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Time and Measure
Crackpot Mailbox: Samuel Finlay is Searching for the Swordsman's Holy Grail
Checking In / Sword Tips
Samuel Finlay
Sat, Aug 24, 10:40 PM (5 hours ago)
James,
Over the past few months I've been getting back into regular sword training, and there have been many times I wished I could pick your brain for advice. After gauging my performance in an in-house tourney, I thought I'd see if you have any suggestions. I'm getting way too many double-kills, and from what I gather, I need to focus more on defense rather than just launching an attack when I see movement. Do you have any tips for sword defense? (They've taught some of the usual basic blocking and parrying and I'm working on trying to improve control over my fighting distance.) During the cat-and-mouse at the beginning of a round, what do you look for as an opening? After a while, I just get annoyed and start swinging.
By the way, I noticed Lynn's twitter account was "restricted" for "unusual behavior" or some such. She ok?
I hope the world's treating you right out there, Brother James.
Sam
The Secret of Steel
Sam, swordsmanship is a great discipline for empty hand fighters who need to calibrate their brain for extension weapon encounters, for knife fighters who do not do enough stick fighting and for any paleface who wants to survive the rampant machete violence erupting in this sissy land due to third world immigration. The sword is an edged extension weapon, a wedge longer than your forearm, either of wood, steel or other hard substances that focuses the energy of a blow.
Below is a bullet point list of training tips, but first, the world of High Country America is treating me fine and Lynn is okay and is being careful to protect herself as she gets back on twitter.
-For every round of sword sparring do ten rounds of shadow work.
-Set-piece drills that such schools teach are not really that useful past your introduction to the art.
-Make sure you shear with the edge and do not satisfy your ego with the fencer's touch—you are cutting this dude apart.
-Move with every stroke in training, always improving your position and never posing.
-Never stay where you were when you scored but vacate the counter stroke space, preferably while stroking.
-Do a lot of slow motion light contact continuous stick sparring.
-Most defensive strokes should not be classic blocks but diverted offensive strokes or beats. Your instructors may disagree but my old fat ass would be willing to duel them with machetes and no gear to settle the debate.
-With any length of blade, a duel is best decided by drawing an attack and than cutting his weapon hand off. Sword dueling is simultaneous ambush mobility.
-In boxing terms you never stay in the wheelhouse but leave the foe their as you shear through him.
-In MMA terms, the pocket is not where you want to be.
-In infantry terms you never escalate the assault, blitzing or frontally attacking unless the guy is mentally crumbling. Rather you probe, always prodding for a weakness and trying to get him to commit to a full stroke counter in response to a half-beat feint on your behalf.
-Look at my instructional videos on stick fighting foot work and try that with your sword, particularly the triangular steps and the shifts.
-Time and measure is the calibration of your body and mind through continuous contact sparring, shadow fighting and committed-movement apparatus drills that will enable you to know without calculating when you can hit and be hit. This is like radar or sonar and missile guidance in modern war. If you have this in a pure blade encounter and the other guy does not, it's an execution. You have some time and measure from your boxing. But boxing range is very narrow compared to the sword, bat, axe handle, etc.
You are probably scoring while you are in the pocket and getting countered. With the sword you only go into the pocket when you have a shield. I'll try filming an extension weapon footwork video soon.
Good luck, Sam.
Readers that haven't, check out Sam's book on his army experience via the link below.
Breakfast with the Dirt Cult Paperback – October 12, 2012
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