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

Defend The Book

Uploaded by Sean Franklin on 2023-01-08
Tags:   meyer | sources | creativity | chain_attacks | defend_the_wall |


A Defend The Wall variant. Attacker [A] performs a series of attacks against the Defender [Z] until they can no longer chain into their next attack in a continuous motion. (aka they stutter), which constitutes one "exchange". A match is multiple exchanges, with each student being A and [Z] an equal amount of times. (Set the cap wherever you want.)

[A] can only use each attack once in the chain. (Define what are counted as attacks based on your schools source material.)

  1. If [A] lands a hit before they break their chain (or run out of attacks they know how to do) they get a point.
  2. If [Z] out-lasts and out-parries [A] they get a point.

This is the simple version of the game, and can be done with any students. But the real fun is the source based component:

  1. [A] may only attack with actions (in the scope of the schools source of study) they know the name of 

[Z] can call on any attack that occurred during the prior exchange. (But may have to re-enact it because [A] won't remember every action in their chain.)

  • If neither knows the name then [Z] gets a point. (This could make the score for the set 1-1 or 0-2, depending on if [A] managed to land a hit or not.)
  • If [A] does not know and [Z] does know then [Z] instantly wins the match.

If [A] and [Z] disagree about the name then the instructor will arbitrate. Anything that makes someone want to open a book is thrown out.

(If the instructor gets annoyed because [Z] is constantly challenging on attacks they know [A] knows, or constantly insisting on the wrong name, they award [A] victory for the match.)

(added 2023-03-22 by Sean Franklin)
Design (added 2023-01-08 by Sean Franklin)

In theory you can do thrusts and cuts with this, but in practice it always ends with chains of cuts.
A basic breakdown that is source agnostic might be:

  • Descending Angled L/R * True/False
  • Ascending Angled l/R * True/False
  • Vertical L/R * True/False
  • Horizontal L/R * True/False

Though this would be 2*2 + 2*2 + 2*2 + 2*2 = 16 possible attacks it is very unlikely anyone can do them in a smooth motion. (Remember, it ends when they can't chain smoothly into the next attack.) Also if you want to get really technical there is an "inside" and "outside" way to do a false edge cut meaning there would be two of each. Think sturtzhau vs shilhau.

Note (added 2023-01-08 by Sean Franklin)

This also works well as a non-competitive warmup activity with no-gear and foam swords.

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HEMA Game Archive
Developed by Sean Franklin
GD4H project