The purpose of the Dagger lesson is to learn how to use one of the most popular offensive sides in tandem with your sword.

For Teachers

Click the Button to jump to How to Teach Dagger.


The main concern with using a Dagger is that their blades are shorter and therefore stiffer. You’re more likely to give a hard shot with a Dagger for this reason and because you’re required to be so much closer when you use it.

Be wise in your use of Daggers and remember that they are meant to be a tool to help your sword. Not your primary weapon.


A Dagger is probably the most widely used offensive side there is. It has amazing defensive power while still being able to kill your opponent.

The original term for a dagger was “main gauche.” which is pronounced “man gohsh. Translated from French, “main gauche” means “Left Hand”. It was to signify that using a dagger turns your left hand from just a hand to a threatening weapon.

Using a Dagger

Even though a Dagger is an offensive side, it should never replace your sword. Your sword is your main weapon and your dagger is there to help as defense.

The most basic way we do that is by turning your dagger into a “Wiper Blade”. It’s going to move in an arc and push sword blades away from your body. From the same starting position as your basic offhand, the dagger will either move in an upward arc to push incoming blades away or it’ll move down. Your dagger is always going to try and push blades out and away from you so they can’t stab you. The key is to maintain contact on their blade. This allows you to have continuous control of your opponent’s blade.

Using a Dagger follows many of the principles of using your Basic Offhand.

In Close Kill

If you ever do plan on using your dagger offensively, you have to understand that you’re going to be in close. We can kill our opponent easily in two ways: Point in or Draw Cut.

Point In is just like with a regular sword but with a dagger. The point needs to make contact with enough pressure to be considered a kill. Keep in mind though, that with a short blade there’s less give and it’s easier to give a hard shot or bend the blade.

Draw Cut would be slicing your opponent, in other words. You lay the edge of the blade on your opponent’s body and slide it at least 6″ for a full draw. You also need to have consistent pressure or it doesn’t count as a kill. These are the same rules found in the Draw & Tip Cuts lesson.

Refused Stance

Refused Stance is a variation of the basic stance found in Basics of Dueling. The basic stance is when you have your dominant foot and arm forward in the offensive position. 

Refuse switches your dominant foot and arm to the back, placing it in a defensive position. This also means your non-dominant side is now forward. You don’t need a dagger to switch to this stance, but with a dagger you can clearly see the effects. 

In refuse, you’re dagger will be out in front ready to defend. Your sword will be further back, away from any interference from your opponent. The idea is that your dagger will do most of the work until you see an opportunity to step in and engage your sword. Cons of using the Refuse stance are things such as turning yourself into a very defensive fighter and pulling your sword out of the general exchange of blows.

Journal Prompt

After using a Dagger for the first time, how do you feel it affects your fencing? Does it encourage you to be offensive or defensive? Do your opponents keep a distance or continue to get in close? Do you think you’ll continue using a dagger?

Ready to move on?

You’ve completed your first Novice lesson! Let’s learn how to use a defensive side next: a Deathstick.

How to teach



Use the following EDGE Method lesson summary to guide you along.


Explain the following principles and how they help us utilize a Dagger effectively. Emphasize that even though a Dagger is an offensive side, it should never replace our main sword.

  • How to use a Dagger
    • Windshield Wiper
    • In Close Kills
    • Refused Stance


Demonstrate each of the principles associated with using a Dagger. Include what it means to push a blade out and away from your body instead of across it. Demonstrate the differences of refused stance and its pros/cons.


After demonstrating, walk the students through each principle and help them understand the process. Show them how to hold the Dagger so it can be used defensively. Help them fall into a Refused Stance, defend against incoming shots, and make an In Close Kill.


At this stage, each Novice should be able to utilize a Dagger on their own. Run through the following drill or challenge before finishing:

Dagger Drill

Have each student find a partner, one will be the Attacker and the other the Defender. The Attacker will attack the Defender slowly to allow the Defender time to defend with only a dagger. When defending, focus on maintaining contact and pushing the blade away from the body. After ten attacks, switch roles and repeat as necessary.

Dagger Challenge (Refused Opportunity)

Have each student find a partner, one will be the Attack and the other the Defender. The Attacker will attack the Defender, while the Defender stands in Refused stance and defends with only a dagger. The Defender will continue defending until they are able to creating an opening with their dagger and move in for an in close kill. When the Defender is successful, switch roles and repeat.

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