Monthly Archives: August 2011


Although in this case I am defining armed combat as any hand-to-hand martial art that includes weapons (i.e; sticks, swords, knives), the same advice would also be applicable to unarmed fighting as well. Nonetheless, I am aiming these guidelines more at the fencer than the boxer.

Rule 1; You train in order to fight, so you will fight the way you train. If you train with low intensity, or pause after each technique, then you will wind up fighting the same way. True, beginners need to take the time to learn basic skills and correct their form, but once the basic movements are under their belt, it is imperative to include drills that are fluid and dynamic. After you memorize the sequence you are trying to learn you should begin practising it as though you were fighting. Circle and move in and out as you work with your partner, and when you go to execute the technique you should be sure that you are moving arrhythmically.

Movement in and out of measure;

Outside measure (both combatants are outside the distance in which they can strike each other)

-Don’t be static. Even when you are safely out of range you should not stand still. To use rapier and dagger as an example; a fencer in this style could stand in a scientifically perfect guard, with their sword covering one line and their dagger the other. However, if their opponent is clever, standing in such a perfect guard will tell them far too much. By standing still you may be covering yourself perfectly, but you are also doing very little to disguise your intent. Your opponent can see exactly how your weight is distributed, and therefore can deduce the most likely ways that you will move. Deception is paramount, especially when dealing with edged weapons.

-Move slowly, staying relaxed and calm. Rock slightly on the balls of your feet, circle and angle around your opponent while keeping measure. Don’t let your posture reveal your intentions.

Wide measure (Combatants can strike each other with a single, committed attack.)

-This measure is the one that demands the most deception. It important not to give anything away to your opponent, since an error on your part could result in immediate defeat.

-Move a little more, bounce or shift your weight just enough to keep yourself loose and disguise your intent

-Circle in both directions, and don’t let your opponent corner you into just circling one way

-Cover yourself with a guard but be loose and relaxed

Narrow measure (Combatants can strike each other without a lunge, by leaning, stepping, or reaching.)

-Never stop moving

-Gain entry with an angled approach, never step directly in to the centre line as your first attack

-If your opponent strikes first, defend while stepping to the side, not backwards,

-Try to set up rhythms and them immediately break them

-Keep the flow of the fight going until you are outside of measure again

-Don’t pause after an attack, even if it is successful, but recover out with a side step or in with an angled step

Narrowest measure (Combatants are close enough to grapple.)

-Don’t ‘arm wrestle’, move tactically and positionally

-Roll around the pressure from your opponent, don’t try to fight it with brute strength

-Attack and defend constantly without any pause or unnecessary pushing and shoving, if something doesn’t work, immediately move to plan B.



I have decided to construct a fencing vest for Holly and myself. After all, why buy modern ones when they are a) expensive and b) unflattering. I mean, who wants a strap under their crotch? Not I. Besides, y’all don’t need no strap if you tailor the fit perfectly. So I set about playing with ideas for a semi-period styled protective jacket until I came up with my favourite design – thus;

It shall be double breasted, of course, and have a full buttoned flap over the chest perforated by diagonal quilting. It will also sport a high, straight collar that will act as a gorget and protect the throat (While also looking impressive.) The female version will additionally have some extra darts in the front to add more shape.

So, after the measurements were taken, I then endeavoured to draft the actual pattern. (DVD remote optional.)

Followed by the actual fabric itself.

And again, arranged together.

It doesn’t come across in the photos, but the colour for Holly’s is a light, powder blue. (Actually, the basis for her vest was the one Ken Branagh wore in the second Harry Potter film. I swear though, if she ever tries to say ‘Expelliarmus’ while fencing I will be very cross.) Canvas tends not to come in the most interesting colours, so my own will be black. It doesn’t hurt to look a little stern when instructing, anyway.

Well, that is the progress thus far. I shall post more when the actual sewing begins.