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

Tapping Game

Uploaded by Sean Franklin on 2021-12-12
Tags:   ansetzen | nachreissen | preparation | seeing_openings | attack | self_scaling |


The roles are [Tapper] and [Chaser]. [Attacker] moves around in a chambered position, Vom Tag for a cut or Plow for a thrust, and [Tapper] has their sword centered and pointed online. Both move around waiting for the [Tapper]'s cue, which is to bring their point down and back to tap twice on the ground beside them, and bring their sword back up in a parry. As soon as [Chaser] sees the point move offline they should begin their attack, trying to land the hit before [Tapper] can parry.

The attack should be predetermined and known to [Tapper]. The only question should be if they can get the sword up quickly enough to parry; trying to be tricky with the attack is not part of this game. [Tapper] is allowed to take a small step back as they parry, but not run away while doing so.

If [Tapper] parries the attack then for the next round they increase the number of taps, so if they were able to parry with 2 taps they must do 3. If [Tapper] fails to make the parry they will decrease the number of taps for the next round. In this way the game is self scaling for any differences in participant skill. A [Tapper] who is much better than the [Chaser] might end up doing 5 taps, whereas if [Chaser] is more skilled [Tapper] may be only able to get a single tap.

The last element of this game is that [Tapper] is allowed to thrust [Chaser], provided that they do so without moving their feet. This limits how close [Chaser] can get, they always have to be out of range. And, interestingly enough, means it's actually [Tapper] who can bully [Chaser] around the space.

Rules (added 2023-01-20 by Sean Franklin)

A modification to make this more representative is for the [Tapper] to bring the sword back and tap their shoulder with the blade instead of down to tap the ground. (Though this feels more awkward to do the taps with.)

Design (added 2021-12-12 by Sean Franklin)

While at first this may seem like a reaction time drill for the chaser, it really all depends on what position they were in before the cue to attack happened. If they are in a posture that allows them to push with their legs and accelerate forward they will probably hit, if they are in a position without any potential in their legs then they basically have no hope. 

Because of the tapper's ability to thrust the chaser also learns to evaluate and hang out just at the edge of the insta-death region. In my experience most of the time the chaser will be keeping themselves too far away: if they aren't getting stabbed once and a while then they aren't really pushing the edge of the envelope and learning their distance.

The tapper has less takeaways from this game, as tapping the sword quickly is not a core skill we want to learn; though they do get practice on raising to guard quickly. One of the biggest benefits is that they develop a feel for when the chaser is least able to attack, and time their taps accordingly.

Note (added 2021-12-12 by Sean Franklin)

You should check your flooring before doing this game. If you're renting gym space they may not like it if you are playing a game which revolves around hitting the floor with a steel sword. Switching to foam is an option, otherwise this one has to be put on hold until you find a more accommodating floor.

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HEMA Game Archive
Developed by Sean Franklin
GD4H project