Grappling Drills for training in Melee conditions Part 1


When it comes to team fighting in steel completions the ground is “lava.”  Meaning if you have three points of contact on the ground you are “dead” and become an obstacle on the field for others to trip over. For most sword fighters grappling and take downs where you are not allowed to go down with your opponent is one of the most challenging aspects of our sport.  Here are a few drills to help improve your odds with grappling.

Step 1: Understanding Balance Points

The first part of becoming a great grappler is understanding how to tip an armored opponent.  This drill helps you develop the feel of grappling.

There is a lot of variations you can do with this drill. Changing the position of the feet, starting close, or far apart. The important part is not moving your feet. This drill will help develop your balance and timing. Eventually you are using your head and hips to counter what your partner is doing. Start off in any stance you want. Grasp your partner’s forearms, one hand under and one hand over as shown in the video. You can only push and pull with your arms, no head butts or other crazy things. Experiment with different stances and learn the strengths and weakness for each. This drill is a great core workout and makes for a good warmup before practice. The first person to move one of their feet looses.

Step 2: Counters and Defense

Once you have a grasp of how to tip your opponent now you are ready to learn how to defend yourself from getting tipped using your footwork and core strength.  There are a lot of ways to practice this step.  The easiest way to learn is do the Push Pull Drill from the previous section and add one step for each person to use.  If one person steps to pull you off balance can you correct or even gain the advantage with a counter step?  Here is a suggested defensive stance to try.

Many times beginner fighters freeze when they are rushed with an aggressive opponent who charges straight in for a grapple. When that happens the more aggressive fighter grabs their opponent’s shoulders and throws their opponent before they have time to think. When you were experimenting with different stances during the Push Pull Drill, you might have learned that the more narrow your stance the harder it is to push you back, however, you are vulnerable to a side attack. However, for this drill that extra strength to a front attack is exactly what you need. When your opponent rushes straight at you meet their aggression with your own. Step directly into their attack, make sure you place your lead foot in between your opponent’s feet. Reach an arm around their back, make sure you are not crossing over your center line. Sink your weight on your hips, like what you learned from the Push Pull Drill. If you get the timing and placement down for this drill take it one step further and do a forward hip toss.

Step 3: Adding Movement

Now that you have the basics down time to put it into motion.  This drill is a simple movement drill to start teaching timing and spotting the perfect motion to do your take down.

In this drill each person has a different objective to “win.” Both people will start in a tight grappling position against a wall.  Instructor Janeal Ironside is representing the first person.  The first person’s job is to get to the opposite side of the room.  Instructor Nicholas Ironside is representing the second person.  The second person’s job is to turn their opponent around.  This drill is not about throwing your opponent, but using your core, footwork, and timing, to control your opponent.  Once that element is mastered you will find your throws will become much easier.

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 also offer online classes for those of you who live far away – Sign up for Online Classes.

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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