For the first quarter of the year we're going to be using the almighty Squat as our diagnostic and training tool for Awareness and Movement. For Precision we'll be working on Broadsword Fundamentals.
I treat the Squat portion as one training block, and Broadsword as another. If I can get a third training block in each week I will repeat the one that needs the most work, or train with a different weapon to break the repetitiveness.
We've all done squats, and we're all in different places with our squats. So here's why we're starting with squats anyway:
Squats require flexibility in the spine and feet, mobility of the ankle and hip, stability in the trunk and legs, and of course strength and motor control throughout to coordinate it all.
Specifically, we're working on deep bodyweight squats with our tailbone between our ankles, our feet flat on the floor, while maintaining our balance without assistance.
So first things first, figure out where your squat is at, and what may be holding you back from doing it better. Take a photo of your squat from the front, side, and back at the beginning and end of each month to see progress that you might not be noticing week to week.
Now, let's start with Flexibility and Mobility. Spend half your training block on Flexibility and half on Mobility.
You're going to have to be honest with yourself here. Working on the 'weakest link' means focusing more of your energy on the part of your body holding you back the most. It might be one part, it might be all of them. That's okay, it just tells you where you need to start working from.
For each thing we're working on I've tried to link a video to helpful exercises to use, as well as an article for those that want to really understand what's going on. Consider the video essential, and the article optional.
Which is your weakest link when it comes to flexibility? Is it:
Article - https://gmb.io/hip-mobility/
Pick 2-4 stretches to focus on for the ankles, hips, and back. Work through them until you can do them all.
The Crab Walk will help you here.
This video clip shows you how to use the Crab position to improve your mobility for your squats.
Spend 10 minutes per session working on mobility. Work through the Range of Motion exercises until they become easy.
I love pulling off those advanced moves that come up so rarely that everyone remembers seeing them happen. But the fact is Pareto's Principle is at work in our sparring far more than we'd like to admit. And that means we need to focus on the fundamentals.
Also, keep in mind we're working on older Highland techniques, rather than the Regimental techniques we learn first.
I call them 'Fundamentals' because it sounds less boring than 'Basics'. Doesn't change the fact we're talking about the first movements you probably learned with a broadsword. And it doesn't matter how long ago you learned them, expert fencers still work on their fundamentals.
This means starting at the beginning again. A mirror or cell phone can help you check these things by yourself.
Where is my weight balanced?
Where should my feet be?
How are my hips aligned?
What guard should I be in?
Does your guard leave me exposed where it shouldn't?
Am I returning to this position after every move I make?
Am I coordinating my body parts correctly?
Am I cutting with good edge alignment?
Am I cutting with the proper part of the blade?
Am I using the hand squeeze and wrist motion to power my cuts?
Can I comfortably do this for all 7 cuts?
How fast and smooth can you make those cuts?
Am I making a demi-lunge or a full lunge?
How deep can I lunge?
How deep can I lunge and recover quickly?
Am I coordinating the my arms and feet properly?
Can I move myself smoothly?
Can I use footwork at different speeds?
Can I use footwork of different sizes?
Can I vary my footwork randomly?
Can I traverse?
Can I use the appel?
Can I use the gathering step?
Can I thrust in first, second, third, and fourth?
Do I choose the correct thrust for my opponents position?
Does my chosen thrust properly cover me against my opponents position?
Can I thrust smoothly at different speeds?
Can I thrust smoothly at different distances?
Can I use footwork to get me into lunge range accurately?
Work on your fundamentals for a full training block.
Feedback is always welcome and appreciated. Don't forget to keep track of your training in the Accountability Group!
The Art of Defence on Foot, Third Edition (1804) by Charles Roworth
Storica Defensa - Broadsword Curriculum