One of the easiest ways to imped one’s progress as a fencer is to relearn the same lesson over and over again. As both students and teachers, you’ve all probably seen this scene play out numerous times.
Through careful instruction and attentive drilling for several hours, the whole class masters the principals of a technique. Even in free play the technique, as written or in spirit, is used successfully. The master proclaims success and moves onto other topics.
A month later a variant of the the technique is presented in the text. Seeing the corollary, the instructor begins by having the students review the earlier technique. And it’s a disaster. Most of them don’t remember the technique and the few that do can no longer perform it.
Why did this happen? Because the students didn’t practice it on their own.
Why didn’t they practice on their own? Because neither they, nor their teacher, thought to take notes. And without notes they couldn’t remember what to practice.
Forms the diary can take place in.
There are many ways you can create a fencing diary. The most traditional method is simply to record each day’s lessons in a journal. Some of the historic fencing manuals we have are literally just a student’s notes.
These are great because you don’t need a computer and can easy sketch in the book. The downside is that they are easily lost. I’ve had maybe five fencing journals over the years, but I can only find two of them.
A second method is a blog, which literally means “online journal or log”. Diagrams are harder because they have to be scanned in or drawn on the computer, but you’ll never lose it. And you can easily search it from a mobile phone, which is quite helpful when you need to look something up during practice.
The third method is videos. This requires help from others, so it is usually done at the club level. While videos usually don’t offer the density of theory that prose offers, they offer insights that are not readily available from text and static images alone.