How to Sword Fight

By Shawn McClain

Sword fighting is one of those arts that you can spend your whole life doing and never feel like you really have mastered it. When two people fight, it is easy for them to get caught up in the flash and flare of a sword fight, but the combatant who sticks to the basics has the best chance of winning.

Choose a stance and set yourself up correctly. There are a number of different stances to choose from, depending on your style of sword fighting and type of sword. Most stances will have you put one foot in front of the other and bring your sword up in front of you.

Stay balanced throughout the fight. Proper balance will allow you to focus on the sword fight instead of staying upright. Keep your feet shoulder-width apart as much as possible and never cross your feet or bring them together as you move. Slide your feet about an inch above the ground when you move so that if are caught off guard you are less likely to be toppled over.

Align your wrist with the hilt to get a correct grip on the sword. When you strike a target, you want the strength of your wrist behind it, instead of your thumb. Point the sword in front of you and your thumb should be pointing left or right. If your thumb is pointing up, you are not holding the sword correctly.

Swing your sword to strike your opponent. The exact procedure for making a strike will depend on the type of sword and your fighting style. You can make seven different slashing attacks, left or right on a horizontal plane, up or down on both diagonals and an overhead strike. You also can make backward strikes if your opponent gets past the point of your sword. If you hold your sword in front of you, then sword thrusts also are an option.

Defend yourself against your opponent's attacks. Hold the sword in front of you with the blade pointed up. Rotate your arms and body to move the hilt of the sword to the left and right to defend against attacks headed for your upper body and midsection. Dip the point of the sword toward the ground, either to your right or left, to defend against attacks headed for your lower body. Always block with the third of the sword closest to the hilt or your opponent might overpower your defenses. If the attack is slow, always dodge instead of blocking because you will have a better chance of counterattacking if your sword is free.

Keep your mind focused on the fight. If you allow your thoughts to drift, then no amount of training or skill can let you win. Think about what you and your opponent are currently doing, and what each of you will do next.

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