In the summer months, Polaris meets outside in the park. Other than enjoying the nice weather, meeting in the park gives us the space to melee.

 A melee is a group battle with more than 2 people on each side. Sometimes, the objective will simply be to “kill” the other team. Other times, we develop more complex games to push our student’s tactical thinking. We often design melee objectives to emphasize the students’ recent lessons or provide the opportunity to work on specific techniques. 

Melees are often chaotic, but they are a useful tool to help students learn martial arts skills. 

Melee Teaches Tactics

Melee teaches the use of tactics on a larger scale. Unlike a duel,  the melee requires the students to be aware of a larger area than just the individual fight they’re engaged in. They have to be able to coordinate with team members while engaging in their own part of the battle. 

On the melee field, students have to think locally & globally. The student must keep in mind the skirmish they are engaged in and what is happening on the field at large. Though one person cannot be fully aware of, or in control of the larger field of play, the awareness of the larger field allows for a wider range of tactics. 

In Melee, students can explore tactical formations and movements and how these affect the timing of the match. They can use various terrain or weapons combinations as force multipliers. Moving around a larger field with various weapons gives the students more factors to focus on and play with. 

The tactics change based on the type of game, weapons mix, and many other factors. There are a lot of variables for students to explore and experiment with. At Polaris we play a variety of games each with its own set of tactical considerations. In the past we’ve done 2 on 2s, capture the flag, movement based objectives, and games that are sillier like sword soccer or red light green light. 

The tactical elements that students use during melee add another level of complexity and understanding to their learning about a weapon.

Melee Applies Weapons in a Different Context

The melee field is a very different context than a duel.

A weapon that may have limitations in a dueling matchup, may shine in a melee. Take for example, the mixed pair of a glaive and a knife. This is a pairing we discussed in our recent article about mixed weapons training

When facing off 1-on-1, the knife seems to be at a disadvantage because it has to overcome the length and precision of the glaive. In a melee, the knife may not face the same challenges. If there are several opponents for the glaive to face, the knife wielder may be able to move out of the focus of the fight and get into range of the glaive wielder without having to close up the centerline.

If the glaive wielder is focusing on various opponents, the speed and agility of the knife can come into play to quickly close with less of a chance of being noticed. The weapons rely on different strengths in a melee than they do in a one on one duel. 

Melees are Fun

In addition to being a great learning tool, melee is fun. 

Sparring and learning in duels is fun, but melee allows a groups to plan, act, and explore together. In melee, students have the opportunity to plan and discuss with other students. Melee can be an opportunity for students to work together in a cooperative way, allowing them to explore how they best fit in a group.

It’s fun to explore various tactics and ideas, and discuss what worked and what didn’t. It’s also fun to run around with a sword and try to reach your objective. 

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