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On training children. Ask the Sword Guy, episode 7

I have had a few questions regarding training children coming in, such as this one:

Here’s a question- there are a lot of potentially unscrupulous martial arts clubs out there who’ll give a 5-year-old a black belt if their parents cough up enough cash, but most historical fencing clubs I’ve come across have a lower age limit of 18, so if insurance wasn’t an issue, what is the youngest age of student you’d consider starting to teach historical fencing? As a follow-up, do you have any suggestions for sword-related activities for younger children beyond swinging sticks around with gay abandon?

Best wishes,


And this one:

I should perhaps provide some back ground to my questions as it might help clarify what I am asking. I've been practicing sword work (entirely casually) for almost 20 years but am no way near an expert. At the moment, I'm a science teacher at a small school in the UK.

My colleagues and I thought that some VERY basic sword work (using sticks with no contact etc..) might be a fun and interesting way to teach a number of science subjects to some of our 13-14 year old students. I've been able to bring in aspects of mechanical physics (balance, centre of gravity, levers, force and so on), biology (muscles, fatigue, reaction times.. ) and even some more general scientific investigations such as building and testing the affects of mock impacts using wood and clay as our human analogue. I've even managed to cover a few nods to history and sociology… Throughout, we've also tried to teach spacial and (very importantly) social awareness so the students have a respect for the class environment, their role within it and how their actions impact on others. I should clarify as well that we don't teach GCSEs at this school so our hands are fortunately not tied to prescriptive teaching methods.

SO.. my first question is this:

If you were teaching VERY BASIC swordsmanship to teenagers in a school, what sort of wider skills and disciplines do you think they could (or should be able to) reasonably write on their C.V.s as a result of the training? And how would you go about introducing these things? (take as long as you need to get the training done but assume, while they are engaged with the training as it takes place that this is not something they intend to pursue in the long run).

I have answered them to the best of my ability here:

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I'm sure you have an opinion: do share!

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