This blog is based on Jim Emmon's article which can be read here and I'd recommend you read that here.
Today I had a long-form discussion with my friends in Northwest Armizzare about what growth in fencing looks like. The conclusion we came to is fencing is like a wheel, or ziggurat. Each spoke or side is a weapon, if you only dive into one side, you will eventually plateau in your training. It is up to all of us, students and teachers, to recognize when we are running into that plateau so we can try to learn something in a different way. If you are having an issue with point in line, perhaps we need to pull out the foils to help you learn to use your point better. If you're getting really good at something, perhaps in open fencing at class, you don't use that technique so you can be forced to develop other techniques.
It is this exact thought which is why I like to bring up other weapons in our classes. If I see a student struggling with a technique, perhaps there's a way of teaching this same principal that I've learned from longsword, or sabre, or Georgian, or dagger that might help me teach this student the principal. To my students, if you're struggling with a technique, please let us know so we can practice it more with you. To our parents, if you see me bringing out some other weapons it's because I'm trying to tackle a technique from a different angle, not just because it's fun.
An example of this, I was trying to learn an exercise called farfalle di ferro and I could not get it with the longsword to save my life. Though when I picked up my sabre and did the exact same technique, it all clicked, and I think that's when longsword started clicking for me in general. Reaching out to another weapon can help you learn your primary weapon even better. Having a bunch of strong spokes for your wheel makes a stronger wheel then a wheel with only one spoke, no matter how strong it is.