Paper, Rock, Scissors, Sword

25 Jun 2019 by gebhard, No Comments »

One of the greatest things about SCA combat is also one of the worst. Unlike other martial arts, we lack a defined fight style.

We aren’t boxed in, as there is no specific “the way” one must follow when learning to fight. We can figure out what works best for each of us, and our unique body shape, size and mental game. The down side is without a fight system, advice received can often be contradictory and frustrating.

I thought it might be a fun exercise to define some simple fight styles fighters might fall into. This has the benefit of helping the fighter evaluate others in terms of looking for people to learn from by watching, fighting and/training with them.

I say the most important part of the fight is how you move your feet. Yes, there are many other factors. Yes, there are many things that are important when fighting, not just that.

I want to keep this fun, easy to follow and simple. This is not a complete list or even a good list. It’s just something to think about. How would you do it differently?

Fighters (not all) tend to fall into one of these three major categories. Although there can be plenty more, this is my average of averages.

Out fighter

Out fighters user their feet to keep outside their opponent’s range. When pushed on, they will generally move backwards or sideways to avoid in-fighting. They rely on measure, alignment and mobility to win fights. They tend to throw a small quantity of shots.



In fighters & Swarmers:

Inside fighters are the opposite of out fighters. They are always moving to be close to their opponents. They are adept at fighting nearly shield to shield with their opponent. 

This is likely the most common fighting style in the SCA.

Swarmers are very similar to in-fighters, however instead of stopping at close range, they will keep driving into their opponents, always applying pressure and seldom letting off. Endurance and strength are used to overwhelm their opponents.

Both of these kinds of fighters tend to throw a high quantity of shots, generally speaking.



Sentries tend to stand their ground, seldom moving their feet at all. They use precision to strike and to defend. It’s a calculated fight of anticipating what their opposite will do, and counteracting it. Sentries rely on timing, patience and accuracy.


There are oodles of other categories and sub-categories that can be used to define other facets of fight styles like counter-puncher, sniper, controllers …etc. These sub-categories fall outside the scope of this blog.

Fighters tend to change over time. New fighters tend to want to be in-fighters or swarmers but transition into other styles.

Also, a fighter who normally fights with X style will switch to Y style against a certain opponent or situation. Nothing is carved in stone.

What style do you have? What are its up and down sides? How is it the same or different than others?

My hope is that we can accept that there isn’t a one way to fight. What may work for one person may not work for another, for a variety of physical and mental reasons.

Then, you may wish to find fighters who exhibit a fight style you would like to emulate so you can study from their style.

Every fight style can be successful in the SCA.  Just because something works for one person doesn’t mean it will work for you. Likewise just because it isn’t what’s working for you, doesn’t mean it won’t work. You can make your own fight style, or find someone who is a greater fighter in your style, or pick a new style to master. Each is worthy.

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