Tag Archives: drills

Drill Spotlight: First to Ten

The first-to-ten drill is a fairly straight forward drill; two combatants fight a sequence of rounds, and the first person to win ten times (total) wins the drill. Simos are ignored. This sounds like regular sparring, but there is an important difference. In regular sparring, you should not be seeking to win; you should be seeking to improve. That means you are testing your opponent to see if your reads match their actions, you are trying out new shots or new setups to increase your repertoire, you are practicing shots you haven’t perfected, and you are, in general, performing actions that challenge you and increase your skill instead of performing actions that make you most likely to win. In this drill, you are trying specifically to win, putting out your best effort and choosing the options that are most likely to make you win.

This drill is an excellent tool for overcoming tournament anxiety. Generally, poor performance in a tournament results from succumbing to “nerves.” A fighter will focus so much on the importance of winning that he will lose focus, over-analyze his attacks, play overly safe, and otherwise fight in a different manner, and in inferior manner, than he normally fights. This drill provides the pressure of tracked wins with a defined end goal in a competitive environment and allows a fighter to grow comfortable in such situations. To accomplish this goal, the drill is best used sparingly, as a capstone at the end of a sparring session, so that the competitive nature of the drill is heightened.

The First-to-Ten drill also has the benefit of pushing both fighters to maximum effort, because it has both a winner and a limited timespan. It is easier to push yourself when you can see the finish line. It’s a good thing to do when both fighters are flagging and getting ready to take a break; it drives you to put in a last burst of effort and has the side benefit of getting in extra rounds of fighting with your opponent.

This drill also provides an excellent barometer for your progress. It is common for fighter to come away from a sparring session with a very vague, and often overly optimistic, sense of how they’ve done. Actually counting fights lets you determine an actual win ratio, and the competitive part ensures you’re both putting in your best effort instead of trying out new, less polished skills.

The final feature that makes me like this drill so much is that it is a good way for up-and-coming fighters to get noticed. If you go 8:10 against a warlord, he’s going to remember you. If you beat him, he’s going to seek you out at the next event for a rematch. Putting concrete numbers in your opponent’s mind about your performance and his makes you, and your encounter, more memorable.

Ask the Champion: Choosing Something to Work On

Dear Champion:

I have a laundry list of things I need to improve; footwork, stance, guard, shot accuracy, shot selection, feints, baits, combos…. I’m overwhelmed. Where do I begin and how do I go about improving in a smart and logical fashion.

Overwhelmed in the Wetlands

Dear Overwhelmed:

That is an excellent question. The answer is not going to be the same for everyone, but hopefully I can give you some guidance that will help you find the best answer for you. There is a general hierarchy that will serve as your framework for deciding what to work on next; guard, stance, footwork, shot accuracy, shot selection, feints and baits. However, you can’t simply work through this linearly, developing the perfect guard before learning anything about your stance, then perfecting your stance before you learn anything about footwork. That just doesn’t work. It would also be intensely boring to spend months practicing your guard instead of fighting. Instead, there are a couple ways to decide what to work on next; the “what am I doing wrong?” approach, the “what am I not doing?” approach, and the “what should I be doing?” approach. We’ll look at all three.

When a newbie first shows up, you show him how to hold his sword, how to stand, and show him a couple basic shots. Then you turn him loose. When he comes to you for help later, you are generally going to have one “biggest mistake” he is making, and fixing that will give him the best improvement for his efforts. He may be only throwing one shot, he may be throwing his one shot incorrectly. He may be holding his shield far too low. After he fixes that, you find the next big problem, and so on.

This is one method for finding where you need to improve; find a flaw and fix it. What is the one thing that gets you killed most often, or what is the most common way you get killed. Isolate that and you’ve found the next thing you need to work on.

As you become more skilled, you need to start finding gaps in your fighting instead of flaws, i.e. figuring out what you’re not doing at all. Do you only throw shots to certain quadrants of the opponent? Then you need to develop some shots that attack the quadrants you are neglecting. Do you always move around to the shield side of your opponent? You need to develop some moves that require moving around to the sword side. Analyzing what you do, then comparing it to the set of “everything it is humanly possible to do” can help you find gaps in your skills.

A third method in deciding what to work on is to take a holistic approach and figure out what your fighting development path should be. That is no one true path, and I’ve never actually sat down before and charted out a full fighting development path (and I’m very glad your question got me thinking about this!), but here is a rough estimate of what your progress path should look like. If you’re behind in something, that is probably the area you should work on next. This isn’t a hard and fast ordering; if you start doing great stabs as a newbie, awesome. That just means you don’t have “shots” as an area that needs tons of work until you get your other areas up to speed.

  1. Level 1 Fighting
    1. Basic Stance/Guard: When you are standing still, how you hold your gear, where your feet go, and how you hold your body.
    2. Basic Shots: The three basics of chop, high cross, and wrap, plus the straight stab. Throw and return to guard. Nothing fancy.
    3. Basic Blocks: Sword blocks sword side, shield blocks shield side. Nothing fancy.
    4. Basic Movement: Moving forward and backwards without dropping out of guard.
  2. Level 2 Fighting
    1. Basic Ripostes: Learning to throw a good basic shot as an immediate riposte after blocking a shot. The goal is to exploit people’s failure to return to guard.
    2. Basic Range Control: Keeping out of the Danger Zone and controlling when the opponent is in yours against static and near static opponents. Basic footwork drills like two-step are useful.
    3. Intermediate Stance/Guard: There is more than one guard and stance. You should be trying others, and returning to your guard through the highest probability return after throwing a shot. (Hello, Block-Strike)
    4. Intermediate Shots: Stabs and other more complex shots, such as the darkside. These shots require more precise weapon control (pocket stab) or have multiple motions that need to be done in order to complete the shot (darkside).
    5. Intermediate Blocks: Blocks that violate the sword-side/sword-block rule. Aggressive or weapon controlling blocks, blocking in the opponent’s space or other opportunity-specific blocks.
    6. Intermediate Movement: Moving laterally while maintaining stance and moving at angles. Transitioning from one stance to another while moving without exposing yourself. Footwork drills composed of multiple movement types are really your friend. You should begin experimenting with cross-steps and lateral movement.
  3. Level 3 Fighting
    1. Basic Feints and Baits: Start with the more obvious baits: exposed shield shoulder, cross both feint, et cetera. These should be fairly safe moves and only require a few basic movements.
    2. Intermediate Counterattacks and Ripostes: Counterattacks that jam the opponent, Throwing more complex shots as ripostes, how to draw attacks you can riposte from. (Overlaps with feints and baits)
    3. Intermediate Range Control: closing on fast retreaters, keeping range open on fast closers. “Follow the Leader” and “Close on the Wall” are good drills.
    4. Advanced Shots: You start building new shots that fill in holes in your attack space repertoire. You may start wasting time with spin shots. “Shots”, “movement” and “feints and baits” start to blend together.
    5. Advanced Range Control: You should be able to move rapidly in any direction and be able to control range control to within an inch or so. Partner stop and go drills, “Follow the Leader” with multiple movement types, laterals, angles and cross-steps.
  4. Level 4 Fighting
    1. Elite Fighting: You don’t need a roadmap at this point. You should also start teaching at this point, since teaching will force you to develop a better and more cerebral understanding of your own fighting, which will in turn make you a better fighter.

As always, if you have questions for Ask the Champion, send an email to glen@malletofprovidence.com and I will answer them in my column.

Ask the Champion – Pell Work

Dear Champion:

I hear, very frequently, that in other activities similar to Amtgard pell training is highly encouraged. Does pell training have value in Amtgard, and if so how should I go about doing it?

Fighter Practice Absentee


 

Dear Absentee:

Pell training is an excellent addition to your Amtgard training regime. I use a pell myself, especially during times when I am injured and am unable to do any sparring. I encourage anyone who wants to improve as a fighter to put some pell time in. There are many ways you can use a pell to advance your fighting and many ways to get yourself a pell.

Getting and Setting Up Your Pell

The easiest way to get a pell is to buy one. I bought mine, which is an upright boxing bag, for about $75 from Sports Authority. You could probably shop around at Play-It-Again Sports or Craigslist and get something cheaper. You can also make your own. The cheapest solution there is to beat up a tree your don’t particularly like. (Be aware that continual abuse of the bark may make the tree more susceptible to parasites. Use a tree you hate.) I used to have an $8 fence post I’d picked up from Home Depot and sunk into the ground in my backyard  and then build a box of scrap shield foam around. You’ll want to ensure your pell is padded, so you don’t destroy your practice swords as quickly. My upright bag is also wrapped in a towel to reduce the noise, since I use it indoors because I love air conditioning.

Once you’ve got your pell, mark it with duct tape. I put four bands of tape around mine, equally spaced apart, to help me choose specific target zones. I also recommend at least two swords, one fairly light, and one the same weight as your normal swords. If you are practicing Florentine, you’ll eventually need two of each, but you can put that off by using both the light and normal swords, and switching them between hands. Do not use your normal fighting swords for pell work or you’re going to wreck them much faster; your pell doesn’t care about cored out swords but your fellow fighters do. I also recommend something pretty heavy (which I will henceforth call the “Very Heavy Object”, “VHO”, or “Grix”), such as a length of metal pipe, that you can use for slow-motion practice of swings to work on your body mechanics.

Using Your Pell

There are several different ways you can use your pell. You can use it to practice new shots you have been shown or put some polish on an existing one you already use, you can practice attack patterns, or you can use it to do some general conditioning to improve your general shot coordination. You can also just go hit it really hard for the heck of it.

Shot Practice

The most basic way to use a pell is to practice a specific shot. Perhaps your reverse wrap is giving you trouble, and you need to work through the shot and then practice it until it is smooth, accurate, and fast. For this sort of practice, you’re going to start with your Very Heavy Object. Get into your fighting stance, advance into strike range, and pick out your target on the pell. Then, very slowly, go through the motions of the shot. The Very Heavy Object will put some strain on your muscles, joints, and assorted connective tissue as you throw the shot. If there are motions where you have to muscle through something, or where your joints lock or resist the motion, that means you have a problem with your shot. Work through alternative motions until the shot motion is smooth and you don’t have to fight your body to do it. You *will* be able to muscle through or force the shot with a lighter sword, but that’s going to be hard on your body and make your shot slower. Use the VHO to remove those problems from your shot mechanics. This is worth experimenting with even for shots you already think you’re pretty good at. Make sure you’re returning to guard as part of the shot; the energy recovery part of the shot (returning to guard) is as important to get right as the “hitting the other guy” part.

Once you’ve worked out the shot mechanics, you can graduate to your normal sword. Get back in your stance and throw the shot, still at a glacial pace. Repeat. Again. After ten successful shots, increase the pace slightly. Go ten more times. Now throw the shot a little faster. Repeat this process until you are throwing the shot correctly at full speed. If you make a mistake or the shot doesn’t feel right, go back to the previous speed where you did get ten in a row right and try again. If you find yourself just botching it after a while, take a break. Tired muscles perform poorly.

The light sword is for building speed. Once you’ve got the shot down with your normal sword, you can intermix some practice with the light sword, going at your maximum speed. Practicing quickness builds quickness. Don’t devolve to only practicing with the light sword, though, or it will throw off your shot timing.

General Coordination

The second way to use a pell is to increase general coordination using your normal weight sword. If your off-hand is completely incompetent, this might be a good place to start with it. The general concept is to throw a variety of very simple chops to the pell, to get your brain used to moving your arm in the “swing a sword” type of way. This drill is either a 6×6 or 8×8 drill, depending on your level of conditioning and endurance. Divide your pell into three (or 4) equally spaced targets on each side of the pell, to represent thigh, side, and shoulder (or thigh, hip, side, shoulder) of an imaginary pell warrior. Number them 1 to 6 (or 1 to 8.) Strike location one, then one again. Then strike location one, then location two. Then one/three. 1/4. 1/5. 1/6. (1/7. 1/8.) You have now completed one circuit of this drill. Go back and hit location two and then location one. Then hit location two, then location two. Then two/three. 2/4. 2/5. 2/6. (2/7. 2/8.) Do this until you have done all six (or eight) circuits. Now do it in reverse, starting from 6/6 (or 8/8), then hitting 6 and 5 (8/7), then 6 and 4 (8/6), going all the way back to 1/1. You will have thrown 72 (or 128!) shots when you are done. I switch hands before reversing directions, so both hands do 1/1 to 8/8 before I do 8/8 to 1/1. You can also do this with your light sword at your maximum speed to work on your quickness.

Attack Sequences

The third way to use a pell is to practice an entire attack sequence. Start out of range, plan your footwork, the setup for the shot (feint, bait, or just your pre-shot body positioning), the shot itself, the recovery to guard, and your exit motion to get back out of range. Start slow, moving deliberately through each motion, looking for flaws, hitches, or difficulties. Just like practicing the shot alone, repeat it again and again, then increase the speed and try it again, until eventually you are doing it correctly at full speed. This isn’t as good as practicing it against a live participant, since pells don’t move, but most people won’t let you practice hitting them with the same shot 100 times in a row, either.

When using a pell, it is common to start working on shots single sword. Do not neglect the rest of the game, however. Practice your shots using your full set of normal equipment. Pick up a shield or a second sword, since this is going to change how you throw your shots.

Common Mistakes

There are several common mistakes people make when using a pell. The most common is starting out full speed and just swinging away at it. The purpose of the pell is to perfect your shots. Practice does not, it turns out, make perfect. Practice makes permanent. Make sure you’re practicing the right thing before you practice doing it a thousand times.

When you are using a pell, form is critical. Strikes should be a function of your entire body, not just your arm moving while your body remains motionless. This is not Bizarro Riverdance. Power comes from the feet and is channeled by the torso. Get your body involved. If you’re just standing there chopping wood by swinging your arm you’re not getting anything useful from your time spent at the pell.

A second common mistake is forgetting to return to guard when practicing shots. For the 6×6 and 8×8 drills, you do not have to return to guard. For shot-practicing drills, returning to guard is an integral part of what you should be practicing.

People also often make the mistake of using a pell for increased endurance or for strength training. If you want to increase the amount of time you can spend on the field fighting, pell training is the least effective way you can accomplish that. Straight-up cardio training, whether it is swimming, cycling, walking, or jogging, is going to do the most to increase your endurance. Fighting is all about body movement; standing at a pell for an hour hitting it isn’t going to dramatically increase your field endurance. Likewise, pell training is a terrible way to do strength training. Throwing the same shot at speed for 30 minutes with a heavy weapon is really just a great way to eventually give yourself repetitive motion disorder. If you need to build some strength, go hit the gym and do actual weight lifting. A well-balanced weight-training regime is going to do wonders for your fighting; whacking a pell with a ten pound sword is not. (As a side note, this is even more important for women, who tend to have less strength in general. As an additional note, if “I don’t want to get huge muscles like Tato” is a reason you avoid weight training, be aware that building those muscles takes intense training and a very specific diet. You can put that worry to rest.)

Resources

For further resources, there are a number of pell-training videos put out by the SCA. They can serve as a basis to give you more ideas about things you can practice with your pell. Pell work can be a great tool for advancing your fighting when no one is around to fight or to work on something that you’re just not ready to show off in public yet.

As always, if you have questions for Ask the Champion, send an email to glen@malletofprovidence.com and I will answer them in my weekly column.

Ask the Champion – Footwork

Dear Champion:

I often hear people say that footwork is important to being a good fighter, and several times I have been told I need to work on my footwork, but no one has ever explained to me exactly what I should be doing or how I can get better at it. Can you help me out?

Feet of Clay


Dear Feet of Clay:

The term “footwork” often is used to mean several different but related things. These things can be broken down into three categories; where your feet are, when you move them, and how you move them. Let’s take a look at each of these categories, what you should be doing and why, and address how you can improve them. I’m going to focus on things that improve these aspects of footwork specifically, not general ability exercises like ladder drills. Sit back and pop open a Coke, this is going to be a long one.

1) Where Your Feet Are

Where They Start

Where your feet are breaks down into two subcategories; where your feet start and where your feet stop. Where your feet start is usually referred to as your “stance.” A correct stance has your feet slightly more than a shoulder length apart, with your knees slightly bent, your weight centered between your feet, your knees above your toes, and your lead foot pointed toe-first in the direction you plan to move and your back foot 45 or 90 degrees off from the direction of your front foot. You want your feet slightly further apart than your shoulders so you have a leg far enough outside your center of mass so you can push of with it easily and effectively to initiate movement; feet too far apart and you don’t have enough “spring” in your initial movement, too close and you don’t have enough leverage to rapidly initiate movement. The knee bend prevents you from having to waste a lot of time bending your knee to launch into a step and keeps you loose; a straight leg really increases the time it takes to initiate movement and a too bent leg will just make you tired. Centered weight makes it easy to shift in any direction and will also, combined with keeping your feet from getting too far apart, increase your traction on inferior surfaces; if your pushing foot gets too far from your center of mass it is much more likely to slip. Having your knees above your toes shifts your weight more towards the balls of your foot and gives you an excellent skeletal position to gain maximum leverage with your thigh muscles when you straighten your leg. Unlike standing on the balls of your feet, which will only serve to rapidly tire out your overworked calf muscles, this is a position you can hold for a long time. Don’t let your knees come out past your toes; that much bend will slow the process of straightening your leg, costing you reaction time when you want to start moving. The lead toe pointing in the direction of movement takes advantage of the whole point of knees: bending in one direction. When you step forward and then need to stop, your knee bends and your mighty thigh muscles absorb all your kinetic energy. If your toe is not pointed in the direction of movement and you do that, your collateral ligament absorbs some of the energy, and it is a lot less durable than your thigh muscles as well as a lot worse at helping you slow down, so you are going to halt your movement slower than you want and increase your chance of injury. Your back foot is at an angle in part because your knees only bend backwards and this gives you a better launch platform for forward movement. You will be pushing off on the side of your foot and your big toe is going to get a workout. The other reason is that having your foot at an angle increases your lateral stability and makes it easier to initiate lateral movement. As a final note, your feet should not be in a straight line, one behind the other in your direction of movement, but rather offset somewhat, because in Amtgard you are going to have to move more than just backwards and forwards.

The best way to correct your stance is with a lot of time in front of a mirror, dropping into stance, fixing it, then trying again. Likewise, if you attend a regular fighter practice, it is worthwhile to encourage other fighters to mention to you when your stance is wonky. You can also do random spot checks on yourself throughout the course of your normal day of fighting.

Where They End

After you have initiated movement and completed the movement, your feet should end up in the same arrangement they started in. It doesn’t matter if you backed up out of range of a charging fighter or advanced to kill someone retreating from you. Too often, I see fighters who end up leaning back with most of their weight on one foot, leaning way the heck forward (your mom was right: keep your back straight) and balanced on one foot, with their feet crossed up and close together, or some other arrangement that is wrong and robs them of the ability to initiate or change their movement. Almost always, this problem is caused by not doing enough movement; instead of taking another half step forward, they lean far forward over their front foot and then end up having to lift their back foot for balance, or they back up almost far enough, then end up having to lean out of the way.

Resolving this issue is nothing more than a matter of observation. When you fight, stop and check where your feet are; if you’re out of stance, try taking another step or half step in the direction you were going to reset your feet. In fighter practice, having a third party who calls “freeze” whenever someone ends their motion with bad foot positioning can highlight situations where your footwork is bad. Practice completing your footwork motions before you start swinging or doing anything else. (This isn’t something you’ll want to make a fighting style, but it can help you overcome bad ending foot positioning. Once it becomes second nature, you can resume multitasking.)

2) When You Move Your Feet

When you move your feet is usually referred to as “range control.” In this case, it is the “how” of range control. The “why” of where you should be standing and the “when” of when you should adjust your range is a whole different topic. For now, let’s just talk about keeping control range. The simplest answer is that when your opponent advances, you retreat, and when your opponent retreats you advance. It turns out, though, that learning to do this is hard. It is not sufficient to be able to judge your distance to within a foot or so; fighting often comes down to critical range differences of a fraction of an inch. (When you “just barely miss” that warlord, it’s usually not because you almost got him; it’s because he moved just far enough to get out of range and then stopped because he was totally safe.) Why range control matters is pretty obvious; you need to be able to know when your opponent can’t hit you and when he can, and when you can’t hit him and when you can, and you need to be able to maintain those types of ranges (there is often more than one “can/can’t hit range) and switch between them.

There are several good drills for practicing range control. One requires a partner, one can be done with a partner or with a group, and one you can practice alone. The first drill is done with full equipment. Two players partner up, starting just far enough apart that they can stand in guard, extend their swords, and cross the blades. One person leads and the other person follows. The leader initiates movement, moving forward or backward by small or large steps, with single or multiple steps. The follower attempts to maintain the same distance and keep the weapons crossed at the same point. The leader should adjust the tempo to challenge the follower, but not to lose them; the goal is training, not some sort of competition. The two players then switch roles and repeat the drill. Starting slow with a single step, then letting the follower catch up before initiating the next movement is recommended for beginners.

The second drills keeps the leader/follower mechanic, but works on more general range control. The follower (or multiple followers) start on a line, while the leader starts fifteen feet in front of them, facing them. The leader initiates movement, forward or backward, and the followers attempt to match it. After a long string of movements, the leader should end his round back where he started. The followers should, but rarely do, end their movement back where they started. If they end too far forward, they are probably failing to keep range open enough when pressed. If they end too far backward, they are likely retreating too far when pressed, though they may also fail to be pressing enough when the opponent retreats. As always, remember that drills are training tools, not competitions; don’t try to game the system to win. As a more advanced version of this drill, the leader can also include lateral movement.

The third drill addresses controlling range on the attack, and can be done solo. Start out of range, facing a wall. Your job is to close the range quickly, stab the wall, and retreat back to your starting point. You should be attacking from just inside range, so your stab at final extension just barely hits the wall. Repeat. This drill addresses controling range when you close, so you do not over or under close, as well as rapidly reversing direction. You should end up in a proper stance both when you make the stab and when you finish retreating out of range. Vary the distance from the wall from which you start, so that you must practice closing and retreating different ranges. Using tape lines can help you check and see if you are retreating farther than you intended or not far enough. Remember to check your stabbing tip for legality after you finish this drill.

3) How You Move Your Feet

This is a topic that people often overlook. Everyone has been walking just fine for years, so how hard can proper foot movement be? The answer is “pretty hard.” You don’t walk when you fight and your feet are not arranged in a normal “walking” stance. The goal of moving your feet correctly is to be able to make quick movements and to end movement quickly, as well as to be able to rapidly change direction. This often requires moving in a very specific way, as opposed to just walking.

The most basic form of “moving your feet” is the shuffle step. The front foot is lifted just enough to clear the ground and extended as the back leg is straightened, pushing off on the side of the foot (specifically the semasoids and first metatarsal head and the hallux, or the “big toe and the big toe mound” to normal people). The forward leg lands after near but not complete extension, toe facing in the direction of movement, and the forward knee bends to absorb the force of forward motion. The rear foot slides over the ground after the forward foot lands, coming forward to return to stance. Notice that both feet never leave the ground. Hopping is wrong. The process is reversed for backwards motion. The distance of the initial step is varied to close shorter distances. Multiple shuffle steps are used to close longer distances. Don’t just start taking long leaps forward; take multiple steps. This gives you more control and more ability to quickly terminate your forward motion in response to changes by the opponent.

The second form of movement is the cross step. In a cross step, you take a semi-step forward. Movement is initiated with the back foot, which is brought forward and crosses past the front foot by a short distance. It is critical not to take an actual step, as this will disrupt your foot placement. The rear foot should be kept at a 45 or 90 degree angle (45 is sufficient in most cases) and the step past the front foot should not be a full normal stride. The foot is then planted and the former forward foot is brought forward as in a shuffle step, with the fighter again finishing the movement in stance. The movement can be done in reverse to move backwards. The purpose of the cross step is to rapidly cover distance. It is much faster than the shuffle step for covering ground, but suffers from the drawback of not being as easy to stop or reverse direction. The purpose of keeping the rear foot at an angle as you step is that it prevents your hips from rotating (and then causing your shoulders to rotate in turn) which would open up your stance as your feet crossed and make you vulnerable to a well-timed attack.

The drill to practice this movement is boring, but important. I’ve fenced at two different universities, and practices always contained a fairly large amount of footwork drills. Movement is life. Find a long length of ground you can move over. Start at one end, with your full gear. Pick a pattern, such as shuffle, shuffle, cross step. Advance across the length using that pattern; shuffle, shuffle, cross step. Stop. Shuffle, shuffle, cross step. Stop. Et cetera. When you get to the end, do the pattern backwards to return to your start point; backwards shuffle, backwards shuffle, backwards cross step. Stop. Repeat. Do it a couple of times. Pick more complex patterns as you become more practiced; shuffle, backwards shuffle, cross-step, shuffle. Eventually you should be mixing forward and backward motions in your pattern. This drill gets you used to the general mechanics of movement, gets you used to controlling your own movement instead of being reactionary (like the other drills), and, when you mix forward and backwards movements in your pattern, gets you used to changing direction. The “stop” part of the pattern is also very important; it teaches you to control the end of your movement and not just rush off in one direction. Never skip or skimp on the “stop” move.

4. Conclusion

Plan to do these drills a lot. At one practice, we did movement drills for an hour straight. Start slow and stop if your knees or joints start complaining. Movement is one of the most important and under-practiced parts of fighting in Amtgard.

As always, if you have questions for Ask the Champion, send an email to glen@malletofprovidence.com and I will answer them in my weekly column.