Lets us talk a little about stances.
In tournament combat we see a lot of people constantly starting in their main stance. They shuffle forward and then stand there in each other’s measure waiting or wondering what to do. This is not the best approach.
I chatted a little about guards in a previous post. Perhaps the most critical aspect of any combat art is your feet, as this is all about balance, movement, power and measure. We commonly use three basic stances, bladed, box and square. These are useful descriptors but you should never be trapped in thinking that these are rigid edicts.
Your stance must be fluid, or phasic. Phasic describes a stage or interval in a cycle. It is the opposite of static. Never still, always changing.
Your weight must be on the balls of your feet, knees bent. Your steps must not be too large, small quick steps for speed and controlled balance. The short step and glide is what you are looking for. Remember to always be facing the weapon.
By constantly shifting your position and creating a variety of threats you do not allow your opponent to adequately adapt to what you are doing. You are trying to make your opponent misjudge their measure while being well aware of your own. You must develop the ability to always maintain the correct measure. Do not be in a rush to make the first attack.
You want to keep yourself just out of measure and look for the opportunity to close or quickly counter your opponents move. Never allow your opponent into measure unopposed. Hit them or make them commit to an action that you can counter. In maintaining the correct measure you are at a distance that you are just out of range yet close enough to immediately be able to attack or counter.
Confuse the measure of your opponent. Use small steps to change the distance. Vary the length as well as speed to keep your opponent guessing. By controlling the measure you are able to keep your sword ready to strike. Too close then you may be forced to bring your weapon forward in defence, diminishing your offence.
This all does not mean bounce around or wander around in a big circle. Being clearly out of measure means you are no threat at all. Look for an economy of movement; just enough is all you need. Your foot work should be easy and relaxed. Feet are a comfortable distance apart and are positioned to allow you the necessary movement to deliver a powerful cut.
So play with these ideas next time you are at practice. Seek to control the measure, commit when you find the opportunity or draw your opponent into over committing. This will take time and a lot of practice so give yourself permission to work at it gradually. Lastly, always check your feet and face the weapon!