Two on One Tactics

The purpose of the Two on One Tactics lesson is to learn basic strategies to work with a partner and defeat a single opponent. 

For Teachers

Click the Button to jump to How to Teach Two on One Tactics.


When executing Two on One Tactics there are a few safety issues to consider:

Don’t Over Do It: The two need to make sure they aren’t pushing the one into unsafe areas. Remember it’s not a mobbing session and we aren’t trying to hurt any one. The one needs to not let their adrenaline make them flail back and forth between the two opponents.

Be Aware of Your Surroundings: When performing any Two on One Tactics, your focus may narrow and you become blind to what’s around you. Stay aware of your surroundings.

Two on One Tactics

Two on One situations are the purest forms of melee. This situation happens when a pair of fencers face a single opponent. Two on One Tactics are the strategies and principles that allow a pair to defeat a single opponent, even if the single opponent is more experienced.

Principles to Remember

  • Keep Together: The first rule is to keep together. You want to stay side by side. Never let yourself get directly in front of or behind your teammate. Don’t let yourself get too far apart. It is imperative to not become separated. This is best accomplished using pivoting. Pivoting is the principle of having a steady center point between things, in this case two fighters, around which everything revolves.  
  • Two on One Wins: The goal is to outnumber your opponent. If done correctly, two fencers can take out any single fencer no matter the skill level. Never go in alone against your opponent. When you attack, attack together.
  • Communicate: Communication is key to working together. Talk about what’s going on. It doesn’t matter that your opponent can hear you. Always communicate with your team mate.
Typical Two on One Situation
A “45 Maneuver”

“45” Maneuver

A “45” is a simple maneuver to perform when in a two on one situation. It’s a coordinated effort to split your opponent’s attention by attacking from two different directions.

Typically in two on one situations the team of fighters will stick together and attack their single opponent head on. A better tactic would be to split his attention and use the 45 maneuver.

A proper “45” is executed when the team of fighters separate slightly and attack the single opponent from a 45 degree angle on the left and right simultaneously. This forces the single fighter to choose a side to defend, leaving the other open for a kill. This tactic needs to be coordinated and synchronized to have full effect. The success of the maneuver depends on the simultaneous attack. Communicate how and when you want to initiate a “45” maneuver. To do this you need a command that you both recognize.

The standard command is: “Ready, 45!” Then attack. This command can be shortened to just “45!”, but you run the risk of catching your partner off guard. Whatever you decide to call, the important thing is that both fencers are coordinated and ready to go. Don’t call for a “45” if you think your partner is not ready to help or if your single opponent is out of range.

Remember it doesn’t matter if your opponent can hear your plans. If you execute the maneuver properly there will be little the single fighter can do to prevent it.

Ready to move on?

You’ve completed the Two on One Tactics lesson! Let’s continue on to the final Initiate lesson: Death from Behind (DFB).

How to teach

Two on One Tactics


When you’re teaching Two on One Tactics, your goal is to help the students learn the importance of working together against a common enemy. Use the following EDGE Method lesson summary to guide you along.


Over the course of the lesson, try to explain the following principles. Use your own words or refer back to the main lesson if you need a refresher.

  • Don’t Over Do It
  • Be Aware of Your Surroundings
  • Keep Together
  • Two on One Wins
  • Communicate
  • “45” Maneuver


When you demonstrate any of the principles in the lesson, having an experienced partner will definitely help. Reach out to another Swordsman and ask them to sit in on the lesson. Take your time with your demonstrations and make sure the students understand what you are doing.


The real meat of the lesson will come as you guide students through the various principles listed above. Point out things that students do well and give immediate feedback on ways they could improve on their next attempt.


Once everyone has the hang of Two on One Tactics, you can finish out your lesson with either the drill or challenge below. Focus on the drill if your students are struggling or try the challenge if the students already of a good grasp of the principles. Stay near by and continue to offer praise and insights.

Two on One Drill

Have each student pair up, facing a single fencer (typically the Instructor or a Swordsman). Have each pair practice pivoting and communicating with their partner. Afterwards, have the pair walk through a “45” maneuver. Practice communicating their intentions and making the call. Ensure that they are separating correctly and attacking simultaneously.

Two on One Challenge (Tag)

Have each student pair up, facing a single fencer (typically the Teacher or a Swordsman). Have each pair attack the single fencer, while the single fencer defends themselves and tries to eliminate the pair. As soon as one of the pair kills the single fencer, immediately switch roles. The single fencer now joins as part of the pair and tries to kill the fencer who originally killed the single fencer. Repeat as necessary.