I had the distinct pleasure of taking part in Academie Duello's first Instructor Intensive last week from October 26-30. In brief, it was fantastic, and I can't recommend it strongly enough. Seriously, it gave me material for my own fencing, and a great deal to think about as an instructor.
Where to begin, though? Perhaps with the structure.
The days started at 08:00 with warm up and grappling for 30 minutes, and rapier for three (yes, holy shit, three (3)) hours. A half hour break comes at 11:30, and then class resumes at noon with another half hour of grappling, and an afternoon of longsword training for another three hours. Following yet another half hour break, there was a two hour methodology section where we learned about the nuts and bolts aspects of teaching, training, philosophy, and knowledge retention.
It was an infinitely wonderful experience for me, because I've spent this year away from training. In large part, due to my job as a security professional. Ten hours a day is a holy-mother-of-god lot of training, but it has been immensely useful for me.
First, for my own training, it gave me a deep and thourough examination of all of my basics. It's not enough to know the shape of the guard, but also it's utility and context. What are the core movements? Why are you making them? That shape is wrong, here's not only the specific fix, but how to make it stick, and how to recognise it. Want a good reason to do the thing beyond "the Maestro said so"? Here's several corroborating sources from a variety of manuscripts, all combining to form a single cohesive set of martial principles. Got it?
Holy cats, I get it now.
I have a much deeper understanding of my core mechanics now. My findings were too big, and I lost my gainings all the time. I didn't just see my mistake, I finally had a full contextual understanding of why it was wrong. Now, I find my opponent's weapon a palmo down the blade (as Capofero advocates) and gain at the point of my crossing (as Fabris advocates) and HEY IT ALL WORKS RELIABLY AND WELL NOW. That was probably my biggest fencing lightbulb for the week, but rest assured, there are many others.
I don't want to give away any of the knowledge without Devon's express permission, so I'll just have to say that the methodology section was singularly enlightening for how I plan to structure my lessons.
The instruction from the teachers is top notch, Devon and Clint deliver their content cleanly, effectively, and most importantly, animatedly at all times. Their engagement with the material and the students is superb, and I recommend the course to anyone that's looking to deepen their understanding of fencing at all of it's levels.
I'm inspired as hell, and I'm just now realising how desperately hungry I am to get back to my training. It's been a long year, and now the story can pick back up again.
Thanks for reading, and stick em with the pointy end.