagger, buckler, or whatnot. Put your brain’s energy into understanding how to use the lesson you are working on currently. Though I do suggest making connections of how your body works with each, and how they may be similar, or dissimilar. Though the similarities and dissimilarities should be sidenotes and not the focus.
For swordsmen who are working on something, with or without a master. I suggest you take a similar approach to my suggestion for those in the training program. This may cause you to lose more fights, but the growth you get out of focusing on your goals will increase your skill overall. Furthermore, it will help you learn and grow on the goals you have set for yourself. By focusing on that part of your fight you will be able to make changes and see how they affect your fights. This will help you see the consequences of what minute changes can bring about that you may otherwise have overlooked. If you don’t know what you are doing, or how you are doing it try one of the following:
- videotape your fights and review them
- talk with someone (try to explain why you do what you do)
- get in the moment of the fight, then slowly work your way out of the issue. (reset as many times as needed)
For those swordsmen with a master, trust them. They are teaching you what they are teaching you for a reason. Focus on what they are saying and doing. Try the suggestions above for working on them. Though no one is perfect. Just because I can move my hips like a belly dancer while fighting doesn’t mean that Shay can do the same. How each of us fights is unique to each of us, just like our personality. I have found a good middle ground is to try something for two weeks consistently, both in and out of practice. If you can’t do the physical skill outside of practice at least think about it. By the end of the two weeks, you should have a good idea of how it is done. That information alone is a great utility. Though I would hope you can leave with a modification of the skill they taught you that fits how you fight and who you are.
For those working on any skill, please keep in mind that your win condition isn’t beating your opponent now. It is: Did I effectively use what I was working on? Did it work, or not? Do I need to change how I’m doing part of it to make it better? This will help you from feeling like you aren’t getting anywhere.