TSG offers three official options for martial advancement.
Classes/Curriculum. Come to class and train regularly to advance in the standard manner.
Apprenticeship. The fastest method of progression. This is a longer-term, partnership between an experienced and a less experienced student.
Scholarship. Progress is gained by forming hypotheses about martial techniques based on the texts and testing these in the most realistic manner possible, usually with the assistance of other experienced members. Communication with other HEMA groups is highly encouraged for those taking this path.
Training Option 1: Classes and Official Curricula
TSG offers group martial arts instruction in the form of classes. In general, TSG classes fall into one of two categories, training sessions and study groups. Training sessions are run like traditional martial arts classes. Study sessions are less formal and focus on collaborative research in experimenting with techniques in one specific text. Both types of classes are led by one of types of TSG instructors, though study sessions have lighter teaching burdens.
TRAINING OPTION 2: mENTORSHIPS
Mentorship is a short-term partnering between an experienced member and a less-experienced member. Mentorships should have specific goals that are defined at the beginning of the partnership. These goals may be to develop teaching skills, to do short-term training goals, work through a manuscript, or any other specific objective. Mentorships are less formal than Apprenticeship and can be organized for simpler goals. This is still an official partnership sponsored and approved by TSG, though the goals are usually short term and the training less formal.
Training Option 3: Apprenticeship (Lehrling)
Apprenticeship is a longer term mentorship between an experienced student and an inexperienced one, the goal of which is to help the Apprentice work through the curriculum with one-on-one instruction outside of the normal class schedule. This relationship also helps the more experienced member develop his own skill set.
While apprenticeship is defined by the relationship between an experienced and a less-experienced member, in TSG this relationship should not be one of subservience but rather of partnership. That is, the experienced member has little to no authority over the apprentice in any real sense. Before entering into an apprentice relationship, both parties must commit to ability to train regularly outside and in addition to regular class times.
The existence of the formal guild position of Lehrling doesn’t imply a prohibition on any members meeting with one another to train regularly on an informal basis outside of class, or to form informal training partnerships of their own. Instead, this relationship offers structure and official guidance to a training relationship to help it progress as quickly and effectively as possible.
Training Option 4: Scholarship
When a developed curriculum does not exist, we have to develop both the skills and the training tools for putting that weapon into an instructable format. This is the foundation of what it means to practice HEMA. In TSG, this process can be solitary and informal, or part of a more structured study group. In either case the method is the same. First we research appropriate texts and make hypotheses about how certain techniques were performed. Then we test these techniques in a variety of circumstances, with a variety of opponents and a variety of training tools. If the hypothesis we formed does not stand up, then we revise and retest repeatedly until we feel comfortable with the technique. Then we test and share that technique outside the group.
At some point in this process it becomes necessary to extrapolate from the collection of techniques a set of basic fundamental drills and skills. This is usually done by analyzing the techniques we are confident in, finding similarities between how they are executed, and synthesizing a fundamental skill from those similarities. If the hypothetical skill is functional, it should be applicable with most techniques.
Once a collection of techniques and fundamentals is acquired, these can be organized into a curriculum. As a curriculum forms, the member who has taken the lead in the research and curriculum development will be nominated as the Vorfechter for that curriculum and may begin sponsoring instructors and formal classes. Even after a curriculum is in place, it’s important to continue with the scholarship process, repeatedly challenging all assumptions about our understanding of the corpus of techniques we know and frequently rebuilding our understanding of that weapon system.