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 Attack

Uploaded by Sean Franklin on 2021-04-27
Tags:   attack | ballistic_passing_step | direct_attack | self_scaling |


Both the [A] (the attacker) and [Z] (the defender) are firm footed facing each other, not moving from their initial guard positions. [A] is allowed one attack (no feints or direction changes), within a limited set of parameters that are known to the defender*.

The response of [Z] is also specified ahead of time. The traditional version is a parry with no foot movement, but you could also specify that [Z] must back out without a parry, or that they may move and parry.

If [A] lands the attack twice in a row then [Z] will line up one step further than they have been positioning themselves. If [Z] succeeds twice in a row they should move one step closer. (If the first pass shows that they started at completely the wrong distance they should reposition without worrying about the "move one step after two attacks" rule.)

* The base version is something simple like 'right descending cut to the head'. More options could be allowed for attacks, however at some point it becomes a variant drill rather than a rules tweak. The Direct Attack is an extremely simple scenario.

(added 2023-01-20 by Sean Franklin)
(added 2023-02-22 by Stephen Cheney)
Rules (added 2022-12-22 by Adrien Pommellet)

It is possible to build upon the base game by allowing the attacker to dip in (using a single fencing advance) and out (using a fencing retreat) of measure before striking. They may repeat that footwork pattern as many times as they wish. The same rules (including scaling) otherwise apply.

Design (added 2021-04-27 by Sean Franklin)

The first thing the Direct Attack game teaches is that the attacker should eliminate any preparatory actions which signal the defender, and the defender should learn to observe any extraneous motions which indicate an attack is starting. Secondly, and probably more importantly, the drill will get people to know at what range an attack has a high probability of landing.

Changing the options for targeting or attacks will also affect the distance between the two fighters. If you limit it to a right oberhau to the head with a parry defense you will see the two are almost on top of each other. If you allow the attacker to do any attack (so long as it is direct with no feints) the defender will end up much further. Likewise move and parry will allow a defender to be closer than if they only move or only parry. Doing the drill slightly differently all the time helps develop an understanding of how distance changes depending on many factors.

Note (added 2021-04-27 by Sean Franklin)

Note that the firm footed parry against a thrust may not be the greatest if you're not using swords with a lot of flex. The attacker will always be moving forward with their maximum explosive speed, and that can mean a lot of energy into the thrust. Limiting thrusts to versions where the defender is moving backwards is usually prudent.

Note (added 2021-04-27 by Sean Franklin)
The Direct Attack drill belongs to a small class of self-scaling games, in that the relative skill level of both participants will even itself out. A more skilled attacker will have to cross a very large distance to hit, and a very skilled defender will be practically on top of their attacker waiting for the strike.
Note (added 2023-02-22 by Stephen Cheney)

This game is critical in teaching the "ballistic passing step" class of footwork/blade action. Getting it to manifest may take some specific coaching because there are alternate movement solutions that work equally well within the parameters of the game (IE a lunge). As soon as the fencer is able to produce the action, return to this game so they can practice it in an environment that affords efficient movement and is constantly varying (parameters change each rep with different distance). 

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HEMA Game Archive
Developed by Sean Franklin
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