In any fight, there should always be two things in balance, but the rest should go back and forth between balance and imbalance. The two things that should always be in balance are your mind and your body. For the things going between balance and imbalance is pretty much everything else i.e. sword on sword, body position relative to your opponent, etc.
Start with Your Mind
The mind must be in balance, it must be realistic as well as not becoming too focused on specific points. This is best shown by an example: I often see people step into a fight saying in their head ‘I lose 9/10 fights, why should I try this time?’ In this example, the fighter is becoming too focused on losing the fight rather than focusing on what they need to do to survive. What you should take into the fight is facts i.e. I lose 9/10 but most those kills are from a headshot; they are a blocker, and stand still a lot; how they use their weapons, feet position, and stance. All of these things are little facts that build up and tell you how they fight and how you can fight them back. Though while getting started remembering all these things is difficult, start with just one or two facts to bring into the fight. Use those 9 losses in 10 fights to learn about them and how they fight. It will help change those losses into wins.
Another example of this is: I need to work on ______ so let’s focus on that. I have seen the focusing on something specific there is the tendency to forget other aspects like footwork, or blocks. By focusing so much on something and forgetting what you normally do you are not fully seeing how it works with your body, and mind. It is forcing your body to do something so new and vastly different I wouldn’t consider what you are doing to be part of your style. The only times I truly see this as something helpful is with the advisement of a master.
Kane has a wonderful article on how to analyze a fight to get these facts. The balance of the mind is going into a fight with the mindset of all you have gathered from analyzing fights. By this, I mean walk into a fight (this case duel) knowing the facts about not only your opponent’s capabilities and tendencies, but your own as well. While you are in the fight be in that moment of the fight focusing on what is happening there in that moment. How they fight you will be different than how they fight anyone else, and even that changes as each of you continue to learn new things. Since both people are growing as fighters, you have to update the facts you know about each fighter as you go. Some things don’t really change much, but other things can change drastically. One of the things that doesn’t tend to change as much is the type of fighter they are. Attack patterns can change even multiple times in a fight, which is one thing that should be updated constantly.
Knowing your opponent is important, it is probably more important to know how you yourself fight. If you know how you react to certain things, you can know what your opponent will go for and start using some things as bait. Tilly is a great example, with how low she fought, she had to move her buckler position to above her head since she knew everyone was taller and would aim for that spot. This is a great example of knowing yourself helping you win the fight.
The Body’s Balance
Moving on to the body: The body must always remain in balance; I mean this more than keeping your center of gravity, though that is a very important thing to do. Starting with center of gravity, you need to maintain it constantly and if you don’t you can be easily pushed over or trip. If you lower it too much you lose mobility, too high and you don’t have solid footing against a charge. Each person’s center of gravity changes for how they fight, for example: Dubhglas tends to fight very high, in comparison to Tilly who used to fight very low.
Moving forward, what you wear and use has to work well with you and your body. I have found that my usual sword and my long sword most people can’t use purely due to their weight. I have also had comments about how my long sword is off balance, where I find its balance to be perfect. Your body and style have to be in balance of what you use to allow your full potential to show. Another example is my helmet; with the scalemail this makes it very heavy and can throw your head off balance which throws your body off balance as well if you’re not used to it.
In addition to this, how your body moves and reacts changes from person to person. You have to be aware of how your body moves, and reacts. This can help you when learning new things to see if it is viable in how you fight. A lot of the body mechanics I use, most other people can’t do. Trying new grips on the sword can even change how you fight fundamentally as can trying a new footwork. By playing with what your body can do/likes to do, and grouping them together you can have different styles you can go to for different people.
The Balance and Imbalance of a Fight
This is the hard part to articulate. At the beginning of a fight when both fighters are on line and just finished the salute, they are in balance. This is one of the easiest examples of there being balance in a fight, but there are other times to see balance; a good block can bring balance between the blades; turning to face an opponent who stepped off line; a reset after a charge. There are so many points that have balance in a fight that it is hard to articulate or even think of them all.
Imbalance is caused by stepping off line, throwing a shot, charging, and so many more. Just the talking of the blades without moving your body at all or throwing shots is fighting for the imbalance to give you the edge in a fight. Balance is what you use to stay alive, imbalance is the way you get the shot or kill. At least that is one way of thinking about it in a fight. Though there are probably many other ways of thinking of it.
When you are against someone you have never fought before, take into account the facts of a fight, and how to attain balance and bring imbalance to benefit your fights. Don’t worry about whether you win or lose, rather take note of how you won; how you obtained a shot, or how you lost; what kinds of things the enemy took advantage of during a point of imbalance.