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

Circle of Circles

Uploaded by Sean Franklin on 2023-02-26
Tags:   circle | shillhaw | cut_angle | offline_motion | running_off |


This is a little weird to set up, and requires a bit of buy-in. (See the design, as the rules don't really explain it well.)

  • Only valid cut is right long edge descending cut and right short edge (shilhau). Must alternate every time (long-short-long-etc) with the point being chambered back to at least the shoulder in between. (Running off or pulling back are both valid means of chambering.)
  • Only valid target is the head and the hands. Head has priority on doubles.
  • Each cut must be accompanied by a movement to the right. Doesn't mater if this is with, during, or before the cut. Just one movement per cut.
Design (added 2023-02-26 by Sean Franklin)

This is originally a more choreographed routine that I successively added more and more incompliance to until it became a game. If you just throw the rules down without doing the choreographed version I have no clue what would develop.

The pattern was intended to work on grip switches, Meyer's Circle, and lateral movement around to the right (Meyer's triangle step). Both fighters would essentially move in a mirrored pair each extending to longpoint, and then running-off with their cuts as they did a triangle step to the right and delivered the next cut with the other edge. In this case the cuts were canceling each other out, and it was kind of a conditioning drill.

By adding the competitive element of "you can win by hitting the head" it gave people the impetus to actually really try to break through the oberhau with the shillhau, driving towards the head. As people go they tend to get over-exuberant to break through and throw across the line rather than at the head. This is when the hands become a sensible target, as there is no longer the threat of getting hit in the head with a double. Thus "swing for the head and try to create a wedge that goes through" becomes the emergent mechanic rather than "try to smash open their line".

Also the cuts get really frantic so they get used to quick grip transitions under pressure. A few rounds of this does more than a whole session of breaking down the exact movement of the hand. The rule for chambering has proved largely unnecessary, as getting enough into your blow to stop theirs is of prime importance. Typically going so fast your get them in-between strikes hasn't been a good strat, but if you're faster you try to up the rate high enough that they are now throwing poor strikes that don't threaten.

In general hard hitting hasn't been my experience with emergent behavior but I would watch for it carefully.

Note (added 2023-02-26 by Sean Franklin)

Tends to work better from a counter-play game point of view if the start with opposite cuts. Ober vs shilhau.

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HEMA Game Archive
Developed by Sean Franklin
GD4H project