Bastard sword in SCA Combat

 

DEFENSE

"A" frame

Basic upper body and head blocks

Assume middle stance

For left block, curl your right arm until your fingers/palm are facing back toward your cheek, turn torso until sword hilt is about 45 degrees from centerline

Your point should still be online, slightly forward towards your opponent

This should describe the left leg of a capital "A"

Do NOT move the sword over in a straight line, this will allow your opponent to hit you with a vertical blow along the sword

For the right block, rotate sword hilt until lead knuckles are facing back, then rotate body to place sword hilt at 45 degrees from centerline on right.  This is the right leg of the "A"

Adjust height of your hands from waist to head to accomodate the level of block

Your lead hand should not to have to go much higher than temple level for head blocks

The "A" will block vertical, diagonal and horizontal blows- there is no reason to perform a horizontal block above your head for downward blows, your "A" will catch or deflect vertical blows.

Always try to catch blocks on the 1st third of your sword closest to the quillions.  Blocks farther out are weaker and might be powered through.

The body and hand rotation is important because it primes your hips/arms for counterstrikes.  If you just push the blade out with your knuckles leading, you lose power and speed on the counter.

You will have to rotate the body more to catch wraps if your opponent is in close.

 

Leg Blocks

Three basic ways to avoid leg blows:

Voiding the leg- move the leg out of the way of an incoming blow

This is best- allows for a simultaneous counterstrike to the opponent's head or arm

Perform a passing step back or an offline step to avoid the blow at your leg

To avoid getting hit on the opposite leg, perform a slight reaching step with the rear foot before passing back, doesn't have to be much, just a couple inches

Inverted block- rotate the sword blade down to catch incoming blow.  Hands will be around hip level with blade pointed down

Toblock left leg, relax right hand, pull up with left while pushing down with right allowing blade to sweep across, turn body to address incoming blow

To block right, hands will cross, blade sweeping from left to right, rotating body to right to address the blow

Always block ACROSS your body- to catch a left leg blow, sweep your blade from right to left across your body

If you drop your blade on the same side, you will probably come in behind the opponent's blow and just help them hit you

Hilt/handle block- this is the one you probably see the most, especially in those "Oh shit" situations

Rotate the body so that you are facing into the incoming blow

Squat and push down with hand to intercept blow across quillions or even sword handle BETWEEN your hands

Hand shots hurt, and purposefully blocking with your hands is cheesy, be careful

This block locks you in place, especially against sword and shield, with few easy counterstrikes

I use it, and it's certainly better than getting hit in the leg, but I consider this the least optimal of the three options

 

 

Hanging Blocks- active use of the hanging guard shown earlier

Strong defense, great for counters

For fluid use of hanging blocks-

Start in middle guard, drop point straight down.  right hand is loose, allowing handle to rotate inside hand.  Left hand has a firm grip.  Raise left hand up and arcing towards the left until hand is above head with fingers/palm facing sky.  Right hand should raise with sword until at temple height.  You should now be in the hanging guard position.  Rotate your body to address incoming attacks, don't just move your hands.  This is the right hanging block.

For left hanging block, now your right hand will be firm, and your left hand will allow the handle to rotate.

Raise your right hand up and to the right until your hand is over your head with the fingers/palm facing the sky. Allow the left hand to follow.  Your hands will be crossed.  This position is much harder in armor, and is not a safe place to stay in a fight.  It is a good recovery from low and midline offside blows, and allows a good counterstrike, but you should transition out of this position as soon as possible.

Both hanging guards can be jammed by an opponent closing in, but the left hanging guard is much more susceptible.