At the Beginning

I would like to share something from Valgard’s most excellent blog SCA Fighter. Here he talkes about the improtance of your opening salute.

Somewhat along that line, I tend to start with the salute. It is where the fight begins, and so it is where training should begin as well. The first thing we learned in Judo was how to bow. Radnor taught me that the fight begins long before the lay on. You can win a fight from the way you step onto the field. Everything you do should be calculated to unease your opponent, or at least to put him on his heels. The most important part of this is the salute. Most people don’t give any thought to their salutes. They just raise the sword in the general direction of their opponents and then wait for the lay on. Then they come on guard, again without thought or determination.

Radnor’s salute is very strong and direct. Every part of it is designed to prepare him for the fight, to take over the space, and to dominate his opponent. He stands with his sword foot forward, his body in profile to his opponent, his head turned to look him square in the eye. When the salute is called for, the Duke points his sword directly at his opponent (at times he will point to the spot where he intends to strike). He draws the sword straight back to his chest, breathing in as he does so to center himself and focus. Next he brings his sword around to his shoulder in a sweeping, circular motion, essentially drawing a circle around himself and cutting himself off from all distractions and all things outside the fight. As he does this, he steps forward into the en garde position (if he is fighting sword foot forward he can take two steps). Before the lay on is called he is already moving forward to attack his opponent. It can be disturbing. This is the salute I use. I have more than once won fights using that salute, before a blow was struck. This is the first lesson: how to salute and come on guard. It teaches a number of important lessons, the most important of which is Always Be Closing.