You are on page 1of 25

Cumann Bhata Dayton Military Saber Self-Training Manual

by

Mark Rainey

Copyright 2008

TableofContents
FORWARD............................................................................ .........................4 BASIC TERMINOLOGY........................................................ .........................5 BASIC STANCE AND FOOTWORK ................................... ..........................7 . Stance..................................................................................................... ...7 Advance............................................................................................. ........7 Retreat......................................................................................... ..............7 Side Step................................................................................. ..................7 Changing Direction..................................................................... ...............7 Passing Step............................................................................................. .7 The Lunge................................................................................................ ..7 DEFENSE......................................................................................... ..............9 THE EN GUARDE:..................................................................... ...............9 THE HANGING GUARD:....................................................................... ..11 THE PARRIES:................................................................................... .....12 Parry 1.................................................................................... ............13 Parry 2.................................................................................... ............14 Parry 3.................................................................................... ............15 Parry 4.................................................................................... ............15 Parry 5.................................................................................... ............16 Parry 6.................................................................................... ............17 OFFENSE....................................................................................... ..............18 THE MOULINET:........................................................................... ..........18 THE ANGLES OF ATTACK:................................................................... .20 THE THRUST:.............................................................................. ...........21 BEYOND THE BASICS............................................................ ....................22 TEMPO:...................................................................................... .............22 MEASURE:.................................................................................. ............22 SPARRING:................................................................................. ............22 HOME PRACTICE............................................................................. ...........23 SOLO PRACTISE:............................................................................... ....23 PRACTICE WITH A PARTNER:.................................. ..........................23 . TOURNAMENTS AND ETIQUETTE ...........................................................25 .

IllustrationIndex
Illustration 1: grip............................................................................................. 9 Illustration 2: en guarde............................................................. ...................10 Illustration 3: hanging guard........................................................................11 . Illustration 4: parry 1................................................................. ....................13 Illustration 5: parry 2................................................................. ....................14 Illustration 6: parry 4................................................................. ....................15 Illustration 7: parry 5................................................................. ....................16 Illustration 8: parry 6................................................................. ....................17 Illustration 9: moulinet - action 1......................................................... ..........18 Illustration 10: moulinet - action 2................................................................18 . Illustration 11: moulinet - action 3................................................................19 . Illustration 12: moulinet - action 4................................................................19 . Illustration 13: moulinet - action 5................................................................19 . Illustration 14: angles of attack....................................................................20 . Illustration 15: thrust on a lunge..................................................................21 .

FORWARD
This booklet has been designed for students of Cumann Bhata Dayton to use as a study aid. It draws from the many historic manuals and drill books that our club has incorporated into practice and is not based on any one specific body of work. We practice 19th century Anglo-American military saber specifically and, because of that distinction, our philosophy is more suited to the historic battlefield than it is to a duel. Anyone who is not a member of our club is welcome to use this booklet as a training aid. I encourage anyone who is trying to learn from this or any manual to do everything you can to find a teacher. A book is a poor substitute for learning from an experienced practitioner. Another excellent source I recommend is the Cateran Societys video curriculum, available at: http://www.cateransociety.com/videos.html

BASIC TERMINOLOGY
Agent- during a 2-person drill, this is the person who attacks first. Back cut- a cut made with the sharpened back 1/4 of the blade. It is usually a snap cut delivered after your first cut fails to end the fight. Beat- beating your opponents blade in an attempt to knock it off line; thus leaving your opponent open for an attack. Draw cut- if the edge of your blade lands upon your enemy without sufficient force to do damage, you may have time to draw the blade back toward yourself, slicing your enemy as your go. Inside/Outside- these terms refer to the position of your body in relationship to your sword arm. Assuming you are right handed, the outside is to your right and the inside to your left. Feeble- meaning weak, this is the upper half of the sword blade. Use this portion of the blade to make an attack. Forte- meaning strong, this is the lower half of the sword blade. Use this portion of the blade to parry an attack Line- the direction that an attack can come from. Every parry you execute closes one line while opening another. Slip- quickly moving your front foot back to avoid an incoming attack. Snap cut- an attack made by simply snapping the tip of your blade forward with the wrist. Very little power is generated by this action and this should not be thought of as something that will cause a fight-stopping injury. It is, however, extremely useful in a duel, a tournament situation where the goal is to score points or cause bleeding, or when a quick, light cut might be sufficient to cause a debilitating or disarming injury such as a cut to the carotids or to the inside of the opponents weapon wrist (bearing in mind that these are less certain fight stoppers). Stop cut- an attack against the hand or arm of your opponent, executed when your opponent is in the process of attacking. It must be done fast, as its purpose is to injure your opponents arm to prevent his attack from being completed. This is a risky maneuver but sometimes very beneficial. Patient Agent- during a 2-person drill, this is the person who reacts to the Agents attack.

Phrase- (pronounced fraws) This word refers to a group of actions that all happen together. For example, the agent attacks, patient agent parries and ripostes, agent parries and retreats; that is one phrase. Riposte- (pronounced re-post) a counter attack, delivered after you have parried. Zone- this word is typically understood in our club to mean side-stepping to gain an advantage during an attack. Zoning inside would, for example, place you slightly farther from your enemys sword and may mean your enemy has to move his sword farther to parry your attack; this is a slower action and he might not be able to do it in time.

BASIC STANCE AND FOOTWORK


Stand with your feet approximately shoulder-width apart. The foot on the same side as your weapon hand shall be your front foot and your big toe should be pointed directly at your opponent. Your rear foot should be at an angle of between 90 and 45 degrees relative to your front foot. Your knees should be bent so that you are in a crouching position. Square your shoulders so that you are facing your opponent. Your unarmed hand should be held in front of you in a comfortable position, normally this would be at the bottom of your rib cage but other locations may work better for you. Your unarmed hand must be ready to strike your opponent or to engage in grappling if the opportunities present themselves. To advance forward, move your front foot first and bring your back foot up behind it. The step its self should not cause your foot to come very far off the ground, since that movement would take longer and is more easily noticed by your opponent; your foot should hover just above the ground when you step. Once the movement is done, your feet should be the same distance from each other as before. Do not stand up during the movement, retain your crouch as you move. To retreat backward, reverse the above directions, stepping first with your back foot and then with your front. To side step, follow the same pattern; step first with the foot closest to the direction you want to move, then with the other, maintaining your crouch. If you want to change the direction you are facing, you simply side step at an angle, stepping first with the back foot if you are turning to face the outside and with the front foot if you are turning to face the inside. If you find you need to cover a longer distance more quickly, you can use a passing step. To advance, step with your back foot first, passing your front foot, then move your front foot forward. To retreat, step with the front foot first. The passing step should only be used for forward and backward movements, not for side stepping. The LungeThe lunge is the body movement that is associated with an attack. It is a deep step, which covers the distance between you and your target, allowing you to get into range quickly. To execute a lunge, your arm should move first, extending but not locking the elbow; next your front foot shoots forward as far as it can go. Your back boot stays in place, pivoting on the ball. Do not allow your back foot to roll onto its side as this is a good way to tear a ligament. You may lean forward with your body if you wish, but do not tilt

your head down; it should remain upright to allow you to see what is happening around you. Aim with the big toe of your front foot. If you are executing a thrust as part of this lunge and your toe ends up facing away from your target, your blade probably will too. After your lunge is complete, you will most commonly recover back to the en guarde position by moving your front foot back. You may also choose to recover forward by moving your back foot up.

DEFENSE
THE EN GUARDE: The en guarde (on guard) is your ready position, the stance you take at the beginning of the fight. Hold your right hand at approximately navel-height and over your right knee (assuming you are right-handed). Grip the sword with your thumb facing upward along the back of the handle, pointing upward. The blade shall be mostly upright, but angled slightly forward and inward. The tip of your blade should be on the imaginary line between your eyes and your enemys eyes. Your shoulders should be squared. Your unarmed hand should be somewhere in the front of your body, perhaps at your midsection or raised as if to protect the inside of the head. It must be ready to grapple or punch if the opportunity presents its self. In this position, the outside of your body is safe from attack, this means you are forcing your enemy to attack the other side of your body, thus narrowing down the number of things you may have to do to defend yourself.

Illustration 1: grip

Illustration 2: en guarde

10

THE HANGING GUARD: A different en guarde that you may choose to use is the hanging guard. Though less commonly used, it has been taught for centuries. Hold your hand above and slightly in front of your head, in the center of your body. Your sword is pointed down and toward your enemy. The strength of the hanging guard is that it keeps your enemy at a greater distance and gives you a stronger defense, making parrying faster and easier. One weakness of this guard is the limitations it puts on your offense; you are put in a position that is ready for a lunge or a cut 1 but you have few immediate options other than these 2. Another weakness of this guard is that, since your sword is centered with your body, you are not forcing your enemy to attack to one specific line; this gives you less control over the fight.

Illustration 3: hanging guard

11

THE PARRIES: The parries (sometimes called guards or wards) are your defense against an attack. When you parry, you do so with the strong part of the blade (the forte), turning the edge to meet the incoming attack directly; this is mechanically the strongest position your body can be in to oppose a force. The beginning student will invariably make exaggerated movements when practicing the parries, this is a natural reaction that the student must learn to overcome. An exaggerated parry places your sword far from your body and is dangerous for two important reasons. First, it means that when your opponent makes a second attack to the other side of your body, your sword has to travel farther to parry this attack; this is a slower movement and you might not make it in time. Second, your sword is now farther away from your opponent, so when you attack him, it takes longer and he will have more time to execute a parry.

12

Parry 1, ("prime, inside half-hanger) To execute parry 1 from en guarde, move your hand across your body and up, turning the blade to face downwards. Your forearm should be at proximately chin-height. This parry protects your inside flank against a cut. It is completely acceptable for your hand to be higher (high prime) or lower (low prime) if necessary to protect against the incoming cut; this is also true of parries 2, 3 and 4.

Illustration 4: parry 1

13

Parry 2, (seconde outside half hanger) From en guarde, rotate your hand so that the blade points down while raising your arm. Your sword should be slightly outside your body, protecting your flank.

Illustration 5: parry 2

14

Parry 3, (tierce outside flank) From the en guarde, simply move your hand to the outside just far enough to protect your flank. Parry 4, (quarte inside flank) This is the same as parry 3, but on the opposite side of your body.

Illustration 6: parry 4

15

Parry 5, (quince St Georges Guard) To execute parry 5 from en guarde, move your hand directly upwards and rotate your sword so that it is parallel to the ground. The blade should be slightly above and in front of your head, protecting you from a downward cut. The tip of your blade will be pointing to the inside of your body.

Illustration 7: parry 5

16

Parry 6, (sexte") To execute parry 6 from parry 4, move your hand directly upwards and rotate your sword so that it is parallel to the ground. The blade should be slightly above and in front of your head, protecting you from a downward cut. The tip of your blade will be pointing to the outside of your body.

Illustration 8: parry 6
Notice that none of these parries protect your legs. If you find it necessary to guard against a cut to your leg, you can always use a low parry 1 or 2. You will find once you begin sparring against another person, however, that the best thing to do is move your threatened leg back out of range while cutting to their head. You may be asking yourself which parry should be used against which attack. The answer is simply it depends. You should choose your parry based on where your sword is when you begin the movement, and you should choose the fastest movement available.

17

OFFENSE
THE MOULINET: When you attempt to cut your opponent, you do so using a moulinet (pronounced moo-li-nay). It is typical for 19th century Anglo/American military saber manuals to teach this as the only form of cut you should use. A moulinet is a circular motion executed from the wrist. It can be a vertical circle or a horizontal circle. To execute the moulinet, extend your arm (but do not lock your elbow), then swing the weapon in a circle using your wrist only. In real life, your elbow will probably bend also; remember that this leaves your arm open to a stop cut, so be sure to keep your arm as straight as possible. During the moulinet action, your only defense against your opponent is the hand guard of your sword.

Illustration 9: moulinet - action 1

Illustration 10: moulinet - action 2

18

Illustration 11: moulinet - action 3

Illustration 12: moulinet - action 4

Illustration 13: moulinet - action 5

19

THE ANGLES OF ATTACK: There are 7 cuts to be practiced with the moulinet. Cut 1- downward angle from enemys inside to outside Cut 2- downward angle from outside to inside Cut 3- horizontal angle from inside to outside Cut 4- horizontal angle from outside to inside Cut 5- upward angle from inside to outside Cut 6- upward angle from outside to inside Cut 7- straight downward angle (some manuals omit this cut, considering it to be no different than cuts 1 and 2) Any of these cuts can be delivered at any elevation against any target; though cuts 1, 2 & 7 generally target the head, cuts 3 & 4 generally target the torso and cuts 5 & 6 generally target the arms or torso.

Illustration 14: angles of attack

20

THE THRUST: The thrust is an important, fast, and often overlooked attack. A thrust to the torso will create a wound that your enemy is very likely to die from, though probably not immediately. To thrust, you extend your arm (not locking the elbow) and turn the blade of your weapon so that it is pointing directly at your target and your knuckles are facing upward. Then you lunge.

Illustration 15: thrust on a lunge

21

BEYOND THE BASICS


TEMPO: Meaning time, this word generally is used when describing how long it takes to complete an action and may be expressed in abstract units called counts. A one-count action takes less time than a two-count action. MEASURE: This is the distance between you and your target. Our club uses George Silvers descriptive terms of time of the hand (you only need to move your hand to hit your opponent), time of the hand and body and time of the hand, body and foot. The farther you are from your enemy, the safer you areand the safer your enemy is. You can learn to attack and parry in just a few weeks; you will spend the rest of your career as a martial artist perfecting tempo and measure. SPARRING: To learn tempo and measure is nearly impossible without sparring. We encourage you to engage in sparring as much as possible, but caution you never to assume it is all you need to learn. In our club, we generally call each hit against ourselves (on the honor system) and do not pause after each hit. We may pause after a phrase or after one person received wound that would obviously end a persons ability to fight. We follow the edict that dieing aint dead. That is to say, just because you have wounded your enemy does not mean that your enemy is unable to kill you. It is a pragmatic approach that forces you to understand that scoring a hit against your opponent is meaningless if you get hit also. Because, lets face it, theres nothing more important to you than not getting killed. In general, anything you have learned is fair game during sparring. Grappling and striking can be incorporated into whatever you are doing. The goal is to create the most realistic experience that is possible under the circumstances.

22

HOME PRACTICE
SOLO PRACTISE: Practicing footwork should be easy enough for you, simply practice stepping in every direction, you can establish a set pattern if you wish or just let it flow. If you can, stand in front of a mirror when your practice. Start by executing each of the 7 moulinets, followed by the thrust. Do them one at a time, returning to the en guarde after each attack. Take care not to bend your elbow any more than necessary. Repeat a few times; then go through the cuts again, this time without pausing between them. Execute cut 1 and let the sword flow through and around to become cut 2, etc. Repeat a few times. This has the added bonus of looking cool. Now practice each parry; starting from en guarde, move to parry 1, then to parry 2, and on through the list. Pause after each motion and look at yourself in the mirror. Ask yourself if your sword moved farther than it needed to; ask yourself if your sword moved far enough to protect against an attack. Solo practice is the best time to develop technical accuracy and precision. In sparring you will find that this precision is only half useful and you will develop the ability to adapt to your opponent, which is the other half of a good defense. To practice thrusting, create a small target no larger than an index card. The target should be sturdy or flexible enough to resist being destroyed by the saber you are using. I recommend a tennis ball hanging from a string. From en guarde, practice lunging at the target. Once you have a good handle on this, switch hands and learn it again. Learning to use your off-hand effectively is theoretically useful in a fight, as you could continue to defend yourself if your primary hand is disabled. More importantly, however, it forces you to think about the actions from a different perspective, utilizes new parts of your brain and reinforces the pure forms of the movements. PRACTICE WITH A PARTNER: If you have another person to train with, you can practice what we call 3count drills. This is a low-speed drill in which the agent attacks, the patient agent parries and ripostes, then the agent parries and ripostes, then the patient agent parries. The name refers to the tempo of the drill, the phrase occupies 3 counts of time.

23

You make these up as you go. Agent attacks, patient agent looks at the attack and decides what the best parry would be. Then patient agent decides what would be an intelligent counter attack from this position. It builds from there, allowing both partners to think about the incoming attack, how to meet it and what to do next. Once the drill has been built, practice it 10 times then switch roles and do it 10 more times. Do it slow at first and speed up when you are comfortable. Then think up a new one, or continue to build on the current one; you dont have to stop at 3 counts if you dont want to. In addition to teaching attacks and parries, this is invaluable practice in learning tempo. You can see how long it takes you to execute a parry and you can think about whether a different motion would have been faster. This is also a good time to be cognizant of measure. Be sure that you are standing in range of each other when you do these drills; if you miss the parry, you should get hit (thats why you go slowly).

24

TOURNAMENTS AND ETIQUETTE


To grow as a martial artist, it will be necessary to engage as many other people as possible in sparring. A good way to do that is to enter tournaments and other competitive bouts. If you do that, you will come into contact with rules and etiquettes not normally used in our club. A tournament will commonly use 4 judges and a president to determine who is hit. There will be 2 judges standing behind you whos job it is to watch your sword hitting you opponent; the other 2 will be doing the opposite. The presidents job is to call a halt when a hit might have been scored; the president then asks the judges what happened. Depending on the rules, the president may get to vote concerning the validity of the hits. Points are scored AGAINST the person who is hit; there are some rule sets where it is possible to win all your matches but lose the tournament due to having been hit more often than another contestant. The number of points needed to win a match varies, but 3 is most common. Alternatively, you may be engaged in a competition where you are expected to call each touch against you, on the honor system. In this case, there may not be a pause after each touch; these types of rule sets are less common and less standardized. Each match will begin with saluting. You will salute your opponent, the president, the judges and perhaps the audience. The president usually tells you who to salute and in what order. The president will then tell you to take your guard, ask if you are ready, and tell you to begin. He may give you additional instructions, such as when I say begin, you must take one step back before engaging. Hopefully you will not be forced to follow a rule called right of way. Put simply, this rule says that if one person attacks, the other must parry before counterattacking. If a double touch is scored, the person who acted first will win the point. This is an integral part of modern sport fencing.

25

Related Interests