HEMA Game Archive


How the game is played/scored. This should be information about WHAT to do, but please save WHY for the "Design" field.

Additional rules could be added because:
- You've decided that the game is better in every way with the new rule.
- You found a *slight* tweak that makes a small difference in a meaningful way. (If it's a big enough change just make a new game and tag it as a variant of this one.)


Why the rules are designed the way they are. What are the core skills targeted, and possible weaknesses.
Descriptions of the design iterations, failed attempts, or changes in thoughts are also helpful to other coaches.


Notes on what coaches have noticed playing this game with their students.


Video or article links

Direct To Grapple

Uploaded by Sean Franklin on 2022-01-29
Tags:   ringen_am_schwert | grapple_transition | grapple | direct_attack |


The setup for this is identical to the Direct Attack game, but with more options. [A] = attacker, [Z] = defender from the Direct Attack.

When [A] attacks [Z] may chose to defend by either (they lose if they do both):

  • Parry without backing up
  • Back up without parrying.

Which results in 3 outcomes:

  1. If the attack hits [A] wins.
  2. If [Z] avoids any contact then they win.

The third case is that [Z] parries successfully. In this case [A] may continue with a 1-H grappling action until:

  1. [A] lands a valid scoring action, and thus wins.
  2. [Z] forces a stalemate, in which case they win. (Full control isn't necessary, just enough to make any onlookers think "this isn't going anywhere fast".)

Once the grapple begins [Z] may move their feet, but can not run away. If either of the two deliberately breaks measure they lose.

Design (added 2022-01-29 by Sean Franklin)

Transition between out-fencing and ringen am schwert is one of the most neglected skills in HEMA training. When fighters train to do grappling it is usually as an isolated skill, with attention on the grappling technique being performed. In reality the transition between out-fencing and grappling is usually what determines the winner. As the saying goes: "First to grapple, first to win".

The attacker must be balanced in their attack, unlike the normal Direct Attack which gets them to be "all in" every time. Should the defender perceive the attacker is not prepared for a follow up they will parry and force a stalemate before the attacker can recover. Likewise attacks which are clearly just grappling entries will be much more visible and obvious to the defender, who will avoid by moving backwards.

Dealing with an opponent who only wants to stall, rather than win, is also a very real scenario for modern HEMA. Typically a grapple is called hold after a few seconds in a tournament, so anyone who doesn't want to grapple will try to force a stalemate rather than trying to win. Which makes it extra important for anyone who wants to use their grappling ability to their advantage. Likewise anyone who is looking to get out of a grapple, say someone much smaller than their opponent, needs to know how to stave them off to the best of their ability.

Note (added 2022-01-29 by Sean Franklin)

Because grappling is fundamental to this it's best to restrict the target area, making it more likely the defender will succeed if they try to parry. The attacker should get through enough that they think it's worth trying. But if the game starts to revolve around the success of the parry you're no longer doing a grappling transition game, you're doing a parry game.

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HEMA Game Archive
Developed by Sean Franklin
GD4H project