Practice Notes: Why should I slice?

I don’t slice with most of my cuts. I know the slice is essential in cutting with a sword, without it you just have a ineffectual ax. But I’m using a blunt training weapon, surely it can’t matter.


It matters a lot. Aside from footwork, it is probably the most important component in the biomechanics of a cut. Here are the things I’ve noticed it changed:

Getting Hit in the Hand

This is what started the whole thing. I kept getting hit in the hand by parries that rightly should have struck my blade. Over and over again I kept getting his in the same spot, just two or three inches from where I wanted their sword to land.

As the cut completes its arc, I pull the sword back so that slices whatever it is touching. This is usually enough to take my hands out of danger.

Close Cuts

My cuts aren’t perfect. Sometimes they don’t land with sufficient power. Other times it misses by a small margin. Adding the slice turns a near miss into a point.

Escaping the Bind

My opponent’s love to bind. They drill it constantly and they are getting pretty good at knowing when to wind, when to redouble, and when to cut around. If I leave the bind by cutting back it won’t end well for me.

By slicing at the end of my cut, they can’t get a solid bind at wide measure. By the time they realize my sword isn’t where it should be, I’ve already turned under their blade and have begun the Rose.

Slices to the Hand

When I slice at the end of my cut, I often end in Pflug with the point right at their hands. From here I can then do a second cut or slice at their hands. I usually do this as either my opponent or I is stepping back out of range.

Suicidal Fencers

Like many groups, we have a problem with suicidal fencers. By this I mean people who attack without safety, assuming their opponent is just going to stand there and take it.

By ending a bad cut with a slice, I find that I’m in the perfect position to punish them for this mistake. At the conclusion of the slice I can immediate reverse direction and thrust into their ill timed attack.

Some would say I’m also being suicidal, but I disagree. As far as I’m concerned, I’m already dead at this point. I threw a bad cut, I’m in the wrong position, I should be hit. But that doesn’t mean I should just stand there like a dope. If they don’t address my blade before cleaning my clock I’m going to take them out with me.

And if I didn’t throw a bad cut, if I’m actually where I’m supposed to be, even better. Now my thrust comes under their arms preventing them from completing their cut while their step carries them onto my blade.

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1 Response to Practice Notes: Why should I slice?

  1. kaslkdf says:

    Excellent points. We came to very similar conclusions in our own study.

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