It has been quite a month thus far hasn’t it?
As COVID-19 rages across the world, many us are now sheltered or quarantined in place. That often means limited space for activity, especially weapon based martial arts. But fear not! There are still many things one can do to honor ones skill while sequestered in less than ideal surroundings! Being from a background which is used to making due with whatever space you have, I have extracted a few specific exercises that are good for all levels to practice and can be done indoors and in cramped quarters.
The drills are taken from our “Four Pillar” formula from lightsaber. They can be done with just about any hilt based weapon. The Four pillar make up the foundation of the lightsaber system that TPLA has developed. Each focuses on a specific skill set used n the art of swordplay. These exercises are suitable for all levels and canoe expanded upon at later times.
The first drill are the Orbits. Orbits are what we call the spinning and moving the weapon around you in various ways to do parries and counters. Also called moulinets, sword flowers, and spinning, it is a ubiquitous motion for people to do with a sword. For those who want to gain she skill from the activity should pay attention to a couple of things.
First, do not open the finger while doing turning the weapon in your hand. It is easier to get it to move with them open, but for our purposes, opening the hand during wielding a saber is not what we want to do. Second, Do this with one for forward in a line or do it to your sides, Do not stand with you hip square and spin on either side of your body. Try to be as narrow a profile as possible. Third, Move slowly and with the entire arm and shoulder. The body adds a bit with some small movement.
The next once is called Rathtar’s Wheel. This is basically a stationary way oof performing our acceleration drills in lightsaber. The steps are fairly simple. There are three of these once for down the vertical line, one for across the vertical line, and the final for up the vertical line. They are as follows:
Honor Sash: This begins as a drop parry to the flank of the open side. Bring the hit up and then behind the had to the opposite shoulder. Pull the handle out from the shoulder and point the blade forward as much as you can. Imagine leading with the blade and not the handle. But if you have low ceilings, the handle must accommodate the movement of the blade.
Sarlacc Sweep: These are upward stopping cuts from the hip to shoulder. As one becomes smoother with them they begin to resemble upward orbits. The connection between the formulae starts to become apparent. This one can be done with a static stance for a single step gif one has the space to permit.
Sun Djem Sai Cha: Destroy the Weapon and take the head! This is a often misunderstood movement. The first technique, “sun djem”, is a flicking back of the blade. The intent is a “covering” strike that comes over the opponents weapon. The blade should end up behind you and away from the target.
Next up are the Spheres and Moons of Makashi. Then handed techniques of the second formula offer more control and function to ones defenses. The basic premise is simple; there are three spheres corresponding to the three divisions of the blade. The moon guards are named for the phases of the moon and correspond to position that one holds the weapon.
The goal for this drill is to keep one of the three points as a point of rotation and move through the various guards. This will create parries, strikes, cuts, ad deflections thanks to the geometry of the weapon and arm. This helps develop control of ones blade that is essential to live sword play. Even though this exercise is done very deliberately, it will improve one’s intuitive technique as well.
Last up is Jung Su Ma from our fourth form Ataru. This Formula of lightsaber is concerned with the body and how it is used to power the weapon. The Su Ma are the rotations that one can make in space. Jung Su Ma is the horizontal xis or the transverse plane of motion in the body. It is concerned with rotation around the central axis of the body and its center of gravity. This drill is really about bringing in core strength to your movements.
The action is based off of the halo orbit around the head. The rhythm of the arms opening and closing as wells and the shift in weight from foot to foot combine with the rotation of the torso to put power behind the final strikes of each direction. The arm over head should be thought of as a counter weight or motion t the slash with the saber. Although one could be thinking of holding a shield as well. On the dominant side, the cut is made and the hand pushes forward, seating a rending or shearing force between the two. It is a fun exercise that teaches not only movement but body awareness.
Here is the entire thing as done as one exercise. Hit is good for keeping your skill up and as a warm up if you are doing other exercises. This is the version that is suited to small spaces. If you have the room, use it!
Finally, this video is intended to be followed and not instructional. I am speaking but not saying anything of real importance. Just follow along as best you can at home.
Good luck! Happy Sabering!