The Order Garrison
The Blocker/Runner/Charger Theory
The purpose of this thread is to establish a more fully-understood baseline of the 3 Types of Fighters were commonly refer to at practice. This season I’ve been specifically studying the Runner and it makes me wonder if there is room for improvement concerning this theory.
During Open Practice last night (July 13, 2018), 5 of us got together to discuss it and this is what debated.
The Original Myths behind these Types of Fighters
The idea of the different types of fighters originated in the Scola Metallorum Rapier Training Manual by Lord Randal The Malcontent (Randal Ames) back in 2002. The manual itself discussed many different things, but the Four Types of Fighters was a highlight of the manual. They determined that the four general types of fighters were the Charger, Blocker, Runner, and Shifter. Each type hinged around basic tendencies and amount of experience as a fighter. Here is how they described each style:
“This is a fighter that is predominantly aggressive and seeks to end the conflict by their own means. These fighters tend to attack early and often without a lot of preliminaries. They are predominantly linear in their approach (the shortest distance etc). A Charger tends to have a few obvious "tells" or motions that signal the perceptive opponent their intentions (which are simple: get in there and kill).Chargers tend to be middle level fighters with limited experience and approximately 2-3 years "training".”
“This is a fighter that is predominantly defensive. They seek to end the conflict by a wider variety of means than the Charger: When they are attacked, the Blocker does just that, block. They generally have a set pattern of counter attacks called "Riposte" in the greater fencing community. The Blocker tends to seek a rhythm of exchanges or "conversations of the blade": Attack, block, riposte, reset, repeat. They also tend to be linear in their approach. They tend to use very little footwork, preferring to stand and fight. Blockers tend to be higher level fighters with as much as 5-7 years of experience.”
“This is an elusive fighter. They have no idea how to end the conflict and are mostly reactionary. They tend to have neither a strong attack nor outstanding defense. They often make tentative or peripheral attacks on extended targets like arms and legs. When attacked they run away. When blocked, they run away. When looked at funny, they run away. Generally, the Runner has limited training and experience; 1-2 years at most.”
“This is the most difficult fighter to describe, until you meet one. They tend to fight as a runner at first, then shift to blocking or charging with no obvious pattern. They may attack strongly. They may stand and block or stay far away. They may leave the line of engagement and approach or retreat from their opponent at a variety of angles. They are difficult to describe and analyze because Shifters are actually thinking about the fight as it unfolds. Shifters tend to have a great deal of fencing experience (7-10 years).”
In this original analysis, it is clear that the Shifter is considered the best type of fighter while the Runner is considered the worst. I disagree with this for many reasons, but the primary reason is because I feel that the “Shifter” does not describe a type of fighter.
In my opinion, it describes a technique and an ability to implement the three styles effectively.
If it is true that there is no such thing as a “Shifter” style, but merely a “fighter who shifts”, then it can be concluded there are only three types of fighters.
With that in mind, I don’t believe that any of the three types of fighters are better than one or the other. I believe that they are merely three different ways of approaching the art of fencing and that each person can fall into one of these three categories, despite experience or training.
What makes a blocker?
Is it that they don't move their feet an inch? Is it their amazing blocking? They're sense of timing? They're fierce courage to stare down their enemy and wait patiently for them to fall into their trap?
This is to help Shay and I understand what a blocker does.
What do blockers have in common? What do some blockers do differently than other blockers? What do you guys notice?
Oh man, this takes some thought. Personally, I don't think keeping your feet planted has to be part of blocking. Your feet definitely don't move as much as they would with the other two types of fencers. However, I know my feet shift very quickly and briefly as I perform a block. It helps me feel the motion of the block and absorb the strike through my body. I think keeping my feet in one spot inhibits my ability to maneuver into a wall to block strikes from different angles. Additionally, I feel I'm a blocker, but I will move in circles and switch back & forth from forward into refused stance.
I do think your other items: solid blocks, good timing, and courage are all key aspects of blocking. Obviously your block needs to be effective in clearing the blade, and I think a coordinated off hand is equally important. Timing must be practiced with different opponents though as you learn their tendencies. Whether they perform quick snipes or a slower, solid attack determines exactly when you should move your blade to come in contact with theirs. As far as courage goes, to be a blocker you definitely must be patient and confident that you can keep yourself alive when the attack comes. Get the blade cleared and have a plan of attack ready to follow.
I'm super excited to hear more opinions about blockers!
I think you could break this question down into a two part question and I think it may be a beneficial mental exercise:
- What advanced techniques are unique to a Blocker's style?
- How are the basics performed differently for a Blocker compared to a Runner or Charger?
For example, each of the three types of fighters have to attack, block, or have a basic stance. But each one will be slightly different. A Blocker's stance may be slightly deeper than normal while a Runner might shy away from a true basic stance.
Attacks from a Blocker will focus on the return attack and controlling their opponent's blade, while a Charger may focus on intial attacks and gaining dominance in the process.
Each of the three types have the same basic tools, but use them slightly different which gives them a unique flavor or style.
Then you get to the advanced techniques and strategies. A Blocker thinks differently about a fight than a Runner. From my experience, a Blocker does everything in their power to negate the advantages of their opponent which gives them the edge because they've neutralized every threat. A Runner on the other hand goes into the fight looking for an opportunity by moving, confusing, hiding their intentions, or gaining any advantage they can.
Advanced techniques come from the subtle variations of the basics used by each type and that leads to a distinct flair and fighting style.
Inspired by Evanlyn's post concerning Blockers, I thought it would be a good idea to hear thoughts and insights about the often overlooked or misunderstood style of being a Runner. In your mind, what makes a Runner? What are the determining factors? Has your perception of Runners changed over time?
Any thoughts would be appreciated as the study to more clearly define and teach these three types of fighters continues!