As you can tell by the subject this blog will address the idea of fencing and the learning process. More to the point it will have a look at the attitude of the fencer toward fighting different opponents and how this can affect the learning process.
In fencing when you are bouting there will always be a choice between the easy win or the hard fight. This is a question of who you go out to seek to fight. Do you seek simply to win, or do you seek a challenge and the opportunity to learn from the encounter? If you are simply looking for the win there it is more likely that you will seek opponents that you can easily beat whereas if you are seeking a challenge and an opportunity to learn this will inevitably lead to finding the harder opponent. While the instant win gives you some sort of ego gratification it is a much shorter path and actually leads not too far. If you go out and seek the harder opponents not only is a win against them more gratifying a loss can also lead you to learn something from the encounter, this will enable you to learn more and improve yourself, a much longer term goal. It is important that we all seek the harder opponent and be grateful for their presence as it gives a much wider opportunity for us to learn than fighting those that we can easily beat, which leads us on to something else.
Everyone knows that they have a set of techniques which are reliable for them, which in some cases will guarantee victory over the opponent. So, should we use these same techniques and be satisfied with the victory, or should we look to learn new things and put them to the test against an opponent? As with fighting opponents who are easier, the win is instant gratification whereas the other will extend our fencing experience. Even where the technique does not work something is learnt. Was it the way the action was performed? Was it the timing or the distance at which the action was performed that needs to be corrected? These are things we can learn from extending ourselves and trying new things, this is vital to the learning process. Even where the loss is to an easier opponent something can be learnt when using a new technique, so the expansion of ones repetoire is a good thing and will help us down the path.
In essence what is being discussed here is how we progress in our fencing and nothing more. Fighting the same opponents with the same techniques will refine the techniques, it is true, but it does not extend us from where we are at the moment. To exend yourself means to put yourself in a situation where the outcome is not certain in order that we can learn something from the encounter, this is what extends our experience and invites us to excel in what we are doing. We must seek the harder opponents and newer techniques in order to progress in our training and learning process it is the only real way to learn. If we seek the same opponents and use the same techniques we will stagnate and not learn and not progress, this is not what we should be about as fencers.
As you improve and gain experience and skill it will be difficult to find opponents who challenge you, this is where things become more difficult and the advancement process becomes more difficult. It is at this point that it is of vital importance that we seek new horizons, new skills and new opponents to face and test our skills against. Be happy that if there is someone out there who can give you a real challenge in your fencing and who makes you bring out your best in your fencing, this is the only way to improve. Remember that a loss is only a loss if you do not learn something from the encounter with your opponent. Even if you have to go and discuss with your opponent how you were defeated or what you did wrong this is not too much to ask if you really want to improve your fencing. Fencing is a learning experience more than anything else and we all have a great deal to learn, realise this and you are in for a long and fruitful journey.
I will be speaking more about the learning process as this blog progresses. Have a think about your learning process and ask yourself whether you are maximising your chances to learn.
Did you enjoy this post? Would you like to see it in a book format? I am in the process of putting a selection of my blogs into a book entitled Un-blogged: A Fencer's Ramblings. If you would like to assist me in producing this book and others of a historical fencing nature please donate here: