Drills for your One-on-One Practice

The Priest Drill – a basic drill for lunge form and accuracy, with variations for training additional actions in a fight

The Drill of ‘N’ Things – a drill for developing responses to the possible actions encountered at engagement

Glove Drills and other unarmed drills – some drills that can be done with just gloves, some others that only need one sword and a mask

Some Italian Rapier drills from NoVa Assalto – some drills for training the basic actions of the Italian Rapier tradition

 

Those drills, and other thoughts

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|

Owen Townes

to awf556, bcc: Charlotte

show details Jan 30

Ahoy Aldemere!

As promised, fencing drills.  But first, the assumptions:
You know how a lunge is supposed to look, how closing the line, parrying, and disengaging are supposed to look.  Supposed to look here meaning “You have an ideal form of the perfect ____ in your mind and are using it as a point of comparison”.  If not, let me know.  I’ve spent a lot of downtime figuring out what my ideal lunge/parry/disengage looks like and what are really the qualities of it, and am glad to share those thoughts with you.

Drills, starting with a couple that you and I didn’t do:
Closing the Line and Disengaging
You know these concepts but your other fighters might not, so these should help them learn.
1) Start out of measure in guard
2) Fencer A steps into measure while closing the line
3) Fencer B disengages and closes the line on the other side of the sword
Fencers reset and repeat, trading roles.

This is dead simple, and dead boring.  Eventually, have the fencers change their starting guard, so you all have to figure out how to close the line against as many guards as you can think of (imitate provosts and free scholars for ideas).  Play with different ways of closing line against the same guard.

So what does this work on?  The whole concept of closing the line, first of all.  But also, it should work up to making that sword position precise, not wasting an inch of extra motion.  Also, it works sharp precise disengages.

This one drill builds into a whole chain of drills that are insane and will convert you into an Italian fencer whether you like it or not.  Once you guys have exhausted this one, I’ll send you the full list

Advance-Lunge Drill:
This is a great one to do to warmup.  You don’t need to be in armor, just have your gloves (there are a couple of other glove drills, I’ll send those to you when you want).
Fencers set up in “guard”, measure of their choosing.  Fencer A has one advance and one lunge to strike Fencer B.  Fencer B can move in whatever way, as many steps as he wants to avoid the lunge.  However, once A completes his lunge, Fencer B has one advance and one lunge to strike Fencer A (and Fencer A can retreat as much as he wants).  Then just back and forth and back and forth until somebody lands a good (not-grazing) touch and you reset.

Now, the nuances: Fencer B should retreat JUST ENOUGH so that Fencer A’s lunge whiffs (one inch of space is good).  Fencer B’s retreat should be in such good form that he is IMMEDIATELY able to counter-attack as soon as Fencer A’s lunge is done, while Fencer A is still recovering.  Fencer A, on the other hand, should lunge with such good form that he is not over-extended or over-balanced with his lunge, and can recover back before Fencer B can counter-attack.
When Alejandro taught me this, we’d end up lunging and counter-lunging with no advance.

Variation: Mask up and do it with swords.

What does this work?  Footwork.  Lunges.  Measure.  Form.

Priest Drill
Start at measure, in guard.
Fencer A (“Leading” this drill) raises his hand to present an opening (start with large motions, bending at the elbow and offering the hand.  Work down to tiny motions of the wrist).
Fencer B lunges and strikes.  Reset, repeat, until fencer B’s lunge is “Right” 5 times in a row.  Then add the next step:
Fencer A brings his sword down to beat B’s sword.  B disengages and strikes the top of A’s hand.
Next step:
A parries B’s sword to the inside, B disengages and strikes the back of A’s hand.
Next step:
A extends and lunges.  B recovers from his lunge while parrying, then counter lunges to strike A in the arm (below elbow if possible).

Important notes: START IN GUARD, EACH TIME.  Don’t get sloppy with guards, don’t anticipate the opening.
Don’t anticipate the parry.
B must recover to make his parry.

Variation: Instead of disengaging, B can recover back from his lunge to his guard, and then re-lunge.
Variation 2: Throw in advances and retreats while in guard before presenting

What does this work: Everything?  Lunges, recoveries, point control, parries, disengages, measure.

The Drill of Five Things
Start at measure, in guard, swords touching
Things 1 and 2:
If Leader is applying no pressure to Student’s blade to move it offline, Student lunges and strikes Leader on the hand
If Leader IS applying pressure, Student disengages and strikes Leader on the hand
Repeat until good, mix it up.
Thing 3: “If the opponent pretends to give you an opening, pretend to take it”
Leader moves his sword to present an opening.
Student extends forcefully (but does not lunge) to feint an attack to the opening
Leader attempts to parry, Student disengages and strikes Leader on hand (by extending the foot to close the measure)
Thing 4:
Leader takes a shot at Student’s foot
Student withdraws foot while SIMULTANEOUSLY stop-thrusting Leader’s hand
Thing 5:
Leader lunges at Student’s back shoulder
Student SIMULTANEOUSLY: parries with off hand, withdraws lead foot, and strikes Leader on the hand

Variations: Add footwork before Leader initiates an action

What does this work?  Yes.

That’s all for now (let me know when you’re ready for more, I’ve got a damn encyclopedia of these rotting in my brain).  You’re in a rough spot, the best fencer at a small practice, and wanting to get better.  These drills will get you there VERY quickly, and will drag your students along.  We fight that “But practice should be fun” sentiment all the time, I know, and it’s hard; we’re currently re-balancing our practice to include 45 minutes of drilling (up from “Zero”), because of the potential that’s going to waste here.  And it may not seem like fun, but as Conan said, What is best in life?

Yours,
Wistric

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Owen Townes

to awf556

show details Feb 25
You mentioned your guys were getting bored, so if they’ve finally figured out how to lunge and hit your hand, here are some more you can add.
Building from the Close the Line and Disengage drill:Attack into the Tempo of the Disengage

1) Start out of measure in guard
2) Fencer A steps into measure while closing the line
3) Fencer B disengages and closes the line on the other side of the sword

4) As Fencer B begins his disengage, Fencer A extends and lunges, completing his lunge as the disengage is completed
Switch roles, repeat.
This one adds on the concept of attacking as soon as your opponent gives you a tempo in which to attack.  Fencer A cannot anticipate the disengage.
Add on the variation of having Fencer A continue his attack with a counter disengage while lunging.

Attack into the Tempo of the Step into Measure

1) Start out of measure in guard
2) Fencer A steps into measure while closing the line

3) Fencer B attacks into Fencer A’s step, completing his lunge while Fencer A’s foot is still coming down
Same as above, but attacking into a different tempo

Attack with Cavazione

1) Start out of measure in guard
2) Fencer A steps into measure while closing the line

3) Fencer B disengages while extending and lunging (the disengage-while-lunging is a Cavazione) to land his attack.  To insure his opponent cannot attack him during this action, his disengage should end with his true edge on Fencer A’s blade, closing the line

There’s more when you want them!

– Show quoted text –

On Sun, Jan 30, 2011 at 5:40 PM, Owen Townes <otownes@gmail.com> wrote:

Ahoy Aldemere!

As promised, fencing drills.  But first, the assumptions:
You know how a lunge is supposed to look, how closing the line, parrying, and disengaging are supposed to look.  Supposed to look here meaning “You have an ideal form of the perfect ____ in your mind and are using it as a point of comparison”.  If not, let me know.  I’ve spent a lot of downtime figuring out what my ideal lunge/parry/disengage looks like and what are really the qualities of it, and am glad to share those thoughts with you.

Drills, starting with a couple that you and I didn’t do:
Closing the Line and Disengaging
You know these concepts but your other fighters might not, so these should help them learn.
1) Start out of measure in guard
2) Fencer A steps into measure while closing the line
3) Fencer B disengages and closes the line on the other side of the sword
Fencers reset and repeat, trading roles.

This is dead simple, and dead boring.  Eventually, have the fencers change their starting guard, so you all have to figure out how to close the line against as many guards as you can think of (imitate provosts and free scholars for ideas).  Play with different ways of closing line against the same guard.

So what does this work on?  The whole concept of closing the line, first of all.  But also, it should work up to making that sword position precise, not wasting an inch of extra motion.  Also, it works sharp precise disengages.

This one drill builds into a whole chain of drills that are insane and will convert you into an Italian fencer whether you like it or not.  Once you guys have exhausted this one, I’ll send you the full list

Advance-Lunge Drill:
This is a great one to do to warmup.  You don’t need to be in armor, just have your gloves (there are a couple of other glove drills, I’ll send those to you when you want).
Fencers set up in “guard”, measure of their choosing.  Fencer A has one advance and one lunge to strike Fencer B.  Fencer B can move in whatever way, as many steps as he wants to avoid the lunge.  However, once A completes his lunge, Fencer B has one advance and one lunge to strike Fencer A (and Fencer A can retreat as much as he wants).  Then just back and forth and back and forth until somebody lands a good (not-grazing) touch and you reset.

Now, the nuances: Fencer B should retreat JUST ENOUGH so that Fencer A’s lunge whiffs (one inch of space is good).  Fencer B’s retreat should be in such good form that he is IMMEDIATELY able to counter-attack as soon as Fencer A’s lunge is done, while Fencer A is still recovering.  Fencer A, on the other hand, should lunge with such good form that he is not over-extended or over-balanced with his lunge, and can recover back before Fencer B can counter-attack.
When Alejandro taught me this, we’d end up lunging and counter-lunging with no advance.

Variation: Mask up and do it with swords.

What does this work?  Footwork.  Lunges.  Measure.  Form.

Priest Drill
Start at measure, in guard.
Fencer A (“Leading” this drill) raises his hand to present an opening (start with large motions, bending at the elbow and offering the hand.  Work down to tiny motions of the wrist).
Fencer B lunges and strikes.  Reset, repeat, until fencer B’s lunge is “Right” 5 times in a row.  Then add the next step:
Fencer A brings his sword down to beat B’s sword.  B disengages and strikes the top of A’s hand.
Next step:
A parries B’s sword to the inside, B disengages and strikes the back of A’s hand.
Next step:
A extends and lunges.  B recovers from his lunge while parrying, then counter lunges to strike A in the arm (below elbow if possible).

Important notes: START IN GUARD, EACH TIME.  Don’t get sloppy with guards, don’t anticipate the opening.
Don’t anticipate the parry.
B must recover to make his parry.

Variation: Instead of disengaging, B can recover back from his lunge to his guard, and then re-lunge.
Variation 2: Throw in advances and retreats while in guard before presenting

What does this work: Everything?  Lunges, recoveries, point control, parries, disengages, measure.

The Drill of Five Things
Start at measure, in guard, swords touching
Things 1 and 2:
If Leader is applying no pressure to Student’s blade to move it offline, Student lunges and strikes Leader on the hand
If Leader IS applying pressure, Student disengages and strikes Leader on the hand
Repeat until good, mix it up.
Thing 3: “If the opponent pretends to give you an opening, pretend to take it”
Leader moves his sword to present an opening.
Student extends forcefully (but does not lunge) to feint an attack to the opening
Leader attempts to parry, Student disengages and strikes Leader on hand (by extending the foot to close the measure)
Thing 4:
Leader takes a shot at Student’s foot
Student withdraws foot while SIMULTANEOUSLY stop-thrusting Leader’s hand
Thing 5:
Leader lunges at Student’s back shoulder
Student SIMULTANEOUSLY: parries with off hand, withdraws lead foot, and strikes Leader on the hand

Variations: Add footwork before Leader initiates an action

What does this work?  Yes.

That’s all for now (let me know when you’re ready for more, I’ve got a damn encyclopedia of these rotting in my brain).  You’re in a rough spot, the best fencer at a small practice, and wanting to get better.  These drills will get you there VERY quickly, and will drag your students along.  We fight that “But practice should be fun” sentiment all the time, I know, and it’s hard; we’re currently re-balancing our practice to include 45 minutes of drilling (up from “Zero”), because of the potential that’s going to waste here.  And it may not seem like fun, but as Conan said, What is best in life?

Yours,
Wistric

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Forward
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Owen Townes

to Charlotte

show details Apr 8

Hey, another for you…

– Show quoted text –
———- Forwarded message ———-
From: Owen Townes <otownes@gmail.com>
Date: Fri, Feb 25, 2011 at 12:21 PM
Subject: Re: Those drills, and other thoughts
To: awf556@yahoo.comYou mentioned your guys were getting bored, so if they’ve finally figured out how to lunge and hit your hand, here are some more you can add.
Building from the Close the Line and Disengage drill:Attack into the Tempo of the Disengage

1) Start out of measure in guard
2) Fencer A steps into measure while closing the line
3) Fencer B disengages and closes the line on the other side of the sword

4) As Fencer B begins his disengage, Fencer A extends and lunges, completing his lunge as the disengage is completed
Switch roles, repeat.
This one adds on the concept of attacking as soon as your opponent gives you a tempo in which to attack.  Fencer A cannot anticipate the disengage.
Add on the variation of having Fencer A continue his attack with a counter disengage while lunging.

Attack into the Tempo of the Step into Measure

1) Start out of measure in guard
2) Fencer A steps into measure while closing the line

3) Fencer B attacks into Fencer A’s step, completing his lunge while Fencer A’s foot is still coming down
Same as above, but attacking into a different tempo

Attack with Cavazione

1) Start out of measure in guard
2) Fencer A steps into measure while closing the line

3) Fencer B disengages while extending and lunging (the disengage-while-lunging is a Cavazione) to land his attack.  To insure his opponent cannot attack him during this action, his disengage should end with his true edge on Fencer A’s blade, closing the line

There’s more when you want them!

On Sun, Jan 30, 2011 at 5:40 PM, Owen Townes <otownes@gmail.com> wrote:

Ahoy Aldemere!

As promised, fencing drills.  But first, the assumptions:
You know how a lunge is supposed to look, how closing the line, parrying, and disengaging are supposed to look.  Supposed to look here meaning “You have an ideal form of the perfect ____ in your mind and are using it as a point of comparison”.  If not, let me know.  I’ve spent a lot of downtime figuring out what my ideal lunge/parry/disengage looks like and what are really the qualities of it, and am glad to share those thoughts with you.

Drills, starting with a couple that you and I didn’t do:
Closing the Line and Disengaging
You know these concepts but your other fighters might not, so these should help them learn.
1) Start out of measure in guard
2) Fencer A steps into measure while closing the line
3) Fencer B disengages and closes the line on the other side of the sword
Fencers reset and repeat, trading roles.

This is dead simple, and dead boring.  Eventually, have the fencers change their starting guard, so you all have to figure out how to close the line against as many guards as you can think of (imitate provosts and free scholars for ideas).  Play with different ways of closing line against the same guard.

So what does this work on?  The whole concept of closing the line, first of all.  But also, it should work up to making that sword position precise, not wasting an inch of extra motion.  Also, it works sharp precise disengages.

This one drill builds into a whole chain of drills that are insane and will convert you into an Italian fencer whether you like it or not.  Once you guys have exhausted this one, I’ll send you the full list

Advance-Lunge Drill:
This is a great one to do to warmup.  You don’t need to be in armor, just have your gloves (there are a couple of other glove drills, I’ll send those to you when you want).
Fencers set up in “guard”, measure of their choosing.  Fencer A has one advance and one lunge to strike Fencer B.  Fencer B can move in whatever way, as many steps as he wants to avoid the lunge.  However, once A completes his lunge, Fencer B has one advance and one lunge to strike Fencer A (and Fencer A can retreat as much as he wants).  Then just back and forth and back and forth until somebody lands a good (not-grazing) touch and you reset.

Now, the nuances: Fencer B should retreat JUST ENOUGH so that Fencer A’s lunge whiffs (one inch of space is good).  Fencer B’s retreat should be in such good form that he is IMMEDIATELY able to counter-attack as soon as Fencer A’s lunge is done, while Fencer A is still recovering.  Fencer A, on the other hand, should lunge with such good form that he is not over-extended or over-balanced with his lunge, and can recover back before Fencer B can counter-attack.
When Alejandro taught me this, we’d end up lunging and counter-lunging with no advance.

Variation: Mask up and do it with swords.

What does this work?  Footwork.  Lunges.  Measure.  Form.

Priest Drill
Start at measure, in guard.
Fencer A (“Leading” this drill) raises his hand to present an opening (start with large motions, bending at the elbow and offering the hand.  Work down to tiny motions of the wrist).
Fencer B lunges and strikes.  Reset, repeat, until fencer B’s lunge is “Right” 5 times in a row.  Then add the next step:
Fencer A brings his sword down to beat B’s sword.  B disengages and strikes the top of A’s hand.
Next step:
A parries B’s sword to the inside, B disengages and strikes the back of A’s hand.
Next step:
A extends and lunges.  B recovers from his lunge while parrying, then counter lunges to strike A in the arm (below elbow if possible).

Important notes: START IN GUARD, EACH TIME.  Don’t get sloppy with guards, don’t anticipate the opening.
Don’t anticipate the parry.
B must recover to make his parry.

Variation: Instead of disengaging, B can recover back from his lunge to his guard, and then re-lunge.
Variation 2: Throw in advances and retreats while in guard before presenting

What does this work: Everything?  Lunges, recoveries, point control, parries, disengages, measure.

The Drill of Five Things
Start at measure, in guard, swords touching
Things 1 and 2:
If Leader is applying no pressure to Student’s blade to move it offline, Student lunges and strikes Leader on the hand
If Leader IS applying pressure, Student disengages and strikes Leader on the hand
Repeat until good, mix it up.
Thing 3: “If the opponent pretends to give you an opening, pretend to take it”
Leader moves his sword to present an opening.
Student extends forcefully (but does not lunge) to feint an attack to the opening
Leader attempts to parry, Student disengages and strikes Leader on hand (by extending the foot to close the measure)
Thing 4:
Leader takes a shot at Student’s foot
Student withdraws foot while SIMULTANEOUSLY stop-thrusting Leader’s hand
Thing 5:
Leader lunges at Student’s back shoulder
Student SIMULTANEOUSLY: parries with off hand, withdraws lead foot, and strikes Leader on the hand

Variations: Add footwork before Leader initiates an action

What does this work?  Yes.

That’s all for now (let me know when you’re ready for more, I’ve got a damn encyclopedia of these rotting in my brain).  You’re in a rough spot, the best fencer at a small practice, and wanting to get better.  These drills will get you there VERY quickly, and will drag your students along.  We fight that “But practice should be fun” sentiment all the time, I know, and it’s hard; we’re currently re-balancing our practice to include 45 minutes of drilling (up from “Zero”), because of the potential that’s going to waste here.  And it may not seem like fun, but as Conan said, What is best in life?

Yours,
Wistric

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