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Fencing and History Nut Extraordinaire. While I am tending toward 16th century at the moment, I am and have been interested in history for a long time. Hence the fencing focuses more on the Renaissance period than the modern. This explains two out of three of my blogs. The third is a more personal one focusing on fibromyalgia. What I write in these blogs, I hope will be of use to people.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Motivation and Fencing


I would like to talk at this time about motivation and fencing. This is an important subject for all fencers and should seriously be considered. We all have our own reasons for taking up fencing in the first place. For some we have seen something in the media and thought it would be cool to be able to do it. For some we have been influenced by friends and family who fence and have decided to fence ourselves. For others we were looking for a pastime that would last a long time, and for others it is a simple search for the secrets of swordplay in all its forms. What ever your reason for learning to fence in the first place, it will become a factor in your motivation to continue.

Your fencing instructor or teacher will attempt to keep you motivated by introducing new skills for you to learn and encouraging you, but when it comes down to it, the motivation must become internalised if you want to really get anywhere. You need to decide where your fencing sits in your priorities and this will decide how much energy you will be willing to put in.

Do your lessons end at the end of your training session, or do you do extra research? Do you practice alone at home in order to improve your skill at and understanding of the things you have learnt at the lesson? Do you do extra research into things related to fencing in order to understand more of what is out there? All of these things relate to personal motivation. If you are truly motivated, you should have answered "Yes" to all of the questions. If you really want to succeed in fencing these things are the key and they require motivation on your part. Your teacher will have information about these things and can give you direction, but in the end it is up to you.

Personal motivation in fencing is expressed not only in seeking the things which I have mentioned above but also in simple things. Simple things such as turning up to your practice before it starts in order that you are prepared to go when the practice starts, making sure that all of your equipment is present at the training session, making sure that all of your equipment is in good working order, finally, and a big one is being at the training session and being prepared and interested in learning. All of these things express a level of personal motivation and it will be noticed by your teacher.

Your teacher will attempt to supply some motivation to you by attempting to keep the training sessions interesting and encouraging you when you do well. This support is much easier to give where the student is personally motivated also. Where the students are less motivated, the teacher is less likely to give extra information and classes as in many ways the teacher's interest in teaching the students is dependent on their interest in learning. If there is no interest, why should the teacher bother? If you want interesting lessons where you can get the maximum benefit you must understand that your interest is one of the keys to this. If you turn up late, don't have the right equipment, show little interest, distract other students, or similar things, the teacher will notice. This will affect what sort of classes you will get, especially in the future.

Your success in fencing is up to you. You do the work. You learn the skills. You fight the bouts. You put the skills into practice. There is only so much that the teacher can do. So, what happens if the teacher is unavailable for a training session? Do you go home? Do you find something else to do? Or do you go out an practice the skills that you have already learnt with other students in order to improve them? This is a choice and displays personal motivation, or a lack of it. The teacher should not have to be there for you to do drills in things that you have already learnt. Getting other students out on the field and practicing skills with them demonstrates interest and motivation on your part and will be noticed by the teacher. You need to consider what you are doing in order to further your fencing career.

In the end, success in fencing requires personal motivation. Your teacher can teach you the skills and give you the information, but it is you who puts them into practice. You need to be willing to put in the effort if you want to get anywhere with any form of fencing. Drills can be boring, but in the end the benefits will show. Go out seek information, seek new skills, improve the ones you already have, but remember in the end it is all up to you.



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:


  1. Interesting post, Henry. But I keep thinking that motivation isn't just internal. Those things build up the core of hardcore fencers, but hardcore fencers tend to be those crazy guys like us who love fencing to bits from the get go and can't ever get enough. Your post kind of preaches to the choir; those of us who are hardcore fencers already are doing these things. But, those who aren't feel they aren't 'good' enough.

    To say to a student 'you should practice at home and do research otherwise you aren't motivated enough' might be a good challenge for some students, but might drive others away. Its almost a feeling of 'if you aren't motivated enough, you aren't welcome.', which I know not to be the truth at all for your school.

    Imagine walking into a martial arts academy after a few weeks and the black belts come up to you and say 'Right, this week we are doing some serious high level, painful stuff. You in or out?' You don't want to say in because you know you can't do it for whatever reason, and you don't want to say out because you then are refusing that group.

    I would just like to say that motivation comes from multiple sources, not just the trainer or personal motivations of the student. Motivation comes from a welcoming community and a willingness to embrace new members. It comes from embracing members who only do a little and embracing those who only do a lot, and each to its own rewards.

    What you say is true; for those who do research and practice, their reward is better training and hence better skill. But those who do come and talk instead of practice are motivated to a different end. Talking and having a bit of fun are what they are motivated to do; saying 'that is not the way' doesn't help these people to change their motivations to be hardcore fencers.

    Instead, perhaps a more viable way to motivate these people would be to talk to them and try to change their motivations to become hardcore fencers. Build up their competitive spirit, so they will need to practice to win.

    - Marcus de la Mancha

  2. You have made some good points here but what I am talking about is the motivation that drives us to succeed. This must be primarily internal. If a person really wants to succeed *in fencing* and have a long *fencing career* then they have to get out there and practice, learn, research and work toward their goal. If they don't they simply don't get there.

    Now, encouragement can be provided by an external source but it is the person's decision about what they want to do, or not. All a teacher can do is hold out their hand to the student and offer them something, the student has to accept it and embrace it. If they don't that is their choice but they have to wear the consequences. Complaining after the tournament that you got whipped because you didn't train enough just doesn't cut it.

    Being that this is a public forum, I will not be discussing the goings on of the school in my comments or the blog, there is another place for that. This blog is not just aimed at my students. The things that I have said apply the fencers everywhere no matter what sort of fencing they are doing. At some point in time everyone needs to make a choice about what they want to do with their fencing career, and it is better done sooner rather than later.



  3. u are correct motivation is the primary factor, be it motivation to participate or truely dominate in the field... i myself have found myself slipping in this so much over the last few months... not from lack of attention from our teachers, but purely internal.. something was said to me recently by a wise personage.. he gave the example of a single fencer he knows, who turns up week after week and FENCES, fences till his arms truely do drop off... 3 times a week and then again on weekends. if others dont join in this he is fine, he either grabs anyone he can or drills or discusses learning and techniques. this isnt a drive set by those around him or a lack from them, it is purely internal. maybe many of us should step back and think, i am not in this for the crowd, but for myself and in doing so prehaps others might be led by his example (meaning me too as i have been getting very slack of late and thinking fencing wasnt as fun as it used to be, but it is, i was just not MOTIVATED) just my ramblings. and uneducated opinions.

  4. Exactly one of the things that I have been trying to get at with this blog. It is the individual that matters. If you want more training you need to go out and seek it. It does not matter what your school/group/bunch of friends want to do, it is all about what you want to do and how motivated you are to do it. In the end it is not about what other people do, it is about what you do. Your training makes you improve, not everyone else's. So in essence you need to be motivated enough to do things and this really only comes from you, others can help but it won't do anything if there isn't somewhere for the motivation to start from.




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