The Adaptive Fight: when to hold and when to fold

For your Red Spur swordplay from the ground, we not only want you to have a full understanding of and ability to operate in the true fight, we also want you to be able to continue with a successful play even if you have lost the advantage.  This is where the adaptive fight comes in.

Red Spur Swordplay from the Ground: The Adaptive Fight

In the true fight, when you have lost the advantage of crossing, leverage, and edge, you retreat and regain control before proceeding forward again.  This is a prudent strategy but one that often prolongs the fight on the groud.  From a mounted perspective, it is far more difficult to retreat to regain control from a moving horse.  Being able to continue forward regardless of the initial interaction is a vital skill.

Adaptive Techniques

  1. Yielding. The yield is the most common adaptive technique.  In a sense, any time your sword is parried and you cede the line you are yielding.  With the true fight however, you generally retreat with the turn of the sword, and bring your weapon back to cover the line.  In the adaptive fight, the yielder continues forward, resulting in a strike to the opponent rather than to the opponent’s weapon.  The tutta volta is usually the easiest way to continue forward in the yield, as it delivers the strike on the same line as the initial attack.  Yields can also offer pommel strikes and entry into grappling.
  2. Voiding. Voids of the body are more common in rapier sparring, but they can be done with cut and thrust swords.  Moving your body out of the way of your opponent’s attack allows you to continue your forward motion, though perhaps on a new line.
  3. Use of the Off Hand. Off-hand parries are more commonly seen with the rapier.  However, there are still safe ways to employ the off hand to control your opponent’s blade or hand.  These include redirections, disarms, and grapples.

Staying Safe

Employing adaptive techniques does not mean you can abandon the first precept of fencing, which is defence. As you make your attack with your adaptive play you must do so safely.  You need to cover the returning line of your opponent’s sword, and your own targets need to be safely out of the way.  Use good order in your movement to be sure your weapon enters into close measure before you do.

Strategic Sparring

Adaptive plays can be used to recover from errors, but the experienced fighter should be able to use them as more than just an emergency lifeline.  Position your sword and body so as to constrain the line and limit your opponent’s options.  This creates a more predictable response from your partner, which you can use to your advantage.  It pays to test your partner’s tendencies in the first few interactions.  A fencer who delivers powerful downward parries is an ideal candidate for a strike on the same line following a yield.  The partner who tends to bind sets himself up nicely for pommel strikes, disarms, and grapples.

Adaptive Plays

Fiore is big on adaptive plays. His sword in one hand section contains quite a few, and this video by Guy Windsor does a nice job of illustrating them.

Fiore's plays - sword in one hand

Upcoming Courses

We have one more Mounted Combat Mastery class in 2018:  Sunday December 23rd, from noon -- 3pm.  After that we are into 2019 and a whole slate of courses!

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. First you will learn the basics of mediaeval longsword, including movement, core attacks, and defenses. In the remainder of the workshop you will get an introduction to riding, and be able to apply mounted combat techniques from the saddle. Beginning riders are provided one on one attention during the riding portion. Riders with previous experience will have the opportunity to ride independently and practise more advanced drills. 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. Upon completion of the workshop you will qualify to join us for further in-depth classes in Riding, Horsemanship, and Swordplay. Spots are very limited so sign up today! Max workshop size: 8 people

Sunday 13 January
10am -- noon
cost $199 + gst
Instructor: Jennifer Landels

Mounted Combat Mastery

Ongoing Mounted Combat classes for those with their Green Spur or higher.  Second and fourth Sunday of each month.

Sundays 13 Jan, 27 Jan
noon -- 3pm
cost $75 or three tuition credits

Archery Practice

Monthly practice for those students who have taken Horseback Archery and have a minimum of Riding Level 1. Bring your own bow and arrows.  Some loaner equipment is available for rent.

Sunday 20 Jan
3pm -- 5pm
cost: $20 + $20 for horse use or haul-in

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.

Sundays 20 Jan -- 24 Feb
10am -- 11am
cost: $275 for six classes
single classes: $55 each if space available
Instructor: Isabel Landels

Riding & Horsemanship Level 2

This six-class course is designed to help the riders achieve Horsemanship and Riding Level 2.  Prerequisite: Riding & Horsemanship Level 1.

Sundays 20 Jan -- 24 Feb
10am -- 11am
Cost: $375 (6 classes)
Individual classes (space permitting): $75 each
Instructor: Isabel Landels

Beginner Riding & Horsemanship

This six-class course is designed to help the beginning rider achieve Horsemanship and Riding Level 1

Sundays 20 Jan -- 24 Feb
11am -- noon
Cost: $375 (6 classes)
Individual classes (space permitting): $75 each
Instructor: Eleanor Landels

Mounted Combat Fundamentals

A series of six classes on the ground to teach the fundamentals of single- and two-handed longsword from the ground, prior to beginning swordplay on horseback.

Sundays 20 Jan -- 24 Feb
1:30 -- 3:00pm
Cost: $165 (6 classes)
Individual classes (space permitting): $75 each
Instructor: Dave Wayne

Mounted Combat Arts Intensive

Our next Intensive has been scheduled for April.  Sign up now to save your spot in this five-day, 50 hour week of riding, horsemanship and swordplay.

Monday -- Friday, 2-12 April
9am -- 7pm
cost: $1045 full day
$895 half day
Instructors: Jennifer Landels, Devon Boorman, et al


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.