6 Games to Teach Meyer-style Fencing

The following are the results of a game design challenge to design games which have the biggest discrepency between their apparent usefulness and their actual ability to teach sills.

Sean Franklin
Game List: 6 Games for a Complete Fencer
Explanation (and introduction to the challenge): 6 Bad Games – Lessons From The Rondo

Tea Kew
Game List: 6 Games to Teach Meyer-style Fencing
Explanation: Breaking the feedback loop to make bad games

Adrien Pommellet
Game List: 6 Games to Clean Up Your Fencing
Explanation: 6 Games to Shit Up Your Fencing

We’ve decided to try to put together some curated selections of games (some from the archive, some new) which can work together as a training programme or curriculum for teaching students. I’ve assembled a series here designed to introduce some of the key movement patterns and ideas in Meyer’s fencing to a group of new students.

1. Meyer stance and movement

  • Fencers hold both ends of a long staff and stand in a hollow square. 
  • Stepping back out of bounds, or into the centre of the square are forbidden
  • On ‘go’, both fencers drop into a full deep squat stance and proceed to push/pull each other via the staff by moving around the square with footwork.
  • If either fencer is moved out of the space, they lose and the other one gets a point
  • Otherwise, the first fencer to raise up from their deep squat loses and the other one gets a point

Key teaching points: you’re learning to engage your whole body and stay in a deep Meyer-appropriate position, while trying to trap your opponent and set up your scoring conditions.

2. Ready Or Not

A game for teaching attack and defence. Work in groups of three

  • Assign colours to the two fencers.
  • Both fencers manoeuvre freely, holding their sword at the shoulder.
  • The third participant watches and acts as a judge.
  • Whenever the judge feels it’s appropriate, they may call “red” or “blue”
  • Whichever fencer they call out must try to hit with a single direct attack.
  • If they hit, they score
  • If they get parried, the opponent scores

Key teaching points: Fencers need to be ready to attack or defend at a moment’s notice. This game builds that skill, since either fencer might need to act at any point. 

3. Meyer Square Feints & Parries

Another game for teaching attack and defense, in this case how to recognise a feint and decide whether to commit to the parry.

  • From medium range (step to hit)
  • Fencers take turns to be the attacker.
  • The attacker picks one of the four Meyer square sequences and delivers all four strikes
  • Any of the four blows may be real or fake
  • The defender has to try and find the blade while not being hit.
  • Swap roles repeatedly

Key teaching points: you get to practice using clear Meyer sequences and working out how to do each action as either a real attack or as a feint

4. C-c-c-Combo Maker!

A game for building the ability to chain actions together fluidly

  • Start from medium distance (step to hit)
  • Fencer one steps in and begins a chain of strikes. It can be as long as they want, but must not involve any pause or hesitation – continuous fluid blows.
  • Fencer two must try to parry as many strikes as they can. 
  • When fencer two gets hit, or if fencer one runs out of ideas, fencer one should step back with a final covering cut. 
  • Fencer 1 scores a point for every action before their final hit/retreat.
  • Fencer two immediately takes over and continue.

Key teaching points: This game helps fencers build the habit of doing Meyer style extended sequences, instead of just going for quick snipes.

5. Escalation

A simple sparring game to build the Meyer/fechtschule vibe of trying to fence continuously and work your way to high targets.

  • Fencers fence continuously for 15 seconds
  • Highest hit delivered by the end of the period wins

Key teaching points: This conditions people to fence, keep fencing despite being hit, and work their way up to the highest target to maximise their chance of winning in a fechtschule bout.

6. Sparring Rules

Fechtschule fencing rewarded cool moves unpredictably with coins thrown from the audience, instead of by scoring with judges to a consistent rule set. To emulate this, we’ll use a fencing convention where after each exchange, the ref will secretly throw a dice for each fencer – if it comes up with a 5 or 6, they score a point. 

Key teaching points: It’s not just about winning – it’s about how you win. The crowd could be unpredictable and capricious, and this really teaches fencers to understand that historical context of the art.