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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.
 

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Beginning to Teach

Greetings,

Benginning to teach can be one of the scariest endeavours a fencer can put themselves through. Just like all other aspects of fencing it is a skill which needs to be learnt. The decision to teach really needs to be a voluntary one and not something which is forced on the fencer. There has been a great deal said about teaching and the process of teaching, some of this will be of use to the beginner teacher, but there are some things which have not been said.

Preach What You Practice
The expression "practice what you preach" is most useful for correcting your own techniques, but there is also a situation where the reverse of the process is actually more useful for the fencer who is beginning to teach. The skills which the fencer uses in bouting are the ones which they will know the best. They understand these particular techniques and subconsciously understand why they work. This is where the teaching process should start from, hence "preach what you practice".

The skills which you have honed over your time fencing are those which you will know the best. It is of little use attempting to teach things that you do not know so the best thing is to start with those things that you do know. For example, a fencer who does not use a great deal of blade engagement techniques should not be attempting to teach these, more he should be looking at how he manages and teaching this, possibly teaching absence of the blade or something similar. This is the sort of thing that you should be looking at when you begin to teach.

The Basics
Each fencer will have been taught the basics at some point in time. This may have come from a more qualified teacher, or it may have actually come from another fencer. The basics are those lessons which we have drilled the most in our fencing careers. Footwork and the simple elements of defence and attack are perfect examples of the basics. This is a great place for the beginning teacher to start teaching.

The basics should keep your prospective students occupied for some period of time. These particular formative lessons are some of the most important lessons a fencer learns. If there is something missing from these particular lessons then there is the good chance that something will go amiss in the future of the fencer. The simple fact that these lessons should also be very familiar will help with any concerns about confidence with regard to teaching the lessons.

Research
Do reasearch. Fill in those gaps in your fencing knowledge which you know you have. Begin to research how some lessons are put together and also information about the skills being learnt. This will help a great deal in the teaching process. The more that you learn, the more you will be able to impart. The more you understand, the better able you will be able to teach your students. Research is something which all teachers should do.

You should even consider examining where your teacher got their information from in order to understand it better too. Some teachers will have a "tried and true" method of teaching which has worked for them for many years. This does not mean it is the only way to teach. Find a set of skills and lessons which are more comfortable for you and the way that you teach. You have to be comfortable teaching them.

Conclusion
Teaching can be one of the most fulfilling experiences that a fencer can have, or it can be one of the most harrowing. In most situations it is the level of preparation that the teacher has had that will determine the result of the lesson. Think about what you are going to teach, see what the vital elements are, and stick to them.

Experienced teachers should be explaining why the teach the things that they do and how they do it. In this way the information can be passed along. If you are interested in teaching, talk to your teacher if you have one and discuss it. Get together and consider some lesson plans. Most of all when you begin to teach be prepared to learn, teaching is the greatest learning experience. You learn about fencing and you also learn about yourself.

Cheers,

Henry.