Ward #1-Iron Chicken (Block in prime, "Oh, Woe is Me") Turn body slightly to the left, raising
sword into "cone of defence" at 45/45 position, hilt at forehead, as if to say, "Oh, woe is me..."
(tip is left 45, down 45). Continue thru block without stopping to execute the turnover.
Ward #1 is a tip down hilt up block on your left. Called prime in fencing, and may also be termed "Iron Chicken" or "Hanging Guard" within SCA circles. The sword is held with the guard near your forehead and the point of the sword pointing about a foot in front of your left knee as the blow strikes and disengages.
Turnover (vertical slot shot) let tip of sword fall back on your left, circling hand down to whip the sword over and strike vertically past the dexter side of your opponent's sheild.
You then let the blade "turnover" to strike vertically at your opponent's body, the point flows back and the hilt is pulled sharply down. Ideally, your blade actually flows in a circle from where you are moving into the block until the blow strikes.
Ward #2- Roll-up (Block in quarte) by turning your wrist, arm and waist incrementally left to put the sword into a 45/45 tip-up position at the moment of contact. The difference between this and the fencing guard of quarte, is that the tip of the sword is close to you, and the hilt held away. Continue the twist motion of your body left in the block to wind up for the...
Ward #2 is a tip up hilt down block to your left. "Quarte" from fencing. You block while twisting your body to the left, then untwist into a backhand. Your sword tip should be near your head, while the hilt should be near your left hip at the moment of blocking the blow.
Backhand Just unwind, lifting or lowering the hand as appropriate to slot your opponent horizontally. This will usually mean having your hilt higher than your tip at the moment of striking, to get over his sheild.
The pull of your body untwisting pulls the blade around as if you are backhanding your opponent across the face.
The Backhand above leads into Ward #3- Pullback (the Pop-Up, a block in tierce) Drop your hand two inches, pull your arm back one inch, and turn your waist to the right one inch. The tip of the sword will "pop-up" to the right. At the moment of contact, you should be in the 45/45 position, hilt down and away, tip up and close. Following thru, this leads to the...
Ward #3 is a tip up hilt down block to your right. "Tierce" from fencing. You block twisting to the right, then untwist into a powerful forehand blow. The sword tip should be at the height of and near your head, and the hilt kept down at a 45 to your right, slightly forward.
Forehand (Serve the Soup) Shove your hand from the shoulder to a palm up location above your opponent's dexter shoulder. (As if you were serving a plate of soup onto his shoulder.) Your hilt should be higher than your tip. Your body should rotate at every joint to add rotational power to this and all blows. From this you block...
From here you thrust the hilt straight at your opponent's right shoulder while untwisting your body to provide the power. The tip of your sword naturally falls into the right line for a forehand from this motion. Motion analog is "Serve the soup".
Ward #4- V-8 (Wow! I coulda hadda V-8!!!) Your tip drops to the right, the heel of your hand goes to the forehead, as if saying, "Wow, I coulda hadda V-8!". Hilt up, 45 right, tip down 45 degrees. From this, you would naturally go into a backhand, but instead, you go to... --- Ward #4 is a tip-down, hilt up block on your right. (All this assumes a righty, if you are sinister, adapt to the difference.) The guard is raised as if to your forehead with the heel of your hand, the tip of the sword is left downward and slightly forward. You should, at the point of contact, have your sword at a 45 degree angle from hilt to point, and pointed towards the incoming blow from your right. Motion analog is "I coulda hadda V8!"
Scorpion (Vertical wrap to the Sinister neck of your opponent) Picturing the hilt of your weapon as the apex of a cone which opens to your right, rotate your weapon back, up and over within the surface of this cone to strike your opponent over the juction of his left shoulder and his head on his back. Then you draw straight back, bringing you again to the first ward.
The flow of the tip of the blade from the moment of blocking is back, up, and then forward and over the opponent to strike wrapping vertically at his back. It seems more natural to throw this blow into a backhand, but most people expect that, so throw this "Scorpion" blow instead.
(go back to first ward, and repeat)
Wards 1 and 4 are used when blocking an attack coming in on the SAME side as the shot you just threw. Wards 2 and 3 are used when the attack comes in from the OPPOSITE side from the blow you just threw, such that you have to move your sword across your body to block. Notice that tip down blocks flow into vertical attacks, and tip up blocks flow into horizontal attacks.
Always strive for greater efficiency of motion. This must be practiced.
All motion should be non-stopping curvilinear motion, not start-&-stop straight lines. At speed these curves can be pretty tiny, but curves they must be. Practice it large and slow, fight it small and fast.
Practice every move until you don't have to think about it-then practice it some more.
Most practice should be slow. (Adrenaline will make it fast) If you go slow, it's impossible to move out-of-balance without it being dramatically obvious.
Some practice should be at speed (to develop your eye). But do it with a partner willing to throw the same stuff over and over, first slow, and then fast, so you can train yourself to block it automatically. The greatest single factor in how you can go at it in a fight is TIH.(Time In Helmet) That's why really old Duke's can whip really young fast fighters and seem like they are barely moving. The way lies in practice. (to quote Miyamoto Musashi)
Timing is everything. Speed is nothing. A block that's too fast is just as bad as one that's too slow. Practice blocking at varying speeds from dead slow to laser-warp-light-speed, so your block arrives when the shot does.
There's no reason that EVERY blow can't be preceded by a false (fake) designed to open your desired target area. Practice it both ways.
Every opponent is a piece of low-life scum. You are superior to them. They are incapable of stopping you. Yah, that duke USED to be good...if you believe they are better than you, they are. Make them EARN your death. If they can. Practice believing more in yourself than your opponent.
Every opponent is a close friend. Protect him as you would your family. We want him to die safely, so we can practice on him again.
Never stop moving, never stop attacking, never drop your guard, until hold is called or your opponent is flat on the ground. If you hit him three times on his way from death to the ground, that's his fault. He should call hold or fall down faster. Life is motion. Stopping is death. Practice not-stopping. (flow training)
75% of all newby fighter problems are armor fit problems. Attack armor problems like it's a religion. Especially feel other's stuff and ask them how they made it like that (if you like it). Keep building your next suit over and over. (that's where ill-fitting newby suits come from...) The more you practice building suits, the better you will get at putting your own armor into shape, and the more loaner gear you will have for newbies to wear at practice.
Notes on the preference for one system or another...
This system is cut to the bone. It's an easy style to learn, yet can take you far down the road of fighting. There are "better" systems out there, both older and newer, but I teach this one because it is absorbed in the shortest time of anything I've ever seen taught. My greatest frustation when I started fighting in AS 20 was that no one seemed interested in demonstrating to me a viable body of technique with any kind of philosophical guidelines.
The systems I currently see in practice are called "A-Frame", "Lazy Heater" and "Bellatrix-style". I've borrowed a tiny bit from all of these, some from George Silver and Di Grassi, and a whole lot from Kendo and Arnis. Then I threw out anything that didn't meet my criteria. The basis of this system is:
1. Efficient motion at all times.
2. Power generated by technique, not strength.
3. As much as possible, all motions should leave you in or near a good guard at all times. 4. K.I.S.S.-(Keep It Simple, Stupid!)
5. Miyamoto Musashi said, "There are only so many ways to hack someone down." I say, Amen. And there are only so many guards neccesary to block them.
6. All blocks should lead to attacks, All attacks should flow to a guard.
7. Never let a student stop. Keep his motion constant while the fight continues.
8. Teach dead slow, only increase speed when the form is perfect. "Let the mind teach the body how to fight." This means always moving slowly enough that the mind has time to continually evaluate balance, technique, form, etc.
9. Pack good fighting philosophy into the kata, and don't burden the new fighter with unneccesary information. (A new fighter doesn't need to be able to recognize that the blow he throws is not standard to any other style and therefore is going to get him freebie kills, for instance.)
10. Teach chivalry along with technique. If something has to give, give up the technique and teach the chivalry. It's that important at this formative time.
I do not consider those other styles, or any other style, to be inferior. In fact, when one of my students gets to competency in this style, I encourage him/her to pursue one of the others (or all of them). Knowledge is a good thing. The ability to shift styles in mid-fight is a great thing. And Courteous tolerance for other veiwpoints is perhaps the best lesson of all.
Note from the Author: Rights are granted to copy and forward this document both physically and electronically for the purpose of passing on the information within the SCA. Copyright is retained for commercial purposes, but I sell out cheap.
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