Basic One-hand Grip Lightsaber Techniques

Discussion in 'Lightsaber Sparring / Dueling' started by CareyMartell, Feb 12, 2016.

  1. CareyMartell

    CareyMartell Administrator Staff Member

    My book, 'Stunt Lightsaber Combat for Beginners' ( ) has a number of techniques in it, but all of these techniques rely on a two-handed grip on the lightsaber.

    People have asked me about information regarding a one-handed grip, or dual-wielding two sabers at once. This material will be included in my next book of Intermediate level techniques and drills. But it will take a few months to finish writing this book and getting all the illustrations / layout / editing done. In the meantime I wanted to share some of the basic information of the one-handed grip techniques and I will update this post as more illustrations are completed by the artist I am working with.

    One-Handed Power Guard

    This guard is the one-handed grip version of the two-handed Power Guard featured in my book. With the one-handed Power Guard stance you have both hands on the hilt and therefore your body position requires the side of your body to face the opponent; here the front of your body faces the opponent as the hand wielding your saber can freely move with your front forward. The forward leg has a bent knee as you would in a two-handed gripped Front Stance, and the rear foot has the heel lifted with the balls of the foot on the ground.

    Your unarmed hand should be held across the body with your thumb toward yourself as pictured in the illustration. This is because the guard can also be used for dual-wielding and it is easier for your body to remember to pull your hand into this position when adopting either a single-one handed grip or a dual-wielding grip. The second reason is that with your hand placed here you can easily switch mid-swing to a two-handed grip should you decide you want to add more strength to your blow.

    One-handed Long Guard
    This is the one-handed grip counterpart to the two-handed grip Long Guard featured in my book.

    As with the two-handed variation, this grip is the guard where you can hold the saber furthest away from your body without losing control of the weapon. It is one of the most frequently entered stances because its position is part of many strikes.

    You will notice a slight pivot of the front foot in the above illustration; this is because if you go from the one-handed Power Guard to the one-handed Long Guard and perform a pivot with your forward hip to add power to the strike, this pivoting requires using the ball of your front foot to assist.

    Here is the one-handed Long Guard viewed from the side,
    Notice that the point of the lightsaber is at around eye-level to the wielder.

    The unarmed hand should be held near your breast. It is useful to hold it in a light fist. In some styles of single swordsmanship you would put your hand behind to the small of your back; I do not recommend this. In styles where you see a swordsman adopt such a guard, it is because the unarmed hand cannot be used to double-grip the short handle of the sword. As the lightsaber is more fundamentally similar to a long-sword (thus having a grip that supports two-handed wielding) I think it is better to keep your unarmed hand as close to the hilt as possible YET protected inside the silhouette of your body to diminish it's value as a potential striking target for your opponent.

    The basic idea is, if you have your unarmed hand hanging loosely about, it can be a potential target for your opponent. You want your opponent to have to cross past your lightsaber so that you can easily parry; that's why it is there in front of you. If your hand is all about, it becomes another potential target. So you want to keep your hand as close to your body as possible. At the same time, you want your hand to have the shortest distance possible to the hilt of your lightsaber so you can rapidly switch to a double-handed grip on the hilt for executing techniques. Thus keeping your hand just above your chest is the optimal location for it.

    One-handed Long Tail Guard
    This is the one-handed grip variation of the two-handed grip Long Tail Guard featured in my book. As with the version in the book, this is an optimal guard for delivering Uppercuts from.

    Here it is shown from the side.

    If you begin your position in one-handed Power Guard, enter the Long Guard and then enter this Long Tail Guard you will find that you have performed a one-handed Cleave. If you do the reverse, going from the Long Tail Guard into Long Guard, and finally into the Power Guard, you will have performed an Uppercut.

    Perhaps you do not want to Uppercut from the Long Tail, and instead would like to thrust. To do this you must bring the saber up and into a.....

    One-handed Side Guard.


    This is the one-handed version of the two-handed Side Guard featured in the book. Here it is viewed from the front.


    From this position you can easily perform a one-handed thrust, like so;

    Technically, this position is known as the one-handed Strong Long Guard; as with the two-handed version, the normal Long Guard has the palm of your dominant hand facing the ground and the Strong Long Guard has your palm facing to the sky. This is the same principle with the one-handed version of the Strong Long Guard. It is a strong thrusting movement that is difficult to parry.

    *As more illustrations are completed, I will update this post.
    Last edited: Feb 12, 2016
  2. You know, there's one problem when transforming Post di donna into a one-handed guard - your left side is completely uncovered. While this is no big deal with two hands, it is when using only one. Especially against another one-handed sword, you're open for a thrust from the inside. 9 out of 10 will see you hit - mostly a double-hit.
    Attacks made from the outside are a real danger when the attacker steps offline with his attacking step.
    As Bolognese is based on the one-handed sword, I know these tactics all too well, having used them myself often enough. ;)
  3. CareyMartell

    CareyMartell Administrator Staff Member

    You must be referring to the one-handed Power Guard.

    This is actually a very common guard position in Escrima. I've never encountered the issue you are referring to myself. While you can only execute a Cleave from it as a strike, you can also just step back or to the side to evade an attack while switching to another stance for counter or parry.

    From what I have seen of Bolognese, it's a strictly one-hand style using a sword with a handle that isn't large enough for adopting a two-handed grip. So there's some different considerations there versus a weapon that you can transition into a two-handed grip from.
  4. Then you haven't seen enough. ;) Bolognese is based on the one-handed sword - but the principles and techniques are used with all kinds of weapons, including the Spadone (a real two-hander) and pole-arms.
    Speaking of the Spadone - - this is my workshop on movement with this beast, just from last weekend at the Dreynevent in Vienna (and it's in English).
    We are also experimenting with real hand-and-a-half-swords (also called riding-swords in museums), where one can add the left hand in midmotion.
    I know - it is also with the Langes Messer. It works great with a rather short weapon (FMA-weapons tend to be on the shorter side), but with and against a longer weapon (as the usual lightsaber is) it's provoking double-hits at best. I'm not that deep into Escrima, but doesn't this guard also depend on the possibility to cover oneself with the left hand?

    Oh, and this isn't meant as a correction or something - just input from a different POV.
  5. CareyMartell

    CareyMartell Administrator Staff Member

    Thanks for sharing the video, I will take a look, though half-sword techniques aren't very applicable to a lightsaber. Although it's not a real lightsaber, I think people would get up in arms if we suggest they grab the saber blade.

    In Escrima it can be used with single stick or dual wielding sticks, or unarmed. Escrima is very modular in that almost all of its guards and strikes can be delivered unarmed or armed. In the case of single stick, the free hand can still be used to assist in grapples or to switch to a two-handed grip.

    I agree that one-handed grips are not the most advantageous compared to a two-handed grip or dual wielding, but that's the reality of the dynamics of the human body armed with a long blunt weapon that can only be gripped by one end. The drills I am putting together that incorporate one-handed grip techniques are designed to flow into and out of two-handed grip techniques. One handed grip strikes have less power and defensive ability compared to a two-handed grip, but they can also be tricky as they change the range of the strike which can catch people off-guard.

    The toughest thing about putting this system together is that Fiori didn't include a lot of information about one-handed long-sword techniques, nor have other historical sources from that time period. And often when they are discussed, there isn't any illustrations to accompany it.
  6. None of these in Bolognese two-hander (just a grip on the ricasso against pole-arms, but that's of no concern when it comes to lightsaber). ;)
    Oh, you got me wrong here - I actually prefer one-handed weapons. Two hands give more power, but you actually lose reach and mobility in the upper body.
    That's along the lines of our experiments with riding-swords than. Fantastic - getting something useful for HEMA out of lightsaber. :)

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