A Guide to the Art of Sword and Shield in the Current Middle Ages

By Wlfric of Derneford

Dedicated to the Kingdom of Drachenwald


The reasons for writing such a document on the subject of fighting are many.

First of all my intention is to increase the knowledge of fighting by sharing my own experiences on the matter. This does not mean that I think I know more than anyone else, on the contrary, I would love to see more of the skills of our Kingdom in written, or any other educating, form. The distances between places in Drachenwald makes it hard for us to exchange knowledge in a more personal way, so why not try to write things down?

Secondly it is a way for me to sort things out for myself and go through what I have learned so far.

My intentions are that this document should be useful to any fighter wishing to increase his/her fighting skills, from the beginner to the expert. I also would like it to be spread throughout the Kingdom, so feel free to use Your Xerox.

In this document I will use words like "right" and "wrong" and phrases like "this is the way it is". I do know that things are different from person to person, but it makes it a lot easier if I allow myself to say what is right for me. So please excuse me if things come out a little subjective sometimes.

These things work for me, love it or leave it.



1 Beginning

  1. Stance
  2. Delivering Blows
  3. Defense
  4. Slow-work
  5. Speed
  6. Movement
  7. Think!
  8. Practice in General

2 Fighting Against Other Weapon forms

  1. Greatweapons
  2. Polearms
  3. Two Swords
  4. Spears
  5. Incapacity
    1. One Arm
    2. On Your Knees

3 Alternate Styles

  1. Atlantion, high style
    1. Idea
    2. Stance
    3. Blows
    4. Defense
    5. Movement
    6. Watch-Outs
  2. Western Style
    1. Idea
    2. Stance
    3. Blows
    4. Defense
    5. Movement
    6. Watch-Outs
  3. Collection of Stances
    1. Horse-Stance
    2. Low
    3. High
    4. Static & Mobile
  4. Frontal Stye
    1. Idea
    2. Stance
    3. Blows
    4. Defense
    5. Movement
    6. Watch-Outs

4 The War

  1. Formation ( the Team)
  2. Awareness
  3. Taking/Giving Orders
  4. Focus ( the Task)
  5. Single Combat
  6. Kill from Behind

5 Trick Shots

  1. Rising Blows
  2. Wraps
  3. Off-Hands
  4. The Offhand Wrap
  5. Using the Back Edge

6 Chivalry & Valor

  1. Acknowledge Blows
  2. Temper
  3. Giving Advantage
  4. Recreating the Middle-Ages
  5. Giving the Victory, and Receiving...

7 Off the Field


1 Beginning

This section gives the basic techniques for using a sword and a shield. There are some things of importance such as how your starting position ( stance) should be, how to deliver blows and how to defend yourself. Blows must be delivered with enough force so you can´t just grab a stick and swing it around.

  1. Stance

Your starting position should be as follows:

Stand up straight, spread your legs and take a step forward with your left foot ( right for left-handed fighters). Unlock your knees for increased balance and mobility. The wider you place your feet the more balance you get, the closer you place them the more mobility you achieve.

Start with something in between that feels comfortable. Doing this your body should twist a little bit so that you don´t actually face your opponent anymore, but more or less have to look over your left shoulder to look at him/her. This twist makes it harder for your opponent to hit you where your shield doesn´t protect you, the so called sword-side.

  1. Delivering Blows

The technique described below is good to start with. Instead of swinging your sword it is snapped away, taking minimal effort.

Take the above stance and put your sword on your right shoulder, putting your hand under your ear, palm up. Push off the ground using your right foot and leg, move your right hip forward, twist your upper back and shoulder forward. Then move your hand straight forward towards your opponents face. Now, with all the force you have transmitted all the way from the ground you shouldn´t have to actually use your arm to move the sword.

Let your hand be thrown forward like you were throwing something from your shoulder. Your arm will guide the blade to where you want to hit, your wrist doing the final adjustment. This way your hand will move approx. 1 meter but the tip of the blade will move the double range during the same time. There is no use in "swinging" the sword as it gains momentum by itself. Your hand should move straight forward. This blow is called a forehand blow, or forehand snap.

The backhand snap works the same using the opposite side of your body for transmitting power.

Place your weight on your left foot and lift your hand above your head. Move your left hip forward while turning your palm upside down. Move your arm forward and use your wrist for the final snap.

Delivering blows should be as easy as possible and not exhausting your arm. Practice slowly and try to feel the transmitting of power through your body, this way your body will learn to do this by instinct.

Delivering a forehand blow to the leg of your opponent would be the same as any forehand shot except your arm guides the sword towards the leg. Maybe you would want to tilt your body a bit to reach down there but don´t make it too obvious. Teach your body so that you don´t have to look where you will strike.

A backhand blow to the sword-side of your opponent can be very effective. You will have to tilt your body to reach and still have enough force. Remember that you don´t have to drop your arm all the way down since you do have a blade with which to strike. Use your wrist to guide the blade down there. Practice slowly and teach your body. These go by the name offhand shots.

Now practice combinations of all kinds. Forehand, backhand, leg. backhand, forehand, offhand etc. Knowing these blows is enough to be a good fighter. If you use timing and speed, and are aware of what happens with your opponent and how he opens up depending on what you do, of course.

Be smart and learn by your mistakes.

Make sure you take enough time to learn every single blow. One at a time. Do not try the next blow until you are sure about how the first one works.

  1. Defense

There are various types of shields, working in different ways. This section describes the use of a so called heater shield. Make sure your shield grip gives the right angle to your shield-arm. Your arm should be in a 45 degree angle from the corner of the shield. This way you don´t have to raise your shield to parry, but only to move your fist to the left, using the corner of the shield to block a forehand blow.

Try to rest your arm as much as possible. Find a comfortable way to hold your shield. I usually rest my elbow against my left hip. For leg shots, bend your knees and lower the shield only a little. If you try to lower your shield all the way down, the bottom corner of it will move away from your knee. This, of course, would be a failed parry.

Look in a mirror if possible. See how far you have to move your shield to block different blows. You wouldn´t want to move it more than needed and get exhausted. Also a minimal movement will give your opponent less openings in your garde. After every parry try to get back to starting position. To parry offhand shots, move the shield to the right and forward a little bit. You can also move your body, twisting your right side backwards.

Be careful with blocking with your sword, as this is supposed to be an offensive object. Blocking with your sword is a good thing to learn but don´t overdo it. If you carry your sword on your shoulder, an effective backhand block would be to just raise your arm. From there you can still deliver blows.

Movement in general is a good way to defend yourself and a good way to find new openings on your opponent. Dodging by moving your head backwards and out of range, for instance, is something many fighters may choose to use. Knowing when you are in or out of range is a lot of help both defensive and offensive. Know your range, and your opponents.

  1. Slow-work

The way of practicing fighting in ultra rapid is called slow work. This is a basic way of learning almost anything. The idea is that you can´t do anything fast if you can´t do it slow. By practicing slow work, you will teach your body exactly how a move works, what muscles to use and how to do it the best way. After practicing slow work you don´t have to think about how to deliver a blow while fighting, instead you can concentrate on what you´re going to do and when.

Whenever you try to learn something new you should practice slow until you´re sure about what you´re doing. This prevents stretches and unnecessary pain. A more experienced fighter should practice even the most basic blows slowly on a regular basis. A beginner should use a lot of slow work to get somewhere quickly. Try it. You´ll be amazed by your own development.

Using slow work you don´t have to hit something, as long as you keep it real slow. If you want to go faster and harder you should get yourself a pell. Hitting hard into thin air will damage your body. Hitting hard onto something will damage your sword, so use an old piece of rattan for practice on a pell.

Do not use extremely heavy swords. It won´t help you hit harder or anything. It´s better to use the kind of swords you will actually fight with (Every sword is an own individual, so whenever you pick up a new blade you should do some slow-work with it first). This way your body will learn how to deal with it the best way.

Practice combinations slowly and then go faster and harder. Combinations helps going from one blow to another, so when you find yourself in a certain position and see an opening on your opponent, your body automatically knows how to get into that slot.

Remember to practice follow-through. Don´t hit on the target but hit through it. Follow-through definitely increases the chances of delivering a good blow, so go ahead and teach your body. Slow.

  1. Speed

Slots opens and closes quickly in your opponents guard. It takes a certain measure of speed to get there before the door closes again. To achieve such speed you need to practice. Slow work is the key to speed. Practice single shots over and over again. Feel what your body does and learn the shortest way to the target. Perfection is the word.

Another thing is to practice combinations of 2, 3, or 4 shots at the time. There should be an even flow of blows in such a combination as a practice. Do things really slow and try it fast every once in a while to see your advancement. At a fighter practice you should find someone to practice combinations with. An example of such a practice is to start with one blow each, one fighter at a time, the other fighter trying to defend himself. Then continue with 2,3 4 and 5 blows per fighter. Then start it over again.

There are no short cuts to achieve speed. Slow work will be necessary.

  1. Movement

While moving, as in trying to get closer or back off from your opponent, things happen with your garde. You don´t want your shield to move up and down, making holes in your defense. Try to learn how to move without moving your upper body.

Try to remain in balance always, more or less putting your weight on both feet all the time. Be ready to stop and put down your foot at anytime depending on what your opponent is doing. You also would like to be able to deliver a good blow at any time.

Practice by simply moving around, letting your upper body float through the air. Then pick up your sword and learn how to wave it while moving, regardless of where your feet are. Things have to happen simultaneously here which might take some practice.

Another thing is that when your foot is moving forward your leg is disposed. Be ready to stop and put your foot down and parry the incoming blow. You can also use movement to fake your opponent. Displaying a leg tempts him to hit you there, so if you just what until he starts shooting at it go for his head. Find out your own fakes and try them out. Don´t have your feet to close to each other while moving, it decreases your balance.

  1. Think!

Try to go through every fight afterwards and learn from your opponent and from yourself. Your reflexes are sometimes smarter than you think. Why did it work out? Why didn´t it? Where were my shield? Why? How can I stop this from happening again? Why did I hit him? Where were his garde? Why? What did I do to get it there? Can I do that again? etc,etc.

Listen to other fighter. They don´t have to be more experienced to tell you something. Why not just talk fighting with your fighter friends? After practice there´s usually a lot of fighters talk going on. Point your ears and ask questions. Try things you hear of and see if it works for you. A bonus is that if you can understand yourself and what you are doing you´ll probably be able to tell other fighters about it.

If they learn from you ,you will have more to deal with next practice and of course the fighting in Drachenwald with blossom and develop, bringing glory and victory to our Kingdom.

  1. Practice in General

The weekly fighter practice should be seen as not only a day of fighting or an nonofficial tournament, but as practice. A time set off for development and advancement. These are good things to have in mind when you´re attending fighter practice:

Warm up! Having your armour finally put on, you should go out by yourself and swing your sword for a while. Make sure things run smooth to prevent stretches and other damages to your body. Take your stance and walk around, using the floating style mentioned above. Wave your arms in circles and make sure you get warm and smooth.

After this you´re ready for some mock-fighting. This should be really slow for the first 5-10 minutes. More or less you should practice slow work with your opponent. It is not at all important to hit or win, but rather to make your body do the right thing. Try to feel the follow-through. Make sure you remain in balance at all times. You will find out that doing things slow can be quite hard. Try to keep this slow pace.

People tend to accelerate quickly as they find slots to aim for. If your mock-partner accelerates and hits you, don´t bother. You´re practicing and if he thinks he wins or anything, let him. You´ll win in the long run. End up with going a little faster, say 50% of normal speed, and take a break if you want to.

Depending on your experience level and what you need to improve, your practice looks different.

If you´ve been thinking about your failures and successes you should be able to find out what you need to improve. During the week you´ve been doing a lot of slow work so the weekly fighter practice should give you a chance to go full-speed and full-force as well. Hang around and find people to fight. Fighting more experienced fighters is a good thing, as long as you talk about every fight. Keep thinking about what you´re doing.

Another good thing is to fight less experienced fighters. This gives you a chance to see your development, and as you start teaching you will have to sort things out for yourself as well. By teaching others you will learn yourself for sure.

Attending fighter practice weekly, working on a pell regularly ( say 30 minutes a week), doing some slow work every other day should be enough for fast advancement. Remember also to take breaks every once in a while. This gives you time to digest your knowledge. These breaks tend to come naturally. Practicing too hard makes you tired of fighting and will give you this break.

Beginners can develop fast for a start, but as they get better it takes more time to see improvements. When this happens, try to focus your training on special things. Your offhand blows, fighting from your knees, fighting against two swords etc. A very good thing is to fight with other weapon forms yourself. You will notice that your sword and shield skill will develop as well. Go to fighter practice without armour for once. Watch, learn, teach and figure things out.

If possible, try to fight people from all over the Kingdom, or other Kingdoms, to see different styles. Try these out and introduce them to your friends.

2 Fighting Against Other Weapon forms

  1. Polearms and Greatweapons

Think about why somebody would want to pick his/her pole-arm up. Well I guess it´s a good thing in a melee while it gives you a good range to shoot from, but it needs a shield or two for protection. Single fighting with such a great weapon can be a fun thing, but it should be very hard to defeat somebody with a sword and a shield.

The pole-arm fighter will probably try to keep the distance between you and him. You should not. Instead you should throw yourself in, parrying his first blow, taking his pole-arm away with your shield, and wack him where the pole-arm is not. It sounds easy, doesn´t it?

Well, probably the pole-arm fighter will be aware of your plan and try to keep out from you, shooting from long range. Body fakes are good things to use here. For example, try to lean backwards so that your body and head will be out of his range, while one foot will stand much closer. Your opponent will have to get a little bit closer to reach. When he does, wait for his first attack. When it comes, parry it in a manner that keeps his pole-arm away while you move your body forward. Your foot is already there so your move shouldn´t have to be too hard for you to make. Now when his pole-arm is out of use, he is all yours.

Should this single-attack fail, you are still in on him an should be able to deliver a combination of some sort until he finds a way out of reach. When he is out of your reach, you are still in his reach, remember that. Stop and back off if needed to avoid getting attacked upon. Then start over again.

Keep in mind that blows from the side (e.g. forehands and other horisontal blows) are easier to parry, with a long weapon, than vertical blows. Try combinations which includes fast, straight blows and of course wraps that curves around his parry. A weak point with a pole-arm is the arm. Go for them.

A Greatsword is dealt with pretty much the same way the long weapon it is, but this weapon is faster and can be used with great finesse. Whatever you do not just stand there and let him shoot at you. Sooner or later he will get you. You will have to walk in on him and try the above mentioned plan. Once you are in there he will still be able to do something. Don´t be surprised when he leaves one hand in the air and delivers a one-handed trick-shot of any kind. Watch his placing of hands. If he has his left hand on top he will most probably shoot at your right side and vice versa.

Use a lot of wraps when you´re fighting a Greatweapon. You will find out that he will dance around his weapon, dodging moving around you. Don´t stand still but roll with him and try to hook his weapon with your shield.

Fakes of different kinds are great. e.g. make a hesitation fake looking like a backhand. If he starts some kind of block to his left side, put your shield there, keeping his sword from parrying your backhand to his head. Try to figure out a set of tricks and fakes for both Pole-arms and Greatweapons and try them out!

  1. Two Swords

Two Swords, also referred to as Florentine, is a weapon form used for great offense. Twice as many attacks, but also a possibility for good defense. When fighting against a two sworded fighter you must remain your cool and not be disoriented by his swords, thus loosing you focus and concentration. You should practice your split-vision. Don´t try to look at both swords at the same time, but rather look at your opponent. You will then see both swords without looking at them.

The left sword is the special feature, able to attack your left side. Figure out how to parry such blows, depending on what stance you are using. Remember that whenever he strikes with his left sword, his left side will show, leaving little defense. You must learn how to use these openings in his garde when he is attacking. Block such blows with your sword. Your sword will then end up between your opponents sword and his head/side. He now has little or no protection from your incoming blow to his, entire, left side. If he tries to block with his right sword, make your blow turn into a wrap-around ( See section 5.3).

You might want to consider your garde for better left side protection. Whatever you do, do never let your opponent go really offensive on you. You must be aggressive when in range. Keep him busy parrying instead of letting him shoot at you until he hits. Know you´re range and step out of trouble when necessary. When you step out of range you should give him a blow at the same time. There is usually a slot on top of the helmet to go for. This, shooting-while- leaving thing, goes for every weapon form you´re fighting against.

  1. Spears

Fighting spears should be no problem. The idea is to run pass his spear head and then hit him wherever you want to. However there are more problems while fighting spears when the Spearman is hiding behind a shield-wall. When fighting in a shield-wall you will have more or less all you concentration focused on defense, especially when spears are involved. Keep track of every Spearman and know what they´re doing. Split-vision is the word. Go for attack only when you know you will hit, without being hit yourself.

Multiple Spearmen will cooperate. One will try to push your shield away, leaving openings for the other Spearman to go for. Find out about the rules for face-thrusts before the melee starts.

  1. Incapacity

2.5.1 One Arm

Having only your sword-arm you have only little or no defense to reckon with. Know your distance and your range. Concentrate on counter-striking when your opponent strikes at you. I recommend holding your hilt below your chin, having you blade pointing in a 45 degree angle downwards. From here you should be able to deliver a number of blows, and defend yourself. This does not protect your legs a lot, but whenever someone attacks your leg you should go for his head instead of parrying his blow. Hold your sword out a bit from your body for better distance, thus giving you better defense.

2.5.2 On Your Knees

There are various styles of fighting from your knees. Some fighters stand up straight on their knees and some sit very low and leans backwards. Find out what feels comfortable to you.

Hitting your opponents head may be a little tricky, you think. But what about his leg, or even his side? You should have no problem with reaching a leg, and if you can get a leg you are even again, aren´t you? If he sticks out his shield towards your sword, to prevent your attacks, try a backhand blow as soon as he starts this movement. If he comes in close, you should go for wraps.

Keep knowing where his sword is all the time. If you think his sword is still up there above your shield, and you keep your shield high in the air, he will hit your shield-side or even armpit. Instead you could place your sword as in Atlantion (Below, 3.2), for better vision. This also gives you the opportunity of tip-shotting in his face.

3 Alternate Styles

  1. Atlantian, high style
    1. Idea

This style is great for in-fighting and melees, doing shield-walls. Your guard is drawn back to your body which makes it easier to fight, blocking and shooting, close to your opponent.

It also works as a base for delivering fast combinations.

  1. Stance

Left foot one step forward. Bend your knees slightly. Let your body turn sideways only a bit. Keep your shield to your body having the corner just below your left eye. Let your sword tip rest on the top of the shield and hold your sword-hand above your head to the right, palm facing your opponent.

  1. Blows

Forehands are delivered by turning your palm up while using your hip to achieve enough force. You don´t have to move your hand a lot, just turn it. Your basket hilt will, as it stays in place, provide for protection from backhand shots. On your way back from the forehand you might want to continue the circle and end up with a backhand of any kind.

Infighting can be tricky while your opponent is sometimes too close. Delivering blows in clinch can give you a bit of a "tangled-up" feeling. I therefore recommend using a lot of wraps going for the back of your target. These are mentioned in section 5.3 below ( Trick Shots ) but might need some explanations here too.

Start with a forehand and let your blow pass beyond your opponents head. Let your wrist roll from palm-up to palm-down and thus giving your sword the accurate momentum. Pull your sword back, using a reversed hip movement if necessary, and hit the back of your opponents head. Practice slowly until you achieve a nice and gentle flow. Listen to your body and do not ignore pains and stretches. Do something about it.

  1. Defense

A forehand blow towards your head should not be able to hit while you have full protection here, using both shield and sword, see stance above. Backhands are blocked using your basket hilt or your blade if necessary. Just drop your hand to your cheek and make sure your sword has the angle needed. Try it out. An offhand blow should only be successful when you are showing your right side too much or while stepping in. Therefore you should develop a good timing and be aware of your own slots.

When you are in clinch you should try to push your opponents sword away with your shield making him unable to shoot at you. Keep your own sword untangled. Remember to use you opponents shield as protection for your right side and leg. Taking a step with your right foot gives a great opportunity to deliver a wrap. If your opponent does that, roll with him taking a step backwards with your left foot.

  1. Movement

I suggest a more static style here than usual. A good thing is to wait for your opponent to get in range so that you can take that extra step in on him. If you´re the one moving in range, beware of your sword-side. Try to let your upper body float while moving keeping your garde static (Your garde keeps you safe pretty much by itself so why move it around? ).

  1. Watch-Outs

The watch-out here is your sword-side´s defense. Know your moves and your slots and when to parry this side. Your opponent will try to go for your armpit or your side when in display. Also watch out for backhands ending up in your face, and vertical shots to your chest occasionally. Don´t get too static letting your opponent dance around you and taking the initiative all the time.

  1. Western Style

This style is seen in use by fighters originating from the West Kingdom. Giving your blows a lot of force and letting your distance be your shield.

  1. Idea

If your like to use shield hooks and pushes this gives you a good point to start from.

There will also be a great increase of force in your blows.

  1. Stance

Left foot one step forward. Turn your body until you more or less have to look over your shoulder to face your opponent. Stick your shield out towards your opponents blade (I do recommend a small, light shield of any kind, thus.) and let your sword rest on your right shoulder hiding the blade behind your back.

  1. Blows

Delivering blows from this position should not be anything above the unusual. You will gain a lot of power, especially forehand- and wrap-wise. Use a longer sword ( 1 meter or more) for greater reach, giving you the benefit of keeping away from you opponents range.

Offhands are delivered while walking in. Pull your shield back for a second, to let your sword pass over it and thus giving you protection. As a minus, there are only a certain amount of blows that can be delivered from this position. So, if you decide to use this stance you should be ready to change it every once in a while. A good thing is of course to know many different styles to change between.

  1. Defense

Keep your distance and know your opponents range as your own. You don´t have to keep your shield up all the time, it will wear you out. Parrying low blows is done by dropping your shield, gravity will help you. Use your body´s muscles to raise your shield (e.g. leg and hip). Also use your shield offensively to hook your opponents shield thus opening his guard.

Punch-blocks towards the hilt of your opponents sword will hinder him from delivering accurate blows. If you use a small shield as recommended you will have to work with it. Stick it our, hook, punch-block and move yourself around. In and out of range.

  1. Movement

A low style is recommended here. You will want to shrink behind your tiny shield and keep it that way while moving. Bend your knees and float around. Maintain you balance and be ready to strike, block or dodge at any time. Take a long step around your opponent and give him a good wrap on your way around and end up in garde again.

Remember to gain the initiative at all times. You are the one who decides when you´ll be in or out of range.

  1. Watch-Outs

Don´t let anyone press your shield and walk right in. Take a step to the side and roll away while shooting at him instead. If he´s close enough already, give him a nice wrap while moving away.

Fighting anyone who has a good set of offhand shots can be tricky. Try to stop them in time using punch-blocks and roll your body. In general, don´t let your opponent come close and you´ll be safe.

  1. Collection of Stances

Here follows a collection of stances and how they work. While fighting (even if you have chosen a certain stance) you will move, thus changing your stance. These are not base stances, but rather positions you will end up in for a short time.

  1. Horse-Stance

This is the name, used in eastern fighting techniques, for placing your feet on a straight line from left to right and bending your knees. Keep your body upstraight and face you opponent. The horse stance will give you tremendous balance, especially sideways. This means that you can tilt your body from side to side, for body-fakes eg, without losing balance. You will stand firm.

If you´re being pushed place one foot behind the other for better balance backwards. This is a good position for static fighting. As you stand firm on the ground you will easily deliver blows pushing off from the ground.

  1. Low

A low stance (as in bent knees, crunched body, looking up on your opponent) will give you good defense, as long as you can see through your own guard. From here you can deliver a lot of rising blows.

Start your blow as usual and aim for a leg. As your blade travels through the air raise your body and your arm. When your sword hits your opponents helmet he will still be parrying the leg-shot. Try out different risings and see how they work. Note how your opponent reacts when you go down low.

  1. High

Standing up straight placing your feet closer to each other will give you mobility and relaxation. If you are tall you will use your length even better with a high stance. Walk around like you are walking in the street. Making yourself taller than your opponent will give you a chance to hit from above.

Different kinds of wraps, that come in from above your opponents head, landing in the back of his helmet or neck, are useful. These go by the name Scorpio. Your balance will be weakened using this stance, but you will be able to move your feet quicker to any direction.

  1. Static & Mobile

Some fighters are very static and some are very mobile. I suggest a mixture of them both. Get acquainted with both standing firm and moving around. If you´re static, don´t let anyone dance around you until he finds a way to kill you. If you´re mobile, don´t let anyone just stand there watching you dance around and wack you when your movement leaves an opening.

Practice both styles and make them work. You will learn by experience when to use any of these styles and why.

  1. Frontal Style
    1. Idea

The idea is to be able to deliver more different blows, especially offhands, by having your sword side closer to your target. This of course gives you less sword-side protection so you will need to block with your sword more. This is an offensive style, though. Once you´ve started attacking you will keep your opponent busy blocking all your combinations.

  1. Stance

Start with not taking a step forward and you will be facing your opponent in full, frontal, display. Keep your shield to your body as in Atlantion but keep your sword low on your right side. Let your hilt go between your hip and your chest, and let your bade go from your shields corner to straight up. You will need to do defensive work with your sword.

  1. Blows

Be offensive, while in range. Blows must be delivered with a focus on force and speed. Since your sword is already, more or less, halfway to you target there is a good chance your blow will be to soft. Quick combinations work well when you´re using the frontal style. If you come in close, use your opponents shield for your sword-side protection. From here you can let your right foot be your leading one thus giving you a better position to shoot off-hands from.

  1. Defense

See Atlantian above. Your sword side may either be parried by your sword or your shield. If you´re using your sword you will loose one attack, but if you´re using your shield you will have to change your garde to something like the Atlantion. You will have to learn both ways of parrying off-hands and know when you will want to do what.

I myself use my sword to parry backhands of all kinds. I try to parry in such a way that I can counter-attack where he has no sword to block with either. The best defense using the Frontal style is offense. Your opponent should be busy blocking your combinations.

  1. Movement

Depending on how high/low you go you can move in a way suitable for that stance.

If you´re using a more horse-like stance you can move your upper body sideways for better reach or better defense. A high stance will let you walk around in a relaxed way and it will make you go quicker, in and out of range.

  1. Watch-Outs

Showing your right leg too much may cripple you, if anyone is a good offhand shooter. This style is vulnerable against Florentine for the same reason. If you have defensive problems, try a mix between Frontal and Atlantion, or change to Frontal style only when you go really offensive.

4 The War

  1. Formation ( the Team)

A very effective unit in war is the shield-wall. This wall is built with fighters using sword and shield. Shields nearly overlap each other forming a wall of shields. If spears are involved this wall will serve as a great shield for all Spearmen and Pikemen. If there are no long weapons involved, shields will guard the troop from the enemy while swords will eliminate them.

There is a deal of difference in delivering blows in a tight shield-wall, since you don´t have so much room to swing your sword around in. I suggest that the whole unit use Atlantian for a stance. Practice fighting in shield-walls. See to it that there are regular melees at your local weekly practice. As soon as anyone moves individually the wall will break up and the unit will be useless. So, stick together.

A commander should tell the wall where to go and what to do. And when there is a Charge everybody must charge at the same time, otherwise the wall will break up and lots of fighters will get killed, especially if the enemy uses long weapons.

  1. Awareness

In war or melee there are a lot of things going on. You no longer have only one opponent to deal with. There are probably a lot of fighters that can reach you. However getting killed by someone from the side will teach you to do the same. Shoot at the guy standing next to the one in front of you. Wait until he is engaged with doing something. Talk to your neighbours. Team up and cooperate. Try to watch everything and nothing at the same time. Don´t look anywhere in certain, but be aware of everything going on. Split-vision is the word. Going too offensive might be stupid. Try instead to shoot when you know you´re gonna hit. Get back in garde fast.

  1. Taking/Giving Orders

The reason a team has a commander is that everyone must know what to do. Therefore you will have to do as you are told. If there is time, you can argue. If there is no time, you can not. It is always better if everybody does the "wrong" thing, than if everybody does things on their own.

When you are giving orders you should make sure everybody knows what they´re supposed to do. Make sure everybody hears what you´re saying. Try to keep things simple. Don´t go:"2/3 of the unit go west, the rest of the unit retreat 123meters ". Use short terms for what to do, like: "Charge","Retreat", "Move left", "Stop"(Don´t say"HOLD" if you don´t mean "HOLD"),"Run", "Slower","Faster"etc etc. Talk about things afterwards. Where did we go wrong, why? Why did it work out?

  1. Focus ( the Task)

In war you or your troup will have a mission to complete. It might be to wipe out the left flank or to find the banner or anything else. Remember this mission. Don´t just go out and fight people. The point is seldom to wipe out all enemies, but rather to do smart things. Therefore you will have to be focused on the task.

If you haven´t had enough fighting in the melees there are always some pick-up fighting afterwards for your exhaustion. Its tempting to leave the banner you are guarding just to have some fun, but its great to have been part of the great victory even if you have been guarding a banner all the time. If you don´t want to guard banners, go tell the warlord so.

If you are warlord see to it that everybody has a good time. People may have travelled far and they will be disappointed if they don´t get the chance to wear out their rattan.

  1. Single Combat

Single Combat is called for by any fighter, any rank, who don´t want to get wacked by four fighters at the same time. Instead he wants to have the chance of fighting each enemy in a single fight. As a chivalrous manner I think this should be practiced whenever it is asked for. Also a team of fighters might want to suggest a single fighter to go single combat. If other fighters should intrude, make clear that there is a single combat going on. No one should disturb any such fight.

Of course, the whole war should not end up in a great single combat tournament. Don´t overpractice this but keep it in mind and be chivalrous. This is the middle ages as it should have been, not how it actually were...

  1. Kill from Behind

In some wars there is a rule for killing people from behind. This is done by sneaking up behind the enemy, placing your weapon around him and yelling "Kill from behind!". This is done to prevent unnecessary injuries. There are different views upon this matter. If you think it is not chivalrous to kill people from behind, don´t. Walk up with your opponent instead and make sure he knows you are there. Then start fighting him. See The Drachenwald Regulations for Combat, for Kill from Behind rules. Think about it for a while and decide what you like.

5 Trick Shots

  1. Rising Blows

These are mentioned above and are described here. A rising snap needs practice. Start with making a leg shot. Bend your knees instead of extending your arm. Push off the ground. Extend your arm. Use your wrist to guide the blade over the shield rim, horizontally.

Do it over and over again very slow. Make sure that there is an even flow in this swing. Don´t go fast until you can do it slow.

An easier variation is to simply look at your opponents leg but going for his head. But against an experienced fighter the rising should be more persuading to be sufficient.

  1. Wraps

This blow wraps around your opponents body/garde and hits him in the back. To learn this, take your sword and start delivering a forehand snap. When your arm is fully extended turn your palm upside-down. The momentum will make your sword swing in an arc while you turn your palm upside-down. For more force, you can pull back your sword at the moment of impact.

Practice slowly. Make sure your wrist doesn´t hurt. Even flow. Wraps can be used to not only it the back of your opponent but also to make your blade curve around parrying objects (Swords, shields etc). When dealing with Florentine wraps are great. When your opponent makes a regular parry your sword will come in an angle that makes his parry useless. These wraps are called Long wraps as they are delivered from ordinary range, longer than a wrap around the opponent.

Wraps are also good for leg shots. A long wrap will go beyond the edge of the shield, eliminating his parry. By taking a step in on your opponent your leg-wrap will end up in his bottom or back. Use wraps to take arms on a Greatweapon fighter. A good way of learning wraps is to simply swing your sword over your head in a circle. Your wrist will learn when to turn upside-down in a smooth way, using the momentum of the sword.

The wrap-technique can be used to come up with a great variety of blows. Try to invent new ones. The Scorpio comes in over your opponents helm and lands in his neck. Another similar wrap comes in over the helm, but from his left to his right, landing on his right side of the helm. To do this you will have to lean to the right and go down low when starting the blow, then rise and lean to the left to reach.

  1. Off-Hands

The backhand mentioned above is the basic offhand blow. By directing the blade to the lower side of your opponent you will hit him where he has less protection than anywhere else. You will have to move your shield to let your sword pass. Your defense will not decrease since your sword will protect you at the moment you pull your shield backwards to your left side.

Practice slowly. Even flow. Make sure the force is with the sword all the time. It might be easier to start with a forehand snap and then go directly from there to an offhand blow. If your opponents right leg is showing you should be able to let your sword come more or less from above, especially if he takes a step in. Remember that your blade is almost a meter or so. You don´t have to overdo it. Try a backhand and let your hilt stay in front of your face, use your wrist only to guide the blade down. 1 meter from his chin would be where his leg is, right?

  1. The Offhand Wrap

This blow might take some extra practice. The technique is very similar to throwing a Frisbee. Try throwing your blade like a Frisbee. If it doesn´t work I´ll now try to explain it.

Hold your sword up straight in front of you. Turn it upside down, or rather dip the tip by raising your arm and sinking your sword-tip. Draw a lying eight (8) with your hand letting your palm go from upside-down to palm up. When your palm is up you should be hitting your opponents sword-side. Use your hips to give force to the swing. First the right hip as you dip the tip, then the left hip as your palm turns.

Practice slowly. Even flow. Listen to your body, if it hurts you´re doing something wrong. Overdo the whole thing to teach your body the right moves, and the even flow. With time you will be able to minimize the moves and you will have a fast offhand shot that comes in at the same angle as a wrap. Go for legs, body, armpit, arm or let your sword flip into the face.

  1. Using the Back Edge

A forehand blow that hits with the other edge, or back edge, will come inn a different angle than an ordinary forehand. An important thing is to watch out for wrist damages. Do it right. Do it slow in the beginning and make sure your hit with the edge, as in not the flat side of your weapon.

If done right, your opponent will parry as normal but your sword will come in slightly from above thus passing his shield-rim. As you might have to move your body or take one step in (right foot) you can easily go for a offhand shot from here, should he parry the first shot.

Experiment with your blade. Can you come up with new ways of using the back edge? Whatever you do, practice slow. And a lot.

6 Chivalry & Valor

  1. Acknowledge Blows

Blows are considered by the fighter being struck. Blows must be delivered with sufficient force. Don´t use calibration to learn what kinds of blows to acknowledge. If you just stand there being hit, you will have all concentration on the incoming blow and it will feel hard.

While fighting you will never feel a blow the same way as when you are calibrated. You then have your concentration on other things. Instead of using calibration you should fight many people and talk about the blows occasionally. If you are a beginner you should ask your fighting-companions whether to take different blows or not.

Our kingdom is big, geographically, so there will always be differences in acknowledging blows from place to place. Take customs where you go. Talk about blows while practicing. In war or tournament there should be little discussions about blows, unless a real problem occurs. Every fighter is his own judge. The marshalls are not judges or referees, they are only safety guards. However if both fighters walk out of the lists, they are satisfied with the outcome of the bout. Therefore there should be no discussions afterwards and of course a bout should never be refought.

If you are stupid enough to not acknowledge good blows on purpose, you will get labelled. A bad label is easy to get but very hard to wash away. SCA fighting is not a regular sport. We are all friends trying to behave according to the ideal of chivalry.

  1. Temper

There are a lot of force involved in SCA combat. Sometimes you will get upset about things, or even mad. Whenever this happens you should take a break and calm down. Never fight when you are upset. It is bad manner, dangerous to others and yourself. Try not to yell or say bad words. Instead, pound the ground with your sword or something. You will probably fight better when you are calm than when you are upset, if you want to look at it that way. If anyone breaks the rules, tell him. Call HOLD! Tell the marshalls.

  1. Giving Advantage

When people lose limbs, some fighters want to give the advantage away by not using the same limb himself. Be careful with this. Some people take this as an insult. I recommend if you find someone in the field without leg. You could go down on your knees as well since you didn´t get this advantage yourself. Anyway don´t take things for granted. You can never demand anyone to do the same for you. Giving the advantage does not automatically make you chivalrous. Consider this and be consequent.

  1. Recreating the Middle-Ages

Fighters should remember that we are trying to recreate the middle ages. Fighting in medieval armour can be tough. Modern materials are lighter and do sometimes protect better. If you choose to use such materials, make sure you cover them up real good.

Other people might have another view of fighting which should be respected. It is impossible though to be totally authentic. We have to use rattan and duct-tape, but I do think we can try a little harder, all of us.

  1. Giving the Victory, and Receiving...

A special thing about our fighting is that nobody wins unless the victory is given him. Someone has to acknowledge another fighters blow, and decide that the victory should be given to the better fighter. When you give victory to someone, don´t blame yourself (at least not audible) but give the profit to the winner. Of course you did something wrong, but your opponent obviously did something right too!

Be generous to your opponent and don´t be to hard on yourself. Think about what happened in a constructive way, you should have learned something from the defeat.

Consider also how to behave when you´ve finally dented someone´s helmet. How do you take victory the best way? Never brag or boast! Give him a hand to get up and thank him. He has in a way given you the victory you did deserve. You could for instance try to make sure you both learned something from the bout, by discussing it shortly.

7 Off the Field

Well, fighting is over. A nice warm shower did it. Armour taken care of, as some of the nice new body decorations called bruises. Now what? What about being a fighter off the field? Well there are lots of things to do.

The armour is gone, the opponent is gone... but the chivalry is still there. A strong fighter should easily be able to carry big baskets for a lady, hold up doors, be ready to help out decorating the hall or whatever. Of course every man should have some rest and some food and drink for a while first.

The SCA is not only fighting. It is a society for recreating the middle ages. The chivalry is the ideal that binds the society together. Without the chivalry-ideal the society will fall, like a nation without religion and culture. The dressing-up-in-medieval-costume-thing is not a chance to misbehave, in some sort of barbaric manner. Rather, it is a chance to behave as honorable as possible without being laughed at, as would be the expected reaction in the mundane world.

Being in the society for a while should make you interested in something else than only rattan. Walk around the place and see what people do. If you haven´t done this before you will be surprised by all the things going on in the camp. A soldier of Drachenwald should always be ready to serve the Kingdom, in or out of armour. The honor of a soldier lies not only in defending the Kingdom from enemies. There are many honorable deeds off the field. If the Royalty expects something from you, you should take it as an honorable task to fulfill Their requests.


Well, these are my thoughts upon the subject, so far. I hope I will come up with more to write about someday. This has been educating to me, forcing me to go through things all over again. Teaching others will teach yourself, I´ll remember that for sure.

If, and I am sure you do, you have any thoughts you would like to add, please write to me and, as finally enough material comes in, I will write appendixes or a second edition of the text. There are, as far as I am concerned, a lot of fighting manuals in the Known World. All these go through things in different ways, focusing on different subjects. This documents is not a complete fighters manual, unlike many others. You will need a copy of the Drachenwald Regulations for Heavy Combat, regarding the rules of the Lists and the armour standards etc as a complement.

In service to the Crown

Earl Wlfric of Derneford AoA, VPV, OSG, PoA

Mikael Nordin

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