Here are a few exercises and lessons to keep you busy.
Week of May 24
For a different perspective on longsword, why not try some Italian methods? Check out Academie Duello’s series of introductory Italian longsword technique videos. Mapping the new vocabulary onto what you already know will be good for your brain, and familiarizing yourself with Italian style footwork will be good for your legs. And it’s always great to have more tools in your toolbox!
Week of May 10
Our good friends at Triangle Sword Guild have an ongoing series of basic blade exercises that steps through a lot of their KdF curriculum. These are great, and Ben is an outstanding instructor. Why don’t you do one or two of these exercises each day this week?
Week of May 3
Cork Blademasters have published a great series of fitness + bladework workouts that you can try at home. They even give modified exercises that you can try indoors in small spaces. But check out their awesome hanging pell!
Week of April 26
Check out Sword Carolina’s HEMA Quick Tips video series. Number 4 in particular has useful advice on how you can practice bind-based exchanges solo. Give them a crack!
Week of April 19
This week, let’s work through Martin Fabian‘s “Longsword!” video series, currently five parts. Martin presents a perspective that’s highly informed by the work of the masters while also recognizing the competition-oriented aspects of the modern interpretation. The videos can sometimes be rather technical and might take a few watchings (and possibly some additional research) to fully appreciate, but everyone can get something out of them.
- Part 1: “The Best Nachschlag”
- Part 2: “En Garde!”
- Part 3: “Liar, Liar”
- Part 4: “The Lazy Workout”
- Part 5: “Secrets of the Streich”
Week of April 12
- Dre made a fantastic video showing you how to improve your Grip Basics!
- At the turn of the 20th century there was a huge fitness movement. Try this 10-minute home workout from the era. (This was originally published as a set of cigarette cards. For health!)
Week of April 5
Björn Rüther has a set of three “sword drills” ranging from beginner to advanced. Watch them, and observe the deliberateness and grace that are on display in the execution of these drills. Note the careful coordination between bladework and footwork. Some of Björn’s interpretations differ from ours, but his form and care should be aspired to. Make it your goal to achieve the precision you see depicted here. If you want to fence well and fast, you’ve got to be able to fence well and slow. “Slow is smooth; smooth is fast.”
I’d like you to work on these drills yourself. Here’s the progression I suggest:
- Beginner exercise. (Repeat until you can do it cleanly!)
- Beginner exercise again, then intermediate exercise.
- Beginner again, then intermediate again, then advanced exercise.
Week of March 29
This week I want you to focus on the fundamentals of grip, sword handling, and overall control. The goal is to make the weapon as much of an extension of your body as possible.
- Work on Guy Windsor’s “six grips” sword handling drill.
- Take your favorite flow drill, especially one that combines short-edge and long-edge actions. Slow it down to 1/10th speed. Go through it a couple times at that speed — literally as slow as you can possibly do it. At this speed you should be able to make sure that every blade action and transition goes perfectly. One thing I would suggest is taping one edge of the sword with blue painter’s tape. Make this the long edge. Do the drill a few times — is the same edge still the long edge? (One common issue I see in students is that they spin the sword in their hands as they try to switch between thumb grip and regular grip — don’t do this. Watching to make sure your long edge stays consistent will help train it out of you.)
- Go through your basic inventory of actions, except switch handedness. If you’re a righty, practice with your left hand higher on the grip, and vice versa. Practice this for 10 or 20 minutes. Now try your favorite flow drill.
Week of March 22
- Give Guy Windsor’s hand and wrist conditioning exercises a crack. You’ll need some light freeweights (or soup cans) and a broomstick / closet rod / etc.
- Do the 99 Strikes drill: Find a pell or other target, and strike at it at speed, but with enough control not to actually hit it. Mix up your strikes, including long edge, short edge, ober- and unterhaus, thrusts, zwerchhaus and any other master strikes. Your goal is to strike at your target 100 times, without ever hitting it once. Keep count — if you accidentally strike the target, you have to start over at zero. The drill ends when you reach 100. The goal here is to gain control over your strikes at the same time you practice fundamental footwork and bladework.
- Watch a couple more Sword Carolina videos.
Week of March 15
- Our friends at Sword Carolina have updated their longsword technique videos! Practice the contents of two or three videos a week and you’ll be in great shape.
- Work on Matt Galas’s 64 Cuts drill — it’s a great form drill that you can do in a relatively small space, and looks really impressive at speed.