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Pnt-o-Measure-art - 8/20/11


"The Point of Measure - Using measure to defeat your opponent" by Lord Ian the Green.


NOTE: See also the files: p-rapier-msg, Square-Bucklr-art, Styles-Swrdpl-art, rapier-armor-msg, Rapier-Armor-art, Rap-Cbt-S-Hst-art, merch-rapier-msg.





This article was submitted to me by the author for inclusion in this set of files, called Stefan's Florilegium.


These files are available on the Internet at: http://www.florilegium.org


Copyright to the contents of this file remains with the author or translator.


While the author will likely give permission for this work to be reprinted in SCA type publications, please check with the author first or check for any permissions granted at the end of this file.


Thank you,

Mark S. Harris...AKA:..Stefan li Rous

stefan at florilegium.org




The Point of Measure

Using measure to defeat your opponent.

by Lord Ian the Green


A quick key to help you out in reading this:


·      If you see that means an important point is being made.

·      If you see that means the following items is something to think about.

·      If you see that means it's time to put on your mask, pick up your sword and get active.

·      If you see that means there is a definition following.



The general information:


There are three factors we hear about often in our practice of the noble art of defense.  These factors are:


1 – Tempo

2 – Line

3 – Measure


Each of these factors is just as important as each of the others.  No one factor can trump any other factor.  It doesn't matter if you are in measure and have the perfect line of attack if you miss the opportunity (tempo) to take.  Perfect tempo and measure but miss a good open line of attack and you still aren't going to make a good blow.  Excellent tempo and a wide line of attack do you no good if you out of measure by a half inch or more.  So as you can see the must be a congruence of all three factors before you can defeat your opponent.


Often, we both discuss and practice these factors separately to better understand them. That is good but if we wish to progress at fencers we must also work at using them together, we must work at integrating the three factors. Today we are going to work on integrating these factors through the perspective of Measure.  The plan is to be able to better use measure with tempo and line to defeat your opponent.


Measuring Up.


This class assumes you already know something about measure, tempo and line.  As a quick reminder:


Measure is the distance between you and your opponent at which point at least one of you could successfully strike the other.  Not everyone has the same measure and even in the exact same bout a person can change their own measure increasing and decreasing it.


Measure is about distance.  Distance is about the ability to strike and be struck.  The amount of distance directly affects the amount of time and thus within what size tempo you can strike.  All other things being equal the greater the distance the more time it takes to cover that distance.  The shorter the distance the less time it takes to cover that distance.  Increasing your measure means increasing the amount of time it will take you or your opponent to land a blow.  Decreasing measure decreases the amount of time it will take you or your opponent to land a blow.


         Measure is elastic, fleeting, and always in flux.  If you take your opponent's measure, or yours, for granted, you are setting yourself up for a rather nasty surprise.


Class on:


We are going to be exploring the components that make up measure and how altering those components change your measure.  We will also be looking at how to apply them so you can integrate measure into your game and recognize when your opponent is doing the same thing hopefully giving you the edge to defeat your opponent.

As with all things, it will take practice and time before you can fully use what you learn here today into your every day game. That is natural and normal so don't get frustrated if you aren't able to make this work right away.


Measure affects both line and tempo.  If you change your measure you are automatically changing your line of attack and the amount of time a tempo is to reach you.  You also use at least one tempo if you change measure.  


We often have a tendency to think of measure only in terms of the person and their weapon.  Tall people have greater body and arm length and they use longer weapons meaning a larger measure. While that is true, those certainly aren't the only things that affect measure.


Here is an incomplete list of factors that make up and/or affect measure:

-       Terrain

o   Flat

o   Angled

o   Rough

o   Even

o   Slippery

o   Dry

o   Limited/unlimited field


-       Person

o   Height

o   Limb length

o   Stance

o   Movement


-       Weapon

o   Length

o   Grip

o   Angle


Now this list is hardly exhaustive and I'm sure if we think about it we can come up with a few other things that can make up measure but we aren't here to come up with each and every detail, just to get thinking about them, and we have.


All of this leads us to the concept of effective measure and false measure.


Effective measure is the measure inside which you or your opponent can strike.  


  False measure is when you or your opponent has sold them self short and thus can not strike their opponent but otherwise should have been able to.  This often leads to the one who is wrong getting stabbed.


   Footwork:  Foot work is one of the most fundamental and important factors in controlling measure there is.  Footwork is where measure lives and dies.  Footwork is the foundation of your fencing form.  And just like a home, if your foundation is messed up, your game will seem just fine for many years, but eventually the cracks will show up and you will have to do some expensive repairs to make everything right.  This is not a class on footwork but it must be mentioned in this class.




·      Stance – wide, close, refused, regular

·      Thrust – False measure triangle, shooting for the foot bad because you should get hit in the head for it.

·      Half Lunge

·      Grip – Single handed, two handed, pommeling.

·      Angle of person to weapon

·      Angle of weapon to person

·      Movement – stepping forward bringing weapon back.  Stepping back bringing weapon forward.  To a side away from readied sword.

·      Lunge – Front foot heal down.  Front foot toe down.


The Point of Measure



Grab a partner!  We will be working together so that we can learn to use measure to defeat your opponent.




·      Opponent goes for your foot.  "HIT HIM IN THE HEAD!!!" (Thanks and apologies to "The Princess Bride.") (also: See Appendix A)


·      Increasing/decreasing measure without moving your feet.


·      Closing measure means moving the weak part of your blade closer to the strongest part of your opponent's blade.


·      Staying away from your opponent's sword when they don't have a second pokey/cutty.


o   Stepping offline to gain measure for you and decrease effective measure for your opponent

o   Retreating in an arc to increase measure.


·      Stepping forward while moving sword back.


·      Stepping back while moving sword forward.


·      Closing the line while decreasing measure.


·      Clearing your blade while increasing measure.


·      The measure of your lunge.


  Being "In Measure" is about the effective distance inside which you or your opponent can successfully strike the other.


Appendix A



Appendix B


Measure Components:


-       Terrain:

o   Flat – Measure is "normal"

o   Angled – Measure gets funky.  If going up or downhill the person down slope has a shorter measure to get to their opponent than the person up slope. If fighting across the slope the person with longer legs has a naturally harder time controlling measure than a person with shorter legs not that this can't be overcome.

o   Rough – in rough terrain people are less likely to take larger steps as they are unsure of the terrain they are on and thus this can shorten up measure.

o   Even – Measure is "normal"

o   Slippery – Odd things happen on slippery ground.  Sometimes people slip farther than they could before making their reach longer.  Often people shorten up their steps and lunges causing measure to be shorter.

o   Dry – Measure is "normal"

o   Limited/unlimited field – how and where you can move is greatly affected by the size of the field you are in.  A 40' list is very small area to fence in and how you deal with the advances and retreats of you and your opponent (fluid measure) changes a great deal between the two.


-       Person:

o   Height – Taller people naturally have longer reach.  Opposite is true of someone shorter than you.

o   Limb length – Not all limbs follow the same rules of proportion that you have.  Some folks have "unnaturally" long/short arms and legs.  Don't be fooled by looking just at the person's height.  Take a look at where most of their height comes from.  If it is in the legs it means one thing if it is in the torso it means something else entirely.  Long arms for the body increases the reach past where you think it should be able to go.  Shorter limbs decrease the reach.  A person with a longer torso will have greater reach than someone the same height but with long legs.

o   Stance – the proper stance can increase your reach by over six inches.  Recognizing this in your opponent and/or taking advantage of it yourself is very important.  How one lands for a lunge can also increase/decrease the reach of the lunge.

o   Movement – this is the most normal way to increase and decrease measure, and to get in an out of measure.  However, movement of the legs can increase the measure at the same time the movement of the arm is decreasing measure and vice versa so keep this in mind.


-       Weapon:

o   Length – A seemingly unchanging factor but our blades do bend when moving them around thus changing their measure.

o   Grip – How a weapon is held can affect the reach of the weapon significantly.

o   Angle – of position to your opponent, your weapon and other things can also affect your measure.



Thanks to those folks who helped in some small or large way in developing this class:


Malie bean MhicAoid OCK, AoA  (formerly known as Mad Molly Magee)


The fencers of Mynydd Seren on April 28, 2010 who agreed to be my guinea pigs and help me smooth out some of the burrs inherent in putting together a class.


Those who have taught me what I know so that I may now pass it along to others.


Copyright April, 2010 David Roland.  All Rights Reserved.  Permission for use and reproduction for personal use to members of the Society for Creative Anachronism granted.


If this article is reprinted in a publication, I would appreciate a notice in the publication that you found this article in the Florilegium. I would also appreciate an email to myself, so that I can track which articles are being reprinted. Thanks. -Stefan.


<the end>

Formatting copyright © Mark S. Harris (THLord Stefan li Rous).
All other copyrights are property of the original article and message authors.

Comments to the Editor: stefan at florilegium.org