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Longsword Online

If you aren’t able to join us for our regular practices, here’s an assortment of exercises that you can use to keep your skills sharp with solo practice.


Strength and fitness stuff:

  • Give Guy Windsor’s hand and wrist conditioning exercises a crack. You’ll need some light freeweights (or soup cans) and a broomstick / closet rod / etc.
  • Dre made a fantastic video showing you how to improve your Grip Basics!
  • At the turn of the 20th century there was a huge fitness movement. Try this 10-minute home workout from the era. (This was originally published as a set of cigarette cards. For health!
  • Cork Blademasters have published a great series of fitness + bladework workouts that you can try at home. They even give modified exercises that you can try indoors in small spaces. But check out their awesome hanging pell!

Fundamentals of grip, sword handling, and overall control:

  • Work on Guy Windsor’s “six grips” sword handling drill.
  • Work on Matt Galas’s 64 Cuts drill — it’s a great form drill that you can do in a relatively small space, and looks really impressive at speed.
  • Take your favorite flow drill, especially one that combines short-edge and long-edge actions. Slow it down to 1/10th speed. Go through it a couple times at that speed — literally as slow as you can possibly do it. At this speed you should be able to make sure that every blade action and transition goes perfectly. One thing I would suggest is taping one edge of the sword with blue painter’s tape. Make this the long edge. Do the drill a few times — is the same edge still the long edge? (One common issue I see in students is that they spin the sword in their hands as they try to switch between thumb grip and regular grip — don’t do this. Watching to make sure your long edge stays consistent will help train it out of you.)
  • Go through your basic inventory of actions, except switch handedness. If you’re a righty, practice with your left hand higher on the grip, and vice versa. Practice this for 10 or 20 minutes. Now try your favorite flow drill.
  • Do the 99 Strikes drill: Find a pell or other target, and strike at it at speed, but with enough control not to actually hit it. Mix up your strikes, including long edge, short edge, ober- and unterhaus, thrusts, zwerchhaus and any other master strikes. Your goal is to strike at your target 100 times, without ever hitting it once. Keep count — if you accidentally strike the target, you have to start over at zero. The drill ends when you reach 100. The goal here is to gain control over your strikes at the same time you practice fundamental footwork and bladework.
  • Björn Rüther has a set of three “sword drills” ranging from beginner to advanced. Watch them, and observe the deliberateness and grace that are on display in the execution of these drills. Note the careful coordination between bladework and footwork. Some of Björn’s interpretations differ from ours, but his form and care should be aspired to. Make it your goal to achieve the precision you see depicted here. If you want to fence well and fast, you’ve got to be able to fence well and slow. “Slow is smooth; smooth is fast.”
    1. Beginner exercise
    2. Intermediate exercise
    3. Advanced exercise