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.