Wednesday, 13 April 2011

Swordplay: Over-movement

Back to hitting people with swords. Now, your hero no doubt leaps about, bounding and spinning and throwing themselves through the air as they cut people down. Should they, though? There is a case for it, and a case against.

The case for it comes from things like Bagua (and from the looks of it, Russian Systema works the same sort of way) where you keep moving so that you won't be hit, changing direction and using the power of that constant movement as a way to fight. It's very specialised, though as a fencer who relies on distance as a defence, I'm hardly in a position to complain. It's the sort of thing we covered in earlier pieces.

What you find in most older weapon arts, though, is that the emphasis is on not moving very much. Or at least not moving your arms and weapons too much. If you keep them reasonably central, it's fairly straightforward to protect yourself, but if you get drawn into large movements for attack or defence, you're in trouble. Particularly with a shield, you want to be a tight, compact target. Think of the Romans, hunched up behind theirs, stabbing out without ever losing their protection.

On a more recent note, think of a lot of the best rapier types, who used a very still and extended sword position, keeping it fixed on the target so that the opponent couldn't rush them without being an instant kebab. They would sometimes advance with it, drawing their opponent into larger and larger preparations on the blade, only attacking when they had moved themselves totally out of position.

So the game for your hero is to make the enemy move. To force them into mistakes that overcommit them. Only then will they get through safely.

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