I don’t know if HEMA loses people on a regular basis or not, but if they do, I bet I know where that happens. I suspect it happens in most other martial arts as well, to be fair.
You see, people get bored with the early days when they’re learning the basic foundations.
I know, because I’m there.
You see, since I joined Schola Saint George, I’ve been learning the basics. Things like footwork, basic guards, how to cut, how to thrust, things like that. These are the essential things needed in order to learn how to fight effectively with a longsword.
I know that.
They’re also kind of boring.
Now, part of it may be that some of it overlaps with my SCA days just a bit. I mean, I learned how to throw a blow with a sword back then and the principle is basically the same.
Another part is, to be honest, that I’m an impatient jackass who can’t wait to delve feet first into everything despite not being remotely ready for any of it.
That part is on me.
However, I also believe there are a lot of people who really want to jump in with both feet and start doing stuff. Those who are like that can easily get dissuaded and walk away from the art.
How do we fix that?
Well, I haven’t got a damn clue.
Honestly, I don’t even know if it’s that prevalent of an issue, or if I’m just an incredibly impatient sort.
Even ifI it is, what do we do? I suppose we could allow sparring quickly and just let people get their asses kicked, but I’m not sure that would be an improvement. Someone losing fights can also be disheartening.
It seems that the best option is to condense the bare basics as quickly as possible, putting them into as few lessons as possible, so you can get to the “meat” of the material. Additionally, one has to be sure to frame everything within the context of a fight.
And I’m quite sure this may well be the norm. Again, damned if I know.
What I will do going forward
For me, my plan is to hit a couple of weeks worth of syllabus material to introduce it per week as possible–just to get the basics introduced–then incorporate it as review material as we move forward.
Then, start providing as much new fight-focused material as possible.
After all, why do people want to study HEMA anyway? The answer is simple. They want to learn how to fight with a sword. The sooner you get to that, the easier it’ll be to keep people interested.
Well, it’ll be easier to keep me interested at least. I suspect such an approach will also benefit anyone else with the attention span of a gerbil on meth, such as your’s truly.
I also don’t see it being a negative for those who have a typical adult attention span, though, which means this is probably a useful idea.
Assuming, of course, that I don’t screw this up or that this isn’t what people are already doing and I’m just too clueless to know.
But at least I’m open to that possibility.