Category Archives: Sabre Codex

The Sabre Codex 4.1: Sweep Defence

Advanced comprises weeks 31 to 40 of the Sydney Sabre syllabus and is all about defence.


We start by revisiting the core concept that in sabre, defence is ultimately about evading or intercepting the arc of the Attacker’s blade. While in many cases this is straightforward – retreats/ducks/jumps to evade, beats and parries to intercept, and counterattacks for multi-taskers to hit and intercept and evade at the same time – strong Attackers are accustomed to dealing with these comparatively simple actions. So we start this cycle with the introduction of your first compound defensive action: the sweep.

Sweeps are a class of actions used to clear an entire 2-dimensional plane of the Attacker’s blade. All sweeps begin with a check, or a feint counterattack, to the Attacker’s eyes to encourage them to finish their attack and/or present their blade. The sweep then clears a pre-planned plane of the Attacker’s blade. Each plane follows a path which makes it easy to parry an attack during the sweep, and ends in a parry position. Sweeps are thus different to beats, which generally clear a smaller arc plane and are made against the current rather than anticipated position of their blade.

In week 1, we cover three common sweeps: the headlock, in the horizontal plane; the barrell-roll, which covers one diagonal plane; and the seconde, for the diagonal plane. We will go over some of the tricks to draw the Attacker’s attention to a defensible target, and make them forget your blade so you can catch theirs. If time permits, we will also pull off the same effect by chaining multiple sweeps together, or even coupling fake-sweeps which look big and slow with real sweeps that are deceptively small and fast.

The Sabre Codex 3.1: The March

Intermediate comprises weeks 21 to 30 of the Sydney Sabre syllabus and is all about the attack.


March – the term for what a sabreur with priority does to put themselves in a position to finish their attack. The aim of the March is to wear through your opponent’s defences to get to the point where you can strike with impunity. It is less about rushing after/into/through your opponent as it is about systematically shredding through the bits of their defence while tiring them out. Think Roman legions, not barbarian hordes.

In this week we cover the footwork part of the March to fool your opponent into fleeing from a fake attack, counterattacking out of distance against a fake hold, or frankly giving up and allowing you to enter their defence zone for the kill. A successful March depends on the Attacker knowing the correct distance to finish and the range of the Defender for their actions. We will spend some time playing that fine line between the range that the Defender thinks they can defend at and what you know they defend at, and revisit some of the footwork techniques from earlier courses to deceive the Defender.

The focus for the week, however, will stay firmly on developing the core concept of distance control. Remember: there is nothing wrong with just advancing into an opponent who has poor distance control and hitting them. Or running them off the end of the piste. And there is a special place for people who like to stick their opponent on the back line before finishing them off with a massive feint attack. We will cover this on request.

The Sabre Codex 2.1: Lunge

Novice 1: Lunge

Novice comprises weeks 11 to 20 of the Sydney Sabre syllabus and covers the basic techniques in sabre with an emphasis on distance and blade control.

We start the course with a revision of the lunge – the fastest short-range attack move in sabre. Contrary to popular belief, the main purpose of the lunge is to enable you to hit your opponent as quickly as possible, once you are within range. It is the fundamental unit of attack in most schools of sabre and forms part of other, longer range attack moves such as the advance lunge.

In this class, we cover the three (3) main types of lunge, each with a different purpose. We start with your grandpa’s ‘traditional’ lunge which we use as a training lunge to check whether you are doing everything properly in terms of hit distance, back leg extension, and hit timing. Once those are settled, we move to the ‘regular’ lunge that you will actually use in bouts with some technique variations to stop your joints from blowing out due to impact forces.

For the adventurous, we also cover the extended variant of the regular lunge to increase hit range after launch – the move we like to call “the Gu Bon Gil Special”. We will also teach you a particular variant that we stole shamelessly from certain A-grade teams where you use the back leg as a spring to store linear kinetic energy for the recovery. Special requests only, and at your own risk!

Novice is open to everyone who has completed our 10-week Beginner Course, and is included with any daily session pass or annual membership.


The Sabre Codex 1.1: Basic Combo

Welcome to a new series!

When we’re not coining catchy nicknames for ill-fated rule changes, we operate a large sabre club in Sydney focused on teaching as much of sabre to adult beginners in as efficient and systematic a way as possible. At the core of this effort lies a syllabus known as the Sabre Codex.

There are 5 levels, each with 10 parts:

  1. Beginner: Fundamental Rules and Movement in Sabre
  2. Novice: Sabre Technique
  3. Intermediate: The Attack Sequence
  4. Advanced: The Defense Sequence
  5. Competitive: Winning the 4m

There’s also a 10-part set of basic technical exercises shared by all levels: Footwork and Bladework. Taken together, the whole thing forms a 60-part class sequence, and we’re going to post a guide to each part of it right here.

Beginner 1: Basic Combo

Beginner comprises weeks 1 to 10 of the Sydney Sabre syllabus and is all about learning the fundamental rules and movements in sabre. In week 1, we tackle the first challenge you will face in a bout: What should you do at the start of the fight?

At the start of the bout, neither sabreur has an advantage. Your aim is to win priority or to hit your opponent before they can hit you. To help you do this, we’ll show you a simple but powerful tactical combination to trick your opponent into doing what you want, and defeat their action. We’re basically going to play rock-paper-scissors, but with swords.

fall short

Here’s how it works: you make an educated guess what your opponent is likely to do, and use the right move to beat them. There is no move in sabre that beats all other moves. Every action has a counteraction. And at the start of the fight, it all pretty much boils down to three moves which counteract each other just like rock-paper-scissors: 1) “Rock”: a short fast attack, e.g. advance lunge; 2) “Paper”: a fake attack followed by a quick retreat to get out of the way; and 3) “Scissors”: faking a short attack but actually finishing with a long one.

Rock beats Scissors, because short fast attacks defeats long holding ones. Paper beats Rock, because a short attack will miss if the other sabreur retreats. And Scissors beats Paper, when one sabreur retreats expecting a short attack but is caught by a long one.

This week, you’ll be learning how to make each of these three moves, how to predict what your opponent is likely to do from their habits, and how to fake moves to seal your opponent’s fate. We call this tactical combination the “Basic Combo”, but don’t let the name deceive you: some variation of this game is played at every level of the sport right up to World Championship finals. It is simple, it is elegant, and it is effective enough to win you most of your bouts.

Here it is being deployed in the wild by the World #1. Three moves, five hits, 55 seconds.

Beginner is open to everyone who has completed our Introductory Session, and is included with any of our daily session passes or memberships.