The Elephant and It's Castle - Structural Strength in Training

“I’m the elephant, who carries a castle as freight. I never kneel or lose my stride.”
Tom Leoni translation - Fior di Battaglia, Getty Museum

To harness the ideals of the elephant in your martial form you must consider:

Structural Alignment

Placing your body in optimal positions to apply and resist force. Finding the ground path (the line that force must travel through your body to the ground) is essential to learning how to apply great power and resist mighty blows.

Weapon Alignment

Whether your fist or a sword, there are optimal and suboptimal places to do your work. Find the centreline of your body and do most of your work there. Positioning your weapons too high, too low, or too broadly will make it challenging to connect to the ground path through your tool.

Order of Operations

Sending the weapon first is not just a tactically advantageous idea, it allows you to put your body into its most optimal alignment before you meet your opponent. Emphasize good timing of hand and foot in all your training.


Devon Boorman is the Co-Founder and Director of Academie Duello Centre for Swordplay, which has been active in Vancouver, Canada since 2004. Devon’s expertise centres on the Italian swordplay tradition including the arts of the Renaissance Italian rapier, sidesword, and longsword, as well as knife and unarmed techniques.
Read more from Devon Boorman.