|Different Fighting Styles
Preface: While there are as many schools of fighting as there are fighters in Amtgard, and more ideas about fighting than that, my goal with this article is merely to present a simple breakdown of the most common fighting styles and where they fit into the grand scheme of Amtgard fighting. Nothing Iím going to write is absolute and for every rule I suggest there are a hundred exceptions.
Single Short Sword: Single short sword is the basis for all combat in Amtgard. If somebody canít fight single sword, they probably canít fight. Single sword teaches you the basics needed to succeed in the other styles; Timing, Coordination, Footwork, and Speed.
Timing: Having only one weapon severely limits the time you can devote to attacking your opponent. With one weapon you are often forced to either strike before your opponent or play a totally defensive game until a mistake is made that you can exploit. This builds excellent timing since you are constantly looking for the minute openings that allow you to hit your opponent and recover before being hit yourself. Florentine: Florentine is the ultimate in aggressive combat. The key to Florentine fighting is to be relentlessly aggressive and never give your opponent time to think. Keep pressing until they slip, and then kill them. Florentine teaches you Ambidexterity, Autonomy, and Psychology.
Coordination: Single sword requires you to be absolutely accurate at all times. When you have only one weapon for both defense and attack it is imperative that you always be aware of that weaponís position and what itís doing. Fighting single sword forces you to stop thinking about how you are moving your weapon and simply to move it. Single sword teaches you the hand-eye-mind coordination that allows you to treat your equipment as extensions of yourself rather than mere tools. Single short sword also teaches the all-powerful hand block. Learn the hand block, love the hand block. Itís easy to tell the great sword fighters from the good ones by watching what they do with their off hand. A good sword fighter will put his hand across his chest where you might hit it if you swung for his chest. A great sword fighter keeps his arm out of his way until you swing, and then it just magically appears where ever your sword is about to hit. It is actually hard sometimes to tell great hand blockers from sluffers, since you wonít ever see a good hand blockers arm move.
Footwork: Nothing teaches you to move your feet like being outgunned. Single sword builds the foot reflexes to a point where you donít have to think about what you are doing. You wonít think about moving towards your opponent; it will just happen. You wonít try to step out of range of a swing; you just wonít be in range any more. Fighting single sword builds this skill faster than any other style because it relies on it so heavily to be successful.
Speed: Single sword teaches you to take advantage of every possible opportunity, no matter how small the window of time in which to act. Fight single sword long enough and eventually a second seems like forever. Time just slows down until you can act at what seems to be a leisurely pace but in reality is blurringly fast. You have to expend so much more energy than your opponent when fighting single sword that you have to end the combat quickly; every second you delay increases the odds of your losing.
Ambidexterity: At its simplest level, this is the ability to move both hands reliably. In most people, one hand or the other is vastly dominant. You find yourself doing anything requiring fine motor control or precision with just one hand. Florentine requires you to break out of that rut and learn to use both hands with precision and accuracy. Sword and Shield: Sword and shield is a very odd style. It can be either very defensive or very offensive and work equally well either way. Much of what style is right for you is based upon what kind of fighter you are and where your strengths lay.
Autonomy: The whole point of Florentine it to attack your opponent from different angles at the same time. You are effectively overwhelming your opponentís ability to block. You canít do this if you use both weapons to attack the same place, which is what many starting Florentine fighters do. Autonomy is the ability to have both of your hands doing different things at the same time. Itís kind of like patting your head and rubbing your stomach at the same time except a lot more complicated.
Psychology: Florentine could be described as the art of making your opponent choke. You rush in and push, push, push until he loses his nerve and cracks. Then you kill him. It is possibly the closest and most intense style of fighting with its flurry of blows, multiple angles of attack, and invasion of personal space. A good Florentine fighterís best asset is his ability to make his opponents so uncomfortable and off-balance that they canít respond to what heís doing.
Timing fighter: If you are a very good timing fighter but not so good at footwork then play it defensive. Wait for your opponents attack, counter, and kill him. Give him a target to swing at, give him enough rope to make a noose and then hang him with it. This is an effective style, but it has some serious shortcomings. Most notably, this is hard to pull off against groups of fighters. Timing fighters are almost always at a disadvantage against multiple opponents.
Aggression fighter: Another way to utilize sword and shield is as an aggressive fighter. These people rush in as close as possible to the opponent while using their shield to defend them from distance attacks. Once in close, they proceed to hammer down an opponents guard with a sustained series of attacks, normally to a single side of the body. This can work well against groups as long as they arenít tightly in formation or used to fighting together. This style relies on sheer ferocity and speed to get the job done. A competent blocker who doesnít lose their head when rushed will eat this type of shield man alive.
Strategic fighter: This is the best type of shield fighter. This fighter uses his shield as a weapon as well as a defensive. He will aggressively close with an opponent and use his shield to block off his opponentís angle of attack while maneuvering him into such a position as to prevent his friends from helping him. This person will be constantly aware of all of his opponentís locations and respond to them without looking or breaking his attack from his current target. This kind of fighter is at not disadvantage when faced with multiple opponents and indeed he uses them to his advantage against his foes. This fighter will use his timing and footwork to control the fight and force his opponent to do what he wants. He will then use his speed and precision to take apart his opponents while keeping himself out of harms way. This is the epitome of shield fighting.
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