The Point of Measure

How to defeat your opponent by improving the measure aspect of your fencing game

This is a class I taught at the Constellation Academy of Defense AS 45 and 46 as well as at the Middle Kingdom Academy of Defense AS 45. KWAR 2012 by request.

The Point of Measure

Learning how to integrate distance into your fencing game so you can win more.

The general information:

There are three factors we hear about often in our practice of the noble art of defense. These factors are:

1 – Tempo

2 – Line

3 – Measure

Each of these factors is just as important as each of the others. No one factor can trump any other factor. It doesn’t matter if you are in measure and have the perfect line of attack if you miss the opportunity (tempo) to take. Perfect tempo and measure but miss a good open line of attack and you still aren’t going to make a good blow. Excellent tempo and a wide line of attack do you no good if you out of measure by a half inch or more. So as you can see the must be a congruence of all three factors before you can be successful in your bouts. Today we are here to better understand Measure and to better use measure in our games of competition. In other words, we will learn how to integrate measure in with the other factors of Tempo and Line.

Measuring Up.

This class assumes you already know something about measure as well as tempo and line. As a quick reminder: Measure is the distance between you and your opponent. Being "In Measure," is the distance between you and your opponent within which at least one of you could successfully strike the other. Not everyone has the same measure and even in the exact same bout a person can change their own measure increasing and decreasing it.

Measure is about distance. Distance is about the ability to strike and be struck. The amount of distance directly affects the amount of time. All other things being equal the greater the distance the more time it takes to cover that distance. The shorter the distance the less time it takes to cover that distance. Increasing your measure means increasing the amount of time it will take you or your opponent to land a blow. Decreasing measure decreases the amount of time it will take you or your opponent to land a blow.

That is a key characteristic about Measure. Measure is fleeting and always in flux. Measure is also elastic. If you take your opponent’s measure, or yours, for granted, you are setting yourself up for a rather nasty surprise.

Class on:

We are going to be exploring what makes up measure and how those things change. We will also be looking at how to apply them so you can integrate measure into your game and recognize when your opponent is doing it as well.

As with all things, it will take practice and time before you can fully integrate what you learn here today into your every day game. That is natural and normal so don’t get frustrated if you aren’t able to make this work right away.

Measure affects both line and tempo. If you change your measure you are automatically changing your line of attack. You also change the tempo if you change measure either by increasing or decreasing the length of time the tempo and thus when you should begin that tempo’s execution.

Keep in mind that this class isn’t about drills or breaking things up further. Instead it is about learning by doing so we can integrate different parts of your game. We will work together so that you can better understand and hopefully improve your game. To do that it helps to understand that there are a lot of different components that combine themselves into what measure is.

Let’s explore the things that measure is made of. We often have a tendency to think of measure only in terms of the person and their weapon. Tall people have greater body and arm length and they use longer weapons meaning a larger measure. While that is true, those certainly aren’t the only things that affect measure.

Here is an incomplete list of factors that make up and/or affect measure:

- Terrain

o Flat

o Angled

o Rough

o Even

o Slippery

o Dry

o Limited/unlimited field

- Person

o Height

o Limb length

o Stance

o Movement

- Weapon

o Length

o Grip

o Angle

Now this list is hardly exhaustive and I’m sure if we think about it we can come up with a few other things that can make up measure but we aren’t here to come up with each and every detail, just a bunch of them, and we have.

All of this leads us to the concept of effective measure and false measure.

Effective measure is the measure inside which you or your opponent can strike.

False measure is when you or your opponent has sold them self short and thus can not strike their opponent but otherwise should have been able to. Most often this happens because the line of attack is at an angle that shortens your effective measure. This often leads to the one who is wrong getting stabbed.


Footwork: Foot work is one of the most fundamental and important factors in controlling measure there is. Good footwork will cover your mistakes in other areas of managing and controlling measure. Footwork is where measure lives and dies. Footwork is the foundation of your fencing form. And just like a home, if your foundation is messed up, sure the home will seem just fine for many years, but eventually the cracks will show up and you will have to do some expensive repairs to make everything right. This is not a class on footwork so simply put, point your lead toe at the center line of your opponent. It affects you measure.


- Stance – wide, close, refused, regular

- Thrust – False measure triangle

- Half Lunge

- Grip – Single handed, two handed, pommeling.

- Angle of person to weapon

- Angle of weapon to person

- Movement – stepping forward bringing weapon back. Stepping back bringing weapon forward. To a side away from readied sword.

- Lunge – Front foot heal down. Front foot toe down.

Getting to the Point of Measure


Ø Attacking foot, Striking Head

Ø Increasing/decreasing measure without moving your feet.

Ø Closing measure means moving your sword from the weak part of your opponent’s blade to the strongest part of your opponent’s blade.

Ø Staying away from your opponent’s sword when they only have one.

o Stepping offline to gain measure for you and decrease effective measure for your opponent

o Retreating in an arc to increase measure.

Ø Stepping forward while moving sword back.

Ø Stepping back while moving sword forward.

Ø Closing the line while decreasing measure.

Ø Clearing your blade while increasing measure.

Ø The measure of your lunge.

Measure is about the effective distance inside which you or your opponent can successfully strike the other.

Measure Components:

- Terrain:

o Flat – Measure is “normal”

o Angled – Measure gets funky. If going up or downhill the person down slope has a shorter measure to get to their opponent than the person up slope. If fighting across the slope the person with longer legs has a naturally harder time controlling measure than a person with shorter legs not that this can’t be overcome.

o Rough – in rough terrain people are less likely to take larger steps as they are unsure of the terrain they are on and thus this can shorten up measure.

o Even – Measure is “normal”

o Slippery – Odd things happen on slippery ground. Sometimes people slip farther than they could before making their reach longer. Often people shorten up their steps and lunges causing measure to be shorter.

o Dry – Measure is “normal”

o Limited/unlimited field – how and where you can move is greatly affected by the size of the field you are in. a 40’ list is very small area to fence in and how you deal with the advances and retreats of you and your opponent (fluid measure) changes a great deal between the two.

- Person:

o Height – Taller people naturally have longer reach. Opposite is true of someone shorter than you.

o Limb length – Not all limbs follow the same rules of proportion that you have. Some folks have “unnaturally” long/short arms and legs. Don’t be fooled by looking just at the person’s height. Take a look at where most of their height comes from. If it is in the legs it means one thing if it is in the torso it means something else entirely. Long arms for the body increases the reach past where you think it should be able to go. Shorter limbs decrease the reach.

o Stance – the proper stance can increase your reach by over six inches. Recognizing this in your opponent and/or taking advantage of it yourself is very important. How one lands for a lunge can also increase/decrease the reach of the lunge.

o Movement – this is the most normal way to increase and decrease measure, and to get in an out of measure. However, movement of the legs can increase the measure at the same time the movement of the arm is decreasing measure and vice versa so keep this in mind.

- Weapon:

o Length – A seemingly unchanging factor but our blades do bend thus changing their measure.

o Grip – How a weapon is held can affect the reach of the weapon significantly.

o Angle – of position to your opponent, your weapon and other things can also affect your measure.

Thanks to those folks who helped in some small or large way in developing this class:

Malie bean MhicAoid APF, OCK, AoA

The fencers of Mynydd Seren on April 28, 2010 who agreed to be my guinea pigs and help me smooth out some of the burrs inherent in putting together a class.

Those who have taken my class and given me feed back.

And most importantly, those who have taught me what I know so that I may pass it along to others.

A downloadable version through google documents