Wednesday, May 21, 2014

[Quote] General Advice Concerning Pedagogy

From Capt. Settimo Del Frate's 1872 textbook for Maestro Giuseppe Radaelli's school, translated by Christopher A. Holzman and available in full as "The Art of the Duelling Sabre," published by SKA Swordplay Books.

a) The better the student learns to balance the weight of his body in its various movements; the more he cultivates suppleness in his body; the stronger his sword arm is, the more smoothly and easily he will be able to progress in the study of fencing. It is therefore necessary to spend as much time in the gym as fencing. The two practices should alternate daily with a well-planned progression, without ever abusing the student's stamina.

b) Fencing must be taught individually; however, multiple students can simultaneously carry out the practice of basic movements that have already been taught individually.

c) In giving instruction, the Maestro must never be too verbose or philosophical. Every explanation must be clear, concise, and followed by the practical execution of the movement just explained. In addition, explanations must give the student the best mental picture of the action so that he can more easily imitate it.

d) At all times, the Maestro must carefully follow the progression of instruction and strive to adapt it in detail to students of different mental and physical attitudes.

e) The Maestro's energy and passion for teaching transfers to students; likewise, an instructor's lack of enthusiasm and apathy will engender indolence and discontent in the students. Any Maestro who does not thoroughly understand and bolster the mental and physical energy of fencing in his teaching will always be ineffective.

f) The movements of the student's blade are always a function of the Maestro's method of creating them. As a result, the line of the sword more or less proper and strong, the attack longer or shorter, and more or less precise and fast. The parries will be more or less delayed, and the feint more or less energetic. The better or worse the explanation of the movements of the body, and the manner of correction employed by the Maestro, the better or worse the student's execution can be.

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