Workshop Notes of Simon Tate Workshop
Course Conductor: Maître d'Armes Gary Worsfield
Workshop Course Conductor: Maître d'Armes Gary Worsfield
When words fail in confrontation, our roles, relationships and situation
are expressed through the dialogue of violent action. It is no less
dynamic, articulated or clear in its intention than a verbal
ability to move either leg in any direction but without first having to
move your weight. Over committing weight leads to opening for counter
ATTACKS – lead with the sword then let the
body follow. Your sword arm and leg should land simultaneously and you
should land in balance.
THRUSTS – extend the sword to its full extent then follow with the body. As you step through pivot your back foot to a 90° angle. Stepping too early means you arm ends up bent and doesn’t show the full intention of the movement. Stepping too late leads to a jerky movement and an overbalanced distribution of weight.
CUTS – initiated by raising the arm at
the shoulder, directed by turning the wrist and delivered by
straightening the arm at the elbow as you step forward. Don’t make your
arc too wide as you are then vulnerable to counter-strike. You should
however make them as large as possible to clearly show your intent.
Have one person standing en garde, the other practicing maintaining eye
contact and directing cuts to the 5 target areas.
in pairs, one person holds the end of the sword taking a step back and
pulling the sword and opponent forward after the arm has been extended.
The Line sets the intent of the action. Your sword arm and leg
should follow through the same line of intent in any action – attack or
defence. Line and balance are interdependent. Sword arm and leg should
land together and in the same line of attack.
your body by straightening your pelvis and chest. Repeat the cutting
exercise concentrating on maintaining line. Adjust when necessary after
the movement has been completed so as not to break eye contact.
When actors look at their swords, so do the audience and the
focus of the attack is dissipated. When eye contact is maintained the
audience’s focus is on the hub of the emotional conflict – the emotional
interaction between the two characters. The tension doesn’t exist
between the swords, it exists between the characters!
- Staring is one of the first dominance games
children play. Some birds and butterflies use staring eye patterns to
deter predators. Sustained eye contact is fundamentally aggressive. We
generally seek to avoid it because it is central to the attack posture.
Apart from being a realistic aspect of performance, it is also
the best means of communication on stage.
- With 2 weapons, your eyes can’t see everything or
move quick enough in focus. What you need is a fixed point of focus from
where you can judge the periphery. It is
also critical in judging timing and distance.
are 2 aspects of distance:
IN DISTANCE – where you can reach your opponent in
one step provided they don’t step away.
OUT OF DISTANCE - where you can’t reach your opponent
even though they don’t step away.
distance fighting works well if the defender steps back in line with
their attacker, making the parry a secondary defence and mainly for the
reason of allowing the attackers sword to be engaged in preparation for
the counter attack/parry riposte.
defend a thrust we can step back to avoid, step in to grapple or
traverse (side-step) to get around the thrust, which still reaches its
original target. In all of these you are stepping out of the line of
Cuts must be made in distance or it looks like slapping swords and the intent is lessened. In defence resist the temptation to go out to bat.
away from a cut is not as great as from a thrust to provide the defender
with a strong balanced position to counter from. The other way of
dispersing the shock is to parry with a slanting defence, which deflects
the blow. In this defence judging the angle stepping through the attack
is critical in determining right distance.
defence is the opposite of attack – move your body first, then parry
with the sword.
PRACTICE – In pairs, defender unarmed with hands on
head, stepping away in line of attack, in time with the attack. Sense
the threat! Step away as if you’re in danger.
- Same as above but with a slice at the stomach that the unarmed person jumps back from.
Have one person stand in a position 5 parry. The rest of the
group is to run around the room in a spaced progression coming in with a
cut at 5 at the defender after judging appropriate distance and line.
These are the four basic principles
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Date Last Modified: 03 Mar 2014