Priest Drill

Priest Drill

This is another one stolen from Walter Triplette. It can serve a couple of goals – training good lunge form (and the resulting ability to hit your target, also called “point control”); quick, tight disengages; fast and clean lunge-recovery; and passing attacks. It’s a fairly quick one to pick up, so both partners can coach the other through it.

It’s called the Priest Drill (my name, not Walter’s) because the Coach’s hand makes the motion of the cross that accompanies a priest’s blessing (up, down, right, left). If you have a sword with a simple guard, use it for coaching so that there’s less protection on the hand.

As with all drills: Start slow. Give big openings. The goal is 80% success. If the success rate drops, go bigger and slower. If it gets higher, go smaller and faster.

Work each step before advancing to the next.

If your disengages are getting caught in the quillons, you’re too close to each other.

After you have this down solidly, add footwork before Step 1 to train maintaining measure and a good guard while performing footwork.

 

Basic Form:

Start: Stand where the Student can hit the Coach’s hand with a lunge. Start in guard each time.

Step 1: Coach raises his hand to present an opening on the underside of his forearm.  Student lunges and strikes, remaining extended.

Step 2: Coach brings his sword down to cut through Student’s sword.  Student disengages and strikes the top of Coach’s hand (a slight, SLIGHT relaxation from full extension followed by a re-extension, or angling of the blade, may be necessary to apply pressure with this touch, but any larger motion should be avoided). Coach should break up the rhythm on his parries so as to prevent the Student from anticipating.

Step 3: Coach parries Student’s sword to the inside, Student disengages and strikes the back of Coach’s hand (again, avoid falling into a rhythm).
(NB: This parry can also be performed the other way, but the inside of the forearm is a deeper target than the hand, making it difficult to land that touch)

Step 4: Coach extends on outside and lunges at Student’s sword shoulder.  Student recovers from his lunge while parrying, then counter lunges to strike Coach in the arm (below elbow if possible).  

End: Reset, repeat.

 

Italian Variations on step 4:

Var. 1: Coach extends across the debole of Student’s blade to start his attack, forcing the Student to cavazione.

Var. 2: Coach performs a cavazione, lunging on the inside line, forcing Student to counter-find, counter-cavazione, or parry-riposte).

Var. 3: Coach extends to Student’s guard, Student lunges (deflecting Coach’s blade)
(In the video that accompanies the Drill of N things, Walter mentions that anytime his point goes to his student’s guard the student is trained to attack immediately).

 

Variation to train lunges and recovery:

Instead of disengaging, student recovers and immediately re-lunges.

Variation to train cavazione:

Coach performs parry in the tempo of the lunge. Student recovers, re-lunges to target, and Coach again performs parry during the tempo of the lunge.

Variation to train redoubles/passing attacks

Step 5: Coach recovers and parries Student’s counter-lunge.  Student disengages and redoubles or passes forward (Drill can end here)

Step 6: Coach retreats, raises his sword presenting the underside target.  Student redoubles and strikes underside of the hand, and now you’re back to Step 1.

 

3 comments to Priest Drill

  • David Twynham

    Awesome drill 🙂

    One of the ones that we used to do in epee was kind of similar – instructor exposes target on the arm, student lunges and hits then recovers. instructor attempts to engage in a new line, student disengages and hits the arm in the newly exposed target. Repeat for the top, bottom, inside, and outside of the arm. To finish, the instructor extends their blade slightly, and the student finds the sword and lunges to the body. You can do the drill with the student lunging, retreating, or advancing on each hit.

    • Wistric

      It is that drill. I’m guessing it’s widespread in the modern fencing community. I’ve just added on a couple pieces and called it the Priest Drill because it’s a good mnemonic for the coach’s actions.

  • Chuck Farnsworth / Raphael de la Rosa

    The counter to step 4?
    I would have it as: Student recovers from lunge, regains mechanical advantage, and counter lunges.
    I would also say that the student should be free to attack deep since the coach attacked deep as well, but I think that is implied in steps 5 and 6.

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