Wednesday, 5 November 2008

Etätöitä or working from a distance

I've been thinking about distance today. How good or bad I am at judging it. I was thinking about doing some distance drills with longsword so that I and the others in class can have a go at practising it. It's a vital skill and not to be overlooked.

Basically we pair off. One person gets to attack. The one being attacked has to stand in tutta porta di ferra and wait until they think the other is within range to be able to hit them, then they shout "stop". The attacker attacks with a fendente mandritta/roverso. If the attacker is too far away, they "lose". If the attacker is close enough to strike the hands, or worse still, close enough to strike the arms and head, the defender "loses". A loss means five pushups.

This drill is repeated with multiple partners, i.e. different stance, arm and sword lengths to build up some sort of variation in the defender's perception. Pairs can be arranged in a tank track to build up repetition as a defender or attacker.

The attacker can aproach using whatever footwork, initially coming straight at the defender, then they can approach in a circular, diagonal or random manner to see if they can fool the defender and make themselves appear closer or farther away.

Of course the roles can be reversed, i.e. where the stationary person shouts stop when the approaching partner gets into what they think is proper distance, and the stationary partner can attack as the mobile partner enters close measure, i.e. this can be wrist/arm or head/body distance.

A proper hit should be made without overextending or compromising a stable stance.

Finally, both defender and attacker can move and try to fool each other as to how close they really are. Once they approach to a certain distance either can shout stop. The one who shouts gets to attack.

Could be fun, we'll see how it goes.


  1. We've been doing a very similar drill in Tampere sometimes, with a slight difference that the "immobile" person attacks. Person 1 waits in some guard. #2 approaches cautiously. As #1 thinks #2 is in distance, he whacks #2 in the head. If #2 manages to sneak in too close he can remind #1 of his mistake e.g by sniping at the hands.

    Next we usually add that #2 must parry the attack. To manage this he must stay cautious and aware of the distance as well, and not rush in. Of course then you can add whatever actions.

    All in all, it's good stuff since drills with fixed starting positions tend to cloud one's judgement of distance. And this way you can see how much more difficult things can get when someone decides to attack you in the middle of your advancing step.


  2. Hi Harri,

    thanks for the comments and suggestions. Your version sounds a lot simpler. We'll definitely have to give that a go. Will we be seeing you at the syllabus day on Nov 29th?