Category: Concepts

  • Bad Habits

    Something that I’ve heard a lot in the realm of coaching sports and martial arts is the idea of building “bad habits.” Ingraining a bad habit is something that you want to avoid at all costs, and to some coaches, training and practice may be heavily built upon this idea. In kendo, we were advised…

  • Ice Climber Syndrome – When does one move dominate a game?

    I. Ice Climber Syndrome I am a follower and occasionally (terrible) player of the game Super Smash Brothers Melee, which is a very old game that still has an active competitive scene. As such, it has gone through a lot of changes over the years and many new strategies and exploits have been discovered. There…

  • Invariants as Diagnostics

    In traditional coaching, each movement is normally considered to have an ideal or platonic form, which represents the optimal way it should be executed. Deviation from this form is then an error to be corrected, or at best a variation in response to a specific context. Obviously the ecological approach entirely rejects this framing, but…

  • HEMA Ratings Part 2: World Ranking

    I am a huge fan of HEMA Ratings, I think it’s an extremely valuable tool for the HEMA community, so much so that I have supported their Patreon since it first became available. However, it is important to remember that HEMA Ratings is a specific tool, and not all tools are useful in all scenarios.…

  • Attractor Stability in Game-Based Learning

    Imagine you’re teaching your club about ways to get to the other side of the opponent’s blade. You start with a simple constraint based exercise – one person extends, the other person takes the blade with a nice overbind out to one side, then the first person has to find a way to hit. Then…

  • Causing Attraction: Non-Dominant Foot Forward in Longsword Fencing

    In ecological dynamics, the term Attractor or Movement Attractor shows up every now and then. Attractors can be seen as preferred motor pattern solutions in the current activity context. When an action is seen as intuitive or habitual, it might be the attractor at work. Habit and intuition can be nebulous concepts however, so to…

  • Closed and Open Games

    Is there any pair of terms more popular in coaching than “open” and “closed”? Just in common use in my HEMA circles, we have “eyes open” and “eyes closed” (after Zbigniew Czajkowski); “open loop” and “closed loop” (confusingly, “eyes open” == “closed loop”); and “open double” and “closed double” from Longpoint’s rules. And I’m sure…

  • Adaptation and Noticing if Your Opponent is Left Handed

    Sometimes I will see two people fencing, and either a few exchanges in or after the bout they will say “I didn’t notice you/they were a lefty” or some variation thereof. When I was briefly fencing left-handed due to tennis elbow in my right elbow last year, I sometimes got the same thing. Sometimes people…

  • CLA is Not Games

    A misconception that I see a lot, especially among people who have a passing familiarity with the term but have not looked at it closely, is that the constraints-led approach (CLA) means learning through games. I’m even willing to take partial responsibility for this; after all, this website is called “Game Design for HEMA,” and…

  • My Journey to Right-of-Way

    At this point in my longsword career, right-of-way is one of my favorite rulesets to fence under. Before you get disgusted and click away, hear me out – I wasn’t always like this, I used to be a right-of-way hater just like most of the HEMA community. It was a slow transition over the course…