An introduction to stance and footwork in sword fighting (HEMA)

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This is a demonstration by two instructors of the Blood & Iron historical martial arts school, Nicole Smith (also co-founder of B&I) and Sean Franklin. Both have …

48 thoughts on “An introduction to stance and footwork in sword fighting (HEMA)

  1. Iain Mc says:

    Footwork videos always make me laugh.
    Move like you're walking, now move like you're stepping aside. Try not to lose your balance whilst moving. Now do this whilst swinging at or poking someone with a heavy object. Adapt your gait so you do not lose balance and can continue to move forwards, backwards and sideways; quickly if required.
    Have I missed anything!

  2. Stephen Otvos says:

    I think the foot work is bad training. stances are flawed and too structured and defies the laws of the body and the biomechanics of the joints and muscles. to truly understand the essence of fighting with weapons or empty hands is to walk naturally and not deviate from this way. sorry but this footwork is counter productive to becoming better at wielding the long sword or any other weapon for that matter.

  3. Giovanni Di Marco says:

    Is Sean wearing wrestling boots? Is that common for HEMA practitioners to wear those for their choice of footwear? They seem like they'd be great for indoor venues, not so sure about anything on grass though.

  4. Mozoto says:

    Hello i have a question if i may.

    Take this situation, im advancing fast on the opponent from beyond measure and suddenly i want to stop in the least amount of space possible, how to do it and not eff up my joints in time from doing so repeatedly during practice ? I identified three possible ways to do so and would appreciate feedback on this:
    1. Slow down with alot of very small steps on the balls of my feet, absorbing momentum with the calf muscles ?
    2. Stop by collapsing into a very deep squat without offering too much resistance with the knees, similar to how you land after jumping, but here you absorb forward momentum. Its the most tiring variant becouse then you need to stand up again.
    3. Stop by locking the joints, on almost straight legs and hitting the ground with the heels of my feet, i found that it offers the fastest stopping, almost on a dime, but i worry about the joints in this variant, i'd assume its for emergencies only ?

  5. MrDeathd says:

    So there using a modified walking stance or cat stance how surprising anytime you hear martial school in there you can expect these type of stances

  6. Theiron2142 says:

    Personally iv always set up my stance like this..
    Step 1- put a straight piece of tape on your floor.
    Step 2- Stand with your feet hip width apart with the tape line between your legs.
    Step 3- take a step forward with your left foot until your right heel just raises off the floor.
    Step 4- turn both of your feet to the right at the same time until your left big toe and your right heel are touching the line forming a straight line between those two body parts.
    This is by no means the perfect stance in my opinion but i think its the most adaptable to combat sports.

    I dont know if strikes to the legs and groin are allowed in hema but it seems to me that the stance shown in this video leaves those parts of the body far too open to attack, leg kicks can be brutal especially when your pointing your foot straight at your opponent like that with a wide stance rooting you too the ground, in order for him to defend against a kick to his left leg he would have to shift all of his weight onto his back foot so he can raise his left leg to check the kick with his shin as for getting kicked in the groin he might as well hang a sign off of his nut sack that says "kick here" on it.

  7. Sam Campos says:

    Ah. I disagree about the body sinking. Most sources' illustrations don't sink that much and it reduces mobility and speed. One doesn't walk or run sank like that. I think sinking is meant for low strikes or takedowns from below, to raise the opponent.

  8. Shojiro Katsuragi says:

    This is exceedingly similar to the footwork I learned at my Goju Ryu dojo. The only major difference I could find is the emphasis on not minding where your feet point in HEMA, versus an exceeding focus on where your feet point in Goju Ryu. My sensei used to walk around with a shinai (which I find rather strange, considering Goju Ryu is all about weaponless combat [karate literally means empty or open hand]) and push our feet to point in the correct direction (which was toward one another at around 30' from straight ahead in the short stances; and the front foot inward at 30' and the back foot straight ahead, with the heel on the ground, in the longer stances).

  9. andgalactus1 says:

    I have my first Hema class on monday, my background is in kenjutsu(TSKSR) but my mother was a competition fencer and both my grandparents on my mothers side were fencers as well, epee and foil I believe, this whole pointing with your knee and not with your foot thing is going to really trip me up haha. So much emphasis on the direction of your feet in kenjutsu.

    I feel like I'm going to have to unlearn a few things.

  10. Ricardo Morales says:

    Objection: thought I enjoyed how clearly and professionally everything was, explaining visually and in terms of motion and balance how everything is done, I find it lacking in an appropiate soundtrack. My personal choice would have been "Footlose". Thank you for your attention.

  11. Mark Stockman says:

    Interesting. In English, we have phrases like "caught flat-footed" and "rocked back on your heels." I always thought that applied to boxing, but apparently it's older than that.

  12. Nikita Onassis says:

    Im back too..sorry to hear you are stuck with both injuries..helps not to wear hiking boots for long periods of time as they retraing the way you move without you knowing it..when you stop wearing boots, your feet tends to feel clumsy and lack the senses normally held. Warm up by stretching when you get up. Check Mark Wiley for stretching.

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