Principles of Fighting: Timing and Flow

One of the principles of fighting is timing and flow.  Timing is knowing when to apply your techniques in a fight.  Flow is the easy in which you shift from defense to offense, and from one combination to the next.  The application of these principles are the first steps into becoming an intermediate fighter.  Beginners are working on getting the basic steps and strikes done correctly.  Intermediate fighters start working on the application of those techniques.

Learning timing can be a little tricky at first.  Many fighters get impatient and want to boss the fight.  It is important to choose a pace setter for this drill.  This drill is about learning the timing of your opponent and when to time your advantage.



This drill is from new instructor Nelson Pinto. Elastico is an escrima drill. Escrima and unarmored sword fighting can teach great instincts, especially for a fighter that likes to play the range game. Elastico, in Portuguese, means rubber band and is referring to the back and forth movements of this drill. The version of the drill shown in the video is a beginner level drill. Once fighters get more experience then footwork and movements are added. When learning this drill have fighters stand so far away from each other it isn’t possible to touch one another. The first fighter leans in with a strike (it doesn’t matter what type of strike). The second fighter leans back as if they are dodging the strike. As soon as the first fighter’s strike passes the second fighter should lean forward to answer with their own strike. Remember the first part of this drill is about timing, going from defense to offense.

Once fighters are comfortable with their timing they can start to add variety.  This next drill incorporates a block and counter stike pattern. Practice the sword strikes without movement first before adding in Elastico and Footwoork.  Remember the purpose of drills is to form correct habits and build muscle memory.  That can’t be done if you rush through these.

Speed Drill


Ideally this drill should be done with a shield, however, we filmed it without shields so you could see what is happening better. This drill is designed to train muscle memory for going from defense to offense very quickly. Keep in mind a drill zeros in on very specific skills. The focus for this speed drill is one block and one strike. In Escrima the block is called the roof. As soon as you make the block drop your elbow to your belly button for the strike. Once you get the strike immediately bring your sword back up for the block again. As you practice this drill get your shoulders and body rotation into the timing. One should never fight with just their arms. The more you over exaggerate the motion when you are doing this slow and learning the easier it will be to train the smaller movements with speed.

When you get all of this down you can start to blend in other skills such as footwork.  Here is a way you can incorporate footwork with this specific drill:

Speed Drill Part 2: Adding Footwork


This drill is taking the striking movements learned in the Speed Drill combined with the steps learned from the Sawtooth Drill. Ideally you will want to work with a partner for this drill. However, it can be done with a training pell as well. Your partner will not move their feet in this drill. They are going to throw an on side strike then block your strike. You will start by blocking, then step in a direction to throw your strike. This is developing your transitions from defense to offense along with learning to take advantage of your opponent’s momentary weakness as they recover from their strike.

This article gives you a preview into the type of training found at Ironside Medieval Combat.  If you like what you see come give one of our classes a try!

We would love to hear from you. Let us know if these drills are helpful.  We also take requests for anyone wanting to learn more.  Find us on Facebook for all of our latest and greatest updates.

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