Keep Calm and Carry On: Playbuilding for Skill & Strategy


Red Spur Swordplay from the Ground: Playbuilding

When you were earning your Blue Spur, you demonstrated the ability to conduct isolated plays using attacks and defences from all quadrants.  Now we want you to show the ability to connect a series of attacks and defences, or in other words:

Demonstrate the ability to carry on a play through five successive crossings.

Winning a swordfight takes more than strength, skill, or strategy.  Strength can be overcome by skill, and skill can be overcome by strategy.  The only thing that can overcome strategy is stamina.  If your opponent can plan a fight that’s three moves long, you need to be able to plan one that’s four moves.  However, the exponential math that goes into the decision tree starts to become ridiculous when planning more than three moves ahead.  Which is why you need train your eye to see openings, your brain to predict them, and your body to respond to them.  One of the best ways to do this is with the trial and error process of playbuilding.

The Play’s the Thing

Here’s how playbuilding works

  1. Player A throws an attack, and Player B does nothing.
  2. Player A throws the same attack, and Player B defends and counterattacks.
  3. Player A throws the same attack, Player B defends and counterattacks, Player A defends and counterattacks.

… and so on.  Each step can be repeated as many times as the players like.  It’s often helpful to do each move three times to ensure the attacks and defences are consistent.  Here’s a video from Duello.TV demonstrating the process.

 

Getting the Most out of your Playbuilding

  • Proper measure.  Your play should start out of measure.  Once you have entered measure, the play ends if either player steps out of measure.
  • Proper intention.  Make sure that each attack you is intended to strike your opponent.  It is easy to get into the habit of attacking each other’s swords without the intent to hit.  If you intend a dui tempo parry and riposte, be sure to complete your action.
  • Proper structure.  Be sure your defences cover the line of attack strongly enough to defend you, without over-crossing.  ie, a good defence is one which your opponent, with her properly intentioned attack, cannot simply power through, but it is also one which does not take your sword so far offline that you overreach or have trouble recovering.

Learn to Love Losing

The beauty of playbuilding is that you get to take turns winning and losing.  And it’s important that you do.  Receiving an accurate and fully-intentioned blow without attempting to evade or ‘win’ allows you to understand that blow — its direction, its force, and its target — clearly and directly.  Only once you understand the attack can you make an intelligent response.  That is a response that addresses those three qualities, and protects you while leaving you in a good position to return a blow.  A response without that understanding is luck if it succeeds, and disaster if it does not.

Understanding and intelligent response come with practice and experimentation.  Enjoy failure for what it tells you about physics, the nature of swordplay, and your own strengths and weaknesses.

Go Forth and Explore

Playbuilding is experimentation.  When you discover defences or series of attacks that work, isolate and practise them separately as drills to build muscle memory.  Then try to work them into your freeplay.  Unlike drills that have prescribed by an instructor these moves that work particularly well for your body and your skill level at this point in time, so they are powerful tools to put in your arsenal.

Upcoming Classes

This month Mounted Combat Mastery is focussing on playbuilding from the horse and falsemount, as well as dipping into sword & shield from the ground.  Don’t know how to ride?  No problem.  Classes can be taken from the ground as well as from horseback, and this month, in particular, we need an assortment of students in both categories.  And, as you can tell from the smiles on our faces, its loads of fun!

Mounted Combat Mastery
Sundays noon – 2pm
Instructor: Jennifer Landels
cost: 2-hour tuition or punch card credit

Youth Riding & Horsemanship

This course for kids aged 6-13 will introduce your child to ponies and horses in safe, fun, and friendly series of six classes taught by Pony Club qualified instructors. Each class contains a riding lesson as well as a horsemanship lesson where students will learn to handle, groom, and care for ponies and horses. Curriculum follows the Canadian Pony Club D level lessons and will prepare students for testing Academie Duello Mounted Combat Riding 1 or Pony Club D Level.

Thursdays 1 February – 8 March, 4:00pm – 6:00pm
Cost: $300 + gst
Instructor: Kate Landels
Prerequisites: none

Intro to Mounted Combat

Experience the childhood fantasy of being a knight as you take the first step in Academie Duello’s mounted combat program. This unique workshop brings together swordplay, riding, and horsemanship into an exciting session geared toward beginners.During this intensive workshop you will:

  • Get an introduction to fundamental riding techniques
  • Practise horseback sword fighting techniques

The workshop takes place at Red Colt Equestrian Farm Co-op in Steveston, BC, just 30 minutes from downtown Vancouver. In the first hour, you will learn the fundamentals of horse handling and will learn how to groom and tack-up (saddle and bridle) your horse. In the remainder of the workshop, you will get an introduction to basic riding, and build the fundamentals of swordplay from the ground, including movement, core attacks, and defenses.

Beginning riders are provided one on one attention during the riding portion. Those with previous experience will have the opportunity to ride independently and practise more advanced drills.

Upon completion of the workshop, you will qualify to join us for further in-depth classes in Riding, Horsemanship, and Swordplay.

This program is an ideal way to introduce yourself to both equestrian and swordplay skills and get started on a deep and exciting track of learning.

Sunday 25 February: 3:00 – 5:30pm
Cost: $149 + GST
Instructor: Jennifer Landels
Prerequisites: none

 

Horsemanship Level 5

This 10-week course will cover everything you need to know for Horsemanship level 5.  Topics include: Stabling, Feed, Grooming, Trailering, Saddlery, Conditioning, Vet & First Aid, Bandaging, Foot & Shoeing

Saturdays 3 Mar – 7 Apr, 3:00 – 4:00pm
Instructor: Kate Landels
Cost: $180 + GST
Single classes: $25 space permitting
Prerequisite: Horsemanship Level 4

Riding Level 3 – Jumping

A six-class series for riders working on Level 3 with a focus on jumping and galloping position, poles, cross rails, and low fences. Riders may have the opportunity to ride out in the fields, weather permitting.

Saturdays 3 Mar – 7 Apr, 3:00 – 4:00pm
Cost: $200 +gst
Instructor: Kate Landels
Prerequisite: Riding Level 2.  Riding Level 3 – Flat also recommended.

Horsemanship Level 3

This 6-week course will cover everything you need to know for Horsemanship level 3. There are 3 lecture classes (indoors), two practical classes, and a session for written tests and practical review.

  • Stabling: good and bad features
  • Feed: schedules
  • Grooming: full grooming kit
  • Trailering safety
  • Saddlery: bits and martingales
  • Conditioning: cooling out
  • Vet & First Aid: signs of health; when to call vet
  • Foot & shoeing: external parts of hoof, scheduling

Saturdays 3 Mar – 7 Apr, 4:00 – 5:00pm
Cost: $100 +gst
Instructor: Kate Landels
Prerequisite: none.  Horsemanship Level 2 recommended

Riding Level 4+, jumping

A six-class series for riders working on Level 4 and up with a focus on jumping gymnastics and stadium courses.  Cross-country jumping included as weather permits.

 

Saturdays 3 Mar – 7 Apr, 4:00 – 5:00pm
Cost: $100 +gst
Instructor: Kate Landels
Prerequisite: Riding Level 3

Mounted Combat Fundamentals

Before you get on a horse with a sword in your hand, it is essential to have good fundamental swordplay skills from the ground. This six-week course covers the basic Mounted Combat skills needed for your Green Spur. Students who have achieved these skills along with Riding and Horsemanship Level 1 will be eligible to participate in Mounted Combat classes on horseback.

Sundays 5 Mar – 8 Apr, 1:00pm – 3:00pm
Cost: $135 + gst, or bundle with Riding & Horsemanship for $99
Instructor: Ben Davis
Prerequisites: none

Beginner Riding & Horsemanship

This six-class course is designed to help the beginning rider achieve Horsemanship and Riding Level 1.  In addition to your weekly riding lesson, you will learn safe horse-handling techniques, how to groom and tack up a horse, basic horse identification terminology, and basic feeding and stabling. The cost of the course includes one free riding or horsemanship assessment. Students can expect to be ready to assess Horsemanship Level 1 at the end of the six classes. Readiness for Riding Level 1 typically takes two iterations of the course.

Sundays 5 Mar – 8 Apr, 11:00am – 1:00pm
Cost: $300 + gst
Instructor: Stephanie Laversin
Prerequisites: none

Riding & Horsemanship Level 2

This six-class course is designed to help the riders achieve Horsemanship and Riding Level 2.  The cost of the course includes one free riding or horsemanship assessment. Students can expect to be ready to assess Horsemanship Level 2 at the end of the six classes. Readiness for Riding Level 2 typically takes two iterations of the course.

Sundays 5 Mar – 8 Apr, 10:00am – noon
Cost: $300 + gst
Instructor: Stephanie Laversin
Prerequisites: Beginner Riding & Horsemanship

Riding Level 3+, Flat

A six-class series for riders working on Level 3 or higher with an emphasis on flat-work and lower level dressage. Some ground poles and cavaletti may be included. (Note: Riding Level 3, Jumping will begin in March).

Sundays 5 Mar – 8 Apr, 10:00am – 11:00am
Cost: $200 + gst
single classes: $45 each if space available
Instructor: Stephanie Laversin
Prerequisites: Riding Level 2

 

 

To register see the Workshops Calendar or call the front desk at 604 568 9907.

Jennifer Landels Jennifer Landels heads up Academie Duello's Cavaliere Program. She has been swordfighting since 2008, and riding since before she could walk. She started the program as an excuse to combine those passions.
Read more from Jennifer Landels.