What’s In Your Bag of Tricks?

Shay asked me to run this week’s Dueling practice lead by the Swordsmen and I’m very excited for the opportunity! Terrasylvae is such a great learning community because there is a constant exchange of ideas. The more we discuss and develop our own ideas with others, the more those ideas grow and morph, sometimes in unexpected ways.

I find that fascinating!

In preparation for practice, I thought I’d jot down some of the thoughts I had while preparing this practice, so others might have a chance to see it. Plus, now that I’m not Captain, I have an excuse to ramble a little bit more, much to the vexation of Miren. ?

What is a Bag of Tricks?

I’ve always enjoyed the term “Bag of Tricks”. It makes me feel so roguish and mischievous! But what does it really mean when it comes to Fencing? If you pull out the trusty dictionary and look at the definition, you get a wonderful description as follows:

a set of ingenious plans, techniques, or resources.

noun: bag of tricks

Aaah…now that’s some good food for thought. I really felt like I had gotten to something I could work with, but how to turn that into a Dueling practice… list a bunch of tricks in sidewalk chalk? Create a grand infographic? Write a blog post that only a few people will read and cross my fingers?


Why not talk about everyone else’s Bag of Tricks? That’s way more exciting than talking about my own!

Everyone Has a Bag of Tricks

It doesn’t matter how long you’ve been fencing or if you’re fencing at all. Everyone has a Bag of Tricks and it’s usually kept in your back pocket.

Even you! You know who you are.

Your Bag of Tricks is where little bits of experience and knowledge are stored. These little bits usually manifest themselves as physical techniques, mental thoughts, or personal resources you might have. They are relatively small in nature and haven’t been expanded into full styles or complete theories. But they are things that can be repeated.

For example, I would consider occasionally sliding your grip back an inch on your sword a Trick. Incorporating that adjusted grip into your personal style, would not.

An old manual you’ve kept on your bookshelf and reference occasionally could also be a Trick. Using that manual as the foundation for your full theory of fencing, would not.

Whatever little nugget you’ve picked up along your journey as a fencer, it’s probably sitting in your Bag of Tricks waiting to be used.

Learning a New Trick

Once you realize that you have a Bag of Trick, you might be like me and have a strange urge to fill it with cool and unusual tidbits. Luckily, there are only two ways to really learn a new trick. That makes things pretty easy.

  1. Gain more experience and take note of things you learn along the way.
  2. Seek them out from external sources.

If you take the first route, the basic idea is that the longer you do something, the more Tricks you’ll acquire. People like Rhiannon, Damian, and Sedos have been fencing for so long, that they might as well call it a Bag of Holding with how many nuggets they’ve found.

I find the second route to be more fun. Seeking out additional Tricks that others have found is an incredibly effective way of filling your Bag of Tricks. If you gathered one Trick from every person you met, you’d very quickly fill your bag and more!

These thoughts are far from complete, but I hope that everyone of us will walk away this week with new trick to add to our bag. I feel a great sense of satisfaction when I get to put something new in my back pocket and await with anticipation for the next chance to use it. I hope you’ll get to feel that too!