Guy's Blog

Guy frequently keeps this blog updated with thoughts, challenges, interviews and more!

Tag: courses

Back in the bad old days I used to have to choose between swinging swords and working. Every time I picked up a sword, my wrists would swell up and my hands would be useless. It was hell.

Then I met a kung-fu instructor, Num, who in 20 agonising minutes fixed my wrists. And in the next 20 minutes, showed me how to keep them fixed.

Since then I have taught this system to hundreds of my students, and successfully treated many of them for tendonitis problems that were getting in the way of their training. The biggest cause of the problem is computer use. It promotes poor posture, and it forces the small muscles that control your hands to work at low intensity for hours at a time. No wonder things swell up and stop working.

I have had videos of forearm exercises and massage techniques up online for years now, but most people find a properly structured course easier to follow so I have shot and edited one, and uploaded it to the Swordschool Online teachable platform, here.

This course is entirely free; I view this kind of essential maintenance training as part of your birthright as a human being. Please share this with whoever you think might benefit from it.

I have just created a syllabus for creating a syllabus. You read that right. The end product of my Recreate Historical Swordsmanship from Historical Sources course is a complete syllabus for the style of swordsmanship that you are researching. You can see the spiffy video intro here:

https://youtu.be/zYMBassGxJ8

I created this course because many people have difficulty approaching the academic side of HEMA; the original sources can seem daunting, and figuring out how to approach them and develop a live training system from their pages is a major challenge for anyone. The course provides the assistance that beginner researchers need to help them get  a working syllabus out of a fencing manual.

I have been creating syllabi for a long time; the seed of the current Swordschool syllabus was planted in a seminar I taught in Turku in 2001. I followed my instinct and in the course of the day, came up with five core drills. The only one of them that has survived almost intact is the current “Second Drill”. I won’t embarrass myself by describing the rest. They were state of the art in 2001, but in those days historical swordsmanship was developing faster than computer technology. We have come a long way.

While I have created many syllabi, I have never taught syllabus creation as a specific skill before so this has been mind-meltingly hard to pin down. I cracked it when I realised that I needed to define the end-point first, and then create the structure that would lead students to it. This part of the course is in three sections: Create the Cornerstone, Build the Foundation, and Construct the Syllabus. You begin by reducing the material to one key drill, then expand that to a small set of easily memorised drills, then use them as a framework for building the rest of the system. The three sections of the course should have been written in reverse order. As it happens, I began with the first section “Create the Cornerstone”. It covers how drills should be designed, what they are for, and how to figure out which elements of your system should be included in the most foundational drill in your system. But the next stage “Build the Foundation” had me stumped for a long time. I know how to do it, I’ve done it many times. But I couldn’t figure out how to explain it. Then it came to me: start with the end. So I wrote up how to create an entire syllabus (in “Construct your Syllabus”), and then worked back from there to explain how to create the foundation of that syllabus.

The course also covers choosing a source to work from, analysing its context, analysing the source, developing a basic interpretation, fencing theory, and a ton of other material.

I know some novelists who always start with the last scene of the novel, so they know where the book is going. Others who start from the first scene, and have no idea where they’re going, and yet others who plan the whole book out scene by scene and don’t write a line until they have the whole structure. I think that the students on this course will probably have the same mix of personalities as my writer friends— it strikes me as a universal human phenomenon. Clearly, when it comes to creating this course, I’m a start at the beginning, switch to the end, and then fill in the middle sort of person! I also used a completely new (to me) technique: I shot a first draft of the video, sent it off for transcription, then edited the transcription into a script for the video that ended up being published. It seems to work by  engaging parts of my mind I'd had trouble bringing to bear on the problem.

You can see the course curriculum here (scroll down); a lot of it is free to access, so take a look!

 

“If you haven’t got your health, you haven’t got anything!”

Truer words were never spoken, certainly not by Count Rugen anyway.*

Way back in the dawn of time when I began training martial arts, I was enraptured by the idea of martial arts training being a balance between breaking people and fixing them, by the notion of the martial artist as a healer as well as a warrior. This is one of the reasons I was drawn to T’ai Chi; it is usually associated with healthy practice. And it’s why I was so taken by Tai Shin Mun kung fu (you can read more about that here). I literally owe my career to the not-so-tender ministrations of their instructor, Num, who fixed my wrists for me back in 2000.

This is the background behind my obsession with mechanics and correct movement. Not so much for martial efficiency, though it certainly does that, but more because I want to be able to train until I die (sometime in my early 100s). I am blessed with a crap skeleton, which creaks and breaks and sends lances of agony up my spine if I fail to keep up my practice, or if I practice just a little bit wrong. Blessed because it has forced me to learn absolutely correct movement, which has in turn allowed me to share that knowledge with my students, freeing many of them from long-term pain, and undoing, or at least halting, the damage caused by poor mechanics.

I cannot abide the idea of anyone who needs this knowledge not having free access to it, certainly not for such a poor reason as lack of funds, so I have extracted the essentials from my footwork course, shot some extra footage, and put together a short ‘keep my knees working forever’ course. The course is 100% free and without strings attached. I want you to be healthy. Go, be healthy.

http://swordschool.teachable.com/p/free-course-knee-maintenance

I am also planning a weapons-handling course, which will include forearm conditioning and maintenance. I’ll release the essential health component of that course free too, so you can keep your arms working properly despite the depredations of computers and couches.

It was my birthday yesterday, and I intended to launch this then (I approve of the Hobbit custom of giving presents on your birthday), but I was sadly too busy opening presents, drinking wine, and generally having fun, so it's an early Christmas present instead.

*if you don't know who Count Rugen is, you very badly need to drop what you're doing and watch the Princess Bride. See here:

Speaking as a teacher, there is nothing more satisfying than finding out that your students have used your material to materially improve their lives in some way, be that as simple as getting better at swordsmanship, or as complex as re-evaluating the entire course of their life. I believe in giving credit where it’s due, and this post is my way of letting someone who has influenced and helped me know about it.

One of the key habits that has lead to my producing so much stuff is that when I hear a good idea, I tend to act on it immediately. Another key habit is I actively look for good ideas to act on, and in the last few years, one of the most rewarding sources of these ideas has been the inestimable Joanna Penn, thriller writer and self-publishing guru. It started when I bought her book How to Market a Book which does exactly what it says on the tin. From the book, I arrived at her podcast, one of half a dozen I listen to regularly. This is an amazing resource for any self-publishing writer, and indeed writers of any kind. There’s something there for everyone. But to the specifics:

By following her advice in How to Market a Book about making friends with influential people, I actually ended up on her podcast talking about swords! This was a nerve-wracking experience for me, being well outside my comfort zone, but has lead to several other opportunities to get my name and work in front of a wider audience. Also, the rest of the advice in that book has been really useful in increasing my book sales directly.

Thanks to the January episode with Ankur Nagpal, of teachable.com, I got the idea to create online courses. I have three up and running now, and more in the pipeline.

Last year I got the idea to write a series of non-fiction shorts, which became The Swordsman's Quick Guide, which is now at 7 episodes and counting. I can’t find the podcast episode that planted that seed, but it was definitely one of Joanna’s.

Thanks to several episodes about or mentioning virtual assistants, I’ve hired one myself, Kate Tilton, who is bringing order to my virtual galaxy.

Thanks to a webinar she did with Nick Stephenson, I have grown my mailing list from about 1200 to over 6000. Specific tactics included making volume one of The Swordsman's Quick Guide free, and including an ad in it for volume 2, also free if you sign up. That by itself added 500 people in a month. Also thanks to Nick, I’ve switched from Mailchimp to Convertkit, and am actually making use of my mailing list.

So if you have any aspirations to write for a living, or you just want a lot of good ideas in one convenient place, go buy all her non-fiction stuff, and go listen to all 220+ episodes of her podcast. That should keep you busy!

And if you’ve enjoyed any of the things I’ve done thanks to Joanna putting the idea in my head, give credit where it’s due!

 

SQG7 Breathing Cover

Everybody breathes, but some do it better than others. Breathing training is the foundation of my martial practice, and as with everything else I do, I'm happy to teach it to you. The topic for the latest instalment of The Swordsman's Quick Guide  was chosen by my student Cecilia Äijälä, and she picked Breathing Training. I was delighted when she did so, because it forced me to get on and write up my training methods.

This book comes in three packages:

1.The Book, with Video

This package includes:

  • the book in epub, pdf and kindle format with links to the videos,
  • plus a separate download of all the video clips to teach you the exercises,
  • plus an embedded epub with the video clips built in.
  • It also includes a £10 discount voucher for the course.


I want this book

2.The Book with Audio and Video

This package includes:

  • the book in epub, pdf and kindle format with links to the videos,
  • plus a separate download of all the video clips to teach you the exercises,
  • plus an embedded epub with the video clips built in,
  • plus the audiobook,
  • plus mp3 recordings of the instructions for the individual exercises,
  • plus two bonus exercises (video).
  • It also includes a £25 discount voucher for the course.


I want this one!

3. The Breathing Course

The course is a carefully designed progression of exercises, spread out over six weeks (you can pace it as you wish, and do it faster or slower). Each week begins with a lesson, in which you will learn the exercises for the week. The week then continues with a shorter practice session, which you repeat ideally every day for the next six days. In the final week, you will learn how to create 5 minute, ten minute, and twenty minute practice routines, so that you will always be able to find time to do some practice.

The course material  includes everything in the other two packages, so all of the book, audio, and video files. The course is available now, but the lesson and practice routine videos are not completed yet. Week one is ready, and all of the book with all of its audio and video material too. Weeks 2-4 have been shot, and I'm editing them right now. The rest of the course material will be uploaded by October 1st.

http://swordschool.teachable.com/courses/breathing-basics

I released this to my email list yesterday (they get just about everything first!) with a healthy 50% discount. If you would like the same treatment, you can sign up to my list below, and I'll send you the same discount links. These links expire on Friday 9th September, so if you're interested, now's your best chance to save a packet.

 

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