Bastard sword in SCA Combat



there are several basic strikes with the bastard sword:

Lead edge strikes- 7 basic angles.  Downward diagonal from either side, upward diagonal from either side, horizontal from either side and a downward vertical.  The picture below is a basic striking diagram.  The "asterisk" can be centered over any part of your opponent.

A good drill for learning fluidity with the cuts is the moulinet drill from Alfred Hutton's "Old Swordplay."


Moulinet 1.

Motion 1. Extend the arms with the sword pointing to the front a little above the diagonal line 1 on the target, the right hand holding it close to the quillons and the left hand close to the pommel.

Motion 2. Bring the sword down, true edge leading, with a circular sweep from right to left along the line, causing it to pass close to the left side, and completing the circle bring it again to the front.

This moulinet, as likewise all the others, must be performed at first quite slowly in order to ensure precision of movement; and afterwards the speed must be increased, and the circle repeated continously ten or twelve times. (this paragraph from "Cold Steel", A.Hutton)


Moulinet 2.

Motion 1. Extend the arms as before, the point of the sword being just above diagonal line 2.

Motion 2. Describe a similar circle, the point traversing the diagonal line from left to right, and passing close to the right side.


Moulinet 3.

Motion 1. Extend the arms and sword with the point directed just below line 3.

Motion 2. Make the cut diagonally upwards, and, after the sword has passed through the target, complete the circle close to the right side.


Moulinet 4.

This must be performed as the last, save that the sword describes its circle close to the left side and passes diagonally upwards from left to right.


Moulinet 5.

Motion 1. Extend the arms and sword with the point just outside line 5.

Motion 2. Describe the circle horizontally, the sword traversing the line from right to left, and in the rearward half of the circle just clearing the top of the head.


Moulinet 6.

This must be executed similarly to the last, the sword describing the circle from left to right."

You'll notice that I include a vertical downward cut.  True verticals are tricky because they can be dodged or will glance off a peaked helmet, but it is an important angle of attack.  If you throw the vertical with just a few degrees cant towards the centerline, they stick much better to those nice peaked helms.

Practice the drill until you can perform it smoothly while standing in place.  Then practice stepping forward with each cut.  Step with the same foot as the side of the attack.  Practice stepping backwards and cutting.  When all that is smooth, practice stepping forward and backward with the opposite side as the attack.

Power generation- much of your power will come from stepping when you cut.  Even when not stepping, you want to turn your hips with the cuts to generate power from the body.  Finally, get comfortable with levering your sword between your hands for extra "snap".  Pull back with your bottom hand while pushing forward with your lead hand.  This should generate a good amount of tip speed and "pop" to your strike.  When done correctly, you should be able to generate a killing blow with less than a foot of swinging room.  Even when not trying to generate power in such an extreme close range, you shouldn't ever have to pull your hand back further than the high guard to start a blow.

Returns from hanging guards- These seem to give many people trouble, so I decided to give them their own little section. Return strike from hanging guards are very fast and powerful, and can be directed anywhere with a little practice.

From right H.G.- picture the right hand as the fulcrum.  You will pull down and across with your left hand, allowing the tip to travel in a circle to your right.  As you pull, the sword will settle into your right hand, where you can then steer your edge into your opponent.

From left H.G.- again, pulling down and across with the left hand, your blade will circle around your left and come to center.



Back Edge Strikes- You probably won't use these as often, but they can be very useful.

There are two basic kinds of back cuts, levers and rotationals.

Levers are the reverse of the scissor action described for the lead cuts.  You will be pulling with the top hand while pushing with the bottom hand.  You must also twist your hips and shoulder back in the direction of the cut, or there will not be enough power.  This can be a good recovery strike if your opponent gets past your point, or a sword and shield fighter is getting in close.  A good technique example: strike downward onto your opponent's sword while stepping in.  You must have the opponent's sword pinned under yours.  Pull back and rotate the body to strike the back of the head.


Generally, I reccomend throwing this type of strike on your off side, not your dominant side.  Throwing this on your dominant side forces you to cross your hands, not a great idea in tight quarters.  It's a harder recovery, and many fighters have extra trouble with power generation on this side.

Rotational strikes use a twisting motion to strike with the back edge at an opponent.  Starting in a middle guard, pull your hands up slightly while twisting your bottom hand around your lead hand.  You will twist your shoulders and hips forward towards your target and strike with the back edge.  You should be able to throw strong onside(back-edge), offside (lead-edge) combos without your hands having to move from in front of your body.

When combined with a pivot step, this can create great striking angles, especially against sword and shield fighters that want to rush into you.

Thrusts- two basic kinds of thrusts, snapthrust and "push" thrust:

We don't actually have to penetrate armor, yet I see many greatweapon fighters doing these big, pushing "bayonet-style" thrusts.  These are slow and easy to counter.  We need to generate a thrust that has a noticable "pop" (NOTE- Here in the West Kingdom, the standard for face thrust is a pretty stout pop, although still lighter than to the body.  Please be aware of and conform to your kingdom's face thrusting standards.)

Starting in middle guard, you will flick your lead hand forward and up, almost like cracking a whip.  Raise and push your bottom hand forward until your sword ends up horizontal.

The snap thrust needs no pull back to be effective.  We want SPEED.  If a little extra power is needed, use your feet to generate power, not your arms.  A face thrust is what most sword and shield fighters fear from bastard swords the most.  Take advantage of that.  Develop a good snapthrust, and when your not killing them with it, use it to set up other strikes.


The push thrust is the more standard thrust people seem to think about when the sword is thrust forward with the point already online with the target.  This is usually used as a return from a block or after a disengage with your blade.  The points above concerning speed and power still apply.

Thrusts, just like strikes, should come in from different angles.  Use offline steps to find openings in your opponent's defense and to keep yourself safe from their sword.