Applied Combatives in Chicago and Beyond!

This past weekend I taught a 2 day seminar in Chicago on Applied Combatives for the Chicago Swordplay Guild (CSG) at their home Forteza Fitness. I was pleased as always with an excellent group of students with a passion for the art, insightful questions, and a superbly welcoming nature.
The seminar was an extended version of the workshop I delivered at Armizare Academy last year on bringing technique from drills into application in combat as explored through Fiore’s 4 governing ‘animals’: The Elephant (Fortitude), the Lynx (Perception), the Tiger (Speed), and the Lion (Audacity). There were two main differences in this delivery:
1. It was four times as long (12 hours as opposed to 3) and
2. I opened it up to any weapon that students wanted to bring from the WMA arsenal.
The CSG students did not disappoint; we had rapier, spear, dagger, longsword, and sword and buckler and all were often times inter-mixed. This was a lot of fun to teach, and it emphasized the universality of so many technical and combative principles. In future I will definitely keep encouraging this openness.
The length of the workshop was also a real boon for me as an instructor. Though we did not get through all of my potential material (I never do!) the pace allowed everyone to really explore and work on each exercise and gave me the opportunity to coach the group and individuals in a meaningful way.
One thing really nice about going to a well run school where they practice essentiality the same art as your own, is that you can really get into the territory of nuance. I remarked in the recap at the end of day 1 that often in a workshop there will be some occasion where I share some small aspect of body mechanics, or mindset, or technique that I think is truly the magic of that workshop and usually that thing — that I’m particularly enamoured with — is too subtle for the students or too far from the most apparent lessons of the workshop to be really seen for what it is. That was not the case here. On day 1 we worked on several exercises where the focus was on bringing ‘tone’ or ‘engagement’ to your muscles; In your legs and feet as you connect with the floor, in your arms and hands where you connect with your weapon, and in every contact point with your opponent. That you need to have engagement in your body in order to truly be sensitive but if you have too much (tense) or too little (floppy) you lose all feeling and responsiveness. Finding this subtle balance, and being able to apply it, is a powerful idea in martial art yet doesn’t often look sexy enough to catch the eye of most workshop attendees who are still looking for cool tricks and techniques, or are still working on a more mechanical level of foundational learning. So it was a rare pleasure, for a mechanics geek like me, when several students brought up this small element as one of the epiphanies they discovered in the workshop.
Overall everyone at all levels of experience asked insightful questions, had interesting observations, and practiced every exercise given thoroughly and thoughtfully. That speaks well of these students and of Greg Mele and all the folks who go into making the instructor team of the CSG and Forteza. Bravo!
I have posted some videos relevant to what I delivered at the seminar on Duello.TV in the workshop review area. I hope these will serve as a memory aid for attendees of the seminar and give those who weren’t able to make it a bit of a peak into what we covered.
The workshop has also inspired me to create a new series of videos in our subscriber area called “Applied Combatives”. I will be posting a new lesson every week that follows the format of this seminar and others I have delivered like it. In this way I can more thoroughly teach each principle and exercise in a way I think will be accessible to past and future students. You can also follow our training routine lesson by lesson and work on building your bridge between exercise and application in a structured fashion.
If you have any questions or comments about the material please post them in the comments.

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