Author Archives: DarrenR

Training (TUE) 2013.05.28


Welcoming a new student, and working the basics of the English System, starting with cudgels and most common guards. Good solid work and excellent power blocks.

Warmup:  Stretching ; back stretching ; shoulder loosening ; waist loosening ; walk/jog round the hall with wide swings to stretch out arms and establish range of movement



  • Quick overview of English Martial Arts
  • Demo and overview of the Sword Guards
  • Practice of the Outside & Inside Guard – high & low
  • Explaining the ‘True Cross’ & guard testing
  • Attack vs. Block and counter – using the Inside and Outside guard vs. attacks to the left and right neck
  • Brief intro to Judgement, Distance, True & False Times
  • Intro to Focus & Intent – with demo of the differences in effectiveness when used/not used appropriately
  • Moving blocks and attacks – as above, plus incorporating Low Outside & Inside Guards
  • Attack/Blocking drill vs. steadily increasing power attacks using the guards practiced

Key Points:

  • The importance the appropriate focus – Watch the weapon
  • Importance of aiming to get the ‘True Cross’ when blocking, regardless of the angle of attack coming in ; rather than learning ‘attack specific’ blocks and counters
  • Make sure you’re safe even when a drill seems ended – stay in guard and aware until you’re safely out of distance
  • Remember to practice the Guards and transitioning between them – Many skills are built on the foundations of the basic guards and attacks


Training (SUN) 2013.05.21

Outdoor training with the Quarterstaff, with plenty of room for moving techniques on uncertain ground.

Warmup:  loosening & stretching – shoulders, arms, back, waist, legs ; large swinging movements arm movements to loosen shoulders & incorporating waist swinging and adding in arms ; staff swinging and familiarisation – moving around, moving the staff about, getting used to the balance at different angles ; leg raises ; squats ;



  • Quarterstaff – Guards, static & moving
  • Quarterstaff – Techniques 1-10
  • Working the pivot and rear-drive hand
  • Slipping the staff for space and power
  • Mechanics and uses of the one-handed thrust

Key Points:

  • How guard transitions helps learn techniques, attacks & blocks
  • Remember to demonstrate the attack and the correct attack movement & why


Training (TUE) 2013.05.07


Flexibility, waist and core strengthening, focus on back & core, pivot points & Sparring

Warmup:  loosening & stretching – shoulders, arms, back, waist, legs ; large swinging movements arm movements to loosen shoulders & incorporating waist swinging and adding in arms ; cudgel swinging to stretch out shoulders & arms ; leg raises incl. sweeping leg across waist (with explanation of using to block, hit, fast raise, etc vs kick) ;  leg raises ; press-ups against wall, changing positions of fists and angles ;  back stretching ; squats ; one leg squat ; sitting back and leg stretches & holding the stretch ; sword swinging drill to use waist & loosening the legs to step where needed


  • Flexibility & Core strengthening
  • Opening the back up
  • Getting up and down fluidly and without strain – incl. keeping weight over leg and pushing up rather than pulling and straining
  • Prolonged bouts of Light sparring – free for all attack or defend as desired ; emphasis at looking where you are safe to attack, fast recovery into guard, effective use of distance to stay where needed to attack, checking form to make sure not leaving yourself open and offering attacks when needed to indicate ; including dealing with grabs of weapon, committing to driving in close when needed, and using a MDM pivot around the appropriate leg (weighted usually) to off-balance opponent and throw them when needed ; or engage in close to and disrupt their balance via MDM movements at two points (e.g. head/neck & lower back) to take them down
  • Including using Grip #2 (counter-grip) & MDM-pivot when grabbed in close


Key Points:

  • Strengthening and flexibility takes work – target work and do it repeatedly and regularly and you will gain more strength and/or flexibility, which helps everything else
  • Pivot around the weighted leg where possible
  • Use contact with the opponent as a pivot point where needed
  • Focus often comes quicker when there is more at stake – so sparring is often a good way early on, after warm-up, of getting people focused


Training (TUE) 2013.04.30

Dealing with movement and how awareness and relaxation can help fluid attacks and avoidance

Warmup:  stretching, shoulder loosening, waist loosening, arm swings, heavy arms across body/out/around ; guards


  • Projecting fwd on block
  • Using movement & going offline
  • Practice vs. the thrust – using both Outside. & St.George, and how projecting fwd when blocking gives more power, leaves them more wide-spaced and you better protected and in better position to counter, as well as gives better chance to disrupt their form/balance to slow recovery
  • Offline drills, up & down hall
  • Avoiding impact/someone walking at you ; dealing with crowds and movement, incl offline

Key Points:

  • Awareness,  movement & evasion is more effective when relaxed


Training (SUN) 2013.04.28 – Outdoors


Working core exercises, using the environment and recognising &  using movement and redirection to best effect

Warmup:  squats ; tree pushups ; going offline ; stretching ; branch ducking and covering


  • Sword techniques 01-10
  • Jumping path – fwd & backward  & maintaining immediately grounded balance – incl. throwing out barefist guards
  • Stepping practice
    – including grounding/transferring weight only when footing is steady/testing
    – bending rear knee/releasing to fall/step on to front leg, straighten front leg up, the fall-step onto fwd step (similar to bending knee-releasing leg on steps down to drop/place front foot down)
  • single leg squats – keeping balance ; stepping/jumping to point then squatting on single leg, etc
  • leg raises
  • barefist guards – remembering and emphasising the link between sword technique movements and how that already builds the barefist block and attacks ; getting used to identifying them and using them appropriately ;
    • particularly, being aware of how transitioning between the different sword guards with appropriate intent and body mechanics works those movements/attacks/actions and responses (e.g. low outside to high inside = uppercut)
    • and always project out/fwd when transitioning between guards/attacks/movements to maintain power and protection
  • waist loosening & arm swings ; and using waist to swing heavy arms about to hit certain areas while staying relaxed in the arms & shoulders, both practising on self and applying small redirection to put ballistic strikes into opponent

Key Points:

  • Awareness of movement and body mechanics when transitioning between guards and attacks


Training (TUE) 2013.04.16 – Outdoors

Getting into more advanced ideas and introducing deeper thinking about the Principles, Movement and overlaps between techniques. And working in fading light, the dark safely, together with how to maximise your safety when sight isn’t good.

Good solid work, good thinking and adapting to an unstable environment.

Warmup:  loosening & stretching – shoulders, arms, back, waist, legs ; large swinging movements with cudgel to stretch out shoulders & arms – walking blocks ;  moving round area & through obstacles with different blocks ; going through the guards


  • Moving around the outdoor area through the trees/bushes and noting which guards are best for protecting the heabill_single_blurd/face in close vs.branches, etc
  • English Bill intro & getting used to moving the weapon
  • Bill technique 01 – needing to wide-space the opponents bill & breaking down the pull after hooking the St.George guard
  • Mechanics of thrusting and hooking with the bill
  • Body mechanics of the hooks & particularly the pull afterwards, and the difference between ‘physical/strength’ pulling and ‘MDM & grounding’
    [with practice vs.trees and vertical held bill shaft supported by person, etc]
  • Introducing looking at the techs/movement & principles with a analysing eye – ‘core’ principles
  • engaging targets & understanding the environment – pushing, pulling, re-angling to feel any obstacles, and understanding what this means, physically and mentally
  • using the tree/branch with the Bills – delving further into the idea of  physical awareness, particularly in the dark and with obstacles, using the extended guard to engage an obstacle and Hanging Guard to protect, and move under safely


Key Points:

  • Thinking about what a movement involves, how it affects your balance, power generation, etc
  • Moving back when throwing an attack robs the attack of power
  • Learning tools to understand techniques and movement and getting used self-checking in relation to the above

Training (TUE) 2013.04.09

Working on the foundations of sword & stick work, as well as an introduction of sparring and the problems of dealing with multiple opponents

Warmup:  loosening & stretching – shoulders, arms, back, waist, legs ; large swinging movements with cudgel to stretch out shoulders & arms – walking to jogging progression ; going through Guards – SIMS ; leg raises with other leg bent/sinking on balance leg (for balance, strength & stretch) ;


  • Overview of the Sword Guards and general uses
  • Practice of the Outside & Inside Guard & guard testing
  • True & False Times
  • Blocking using the Inside and Outside guard vs. attack to the left and right neck
  • The importance of the ‘True Cross’, particularly with weapons
  • V.light sparring drill in Pairs, working practiced blocks & attacks
  • V.light sparring Vs. Multiple people (‘Free for All’) but limiting to the Attacks and Blocks practiced – allowed to move, duck, etc as needed.
  • Common knowledge of ‘Distance’, how Distance relates to the available targets, and when you are ‘wide-spaced’
  • Attack/Blocking drill vs. steadily increasing power attacks using the guards practiced

Key Points:

  • Ducking leaves you vulnerable and takes nothing from the momentum of the opponents attack – uses False times vs. True times
  • Importance of Focus (watch the weapon) and aiming for True Cross when blocking
  • Fly out/fall away when hard pressed to give yourself the best chance of defending/safety (if you need to fly out or block


Training (SUN) 2013.04.07

Working Quarterstaff attacks, blocks and techniques


Ye Olde Quarterstaff

Warmup:  loosening & stretching – shoulders, arms, back, waist, legs ; large swinging movements with cudgel to stretch out shoulders & arms – walking to jogging progression ; squats ; offline movement practice ;


  • Quarterstaff techniques 1-10
  • Quarterstaff Attack practice, technique attacks & varying angles ; varying speeds
  • Quarterstaff blocks – full intent, mech.sound

Key Points:

  • Using the staff for balance and strength & grip training
  • Staff tech #9 – importance of MDM pulling opponents staff around and in once gripped, in order to put them off balance, and use as the opposing balancing movement for lifting the staff as spear across the body and up ready for down/forward spear strike into opponent

Training (TUE) 2013.04.02

Working primarily on the Hanging Guard for defence, getting in close when needed and dealing with multiple opponents.


Warmup:  loosening & stretching – shoulders, arms, back, waist, legs ; large swinging movements with cudgel to stretch out shoulders & arms (also helps learn your range of movement) ;


  • Hanging guard and uses
  • Hanging guard  & defending vs. multiple opponents
  • Working the Thrust as an attack
  • Defending against the thrust using Outside & Hanging guards
  • True & False Times in relation to using guards/hanging guard and movement with guards
  • V.light sparring drills with three people – testing the hanging guard, moving between opponents, staying aware, finding holes
  • Drill: using Hanging Guard to close in on opponent – to block and get close enough to touch them safely (closest hand or ideally their centre) going underneath your guard

Key Points:

  • Safely move behind the hanging guard
  • Make sure the block is moving forward, not pulled back
  • Recognising where the weapon and opponents positioning is from the feel of the block without looking
  • vs. Kicking – and the natural defensive guards and movements used to block/attack the kick (when armed), or move in against the (step &) kick and so using the body/leg as the True Cross
  • What happens when it’s not safe to kick, both against weapons and without.