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At my local LARP I have a character with a skill called Ambidex, which lets him swing two weapons round like a boss. It doesn't however help me with fighting, and I'm just not that great.

I've seen a load of youtube videos, but they all cover real fighting, where the blade will travel through the bamboo, bottles of water etc. Unfortunately my foam swords just don't hold that sort of edge...

Our system has Life and Wound points, meaning when we strike in combat, we pull our blows but still make contact. It's not a loccing system, where you take out a location with one hit.

Are there any tips or guides people know of to help with dual wielding in a LARP context? Youtube videos, books, blogs etc.

Preferably with an oriental/eastern style.

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Should add this as a book if you are interested in real life fighting. Schools and Masters of Fencing: From the Middle Ages to the Eighteenth Century at amazon.co.uk/Schools-Masters-Fencing-Eighteenth-Century/dp/… –  Sardathrion Jan 6 '12 at 13:39
    
I used to dual wield swords that could be classified as claymores.... I'm a big guy :-D –  DForck42 Jan 6 '12 at 17:51
    
@Sardathrion - +1 for very good reference. –  wraith808 Jan 6 '12 at 21:03
    
What sort of boffer combat are you engaging in? Do you have hit points (typical of lightest touch systems, like NERO) or do you lose a limb once it's hit (typical of light touch systems like Amtgard)? –  corvec Jan 9 '12 at 22:12
    
@corvec I've updated the question to contain that info. –  Pureferret Jan 10 '12 at 9:09
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5 Answers

up vote 10 down vote accepted

You should probably begin by focusing on maneuvers that are executed with a particular hand. Once you have those down, learn the same maneuvers, with your off-hand. At that point, start learning maneuvers that require both hands to be active. Then, just make sure to keep practicing. You don't need anyone else with you to practice, but sparring is important as well.

The following videos are applicable in a lightest touch LARP, but are intended for a LARP where your swings have to be hard to be effective. The most important difference in a lightest touch LARP is that you can focus on speed and you can swing with your wrist, if your sword is light enough.

Almost all of the videos below are taken from BrennonEH's youtube channel, which I found linked from LARP Ohio back in 2010. Most of these videos show shots or guards performed with just one sword, which is understandable if you remember my first two pieces of advice.

Here are some miscellaneous, relevant videos:

Holding your weapons

There are three ways that you can hold your weapons:

  • One up, One down. In this style, your off-hand weapon is down, preferably completely vertical (possibly with the tip further out than the handle) or completely horizontal. You will do most of your blocking with the off-hand weapon and most of your striking with the "up" weapon.
  • Two up. In this style, you will parry blows or block with the pommel of your weapon. This is my preferred style when fighting florentine, as I can block with either weapon and strike with the other.
  • Two down. I don't understand the point of this style, but I've been told it offers you additional defense. I disagree, as your shoulders and wrists become an easy target.

Stances

Grip

I imagine you should be using Modified Saber or Saber Grip.

Guards

Shots and Wraps

You will want to learn and practice a variety of shots with both hands:

Pulling Blows

It's important to know that pulling your blows does not mean your swings have to be slow. There are a few main ways that you can swing quickly without hurting your opponent. This video shows a particular fighter (Blue) swinging fast, but soft.

  1. Swing quickly but without any force behind your swing. This is easy if you use your wrist or if you just swing with your arm relaxed. In this case you don't have to pull your blow because your swing is already soft.
  2. Swing with any amount of force that you want, but just before your blow would be connecting, start to pull back. The blow will still land and you can continue to pull back to start another attack.
  3. If your weapon has enough whip, you can swing for just in front of the person and the blow will still land.

I personally use an ultra-light long sword with a carbon fiber core that does not whip. Since the sword is light enough, I'm normally able to get away with only using technique 1, but if someone complains I will also start to use technique 2. This is likely true for you as well - use technique 1 for most swings, and then use technique 2 when it is not sufficient.

Practice swinging softly but quickly whenever you practice the above shots. It will make it even easier.

Sparring

You should spar against the other three styles - weapon and shield, two weapons, and single weapon. You may want to spar using the other styles against an opponent using two weapons in order to better see what both of the style's weaknesses or strengths are.

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We play Amtgard style, with 'real' looking weapons. Contact is allowed but people are expected to pull their blows so they don't hurt...too much. How does the combat advice change? Also it's a no-stab system. –  Pureferret Jan 9 '12 at 23:27
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In my experience, the two weapon style becomes a lot better if you disallow thrusting. Guarding is a lot easier when you only have to worry about slashes. Are you allowed to use ultralights? If the weapon barely taps the person, is it a hit or a miss? If that's the case, then a lot of the advice that says "don't use your wrist" is less relevant, because you can use wrist movement more. That said, if you learn every shot above that isn't a stab, they will still apply - there is just MORE that you can learn if UL weapons are allowed. –  corvec Jan 10 '12 at 14:33
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Ultralight boffers typically weigh half as much as a comparably sized latex weapon. I think the only thing you should learn in addition to the shots above is how to pull your blow without slowing down the entire shot. You can swing quickly without swinging hard. I'll see if I can find something helpful about pulling blows for up above. –  corvec Jan 10 '12 at 14:41
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No luck with regard to a video for pulling blows... I'll add some generic tips as well as another of my favorite videos that illustrates fast, but soft swings. –  corvec Jan 10 '12 at 15:30
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My advice is to always use technique 2: pull your blow. I learn to fight with metal re-enactment weapons.. you don't have the luxury of 'soft hits' or 'whipping'. And no, thrusting was not allowed unless it was 'off-centre' - never poke someone, thrust at them with your weapon held at an angle. I'd never thrust dead-on at anyone even with a soft weapon. –  gbjbaanb Apr 2 '12 at 22:35
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There is only one rule of LRP fighting: be a safe fighter.

You get the idea. A good LRP fighter is a safe one. So, make sure you follow the safety rules of your system and you will improve as a fighter. Do not think that Renaissance rapier and main gauche techniques will help you. They will hinder you; you cannot stab with a LRP sword. Rapiers are all about stabbing.

Two-weapon wielding allows you two things: A parry & attack, two parries, or a feint & attack.

The parry & attack allows you to block a blow and respond in kind. This is fast and if the opposition has only one weapon, you will make contact.

The two parries allows you to block incoming blows from more than one source. This is really useful if you are crewing and are outnumbered 5:1.

The feint & attack allows you to trick the opposition into worrying about one weapon while the other hits them. Very similar to the parry & attack but you are taking the initiative there.

Depending on your system, you may want to go more cinematic with the weapons. But whatever you do, throwing one weapon at an enemy is not as stupid as throwing your only weapon but still ranks high on the "Why did you do that?" scale.

Edit: If you can get stab safe weapons, then stabbing is possible. If you know of good source for swords that are stab-safe, please let me know!

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you don't use stabbing tips? –  DForck42 Jan 6 '12 at 16:27
    
Additional 'thing' it allows you to do: trapping. Using both weapons (and a bit of skill or dumb luck) you can trap the opponent's weapon and maneuver while they cannot hit you. With a lot more skill (or dumb luck) you can trap with one weapon and flail away with the other. –  Wesley Obenshain Jan 6 '12 at 17:18
    
@WesleyObenshain - if you're interested in trapping, learn about lines of engagement. It makes the skill needed to pull this off a lot less than it would seem. –  wraith808 Jan 6 '12 at 21:06
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Several LARP systems allow pokeys... including (last I looked), Amtguard. It does require careful construction... but it's quire doable. –  aramis Jan 7 '12 at 7:56
    
@DForck42: I know of spears that are stab safe but not of swords/daggers. Any links? –  Sardathrion Jan 7 '12 at 10:30
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If you actually want to learn to fight Florentine I suggest you find your local Society for Creative Anachronism (SCA) group, and talk to the heavy fighters. They practice various fighting styles including Florentine (two weapon fighting) and since it actually hurts to be hit with a ratan sword, they tend to have practical advice. There are also some good video examples on YouTube.

Example of Florentine

Note that these maneuvers (head shots in particular) may be LARP unsafe and you should carefully consider the rules of your game.

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Excellent point, though very hard to find a 'local group'. Nearest one is Mid-Wales or Basingstoke, which is too far for me. –  Pureferret Jan 6 '12 at 13:34
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If you wanted to do that, go find your local historical martial art place (mine is here: royalarmouries.org/what-we-do/clubs-and-societies/…) but what they will teach you will be LRP unsafe. –  Sardathrion Jan 6 '12 at 13:36
    
@Sardathrion True enough, but you should be able to adapt, added a note about safety. –  C. Ross Jan 6 '12 at 13:45
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@C.Ross: I have been in too many LRP unsafe fights because of douchebags that "adapted" what they learned via a filter of stupid in SCA/Historical martial arts. It is a good idea to look at those sources but remember that they are unsafe. This is not aimed against you at al, just a general jadedness of my part ^_~ –  Sardathrion Jan 6 '12 at 13:56
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The primary focus of most martial arts (and all weapon-based ones I'm aware of) is to hurt your opponent. While it might give you practical ideas about how to use the weapons, the primary focus of MAs practice is to turn your trained actions into reflexive ones. This is not a good idea from a safety perspective. –  Wesley Obenshain Jan 6 '12 at 17:31
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Practice. Against a real person is best, but even just practicing your attacks, blocks, and parries can be helpful. Most martial arts have routines of these called 'katas' (in Japanese MAs, anyway) meant to reinforce the skills practiced as well as the need to flow from one movement into the next.

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Sage advice, but do you know where I could get my hands on a two-sword kata guide? –  Pureferret Jan 7 '12 at 11:23
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The problem with most Martial Arts is that they're not suitable for LARP. They include either dogfight-techniques (which only can be used at a bare minimum and after agreeing on it) or techniques which go outside of the hit-area (head etc.) or stabbing. Though, I'd still recommend to do any kind of Martial Arts, it will improve your reflexes and muscles and will also help you with the basics (stand and battle stance f.e.). LARP battle is quiet different from real battle and hast mostly safety and cinematic effects in mind. I'd keep it at that. –  Bobby Jan 7 '12 at 15:30
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@Pureferret Yeah, wasn't really meant to suggest that you use a real martial art as a basis (as per the other comments I've made). I was actually suggesting that if you can't find a partner, you develop a routine by which to practice. Bobby is right, though, in that MAs will help you learn things like footwork which will be helpful in general. –  Wesley Obenshain Jan 10 '12 at 15:45
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Step one: practice off-hand until it's comfortable. Step two: practice with both.

The first step in learning florentine or case (the rapier term for two-weapons) is becoming capable with the off hand.

The sequence of learning for SCA training, both light weapons and heavy, is often:

  1. footwork
  2. parries.
  3. basic attacks, including
    • for heavy: a downswing, sideswing, and wrap.
    • for rapier: thrust, demilunge, lunge
  4. riposte and/or molinet
  5. shieldhooks, rising J, and other specialty shots
    • for heavy, this is where Pokeys usually come in.
    • for rapier, this is where tip-cuts and Cut & Thrust go.

Get to being able to do ripostes and/or molinets off handed, THEN start with the sequences of parry with one and strike with the other.

Given the question poster's limits of no thrusts, once you can routinely parry with either hand, you then:

  1. practice parrying with a weapon in both hands, using whichever is closer. no counterstrikes, just mastering parry selection.
  2. practice parry with A triggering a strike with B.

In each step, I recommend starting with slow-work, then working up to full speed.

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I'd argue gently for (essentially) a pris-de-fer for styles that allow cutting attacks as well. –  Vatine Jun 11 '12 at 16:31
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