Amtgard Rules of Play.

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SKBC Drill Book
[05/08/2003] [Michael]

Personal Tactics: Training Drills:


1)Become “physically” aware of the world around you. Once you become aware of the fact that you are awake, with your eyes closed, take a conscious mental note of everything perceptible around your. How are you lying in the bed? How do the blankets feel? Is there a breeze? What do you hear? What do you smell? Where are the sounds and smells and breeze coming from? How close are they in proximity to where your body is located? What do perceive as the sources?
2)Same situation as 1), once you’ve identified the outside influences, begin to take note of the internal. Are you comfortable or uncomfortable? Are you relaxed or tense? Sleep well or are you still tired. Start at your toes and work slowly up your body making a conscious effort to experience each aspect of your body – down to your fingertips – along your spine to your skull and head.
3)Use your peripheral vision. Without moving your head or your eyes, try to see what is to the side of you. Attempt to let the mind “see” everything, try to see details of items to your sides. As you walk places, instead of focusing directly, try to expand your focus to take in everything.
4)Listen for people moving up behind you, try to guess – male, female, moving quickly, or slowly. If they are going to pass, which side will they pass you on.
5)When walking in a crowded situation, such as a mall – try to estimate where people are going to go – well before you arrive there. Try to move at a steady pace without needed to turn suddenly or stop. An excellent time to use a “wider” focus.

Situation Evaluation:

1)When entering any room, determine the following: How many people are there? How many are looking at you? Where are all the exits? What are clear lines of movement and if you had to react suddenly, where would you go?
2)When entering a room, what is the feeling that is prevalent in the room? Is it calm, agitated, happy? Is there a flow to the room? Where is the dominant emotion coming from, is there a dominant individual? You may find that the loudest or most obvious person is NOT the person who is having the most effect upon the room. After getting a feeling for the overall emotional level, try to gauge the emotional states of the individuals, for those that you have known for a long time, don’t pass over them, but treat them as if you have just met them.


1)Take a moment, without moving, figure out what you would do if an enemy attacked from any direction. How would you move, what would you grab as a weapon, how would know they were coming? Mentally talk yourself through a number of different directions of attack.
2)Assume for a day that there is somebody out to kill you, from the moment you wake until the moment you pass into sleep. You have the advantage that they want to kill you with a blade, not shoot you from a distance. You don’t know who they are or when they will do this. It could happen at ANY time. Evaluate each and every moment of your day to be able to react to any situation.

Battlefield Preparation:

1)Ditch Battles: estimate how many are on the other side – count if you have time so see how close you are. How many of each weapon combination?
2)As the fight progresses, try to keep a running total in your head of how many are dead on the other team. In time, try to also keep track of the weapon combos that remain. Use your ears as well as your eyes to try and keep track of the action. If you know that certain people like to sweep around behind, estimate how long it would take them, and turn before that time, just to see if they made it.
3)Try to keep track of the terrain, remember that unless you’re charging, you want to be downhill from your opponent – as head doesn’t count, the further your legs are away from the opponent, the better. Also, try to keep the sun to your back, or if there is both shade and sun, leave your opponent in the sun.
4)Battlegames: What is the artillery and where is it? (don’t forget to take into account the artillery from your own team) Knowing your primary role, what is your first goal/target? What are all the factors that might prevent you from attaining your goal/target? How can you minimize them?

Exercises to build strength, reflexes and muscle memory.

Use a DynaBee (or SuperGyro, as I guess it's called now - The DynaBee is an excellent exercise tool that helps strengthen the hand and forearms. This in turn helps with blocking, particularly snap-blocks with the wrist. It also helps improve wrap-shots.

Jump Rope - Jumping rope can help coordination and balance, and by association - footwork. It helps the body "figure itself out" so to speak. However, it can take quite a bit of time to show progress (a year or more). What's more, it's not an exactly exciting activity. Varying things up can help (running while jumping, changing directions or position, jumping backwards, etc.) This is not recommended for people with knee, leg, or ankle problems.

Balance Beam - If you have access to a balance beam, high or low, simply standing and walking the beam can help improve balance, as well as coordination. Simple exercises including simply standing on the beam, walking the length of the beam (forwards, backwards, and sideways), small jumps on the beam, etc. If no regular beam is available, many city parks and public places have similar beams/boards available for exercise purposes. One might also be able to construct a simple beam. As with Jumping Rope, this exercise can take years of practice to show significant improvement.

Sword Circles - Take a sword (long sometimes, short others) in your dominant hand, and make circles with the tip of the sword. Starting Small and widening out to as wide as you can make the circle over the course of about a minute then close the circle back up. Practice this for at least an hour while watching TV or something else 2-3 times a week. This will alter your primary muscle memory to a rap shot, negating much of your opponents blocking potential.

Specific Amtgard Skill Drills:

Single Sword drill - With only single swords (ideally of similar length), you and an opponent square off within striking distance. Start off slowly: one of you throws a shot and the other blocks it with their sword. The blocker then immediately counters with a shot, and their opponent blocks with their sword. They then in turn counter again, and so on. This goes on until someone successfully strikes his opponent. Start slowly! Speed up gradually, or as confidence and skill increases. Do not move your feet significantly during this drill. Start off by staying in place, no maneuvering. As skill and confidence increase, participants may maneuver more freely during this drill. Try switching sword hands periodically to practice off-handed. The goal of this exercise is to improve one's single-sword skills, hand-eye coordination, blocking ability, and countering ability.

Single Sword hand blocking - With only single swords (ideally of similar length), you and an opponent square off within striking distance. Start off slowly: one of you throws a shot, and the other must block with their empty hand/arm. Once they have blocked the shot, they then throw a shot at their opponent and the opponent must block with their open hand/arm. This continues until someone successfully strikes his opponent. Start slowly, and increase speed as skill and confidence increase. Start off by staying in place, no maneuvering. As skill and confidence increase, participants may maneuver more freely during this drill. Try switching sword hands periodically to practice off-handed. The goal of this exercise is to improve one's single-sword skills, hand-eye coordination, and off-hand blocking usage/ability.

The one-shot kill - You and an opponent each have one shot to kill each other in. If either of you miss, take a limb, or get blocked you loose. If you land a killing blow on your opponent you win. This will strengthen footwork, body positioning and help when fighting multiple opponents. (Note: you can play this game with people who don't know they are playing. ;)

Timing/Range - This starts as an exercise that only works with opponents whose fighting style you know, but can be expanded to work with everyone. Take one shot of yours that works (my first practice with this was an arm shot, because everyone swings and exposes their arm a little) and practice when to take the shot. You will find that different shots will require you to take the shot as soon as they are in your range or, wait until you are in your opponents range. This will do 2 things: 1) Improve accuracy/comfort with a particular shot. 2) You will make yourself predictable to your opponent, strengthening his resolve to that shot making it harder for you to throw it, requiring you to improve upon the shot or find a better shot.

No footwork - (2-3 people) Stand with one foot planted to where everyone can EASILY hit everyone else in the circle. Your planted foot has to be your forward foot. You will learn how to lean while attacking blocking out one side while attacking on the other. You will also notice what more you could be doing if you could move that damn foot!

Blocking only – With a Sword and Shield take an attacking opponent and don’t fight back only seek to endure by blocking and footwork. Measure your success based on how long you live. In small doses you can do this with an opponent who doesn’t know he is drilling you. After a while he will catch on though.

Forcing your game – When practicing with friends, think about what style of fight favors you over them. By style of fight I mean straight on vs. circling or aggressive vs. reactive or long range vs. short range. This is not the same as weapon style. Try to force your style on your opponent. After each fight think about whether it ended up being fought in your style, their style, or some mix. Learn to force more fights into your style.

Bait practice – Before a fight, choose a piece of bait to lure your opponent. Don’t swing at him at all unless he is going for the bait. This one also works great with unsuspecting opponents but works fine if you both do it to each other. Don’t tell your opponent what the bait is but try to get him interested in it. As with many drills you might not get as many kills you are used to.

Two-man Teams Drills:

Two-man touch drill – As a drill for team fighting, you and your partner should start a fight with your feet or legs touching. As the fight goes on go ahead and maintain that contact if it is reasonable and stay as close as you can in any case. From actually touching your partner you can often tell where he is going. Also this forces you to learn how to fight next to your partner since you will always be in each others way if you move wrong since you begin touching each other.

Fight against your partner – Many two man teams work together very often. In practice you should however spend some time practicing with other partners. It can be especially good to practice with someone else against your usual partner. You can learn a lot about how he fights and also about how other good fighters seek to attack him. As long as you are all friends, talking about what you have learned afterwards is very good.

Competitive Drills for those who need a little adrenaline:

Work off the Warriors – A game to add a little competitive spice to sparring. Each player starts with a number of points equal to the number of orders of the Warrior he has. The players with the most points start out on the field. They fight and the winner looses a point and holds the field. The next player comes in and it repeats until someone reaches zero points and is the winner of that round. The winner of a round starts subsequent rounds with an extra point for each round he has won. Players with no orders of the Warrior start with one point and Warlords start with ten points regardless of how many orders they have over ten.

Five – A game to add spice to sparing between two opponents. You each start with zero points. You fight until one of you wins and he gains a point. From then on the winner gains a point if he has zero or more points. Otherwise his opponent looses a point. Among fighters of similar skill levels a round of Five can easily take more than fifteen minutes.

Books of interest:

The Book of Five Rings by Miyamoto Musashi
The Art of War by Sun Tzu
Hagakure, the book of the Samurai by Yamamoto Tsunetomo
The Art of the Warrior, leadership and strategy from the Chinese Military Classics translated and edited by Ralph D. Sawyer
The Unfettered Mind, writings of the Zen Master to the Sword Master by Takuan Soho
Samurai Zen by Scott Shaw
Paradoxes of Defence by George Silver
Building a Champion: On Football and the making of the 49ers – Bill Walsh and Glen Dickey
Headslap – The life and Times of Deacon Jones – John Klawitter.

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