The Way & the How compiled by Maestro Gerry Duran

silver sword
two fencers

In good fencing practice there is joy in "the way" of the game. "The way" of good fencing practice is "the how."

How good practice happens: All that matters is movement, sounds, and the total involvement of opposing parts of a dual.

To become aware of "the way:" I will pay attention with an open mind. I will set aside my personal prejudices so that I can attain mastery of "the way."

silver sword

There are Demons & Dragons.
A Demon is what keeps a fencing student from mastering "the way" of good fencing practice. Emotions are natural feelings, although they may be uncomfortable at times. Feelings in themselves do not stop the fencer from the actions of good fencing practice. Demons in the mind of the fencer are created when the fencer's emotions are used as an excuse for the abandonment of "the way" of good fencing practice. At first, the abandonment of "the way" of good practice is an intentional and conscious choice. Dragons are created by a fencer's habitual and unconscious abandonment of "the way" of good fencing practice.

Masters of good fencing practice cut through their Dragons to deal with their Demons.

What causes Demons & Dragons?

1. Beliefs
If your mind believes "I can't," you will sabotage your own efforts.

2. FEAR False Expectations Appearing Real
The feeling of fear is accompanied by a quickening of the pulse, a widening of the eyes, and a sharpening of the senses. This is the start of being alert, part of your survival instincts. When this is truly known inside yourself, you will accept fear as excitement and energy to be used in the achievement of your goals.

Excitement is energy that moves you like a steam engine. You may feel that if the steam pressure gets too high you might explode, or fail, or not get what you want, or lose what you have, or even die. When you feel this way, Excitement is labeled "Fear"

Fear is a Demon (adversity), if it's an obstacle to your goals.

How much excitement marks the limit, of your comfort zone?

Do you know how much fear makes the Demon that keeps you from your goals?

If you fear that you can't do something, what must be done to change the fear into excitement? How mach fear can be cashed in for excitement at one time?

3. Unworthiness
"How" sets the goals in your fencing practice? When the fencer looks outside of himself to recognize his good fencing practice, he has lost "the way". Not making the grade, not being as good as the others, are both externally created standards of performance. Accepting and trying to accomplish unrealistic goals set by sources outside of yourself, creates a Demon that takes the fencer off the path to good fencing practice.

4. Guilt (Hurt Feelings and Anger)
Guilt is the anger we feel toward ourselves when we think we do something "wrong" such as failure to achieve unattainable goals, not trying to achieve attainable goals, and accomplishing meaningless goals that have no purpose.

How do we eliminate the Demons & Dragons (and obtain mastery of the fencing practice)?

1. Positive Thinking: AFFIRMATIONS (some of these have previously been posted in selections from the Maestro's Book.--ed.)

I deserve my goals.
When you analyze, you paralyze.
I focus on the here and now.
Think less achieve more.
How I see me, I will be.
I am in control and ready to roll.
Think high if you want to fly.
I become what I imagine.
Fixed minds detract from potential; flexible minds are the essential.
What you believe you receive.
Balanced and centered I will play and train all day.
Many small successes make for the big achievement.
Extraordinary performance comes when you're balanced and in the flow .

2. Focusing
Hold your thoughts to the present. Action that comes from this attitude will be appropriate. Focus your thoughts and your actions on one small part of the present and you will create personal power. Wandering mentally from the now of the moment is a distraction and will slow your skill development. Focus in the now: in training and in competition. In training, feel yourself execute a skill, or action, in your mind and body through imagery. Then do the skill, letting it unfold naturally-thought free. In training exercises and competition, allow yourself to execute your own moves and to react to the moves of others without evaluation. Just let it go and see what happens. Go by feel. Go by instinct. Free yourself to flow naturally.

You cannot live in any moment but the present. Regrets are present unfavorable impressions of past events. Likewise, anxiety comes from unfavorable impressions of events to come. The future has no reality at this moment except in your mind as images, sounds, and feelings. Past and future are happening now as you create them.

3. Centering
Being centered means having the ability to recover one's balance,
even in the midst of action. A centered person is not subject to passing whims or sudden excitements.

Centered fencers do not measure identity and self-worth by the result, score, or rating, of a performance. They see victory and defeat as just another component of playing the game: one that will provide inner guidance for future experiences in all of sport and life. They enjoy the game as a process of learning.

4. Balance
Excess and extremes lead to injury, burnout, and fatigue. Excessiveness in areas of the physical, spiritual, psychological, and social will cost you personal destruction. Moderation enables you to create balance.

What is out of balance in your fencing practice may feel normal. To find center and balance, over correct, then adjust your corrections.

silver sword

The planing and execution of a fencing training program for Academy members (the focus) that will improve their fencing skills and motivate Academy members to participate in local competitions (the goal).

EDITOR'S NOTE: The Maestro's Book is a work in progress. In our next issue (Jan./Feb./Mar. '99) Maestro Duran will elaborate on some of the principles of fencing practice mentioned here as well as more on how to obtain mastery of the fencing practice through Relaxation, Visualization & Vision and Correlative Vision (explicit opposites are implicit allies in the game offencing. (All specific opposites are practical allies in the game of fencing.)