Offloading some thoughts before they get entirely scattered by imminent sleep.
I forsook playtime again, as we have a newcomer who I think will become a regular face at the school. The gentleman is certainly keen and has a number of aspects which show a lot of promise.
There is an interesting dilemma, though, in that due to shoulder injuries he is unable to utilise a high guard in any way. This necessitates for some creativity in determining how to teach certain techniques, and how to use the principles of fencing to adapt and tweak standard techniques into something he can use.
More on that as time progresses. This week, though, the teaching side of things continued in a similar vein to last week - structured freeplay (sole attack vs sole defense) and footwork.
I'm beginning to find the Offensive vs Defensive drill to be very useful for picking up on bad habits (both my own and that of the student). Today, I noticed a recurring tendency for the gentleman to cross his footwork and leave himself open to danger.
So, we returned to footwork, and started with the very basics. After a small while, it became apparent that even with forward-backward movements the problem was still recurring. More was needed to tackle the problem which seems to stem from the gentleman's preference for a very tight stance, having a tendency for the rear foot to end up directly behind the lead foot.
It is fortunate that the hall we use has lines on the floor from some time in the distant past where tape had been laid down for some event. So we moved from outside to inside, and it made things a lot easier. By starting the drill with lead foot on the right hand side of the line, and the rear foot on the left hand side, it gave the student a visual cue for self-correction. Things started to go a bit more smoothly from there.
After a while, there was noticeable improvement, so I used one of the first footwork drills ever inflicted upon me - the distancing game for footwork. The leader moves, and the follower needs to use footwork to maintain equal distance. Always good for a chuckle.
For tonight, I kept it linear, so that if the student returned to the error of crossing his feet over he'd perforce trip himself up - a handy reminder.
It went surprisingly well (and was also a reminder that I could definitely benefit from running through this drill more often myself. I was far from perfect). The student early on had difficulty, but after a couple of reminders, the stance became a bit less congested and allowed for ease of forward and backward movements.
Homework is one of my old training routines, which I still use variants of for all my footwork: the student will find a straight line at home (i.e floorboards), set up stance along it with one foot either side, and practice stepping forwards and backwards, checking foot position each time until it starts to feel a bit more natural.
I'm interested to see how things go.
On my end, I am pleased to note that, when I was playing defensively in the drills, my movements were becoming a bit more controlled again. On a number of occasions I neatly closed off the line with a tight cavazione, or by shifting the line of my blade slightly, often present a viable threat in the process. A good sign. I need to keep working with this.
Also, mental note: Will keep students 'all defensive' time to a minimum for now until the footwork has a bit more work done on it, or at least until the initial crossed-over footwork problem is resolved.
Well, the old brain is telling me to go sleep before it lodges formal grievance procedures, so I'll oblige it with a bit of shuteye. I'm sure there was something else I wanted down before I forgot it, but alas, too late.