SKBC 2017 has come and gone. I had a great experience and got in a ton of fighting and teaching time. The FWACK committee should get bonus points for securing us a gym to fight in on Friday when it rained all day. That’s a level of dedication you won’t find anywhere else.
I taught Women’s Combat in the first time slot. The class was significantly revamped from last year. I truncated some of the information dump and tried to just hit highlights, critical misconceptions, and essential information. I added a number of drills as well. The class continues to evolve, and I think next year’s class will be another major evolution. One persistent problem is that many people still think women need to be taught *female* body mechanics, rather than just body mechanics, and other similar myths. I’ve toyed with trying to make two classes, one that is more social/psychological differences, and one that is the abbreviated footwork/body-mechanics/closing/shots class that some women seem to be looking for. I think there is still room for improvement in how I teach this class. Anna was my ever-tolerant co-instructor for this class. Poor Anna.
My second slot was free, so I sat in on Raven’s body mechanics and made his life harder. Poor Adam.
My third slot was Body Mechanics. It is different from what Clalibus used to teach, since we’ve got different backgrounds and viewpoints. We looked at stance and grip, then moved on to looking at the correct mechanics of blocking (I’m amazed how many people do it wrong). Then we looked at power generation and shot mechanics. We ended with proper footwork and movement. Anatole was a great co-instructor. He had some great insights and alternate ways of explaining things, and he’s roguishly handsome.
Saturday I led off with Lefty Combat Theory. I had a few right-handed folks in it, which was really handy. I hope they learned how to kill tons of lefties. That class seemed to go pretty well, and we were able to hit not just practical things like specific shots, but delve into some of the theory about why we do them and how they differ for a lefty vs. a righty. Drakknar, as a lefty-turned-righty, was a great assistant. He was also amazingly imperturbable about being hit over and over and over and over.
My last class was the theory of footwork and movement class. Thor was my co-instructor, which was awesome, since he used to be the lead instructor for the class. He had a ton of great information to add to the course. My class got to do a lot of drills and cardio, and hopefully learned some things to improve their range control.
I also really enjoyed the one-on-one time Saturday. I had six people with cards, and we worked on a wide variety of things; from dark-sides to switching stances in florentine to two-handed greatsword work.
One of the biggest things I always struggle with is how to maximize people’s takeaways from SKBC. It’s two long and intense days, but it is also only two long and intense days. People needs weeks and months to internalize a lot of those lessons. I’ve found three things that help maximize those takeaways.
- Communicate Theory. That gives the student the tools to decide what they should be doing, and a concept is often easier to remember or write down. This also gives the student the tools to take the next step on their own and to advance the state of the art in fighting.
- Teach Drills. Ideally, every concept should come with a corresponding drill. This drill should both practice the concept taught, but it should come with some “self-check” markers to indicate whether it is being done correctly. For example, if you’re doing a non-cross step footwork drill and your feet touch or your head is moving up and down instead of moving on a flat plane, you made a mistake.
- Provide Documentation. People aren’t going to remember everything you tell them. Writeups of drills help people remember drills. Write Ups, with proper citations, of any facts you promulgate, gives people a reference to check their information with, or just to read later as a general refresher. If you’re lucky, you can just cite a specific work, such as Tony Dicicco and Colleen Hacker’s “Catch Them Being Good.”
I didn’t manage a perfect sweep for my classes in those areas. I’ve written up most of the drills I mention on fightocracy.com, and I’ve documented and cited my facts for the Women’s Combat class, but there’s still more I can do for next year.