Martial arts that teach weapons all teach the weapons in a different order. Weapons training order can vary depending on the school, and the order weapons are taught in can serve different purposes.
Polaris Fellowship begins our training with weapons in the following order: Knife, Sword and Shield, Cut and Thrust Sword, then Hand and a Half. Though we later study other weapons styles, beginning with these four weapons styles establish the fundamentals of sparring with weapons.
Beginning Weapons Training: Knife
We start our weapons training with the knife. The knife is highly versatile and allows our students to build a solid foundation for the basics of their training. Knife fighting quickly integrates the students into sparring and drill with other students.
Building Defense: Sword and Shield
Once the student achieves basic competency with the knife, we move on to training with the sword and shield. We use a cruciform sword and a target shield or targe. Sword and shield training helps our students to establish a foundation for integrating offense and defense into their fight.
Sword and shield training begins the integration process of the non-dominant hand, which holds the shield. We teach shield defensive motions, not just holding the shield static. In this style, both the sword and shield arms are active in the fight. Using both hands at the same time is challenging for many students. The target shield gives them an opportunity to defend themselves, while working both hands into the fight.
Weapons Training Refinement: Cut and Thrust
After the sword and shield, Polaris’s students move on to train with the cut and thrust sword. The cut and thrust is a basket hilted sword in the transition between the cruciform sword and a rapier. It allows for both cutting and thrusting motions.
With the cut and thrust, students refine the size of the motions and fine tune the control of their cuts. The cut and thrust, aided by the modified grip within the basket, allows students to begin to have control of the tip of the weapon. With tip control, students are able to make more precise cuts and move the weapon more adeptly.
In some senses, the cut and thrust seems a simpler weapon to study than the sword and shield; you only have to keep track of one weapon with the cut and thrust. Polaris teaches it after shield to focus on refining the motions that they learned with the cruciform sword and shield.
Training with the cut and thrust after the cruciform sword also allows for a progression on muscle development. Training with the cruciform sword builds up the muscles for larger movements with the sword. Then we move to the cut and thrust to build up finer muscles movements by building the muscles in the hand.
Cross Body Motions: Hand and a Half Sword
Once the student has completed the Cut and Thrust curriculum, they move on to studying the Hand and a Half sword. The hand and a half sword is often also called a two handed sword or a bastard sword. Though there can be some differences in length and exact ratios, our hand and a half training focuses on swords where both hands can be put onto the handle.
After the fine tuning of studying the cut and thrust sword, the hand and a half has larger motions. The hand and a half relies on leverage and cross-body motions to move smoothly and efficiently. Bringing the two hands onto the same weapon integrates the whole body and core into every shot and motion.
In part we teach the hand and a half after the cut and thrust because it is a sword that is easy to generate a lot of power with. By the time students reach our hand and a half curriculum, they have been studying with the school long enough to establish a level of control to spar with other students safely. The students have more body awareness and control than when they began their training. With this control, they are able to safely utilize and power the full body motions of the hand and a half sword.
Weapons Training Continues
We continue on after these four introductory weapons to train with sword and dagger, sword and buckler, glaive, great sword, spear and open hand techniques. As students move through the more advanced weapons curriculum they rely on the foundations of their initial weapons training.
Interested in learning more about weapons training? Contact us!