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.

Vocabulary Conversation when Converting Techniques to Left vs Right.

We have been working hard to enhance an already amazing fighting system, Stockton Multi Style Escrima. Traditional martial arts predominantly trains right handed versus right handed. However, in steel fighting it is common to face left handed opponents. That is why we started working on a project to enhance Stockton Multi Style to include this new challenge.

After getting some great feedback from a number of outstanding martial artists, and great conversation with instructor Nelson Pinto, we came up with two ways to look at this conversion. The two terms are reverse and symmetric. The below video shows the difference between these terms. For our conversations in our new video series “Escrima to Sword and Shield” we will be using the symmetric version of the techniques.

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.

Footwork the Foundation to Fighting – Training Videos Included

Footwork is one of the most important, and most neglected aspects of fighting.  Footwork is literally the foundation that all the rest of fighting techniques is built upon.  These drills can be incredibly powerful if practiced with focus and intent.  These drills are just a piece of our overall training system called Iron-Warrior System.

When it comes to training we developed the DCV approach.  D stands for define.  C stands for choreograph. V stands for variety.

When it comes to learning footwork start with the basics.  This first drill is a simple stepping method that keeps the same leg in front at all times.  This allows you to keep a strong defense when moving forward or backward.  The Defined skill is forward and backward steps.

Basic Footwork Part 1

Footwork: Accressere and Descressere


The name for this stepping method comes from Italian sword work. Accressere means increase or advancing step. In practical application it is a small step moving forward or advance. Descressere means decrease or decreasing step. This is the choreographed part of the drill in a “perfect world” scenario.  Fighting in armor is different than fencing. When a fighter is wearing armor there is extra material and buckles on the inner thighs. That means it is important to keep your lets shoulder width apart to keep from getting caught on your armor. Also in a competition where grappling and multiple opponents is common having a wider base will make you more stable for surprise side attacks. Keep your legs shoulder width apart with your weight balanced evenly between your feet. Take small even steps forward and small even steps backwards. Small quick steps can actually cover more ground faster than slow big steps.

Once you have mastered this stepping method it is time to add some variety.  In this example the variety is changing the direction of the drill.

Circle Drill #1


To begin this drill you need to mark your center point with a cone, can of soup, hole in the ground, literally anything will work. Start with your dominant leg forward, and keep that leg forward. Take small steps around the center point. Make sure to keep your stance shoulder width apart, and never cross your feet. Make a full circle around your center point going both right and left. Then switch your feet and repeat the drill.

Basic Footwork Part 2

Once you have perfected the forward and backward steps it is time to add some new challenges.  The problem with the first skill is speed, or lack thereof.  The Accressere and Decressere steps are very defensive and very slow.  What happens if you want to move quickly?  Time to define a new skill.  These drills will help you develop switching your feet during a fight.

Sawtooth Drill


Often during a fight it is to the fighter’s advantage to switch their feet. This drill helps develop the footwork and balance for a fighter to switch their feet. Many new fighters have the bad habit of charging straight into a fight. This leaves them open to counter attacks without an easy way to retreat. Instead if fighters can switch their feet and step off line this will not only open opportunities for them to land a strike it will give them a way to retreat without getting hit. Remember drills are about doing  choreographed movements in a “perfect world” setting pay attention to details as you go through this drill.  When doing this drill keep your weight on the balls of your feet. Start with your dominate leg in front, and your feet shoulder width apart. Step back with your dominate leg, so you are standing square. Then step forward with your non-dominate leg. Your non-dominate leg should step in the same place the dominate leg started off. Repeat this pattern as you go down the line.

Once you have mastered this stepping method it is time to add some variety.  In this example the variety is changing the direction of the drill.

Circle Drill #2


This drill is taking the footwork taught from the Saw-tooth Drill and shifting it to a circle instead of a line. This drill is still focusing on training a fighter how to switch their feet in a fight. Keep in mind drills are designed to work a single focus point or single skill. Once mastered these skills combine into a system. For this drill fighters will start with their dominate foot forward and the non-dominate foot back. They will step back with their dominate foot, both feet with be square to the center point of the circle. Next step forward with the non-dominate foot. At this point the fighter should be in a fighting stance with non-dominate foot forward. Step forward with your dominate foot. The fighter should be in a square stance close to the center point of the circle. Last step back with your non-dominate foot. The fighter should now be in the same stance they started in. Repeat these steps as you go around the circle.

These two types of stepping methods are a essential in creating a rock solid foundation for fighting.  Combined with sword strikes they make for an incredible fighter.  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.

What does it mean to be an Iron-Warrior?

When you sign up for classes you are not just getting your standard martial arts or sword fighting classes. Instead you are getting a complete package of training that encompasses martial arts, fitness, and nutrition integrated into a system we call Iron-Warrior.

The first pillar of the Iron-Warrior System is martial arts and skills training. We have one of the most varied and wide encompassing classes in the country. We have classes on longsword, polearm, weapon and shield, escrima, sword dancing, and Filipino boxing. Our instructors have both classical training and practical applications. The Iron-Warrior System has a foundational approach to teaching. The skills you learn will lay a strong foundation for specialization later. We feed into many different sword fighting leagues, all with different rule sets. Our style of teaching is compatible with them all.

The second pillar of the Iron-Warrior System is fitness. You can have all the skill in the world, however, without a fit body you will not reach your full potential. Our fitness program is written by a top ranked trainer. Duncan is an international sports Sciences Association Accredited Personal Trainer with a PN1 Nutrition Certification. Duncan has designed fitness programs for professional athletes around the world. He is also a nationally ranked athlete himself. Our fitness program is tailored made for medieval martial artists wanting to be the best version of themselves. The backbone of our fitness program is High Intensity Interval Training. This style of workout will give you strength, fast bursts of speed, quick recoveries, and the insurance needed for martial arts.

Our third pillar of the Iron-Warrior System is nutrition. With all the hard work you are putting into your training and fitness it is only natural to look at the quality of fuel you are using. To make a fitness program truly successful those battles are won and lost in the kitchen. Before you get worried our nutrition plan is not about starvation, or going without the foods you love. Instead it is about understanding how and when you eat effects you. We have a ton of yummy recipes, tips, and resources to help you make wise food choices as you begin your journey to becoming an Iron-Warrior.

No other martial arts school has this comprehensive of a training program. When you join the Ironside team you will gain a team of coaches who are dedicated to helping you become the best version of yourself. What are you waiting for? Come to Ironside Medieval Combat, give our classes a try, and become a member. Your future self will thank you!

1845 N Circle Dr Colorado Springs CO 80909 719-947-2844 info@ironsidemc.org M-Th: 5:30pm-9:00pm Friday: 6:00pm-9:00pm Saturday: 8:00am-12:30 pm