The Sabre Codex 4.1: Sweep Defence

Advanced comprises weeks 31 to 40 of the Sydney Sabre syllabus and is all about defence.


We start by revisiting the core concept that in sabre, defence is ultimately about evading or intercepting the arc of the Attacker’s blade. While in many cases this is straightforward – retreats/ducks/jumps to evade, beats and parries to intercept, and counterattacks for multi-taskers to hit and intercept and evade at the same time – strong Attackers are accustomed to dealing with these comparatively simple actions. So we start this cycle with the introduction of your first compound defensive action: the sweep.

Sweeps are a class of actions used to clear an entire 2-dimensional plane of the Attacker’s blade. All sweeps begin with a check, or a feint counterattack, to the Attacker’s eyes to encourage them to finish their attack and/or present their blade. The sweep then clears a pre-planned plane of the Attacker’s blade. Each plane follows a path which makes it easy to parry an attack during the sweep, and ends in a parry position. Sweeps are thus different to beats, which generally clear a smaller arc plane and are made against the current rather than anticipated position of their blade.

In week 1, we cover three common sweeps: the headlock, in the horizontal plane; the barrell-roll, which covers one diagonal plane; and the seconde, for the diagonal plane. We will go over some of the tricks to draw the Attacker’s attention to a defensible target, and make them forget your blade so you can catch theirs. If time permits, we will also pull off the same effect by chaining multiple sweeps together, or even coupling fake-sweeps which look big and slow with real sweeps that are deceptively small and fast.