To this point we have only dealt with situations where both fighters fought sword and shield and carried the sword in the same hand. Now I will briefly, very briefly, talk about other common but less frequent occurrences.

1) Fighting from the knees

If you lose your leg, don't panic. Some people fight better from their knees. The first thing is to find a comfortable position. Some people prefer kneeling on one leg; others simply go down on both knees.

There are advantages and disadvantages to being on your knees. You don't have to block your legs anymore. But you can't use your hips to throw blows as well and you won't win a 100 yard dash.

The first objective is some good Old Testament justice. A leg for a leg. While your opponent is flailing away at the top of your helm (it's so close to his sword!), he'll often forget he has legs, too.

The other tack to take is to attack his swordside helm. Generally blows thrown on the shieldside are a waste of your (or at least my) rapidly dwindling stamina.

2) Fighting an opponent on his knees

Now it's clobbering time. But remember how you were trying to take his legs from your knees? Caution is still a good thing. In fact, it's easy because he's not going anywhere.

Approach your opponent slowly. When you cross the B/A line, throw the "crushing blow." It's very often a good idea to cover a movement transition with a blow. Place your shieldside foot between his knees. Your targets are the back of his helm, his ribs, and the offside helm. The back of the helm can be reached by throwing a return blow where your hand shoots down at his shieldside temple. His ribs are now where his legs used to be. Often in blocking the head, a fighter on his knees will massively overblock, raising his shield past his ribs. The offside helm can be reached via an odd pendulum-like blow. Throw the basic blow, throwing the elbow against your chest beneath your chin. On the return, rotate your wrist toward the shieldside and try to slice your opponent into a front half and back half.

You can do this until your opponent inevitably loses his balance. Then repeat. In some Kingdoms, I understand, it is the custom to consider standing close to a crippled opponent unchivalrous. I don't understand this. I worked for this advantage; he could have blocked my sword.

3) Fighting the wrong-handed

Your relative placement standing in B remains the same. But standing in A you move to your shieldside away from your opponent's sword. In a normal situation when two people who are same-handed fight their shields face each other and are parallel more or else. When you fight someone who is wrong-handed, both your shields are still face-to-face. But they are no longer parallel. They are at an acute angle to each other and you can end up standing back-to-back. I call this "falling into his shield." Backing into him is a good thing.

In stance, I force my swordside foot farther to my shieldside. This variation can be useful in other circumstances. Placing your shieldside foot six to twelve inches further to the shieldside improves defense on the swordside a great deal. It also makes opening up with the swordside shoulder nearly impossible. A really good thing against a wrong-handed fighter. I'll use this stance against fighters with hellacious offside attacks as well.

4) Fighting two-weapon fighters

Two-weapon is probably the most difficult form there is, both to fight and to fight against. I do not fight two weapon. I loathe it. Far too chaotic and exhausting for me. But you have to kill two weapons guys, too.

First there are a lot of misperceptions about two-weapon among beginning fighters. First, no one can throw two blows to opposite sides of the body simultaneously. You could if your hips and spine folded, but they don't. Some can throw a blow to your shieldside, followed by a blow to your swordside very quickly. Very quickly indeed. But the average two-weapon fighter's speed and tempo can be coped with.

The primary thing to keep in mind when fighting a two-weapon fighter, a greatsword fighter, a poleweapons man, or a spearman is range. Their range as opposed to your range. It is especially critical to have a feel for where the ranges lie in these situations.

The two-sword fighter wants to maneuver to a position where a step will take him into B in such a way that he has both hands past the leading edge of your shield and between you and your shield if you have an open shield, or past the shield edge and in front of your swordside shoulder if you have a closed shield. Whoops, you're dead. He can block your sword with one hand and attack with the other. His blow off your sword block will most often end the fight.

Your job is to keep both his hands on the shieldside of your shield, outside your shield. This is accomplished through movement and through control of the center with blows. You are in trouble when his hands start to tiptoe out of the center and to his sides. So you want to keep his hands together at his navel. This can often be done by throwing our old friend the "crushing blow." To block it, the two-weapons fighter will very often have to put both hand together. Be careful, though, because if he's any good, the bottom hand will immediately initiate a blow.

5) Fighting against two-handed swords, poleweapons, and spears

As I said before, range, range, range. There are two ways to fight long weapons: patiently and impatiently. Fighting patiently involves waiting to exploit the opponent's movement; impatiently is trying to force his first movement with a sham movement.

The great problem is that your C is his B. The great secret is that your A is his D (against a spear, both your A and B are his D). So the plan is to force him to let you move to your B at your leisure.

I'm always impatient, so let's do that first. Begin by establishing where the opponent's B/C line is. Find it and stay there. This takes practice. Just shadow your opponent on the B/C line, echoing his movement with your own.

After awhile, when you want to and are ready, take one step almost into his B. He (being a great sword or poleweapon fighter by his very nature lives to hit things with big sticks. He is so frustrated that he's seething inside his helm.) will jump at the chance to throw a blow at extreme range. Oh Goody, goody.

As you block his blow, you take lunging forward steps. You are following his return. You should have as many as three excellent offensive opportunities (you can smash him three times maybe) before he manages to throw a blow. Block the blow and either disengage with a "crushing blow" retreat or press the attack. You can press the attack if his feet haven't moved or have moved in a way that makes it easy for you to maintain your relative position.

Continue to Chapter 12