Glossary of Sword and Swordfighting Terms

Here is a glossary of terms used for swords and swordfighting. For a visual glossary of sword parts, visit my sword part area:

Medieval Swords
Swords and Sword Parts


Advance - a short forward movement.

Blade - the length of metal that is used for attacking or defending (i.e. the entire metal length beyond the guard).

Boar's Tooth - a guard where the sword is before your front right leg.

Deflect - actively change the incoming sword's speed or angle by hitting it with your own sword (or foot etc)

Diagonal - Moving forward diagonally forward - right.

Edge - the sharp side of the blade. Japanese blades were typically single edged, while Medieval swords could have both sides sharpened.

Empty Fade - Leaping backwards as if to fade but immediately leaping forwards again.

Fade - Leaping backwards while leaving the feet in the same orientation.

False Edge - the back / trailing edge of the sword, usually the one you do NOT intend to cut with.

Front Guard - a guard where the sword is held vertically in front of your face.

Full Iron Gate Guard - a guard where the sword is halfway between your right and left legs, angled right.

Fuller - a groove running down the length of the blade. I have some books which claim this is a "blood groove" to help blood flow out of an enemy but other books which seem more reliable say it's to help the sword come out of a body without being caught (it breaks the suction).

Grip - the part of the hilt you grip with your hand for control.

Guard - a cross-piece on the hilt that keeps your hands safe from your opponent's weapon sliding down the length of your blade. Also called a cross-guard.

Guard - (meaning #2) - a position of safety, a pose where you can defend yourself from attack.

Guard of the Woman - a guard where the sword is over your right shoulder, behind your back.

Half Iron Gate Guard - a guard where the sword is held before your left leg.

Hilt - the generic name for the entire part of the sword near your hands, the part that is not the blade.

Long Point - a guard where the sword is straight out from your chest, with your arms extended.

Lunge - leaping forwards while leaving the feet in the same orientation.

Pass Back - Taking a step backwards by moving your front foot into the rear position.

Pass Forward - Taking a step forwards by moving your rear foot into the front position.

Pivot - Rotating 180 degrees while keeping the front foot stationary.

Pommel - the knobby end of the hilt, used by the second hand for a ball-in-socket pivot point in many moves, or merely as a counterweight in one handed attacks.

Posta - the Italian word for guard, as in a position of safety.

Posta drill - a series of movements from guard to guard, to help you learn the guards.

Retreat - a short movement backwards.

Shed - to allow a sword to slide away off your sword without trying to impede / change it, so you are then free to attack or move.

Short Guard - a guard where the hilt is at your hip and the sword is pointing up and forward.

Slope - moving diagonally backwards back and left.

Stance - the position your body is in to be ready for an attack or defense.

Step Across - Rotating 180 degrees by crossing the front foot across the back foot and then turning in place.f
Tail Guard - a guard where the hilt is at your hip and the sword is pointing behind you.

Tip - the pointy end of the blade.

True Edge - the front / leading edge of the sword, usually the one you intend to cut with.

Two Horn Guard - a guard where the sword pommel is at your chest with the sword pointing out.

Window Guard - a guard where the hilt is at your ear and the sword points forwards.



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