Troublesome Student - The Winner, The Solver, The Heretic

Discuss other HEMA-related topics.
Andrea Bonaposta
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Joined: Fri Jun 17, 2016 7:02 am

Re: Troublesome Student - The Winner

Postby Andrea Bonaposta » Fri Jun 17, 2016 9:21 am

Richard Marsden wrote:Jay!

I often hear this issue come up with those teaching dagger/knife/hand-to-hand/wrestling.

I am sorry to revive an old post, but maybe I can add something to this statement.

First I think an introduction is needed, because it is my first post on the forum. I am training HEMA from a month now. So I am really a newbie at it and I do not dare at all to comment on the armed part of it. However, I have 9 years of past experience in Shaolin and Sanda, some experience in MMA and currently it is almost two years that I am training Brazilian Jiujitsu and Grappling (I am almost a blue belt). So I hope I can share a couple of useful observation on the hand to hand and wrestling part of HEMA.

I have a few thoughts on the hand to hand and knife defense part of HEMA.

Knife defense is a highly debated and controversial issue also within the eastern martial arts and self defense scenes. In this case, presenting it as a set of skill's drills, instead of a working self defense technique, can help in avoid controversy and poor figures for the instructor when some folk decides eventually to slightly variate the stab trajectory or to go with a more IRL approach (you can watch some videos of actual stabbings on youtube to get what this mean). OR, you should also train with uncooperative partners, allowing them to stab how they want and without a pause between an attack and the other. If an instructor act like this, I believe there will be less instances where someone will take him as a stage magician, and as such will try to debunk his tricks.

In regards to the hand to hand part, I can mostly think of one big issue, which as well resembles the struggle that is still going on in the wider martial art community between "traditionalists" and some self defense guys on the one side, and people mostly from combat sports (with Judo, BJJ and Wrestling included here) on the other side. The problem here is that you often have some instructor that clearly was never involved in a street brawl, and never fight in a ring, claiming that those are the most viable and effective techniques in a real dangerous situation, and often ranting against combat sports techniques. If someone with a background in combat sports, or someone that has experienced street brawls (being him a security enforcer or a, hopefully redeemed, "thug") shows at class and hear and see something like that, there are high probabilities that he will assume a mindset of "I'll teach him a lesson". I'm totally against this kind of behaviour, if you go learn from someone you must respect him, and if you don't like what he teach you should simply no more going, this is my opinion. But unfortunately this is not always the case. I believe that a way to avoid this situation is not to claim that these are the best self defenses technique, and to avoid mocking other disciplines. Simply state that you are reviving and training in the techniques that are written in the manuals. With this attitude, you will avoid lot of problems, and poor figures in front of the class, with combat sports and "street" people.

Now, the ringen/abrazare part. Here I think I have some sound observations.

I have noticed that actually very few HEMA groups train regularly in wrestling. For what I saw, the majority train it in a very inconstant manner. Many videos of ringen/abrazare are full of abomination and mistakes. These mistakes, I believe, are not because the techniques in the manuals are inconsistent, but because many of the instructors lack the experience to teach it. For instance, consider that it is almost two years that I train BJJ for an average of 6 to 7 hours a week, and I'm still a beginner. How can someone that trains ringen/abrazare for, let's say, 3 hours a month, and has no competition experience, being ready to teach it to someone else? And how can he avoid to be wrecked from the eventual Judo/BJJ/Wrestling guy that shows at class? Or, worst case scenario, avoid to be wrecked by a not-trained guy that is bigger or physically stronger? Beside the poor figure issue, when it comes to wrestling these instructors are also teaching wrong applications to their students. And this is not really debatable, while the issues I have highlighted in the hand to hand part are. Here the problem is not really about attitude or presentation, but about technical preparation. I mean, if you want to teach ringen/abrazare in your HEMA classes, I believe there are only two possible solutions: one is that the instructor should cross-trains also Judo/BJJ/Wrestling. In this way, you can just teach ringen/abrazare 3 hours a month, but at least you have a much better understanding of it and you will hopefully avoid to teach wrong techniques to your students. Indeed, if you look at the Swordfish 2015 wrestling finals, it is evident that almost all those guys cross-train. The second option is that you devote half of your classes to ringen/abrazare, including a substantial amount of free rolling. I understand that this subtract a lot from the armed training, but if you really want to teach ringen, and you do not want to cross-train, I fear it is the only viable option. If someone can't, or wont, do like that, I believe it is a better choice if he avoids to teach ringen at all.

Last but not least, it is normal and to be expected that problems often comes up with the ones teaching wrestling. While for the hand to hand and knife parts this has mostly to do with the winner/solver/heretic mindsets, I dare to say that in wrestling the source of the problem is different. People that train BJJ, Judo or Wrestling are used to practice a lot of free rolling/sparring. As such, they are used to really get the grasp of, and to test, the techniques (and the instructor) on the field. This is why I believe that when it comes to ringen, it is more often about an effective lack of preparation of the instructor than about a toxic attitude of the student.

I apologize for the length of the post, and for my bad English. I also hope that this post will be taken as an attempt to do constructive critique more than an aggression. It is just a month that I train HEMA, but I'm becoming addicted to it to the same degree I'm addicted to BJJ. This is why I really hope HEMA will grow more and more, and why I critique the unarmed part, which I think really need to improve.

Dragos Madalin
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Joined: Mon Jun 06, 2016 4:21 pm

Re: Troublesome Student - The Winner, The Solver, The Heretic

Postby Dragos Madalin » Fri Jun 17, 2016 10:11 am

Regarding the 4th type that tengu mentioned: They can be quite dangerous to the class, their opponents and themselves aswell.
I am having this student that has a competitive level sport fencing background. He is a nice guy and actualy wants to learn more but he has his moments when his inner heretic comes out: wired stances, arguing on how whatever he learned applyes better than something from our system and so on. These can only hurt the class and can be avoided with some talking and have been, mostly, solved but there are some things that one might do that could endanger people aswell, an example from one of this guys sparring sesions: wishing to win he makes a lunging trust as seen in sport fencing, with the ends up as beeing a double kill and both fencers get a bruise(his opponent because he was hit realy hard in the leg and he because in the atempt to defend the other managed to knock him down from that extremly unbalanced atack), ridiculous situation but this kind of stuff cand get someone severly injured or worse so I see that 4th type the most dangerous due to what they might pull off. Gladly it was a singular event, after I talked to him and things have gone smoothly,for the most part, since then.
End 'em rightly!

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Richard Marsden
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Re: Troublesome Student - The Winner, The Solver, The Heretic

Postby Richard Marsden » Sun Jun 26, 2016 6:56 pm


Thanks for the comment.

I think this is a separate issue entirely. How to manage a student is one thing. If the student knows waaaayyyyy more than the instructor, then why are they taking the class? And if they didn't know any better. Be polite?

Now, onto the real issue. Wrestling.

Does HEMA suck at it?

Yes. (We have more injuries from it than I care to mention)


As you mentioned, lack of experience and they will not train hours and hours in it. Why? Most HEMA systems have wrestling as part of a larger system which includes daggers, swords, spears etc. There isn't time enough in the day, and we also can't wait 50 some odd years like Fiore did
and then come back to the community. Ah ha- got it!

Solution. More wrestlers in HEMA. Those with wrestling experience should take a look at our HEMA systems and learn them and teach them. In the community those with prior experience in wrestling quickly become our experts on wrestling. The door is wide open on that one, from how best to teach it, how to make it part of a larger HEMA curriculum, how to run tournaments with it, and how to handle techniques designed to literally break arms and dislocate shoulders without... you know... doing those things.

I hope to see more wrestlers in HEMA. In my own club we have law enforcement and prior-wrestlers handle much of our wrestling techniques when it comes to teaching. Works for us!

Thanks for the long reply!


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