Bastard Sword

Hand and a Half or “Bastard” sword: Basics

Sword tutorial for hand an a half sword style

Under construction…

Using the standard wychwood hit rules.


Basic hand and a half is quite similar to basic single sword. It is much easier to learn hand and a half with a good grasp of single sword particularly of the footwork.

Stance and Weapon Control

Hand a half swords give a longer reach (slightly) and more control than a single handed sword. Instead of relying on the right arm both to make and pull a blow, blows can be pulled in a different way: the left can be used to stop or sword the turn of the sword as the blow is made. This is particularly useful for pulling a blow that is going badly awry or is badly deflected.


these are much the same as the single sword guards:
on guard: is the usual guard to start from – sword held out in front of the body, right foot forward, blade at 45 degrees.


Attacks are very much the same as for single handed sword and depend on the combat rules being used. Because the hand and a half sword is easier to pull than the single handed sword it is easier to switch from one attack to another.


The main difference between hand an a half and single sword is in the defences. The Defences diagram (above) shows the different defence positions, but more importantly the hand-position diagram (below) shows the correct hand positions for the two leg blocks, the head block and the normal hand position for guards and shoulder defences.
The right hand is always nearest to the crossguard and the left hand nearest or on the pommel.
It is important not to keep too rigid a grip especially with the left hand. It will be impossible to grip with all fingers in some of these positions. However it should always be possible to grip with the first two fingers and the thumb.
The head defence is as it is to avoid crossing the wrists, which would give a weaker block.


Footwork is especially important for hand and a half sword because it is impossible to defend the legs without the right footwork, or at least impossible without hitting yourself in the process. That said the footwork is exactly the same as for single sword.


The same standard patterns useful for single sword are useful for hand an a half.
“Round the Clock”

More Hand and a Half

More Guards

“longpoint”: rather like the “longpoint” guard in MS I:33 – the sword is pointed at the opponent’s body or face. This deters them from trying to close without making and attack or trying to strike the blade.
hanging guard: like the single handed hanging guard, but, because of the two handed grip much harder to achieve. The hands are held at head height, and blade is pointed downwards. This is a good defensive guard from which to make blocks. The position of the hands makes grappling hard, but it is easier to close against this guard than longpoint.
over arm guards: either over the right or left shoulders. This is an intimidating guard, but makes it difficult to attack the opponent’s opposite side. It invites the opponent to strike at the leg opposite the guard, but this is in fact the easiest block to make. The hardest blocks to make are the arm and leg on the side of the guard.

Tactics Against Other Weapons

Hand and a half has a number of advantages – reach, weight, pushing power and control. However it is only one weapon therefore not as good for blocking as duel wielding or sword and buckler, it’s reach advantage is less than a spear, and it’s attacks are not as fast as a quarterstaff. However the main danger for a hand and a half swordsman against other weapons is if the opponent closes. Close in most weapons will be more agile than hand and a half, so a good hand and a half swordsman ought to keep distance and discourage closing by attacking when their opponent attempts it. Speed and reach are the best ways to land a blow. Against spears there is the reversed-grip style.

Reversed Grip

An alternative way of using the hand and a half is to reverse the grip – hold it left hand on the grip, right hand just below the cross, where the sword’s ricasso would be. This will put the point down, and make the shoulders impossible to defend but give a powerful and fast side to side slicing motion to defend against spear attacks.


As with the single sword, blocks can be angled outwards to deaden the attackers sword. This will make it harder for the opponent to recover their sword and attack again, and the defender might have more time to get in a riposte.
The hand and a half sword also flows more easily from a block to an attack, especially when alternating sides.


As with the single sword, there are generally three potential ripostes – over the attacker’s sword, under the attacker’s sword, and against the other side of the attacker’s body. The grapple is possible, but involves letting go of the sword with the left hand. The left hand will not always be in a good position to grapple and it will take time to recover the two handed grip if the grapple fails.


a fight does not need to be linear. It is quite position to step diagonally, circle, dart in and out to attack your opponent. Non-linear movement is especially important for keeping your distance against a differently armed opponent

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