Draw & Tip Cuts

The purpose of the Draw & Tip Cuts lesson is to learn the techniques and criteria needed to perform a “cut” instead of “stab” safely.

For Teachers

Click the Button to jump to How to Teach Draw & Tip Cuts.

Safety

In fencing hacking and slashing are not allowed, both for safety reasons and historical accuracy. However, there are still edges to your sword which can be used in a specific way and occasional a tip may land on your opponent in such a way that does not have positive pressure but can still be turned into a killing shot. 

Using the edge of the blade to kill your opponent is a draw cut. And tip cuts are performed with the tip of your blade in situations where it is impossible to land a forward thrusting shot. 

While these killing shots are not as common as a thrusting shot they can be highly useful in close range or when you find yourself not in line with your opponent.

However because they are used in more unusual situations there are some safety concerns to address to prevent causing real injury. Make sure to check the sides of your blades with an ungloved hand to determine if there are any burs in the metal. If found, they need to be filed down. Also when performing these killing shots make sure the edges of the weapon are used and not the flat sides. Never use these strikes from a hacking or slashing offensive.

Draw Cuts

Draw cuts are when you slide the edge of your blade at least 6’’ across any part of your opponent’s body with a constant pressure. Draw cuts follow the same kill zones as strikes. If all three of those criteria are met, then the draw counts as a kill or a wound depending on the location of the draw. If the Draw cut does not meat all three, then the draw doesn’t count and is consider invalid. 

To perform a draw cut safely, never hack into your opponent before performing a draw cut. Always lay your blade on your opponent and then perform the draw cut, remembering all three criteria:

  1. Must use the edge
  2. Must slide at least 6 inches
  3. Must have constant pressure

Tip Cuts

Tip Cuts are very similar to Draw Cuts, except they use the tip of your sword instead of the edge. The same three criteria apply to a tip cut: At least 6’’ of constant pressure across your opponent’s body with the tip counts as a kill or a wound.

Calling Invalid Cuts

It is incredibly important that when you are performing a Draw or Tip Cut, you need to make sure that all three criteria are met before allowing someone to take a kill or wound from a cut. If you notice that something was wrong, tell your opponent that it wasn’t good.

If you are on the receiving end of a draw or tip cut and are not sure that was it was good, call the cut good. Allow your opponent to tell you if it wasn’t good. The Honor System you learned in the Basics of Dueling lesson is the only way we can ensure that Draw & Tip Cuts are used properly.

Teacher Resources

Explain

Explain the following cuts and how they differ from a normal attack. Emphasize that rapiers were designed to stab and thrust instead of cut. Draw & Tip Cuts should be used infrequently compared to normal attacks.

  • Draw Cuts
  • Tip Cuts
  • Calling Draw & Tip Cuts

Demonstrate

Begin to demonstrate to the class how to perform a Draw Cut. This could be on a Co-Instructor or another student. Go slowly and keep it simple. Explain what you are doing and why. Perform the Draw Cut so everyone can see what you are doing as you do it. While making the cut, explain what happens if they use the flat of their blade, the cut is bouncy, not drawn the full distance, etc.

Guide

At this point, the class is ready to try it themselves with your guidance. Have them pair up and follow your lead as you perform a Draw Cut on a Co-Instructor or another student, again explaining as you go. Make sure that each student has multiple chances to perform a Draw Cut and watch if anyone needs help. Give feedback as they go. Comment on those who are performing well and focus on the positive. If someone is struggling, spend time demonstrating again and guide them through the process. 

Enable

At this stage, each Initiate should be able to perform a Draw & Tip Cut on their own. Run through the following drills or challenges before finishing:

Draw Cuts

Draw Cut Drill

Have each student find a partner and take turns performing valid draw cuts on different parts of the body.

Draw Cut Challenge (Cutting Blind)

One student closes their eyes and has to identify if the draw cut met all three criteria as it is performed on their body. Switch after 5 attempts.

Tip Cuts

Tip Cut Drill

Have each student find a partner and take turns performing valid tip cuts on different parts of the body.

Tip Cut Challenge (Only Appendages Count)

Students should attempt to perform valid tip cuts only on the appendages while still meeting all three criteria. Switch after 5 attempts.

Ready to move on?

You’ve completed the Draw & Tip Cut lesson! Next, you'll dive into a fundamental part of Melee: Line Fighting.