Games for Blunts

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    When most people hear the term “Rawlings,” they probably think about sports involving balls, and not training swords. Fortunately, there’s always the question of, “why can’t we have both?” So, whip out your favorite synthetic waster and a tennis ball, and get ready to have some fun while also sharpening coordination and control… all the while using fairly safe blunt objects!

    As a starter game with a single participant (gets boring fairly quick) or multiple participants (much better), the tennis ball is launched into the air and an attempt is made to strike it. Use of the tennis ball is fairly important as it is a fairly soft implement that will deform under both a strike as well as an impact against static surfaces (the latter will reduce the chance of breaking something, etc.). The tendency to deform will also be gentler on your waster as well.

    At the onset of this game, the initial goal will simply be to strike the ball. This alone is important in developing coordination against a moving target. As the game progresses, proper technique can be introduced (striking with the step, etc.), and more sophisticated strikes (like meisterhau) can be executed in engaging the target as skill improves. All the while, it is important to always attempt to hit the target, unless the target becomes impossible to hit.

    When the game can be elevated to high levels of competency, focus can be made on hitting the target with certain parts of the blade, or a command can be given to successfully engage the target with a specific type of strike. Furthermore, this can be done all the while the ball is aggressively thrown at the striker. Part of the game of course is to hit the ball all the while not being hit by the ball!

    Perhaps at the highest level of the game, the ball is struck back and forth between at least two players. At this level, the longer the ball can be kept in play, the better.

    …This game is thus intended to improve coordination and control as already noted. Static practice may be good at developing form, but if that form breaks down under duress, it is somewhat lacking. By combining a somewhat chaotic and irregular target such as a flying ball, form can be practiced while under duress. In this manner, the “art” can be put back into “practice,” all the while having a good time and a good workout.

    Hans Hellinger

    Tennis balls have been used for a long time to teach thrusting with rapiers and foils, epees etc. This has been adapted to longswords as well


    Actually, the first time I had heard of a use for tennis balls was in regards to maces! This was when I was still exceptionally green in terms of what I knew or thought I knew. I had read that a method for training with implements like that was to affix a target (in this case, the tennis ball…) to the end of a pole and have the mace user attempt to strike the moving target. This is not quite as fun as your other options, but for a short weapon like a mace it makes sense.

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