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Jean Thibodeau




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PostPosted: Fri 06 Apr, 2012 7:49 pm    Post subject: Accuracy training for edge and point.         Reply with quote

A lot of attention is paid to test cutting or abilities in test cutting applicable to good training. ( Some don't believe in it, but this isn't the point of the Topic, although it may come up. Wink Big Grin ).

What I don't read much is training for accuracy and by that I mean being able to hit with edge or point exactly where one wants to hit: This accuracy can also apply to control of one's sword in various ways including voiding instead of parrying or giving the impression of targeting at one place and hitting another after a last second change of trajectory.

Additionally important for control when doing paired training and sparring to avoid injury when using minimal protective equipment.

If one compared this to archery it's the difference between being able to hit the bulls eye consistently versus barely being able to hit a barn door from inside the barn.

Well, this is also a training exercise I tried out today for solo training that might be useful or interesting for others to try or discuss.

So below here it is:

A little quarterstaff/Longsword practice with a twist i.e. new approach to make it more fun, unpredictable and reactive without a training partner.

The other day working out at the Gym twirling my Ebony Quarterstaff/Walking Stick I really really wanted to try hitting something, and the obvious thing where the punching bags, but this has serious negatives since the Gym personnel might not appreciate my hitting the punching bag fearing that I might damage it/them. I was careful the few times I did hit the bags using no more than 25% force but think of the embarrassment if the bag ended up spilling it's " GUTS " or something ...... so that is a no go. Wink

So, enough preamble and here is what I made and used to have some dynamic training:

A) Went to the Dollarstore and found a soft rubbery small 7" long football.
B) Bought some cable ties and I already had a long piece of cord in my Gym bag.
C) Tied up the football with the cable tie and rope and hung it from the ceiling in the training room from a fixture used for the punching bags. ( Head and shoulder height of an opponent/training partner ).

Now for training what I have is a safe to hit fast moving target that I can practice both staff hits and long sword techniques, and I was happily surprised that even after the target was wildly moving in unpredictable trajectories I seemed to be able to hit it consistently with either tip or centre of the staff almost 95% of the time with single aimed hits and in reactive second and third hits when the football was in motion.

From long range one can set up for repeated hits using the same " Master stroke " ( Longsword ) or use different hitting techniques spontaneously adapted to the angle(s) the football was coming back at me.

For a more random and multidirectional exercise one can stand very close to the spot where the target hangs vertically when not in motion: This means that after any hit the target will be coming back at you fast and from almost any direction. This is very reactive and means that if one misses the target or not well set up to hit it it induces a lot of bobbing and weaving reminiscent of avoiding hits or voiding hits similarly to boxing.

Only got hit in the face a handful of times and this also means that one must use a lot of peripheral vision and can practice " wide " situational awareness: In addition to hitting the target one is surprised by how one will and can avoid being hit by moving one's upper body by leaning back, sideways or forward totally spontaneously and by using good footwork.

This is very useful for solo training, very aerobic if one wants it to be and very " NOT " boring as most solo training can sometimes be for me.

It is also useful to take care to try to use good footwork and try to use the Mastercuts to hit the target: At times one must stop and reset if one is tempted to just flail around to just hit or stop the target as the purpose is to practice good technique and one capability to have point or edge on target.

This also is a great way to practice control as one can also try to get as close as possible to hitting the target and not touch it as this is very much needed in partnered training to be able to safely pull one's hits when using minimal protective gear. The reverse of this is being able to be very precise in where one hits or where one aims to hit: If one can hit a small quickly moving object and at the same time remain aware of good technique and the time of the hand, measure, timing etc .... I think it's a very good practical exercise.

Anyway, I had fun and a good workout at the same time.

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Timo Nieminen




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PostPosted: Fri 06 Apr, 2012 9:53 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

For accuracy with the point, I like to hang a steel ring (the one I have up at the moment is 35mm inner diameter). Stand at appropriate distance. Put point into ring. Vary the distance, so you have to close by different amounts.

Ring size might need to vary according to weapon. Use a brass or plastic or wooden or rope or rubber ring if you're using a sharp that you are worried about dinging up on a steel ring.

For a blunt spear (i.e., a staff), a hanging plastic drink bottle is a nice target. From 2 litre to 600ml gives a good range of target sizes. The bottles are pretty tough, so they last for a while (and if you do this outdoors, it isn't a big deal if they break). Heavier than your football, especially for the larger bottles.

Usable for cuts with bokken/wasters, but this tends to break them after a while.

For a variation, hang a couple of targets, and have a training partner pick one for you ("red" ... "blue" etc.).

For a harder variation, hang the target from a pole, long enough for safety, and have a partner make it dodge. A light target like your football will dodge quickly!

"In addition to being efficient, all pole arms were quite nice to look at." - Cherney Berg, A hideous history of weapons, Collier 1963.
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Benjamin Floyd II





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PostPosted: Sat 07 Apr, 2012 8:40 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I had a little fun with my students in the gym which can be replicated alone. We did a number of things for grins:

Using a badmitton birdie, we hit it back and forth to one another using plastic wasters. Your edge alignment is very obvious when you do this. If it's not dead on, the birdie will not fly perpendicular to the edge, but off to one side. They don't fly far since, you know, it's a badmition birdie. This would be pretty decent to do alone outside due to that. We also hit it around to each other in the air without letting it hit the ground using various strikes (zwerch, zorn, unter, mittel, ober, etc). We also end some thrusting to it, but that would be hard to do by yourself.

We did the same with a tennis ball. These fly pretty far, though. Unless you have a lot of them or are in a gym, these may not be the best solo training.

We also have done some hanging targets/rings.

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Jean Thibodeau




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PostPosted: Sat 07 Apr, 2012 5:42 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Benjamin Floyd II wrote:
I had a little fun with my students in the gym which can be replicated alone. We did a number of things for grins:

Using a badmitton birdie, we hit it back and forth to one another using plastic wasters. Your edge alignment is very obvious when you do this. If it's not dead on, the birdie will not fly perpendicular to the edge, but off to one side. They don't fly far since, you know, it's a badmition birdie. This would be pretty decent to do alone outside due to that. We also hit it around to each other in the air without letting it hit the ground using various strikes (zwerch, zorn, unter, mittel, ober, etc). We also end some thrusting to it, but that would be hard to do by yourself.

We did the same with a tennis ball. These fly pretty far, though. Unless you have a lot of them or are in a gym, these may not be the best solo training.

We also have done some hanging targets/rings.


Hitting a small object like a birdie is certainly an additional option but if alone would mean throwing it up and hitting it with the sword and a lot of walking to pick it up and doing it again ! Except that one could also use a badminton birdie and hang it on a string and bat it around like the small football I am using: If it gets too easy using something smaller like the birdie would be an option to increase the difficulty level. A small rubber ball taped to the end of a rope maybe would be better ?

As to using a ring: I see this most useful for practising precision thrusts.

Nothing is as good as having a training partner but I did find that the semi-randomness of the trajectory of the football target on a rope gave me a good workout at the Gym, was a lot of fun and depending on some " inner discipline " to keep in mind proper technique it is for me a good way to solo practice and not be totally bored. Wink

Also, in all the 3 to 4 years I had Longsword classes and instruction accuracy was never specifically mentioned or trained for, but the part of our training emphasizing control did indirectly force one to learn to stop very close before one would have hit one's training partners but also didn't put enough emphasis on target selection except in a very general way of targeting the head/neck, mid body or limbs.

I was very pleasantly surprised that hitting the football with any part of my staff was very easy for me and I could have continuous sequential hits numbering in the haft to up to a dozen hits in a row before a miss and using various masterstrokes. ( Mostly masterstrokes, but if I found that I was getting sloppy or moving in a way that wouldn't be good for realistic combat I stopped and refocused ).

Next time I want to bring a waster or steel blunt and use a sword simulator although I could use the 5' long staff like a sword.

Also keep in mind that this was the first time I tried this and may find many variants/games to play and improve my accuracy.

What this type of thing has that ordinary solo training doesn't have is that it forces one to choose technique(s) at close to the speed of a real fight where one doesn't have time to consciously choose one's response.

These kind of exercise are probably better for the experienced trainer to maintain and enhance their skills solo than for someone starting out without already having the muscle memory of years of practice .... easy for someone not trained to learn bad and out of balance moves.

Also one isn't just learning to target a small object but also one in motion and it means aiming for where the object will be rather than where it is: Judging distance and timing, adapting to the often irregular and bouncing trajectories I think should help with the skills involved with measure etc ....

Anyway, maybe too many words to just say that it is fun and seems like useful training for some things.

Now, if I could find a way to simulate the pressures of sword on sword and practice some fhlen. Wink Maybe some form sword holding " quintain " a bit like some of the Kung Fu wooden dummies with various arms that could be adapted to play the part of a sword(s) and it being on a rotating base ..... well, not something could easily simulate or carry to one's local gym.

http://www.wingchunonline.com/Wingchun/WC_dummy.html

http://www.google.ca/search?q=kung+fu+dummy&a...=1904&

If people have other solo training ideas that help fill in/substitute for the absence of a training partner

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Emil Andersson




Location: Sweden
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PostPosted: Sun 08 Apr, 2012 12:34 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I hope this falls into the range of the topic, but a bodily mechanic I've become quite aware of even more than usually lately has been to fully extend your arm(s) before you thrust. I've picked up Italian rapier fencing recently and during solo drills for precision I've found out how important this body coordination is. If you finish stretching your arm while you're leaning or lunging into a thrust it's very hard to keep the point on-line and score a strong hit. To train myself to do it right I broke the process down into three separate steps. This could probably be done for any kind of weapon, although I'll be speaking from a rapier point of view.

1) Begin in the usual leaned-back position, rapier in a guard with arm nearly straight.
2) Lean forward slightly into a more upright position. Extend your sword arm fully and keep the point towards the target. With the rapier I put it into a different guard here to simulate "gaining the blade" of an imaginary opponent.
3) Lean forward into the actual thrust, or perform a lunge from the position in 2). Now your arm will already be fully extended and you'll notice just how much easier it is to actually hit something right in front of you.
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Jean Thibodeau




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PostPosted: Sun 08 Apr, 2012 8:03 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Emil: I wouldn't say that it's OFF-Topic when it deals with training for accuracy. Big Grin Cool

Not sure if I'm qualified to judge the technique you suggest: It may well be very very good to be able to hit a target with easier and greater precision but it should also be compatible with good fighting techniques that don't have flaws like telegraphing.

As with test cutting the best way to cut through a target might not be the best way to move " tactically " : I'm mostly concerned about things like prioritizing the time of the hand, and when in measure the hand is faster and should move first, but a lot depends on when and at what distance one is starting the attack. One will certainly move the feet first to get into measure.

What you describe may well be tactically sound as well as a good way to improve accuracy in one's thrusts and I would leave it to more qualified than me to break down the order of your moves as you do seem to move the arm/hand almost from the start but the leaning forward first may be telegraphing ?

I'm more familiar with longsword than rapier techniques and not at the " scholarly " level to be sure I'm correct about the above or not. Wink Big Grin Cool

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Last edited by Jean Thibodeau on Mon 09 Apr, 2012 10:52 am; edited 1 time in total
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Emil Andersson




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PostPosted: Mon 09 Apr, 2012 7:17 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hi Jean,

It probably sounds a bit clunky the way I described it. I'll give you a link to the video clip from where I got my inspiration: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gWEeil-fxqs

In the first part you can see how the fencer on the right changes the position of the rapier as she begins to lean forward while extending her arm, and only after the arm is completely stretched does she lunge in for the thrust. The transition becomes more smooth and less pronounced further into the video, but the meat of the matter is that you'll want the arm extended before you spring yourself forward. You'll have an easier time fixating the target and also more power behind it. This might be more useful for thrust with single-handed weapons where it is harder to keep the point fixed in motion.

However, I'm sure that this is not a universal truth for each and every thrusting technique there is. In the same video clip I linked above, at about 01:40, the fencer does the opposite; extending her arm while springing forward at the same time. In my opinion, this is part of the joy of being new to something; the excitement of constantly making new and ground-breaking discoveries for yourself - and there are always lots of them to make. Happy
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Johan Gemvik




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PostPosted: Tue 10 Apr, 2012 8:34 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

For my accuracy training I take a sharp, hang a bunch of small water bottles in strings from the branch of a tree at different intervals, plan the series of cuts and cut them all in half in one continous series of fluid body movement using core and stepping for power and speed. Training thrusts I usually set up a standing large water bottle to peirce.

I also train slow movement body mechanics with my saber and viking sword at home. It helps to build accuracy by having a stable technique you can do slow and safe too. I've been thinking about starting to put small items I can ift with the tip from one place on a table to another. This'll probably increase tip control. Another thing to train is to write your name at full tip extension on the side of a cardboard box.

For power technique training I use a sturdy man sized standing cross pell with wood core and padded with a few layers of old carpets and various length rattan trainers.
I'm building a new tatami stand too, my old one broke.

Hanging rings would work too of course, and I've been thinking of trying having a friend throw tennis balls at me to hit with a rattan stick, the idea is to train until I can bifurcate it with a sharp. It would be very similar to the badminton ball training posted earlier.

"The Dwarf sees farther than the Giant when he has the giant's shoulder to mount on" -Coleridge
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Jean Thibodeau




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PostPosted: Mon 30 Apr, 2012 5:11 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Timo Nieminen wrote:
For accuracy with the point, I like to hang a steel ring (the one I have up at the moment is 35mm inner diameter). Stand at appropriate distance. Put point into ring. Vary the distance, so you have to close by different amounts.

Ring size might need to vary according to weapon. Use a brass or plastic or wooden or rope or rubber ring if you're using a sharp that you are worried about dinging up on a steel ring.


Oh, the 7" football was much too easy to hit so I took your suggestion about using a steel ring.

I wrapped it with electrical tape and hung it from a cord at neck/head hight and used it as a much smaller and challenging target.

Use it for tip cuts and cut using the last 3" to 6" of blade near the tip, so far not used the ring as a thrusting target but this seems relatively harder and it's difficult to stay on target when extending the arms as the point seems to move in a type of sine curve until full arm extension.

With the small football my " score " was close to 95% successful in " NOT " missing, but with the ring I think I still get a respectable 66% hit rate even when the 2" ring is in rapid motion.

I try to do most of the master cuts and also try to use good form by using " Time of the hand " in moving the hands before the rest of the body and feet.

One very satisfying thing was being able to do Shielhau type cuts with the short hedge on a moving target: From the shoulder vertically down and reversing to the short edge mid-stroke and hitting the rapidly moving/swinging 2" ring. Surprised Happy Laughing Out Loud ( Note a little diagonal but not a sideways slap and being careful with all the cuts about hitting with the edge and good edge alignment: After all the goal is not to hit the ring at any cost, the goal is to try to practice good technique and hit the ring ).

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Matthew P. Adams




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PostPosted: Tue 01 May, 2012 7:16 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Another advantage to thrusting arms first and then body is that it doesn't project your movement to your appoint. If you move your feet first then your arms the opponent sees this and has more time to parry. I'm told it should look as if there is a string pulling the tip of your weapon towards your target.
"We do not rise to the level of our expectations. We fall to the level of our training" Archilochus, Greek Soldier, Poet, c. 650 BC
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Jean Thibodeau




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PostPosted: Wed 02 May, 2012 7:57 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Matthew P. Adams wrote:
Another advantage to thrusting arms first and then body is that it doesn't project your movement to your appoint. If you move your feet first then your arms the opponent sees this and has more time to parry. I'm told it should look as if there is a string pulling the tip of your weapon towards your target.


I find that thrusting accurately is much more sensitive to error and difficult than a cut, or even a tip cut, as tracking with a cut is like getting a two dimensional line to intercept the target, while a thrust is making a one dimensional point intercept a one dimensional object ( Small, but not mathematical zero dimensional point ) in 3 dimensional space: More wiggling around of the point due to trying to coordinate the motions of wrist, elbow, shoulder, body and legs.

The position of the tip need be spot on just before impact but the point may be oscillating a great deal during the whole of the thrust: Missing is often that the point is still oscillating and off target just before contact and one's attempts to compensate overshoot.

Not sure if I'm explaining or even understanding the dynamics of a " controlled " thrust that has the point ending up where one is trying to place the point.

As in your post, if one has finished moving the hand and arm joints and is on target a small lunge with the body with the arm only moving to refine it's position might make hitting a small target easier after most of the oscillations are done with.

The other aspect is the tactical and non-telegraphing advantages of using time of the hand.

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Matthew P. Adams




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PostPosted: Wed 02 May, 2012 9:25 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Time of the hand! Exactly!

Here is a thought about accuracy of the thrust from the other side.

In an unarmored context, if you stick the other guy and your a few inches off, he's still bleeding, and you have gained the advantage psychological. In an armored context, you would be half swording, so you already have more tip control, and if you miss, it will slide until it catches in a gap.

This is shown on page 183 in Bob Charrettes, Fiores Armizare, in the photos of the post of the true cross.

Not trying to say accuracy is unimportant here. Just that have such fine motor control in the adrenalized state of melee combat isn't very likely, and your combat training shouldn't rely on it to heavily.

That being said, anything that gets me out of my chair, sword in hand is great by me, and I personally look forward to setting up a ring target.

"We do not rise to the level of our expectations. We fall to the level of our training" Archilochus, Greek Soldier, Poet, c. 650 BC
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Phillip Oliver




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PostPosted: Wed 02 May, 2012 9:37 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Jean- Thanks for the interesting idea. I am an Eskrimadore myself, and so my western sword handling is basically non-existent. BUT- training for edge and point accuracy is vital in Eskrima, and I have no one to play with right now. I will be setting something like this up myself. I'll let you know how it works out!

Cheers and Best Wishes,
Phill

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Jean Thibodeau




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PostPosted: Wed 02 May, 2012 9:45 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Matthew P. Adams wrote:

That being said, anything that gets me out of my chair, sword in hand is great by me, and I personally look forward to setting up a ring target.


Apart from all the navel gazing and my analyzing the situation, the bottom line is that this is a fun way to do some solo training and improving one's targeting skills can be useful.

One may not need pinpoint precision to be effective in un-armoured combat but at times the opening(s)/timing of cuts or thrust can be very small. Wink

Oh, I remember one time when bouting with my longsword against someone using sword & buckler the point of my longsword found a small opening between sword and buckler held close together and got through to the opponent's chest: The gap or opening may have been available for only a fraction of a second and only a few inches in diameter. This may have been just dumb luck in that specific case but I can imagine other situations where opportunities are small where accuracy would be useful.

Matthew, I would certainly be interested in hearing your observations after playing with a ring target.

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