domingo, 25 de outubro de 2015

NEW: Coaching combat tactics (Volume 1) - Counter attack selection

This book looks to simplify the training of all fencing arts. 

This is sought by sharing concepts, games & drills that easily convey how to counter according to: 
  1. Number of opponents 
  2. Traits of weapons: 
    • Bladed /blunt 
    • With and without handguard 
    • Single or double handed 
  3. Having greater, lesser or the same reach 
  4. Type of parry performed
  5. Quality of footwork

Available through Amazon 
(Paperback & kindle) 

quinta-feira, 16 de julho de 2015


Though Jogo do Pau down to Earth mentality of "seeing to believe" makes sense, it needs to be taken with a grain of salt ... otherwise it would ultimately mean "seeing to have knowledge" (as in an understanding of things). 

First, if the latter were true, blind people would be incapable of accessing any kind of knowledge, which is certainly not true.

Secondly, our eyes are incapable of seeing everything. There is, for example, a wealth of information such as psychology's concepts of personality, ego, self-esteem, and so forth, that most people perceive to be clear as water to them without, however, having ever seen them. 

Regarding the teaching of motor skills, including those that make up martial arts, our eyes grant us access to the images of movements being performed by others. When these others are top level performers, we naturally go about focusing our teaching around that which is most objective:

The visual imagery of movement being performed.

The performance of a strike, as seen by an external observer

As a result, we teach by demonstrating a given skill, so that students see it being performed and, hence, are capable of adding it to their own repertoire of motor skills. However, this doesn't always work out so well, which immediately brings a bit of doubt into this teaching approach.

Furthermore, upon questioning the above mentioned high level performers about their skills, we come to realize that, in many cases, they are either incapable of describing how they perform (move) or their descriptions differ from that which actually takes place. 

Consequently, and despite the obvious usefulness of our eyes in many different circumstances, what if understanding the performance of motor skills requires a different kind of analysis? 

Case in point, understanding the mental procedures that go on inside performers' heads, and that lead to those wonderful performances we wish to mimic: 

Humans' very own black box!   

Lucky for us that, for several decades now, many researchers of motor control & performance have looked into this. Making a long story short, they came up with a new model known as the ecological perspective of human movement ... and no, it doesn't have anything to do with saving the planet, though that is also an important issue. 

Adapting the parry to fit the strike,
plus footwork to fit the location / countering options
Simply put, this alternative model presents motor skills, not as something we copy from others, but as something that results from performers' ability to adapt to different types of stimuli (physical traits of the stimulus, its speed, etc) using their own personal movement tools (body size, physical abilities, previous skills).

Personally, given that I love teaching, I even find this teaching approach more interesting to analyse, plan and implement.

Nevertheless, teaching is about students achieving their performance goals and, the people whom I've had the pleasure of serving over the years using this ecologic teaching approach come back to me with very positive feedback. 

My two cent then, give it a try ... you'll enjoy it and your students will love it!  

segunda-feira, 13 de julho de 2015


To this day I've mostly seen instructors focusing their teaching around: 

  1. Demonstrating a skill, 
  2. Offering a description of it, 
... and then expecting (hoping) that trainees just perform it.

When confronted with trainees who fail to "simply" perform the skill in question, this teaching approach usually gets instructors to develop the belief that successful learning requires natural talent and, ultimately:

Their method is not to blame for trainees' failures.

Furthermore, instructors also tend to (conveniently) consider that this premise is validated by the trainees who manage to successfully perform the instructor's demonstration / explanation ... even if it is a low percentage of students,  such as one in ten.

There are, however, two situations that I absolutely love that challenge this (instructors' ego protective) natural talent excuse:

  1. Teaching kids,
  2. Teaching people with a disability.

Of course that instructors can always (and very easily) come up with a wealth of excuses so as avoid dealing with such (ego threatening) teaching scenarios. Nevertheless, embracing such challenges gets instructors to face the following scenario: 

Yes, the trainee is not naturally talented ... deal with it!

I love teaching, period ... but these scenarios are the best! 

Here you have to take ownership of the results that your teaching brings about, which forces you to: 

  • Go that extra mile in figuring out what is holding back the trainee, 
  • Stop relying on theoretical explanations of skills,
  • Step outside the box regarding the creation of drills.

It's an amazing process but, as if this wasn't enough by itself, its successful completion ends up giving me additional insight & teaching strategies for dealing with the more typical normal adult trainee ... remember? The one we initially decided to cast aside under the assumption that we were dealing with a lost cause. 

In summary, remember that one thing is to know the contents that make up your art (what to teach), and another completely different beast is to be a proficient teacher of it (how to teach). Regarding the latter, take full ownership of the results and don't accept failure. Bottom line, give your students the same relentless dedication & creativity that you also like to receive.