Sometimes bribery works.
Motivating students can be a challenge in HEMA. Sure, we have lots of techniques, and in drills, students will try to comply, but when it comes to sparring people often fall back into what is familiar. Without guidance, students can be slow to even attempt new techniques. In a competitive setting, there is logic to it.
Why try something new, when I can try something I'm already good at that is old?
This is when unfettered capitalism at its finest/worst comes into play. You can bribe your students.
Today, we taught a rapier technique in which both hands are used on the blade. This technique shows up in numerous sources, and in short, by using two hands and a pass you can overpower an opponent's blade- even if they have gained.
Giganti and Capo Ferro show this technique. A similar technique shows up in Fiore's longsword as well on the high line. It's like, in various iterations, shows up in other sources as well.
Once you have a technique in mind, consider using 1 dollar to bribe your students to attempt the technique. At first, this sheer amount of money overwhelms them.
"Do you know what you can buy with this?" I ask.
They are silent and stare at me.
"There's a whole store named after what you can buy," I say with solemn reverence.
At this point the students both want the dollar, but, it's hard to do a technique when the opponent knows you are going to do it, or, if both opponents do it at the same time. There is usually some half-attempts, at which point I suggest they fence as normal and just keep an eye out for the opportunity.
While I stand there waving the banner of the green-back as proper incentive.
Massive financial gain is not the only way to motivate students to try new techniques. Food also works. John, for example, will put forth a bounty of an ice-cream if someone can perform a passata soto, (a rather tricky rapier technique).
Rewards and incentives can always motivate students. Tournaments for example offer fleeting fame and plastic medals- yet people get very excited by them.
In this case, a small goal is set before the students and it can be quite surprising how quickly they achieve it. Still, things take time. The two students above were unable to perform the technique, but both tried, and both know that 100 pennies could soon be theirs.
If you like my sense of humor, consider the
Traveling Tyrant series.
Mordid, a mercenary with a fleet and an army, is
hired to do a job. The job isn't pretty, but, one of
the potential victims is. With a treacherous
employer, disloyal command staff and the
heart of a villain - what's a Tyrant to do?
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