Going the Distance

One of the biggest keys in winning any fight, with swords or without is distance.  At its very simplest, if you cannot reach your opponent you cannot hope to win.  So the tallest swordsman wins, right?  Not remotely.  Oh, height helps to be sure, but a mastery of the sword begins and ends with mastery of distance. The trick seems almost geometrically impossible at first, to enter a distance where you can safely strike your opponent without him being able to reach you in return.  It can be done, although it isn’t easy and the movement involved is actually pretty cool.

The secret begins with how the sword is used.  The point of any sword is the part with the farthest reach, so that’s the part that we’ll concern ourselves with today.  Here is our sword:prosword

Note that the tip is red to demonstrate the danger of this part of the sword.  This is the sword of our opponent:antsword

It’s purple because purple is badass.  We are now armed and ready to fight.  The fight begins at roughly this range:wide measure

There is no single action that can place the point of your sword into your opponent and he can’t reach you either.  This is called being “out of measure” and if a fight begins anywhere closer, then you have a problem.  At any rate, the distance in which the tip of your sword can reach your opponent with a full lunge is called your “Wide Measure.”  In theory, when you lunge your measure and your opponent’s is the same.  If this were true, however, any attack would be suicide as both swords would reach their targets at the exact same time.  Fortunately there are a number of ways around this.  Here is your approximate wide measure:wide measure

Here’s the first bit of coolness.  We can close the distance to our opponent while at the exact same time not allowing our opponent to close distance simply by moving in a straight line.  We do this by using the sword.  By controlling our opponent’s sword we move the tip of it off line while keeping our own on line, thus very slightly increasing the distance of their potential attack.  Like so:stringer

Note that because our opponent’s sword is now no longer pointing at us, it now has a distance to move before it is an immediate threat, while our sword has very likely struck our opponent.  So control of just the sword relates to measure.  Interesting, no?  Now obviously there are other ways to manipulate distance.  These ways generally involve the ever important footwork.  Fortunately there is a simple diagram to explain how to do this:Gerard_Thibault_Mysterious_Circle

See?  Easy.  Okay, fine, I’ll break it down for you piece by piece another time.

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