What might a character with extensive hand to hand combat skills (from say a special ops background) be shaky on when learning swordfighting skills? What kind of “mistakes” might someone with that background tend to make? Thank you!

The tricky thing about people who come from Special Forces
backgrounds is, they tend to be very adaptable. A lot of the time, people get
the perception that Special Forces get lots of specialized training that no one
else has access to, and this allows them to be more effective. That’s kinda true, but it can easily lead to a
distorted perspective of what makes them useful and effective.

What makes special operators useful isn’t their rote ability
to kill people. It’s not the specific techniques they’re trained in (though,
those do help). It’s the mindset their training screens for and then
encourages. You can, as it turns out, teach nearly anyone how to use a gun. The
hard part is finding someone who can think on their feet and come up with
solutions to their current problems quickly.

This brings us back to your question. Someone who’s trained
in hand to hand will take a little time to get used to the idea of a sword. It’s
just not something they’ve spent a lot of time with. Someone who has trained in
knife fighting will have to learn a new approach as well. But, these are things you can learn from, and adapt
to. For someone coming out of a special forces background, their training and
outlook should put them in a much
better situation to identify and address weaknesses that come with learning a
new skill. It won’t always, but it does put them in the right mindset.

Special operators aren’t unbeatable, they’re not omnipotent,
but they have been trained to identify problems and find ways to solve them. I’m
not being euphemistic here. I don’t mean, “problems” in the sense of, “oh, hey,
I need to kill those guys.” That is
a part of it, but also things like: “I need these pages somewhere I can see
them quickly;” proceeds to tape them to the wall. When you’re approaching a
character like this, it’s someone who is very good at identifying problems,
both life threatening, annoying, and everything in between, and then looking
for a way to solve them.

Also, from what I’ve seen, if an ex-operator doesn’t have
any problems to solve, they’ll get bored, then set their sights higher, and
start working towards a new goal. Again, this is part of the mindset.

Now, we are talking about human beings. Just like everyone
else, sometimes they’ll miss details, overlook something, or forget pieces of
salient information. They’ll try not to, particularly on forgetting things, and
if they identify it as a problem, they’ll try to find some way to work around
it, but it happens.

This also means, any mistakes they make, when learning a new
martial style, are something they’ll seek to learn from. Someone from that
background will make mistakes in training, the same kinds of things anyone
will, poor initial stance, imperfect technique, the kinds of mistakes you will
see from every student in that field. The difference, and why this question is
so tricky, is that they will work to
address those mistakes as quickly as possible, and to their best to learn
everything they can from those mistakes.

As for making mistakes in the field? Yes, that can happen.
But it will be based, entirely, on the situation at hand, and the information
they have. If they’re trying to solve a problem and they don’t know about something, they can’t account for it, and they can
end up with a solution that does not work. But, that’s not going to be a
problem with a sword or their technique (usually).


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