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  • Writer's pictureLaurie Swigart

Important Swordplay Terminology

1. Beat - any striking together of swords.

2. Thrust - extending your sword arm straight out to its fullest length without lunging.

3. Lunging - extending your sword arm fully while leaning forward with your front knee bent.

4. Cut - attack in which the sword across or down to meet opponent’s blade in an attempt to chop or hack.

5. Disarm/Envelopment - capturing your opponent’s sword near the hilt and carrying it around in a circle while both combatants maintain pressure; the sword is released by your opponent at its closest point to the floor.

6. Lock - both combatants move in close and cross swords near hilt in an “X”; non-blade hands reach across and grab each other’s wrists. The struggle is individual and should be evident even if moved apart.

7. Break - any pause between sequences of beats; common breaks are the push-off, the circle, the disengage, and the caress.

8. Sequence - a group of beats in succession.

9. Parries - blocks

10. Attacks - strikes with the sword; can be thrust, lunge or cut.

11. Disengage - moving your blade from one side of your opponent’s blade to the other; also known as caress.

12. Telegraph/Prep - indicating to your opponent that an attack is forthcoming.

13. Caress - running blades back and forth to produce a scraping sound during a break.

14. Kill - laying your sword against the upstage side of your opponents trunk to end the combat; NEVER done as a thrust or lunge.

15. Advance - moving toward your opponent.

16. Retreat - moving away from your opponent.

17. En garde - proper stance for beginning combat; sword held in neutral position with feet in combat stance.

18. Combat Stance - right leg in front with the toes pointed forward; knees slightly bent; left leg about shoulder’s width behind front leg with toes pointed straight left; heels should line up and feet form an “L”; standard martial arts stance.

19. Forte - the bottom third of the blade - the strongest part of the sword - the part of your opponent’s sword with which you make contact.

20. Foible - the top third of the blade - the weakest part of the sword - NEVER the recipient of a strike.

21. Sweep/Swipe - swinging your sword in a wide circle over your opponent’s head or in front of his shins - always accompanied by a verbal telegraph.

22. Go Up/Rescue Signal - a verbal or non-verbal cue to indicate to your opponent the need for an emergency break.

23. Safety Zone - an invisible box surround your body about the size of your arms held out in front of you with fingers of both hands touching; attacks should occur outside of this area.

24. Pull - to stop a blow as it makes contact with the outer edge of the safety zone; all attacks should be pulled.

25. Hanger/Scabbard - the strap or holder worn on the belt from which the sword is drawn.

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