Draw & Tip Cuts

The design of the rapier lends itself to stabs and punctures. We kill our opponents primarily with the tip of our blades pointing in. But with any sharp-edged sword, they can also cut. Draw & Tip Cuts presents how cuts work for a rapier specifically, and what is allowed or not allowed when using this alternative method of dispatching an opponent.

Points of safety

When you think of cuts with a sword, you often think of hacking and slashing in movies or what you’d expect from a broadsword. But we’re not using broadswords. We’re using rapiers which come with their own style of cutting and points of safety we have to be aware of.

  • Check for Burs: Frequently and carefully run your finger along the edges of your blade to check for burs (metal splinters). File down anything your finger catches on.
  • Lay the Sword, Don’t Hack: When approaching a draw cut, bring your sword down slowly and lay it on your opponent; don’t hit them with it.
  • Draw Purposefully: You don’t need to saw or exaggerate the length of the draw. If an opportunity presents itself, you should knowingly and, in control, perform a draw.

General Points

The techniques of drawing and cutting with your rapier take practice, and they serve as a great resource in your tool kit as a fencer. That said, draws and cuts are secondary to the overall design and purpose of the swords we use. They back up and support our efforts to land valid strikes against our opponent.

  • Valid Cuts: A valid cut gives constant pressure on the edge of the sword for at least 6 inches. The length can vary when drawing limbs.
  • Draw Cut VS Tip Cut: A draw cut is performed with the edge of the blade. A tip cut includes the same criteria but is performed with the tip.
  • Back-Up Attack: A draw or tip cut is rarely your primary attack. It is mostly used in close range or as a backup after a failed strike.
  • Calling Invalid Cuts: With time and experience, you can develop a sense of what is a valid draw or tip cut. Until then, if you can’t call it with absolute certainty, take the shot.

Training Ideas

  • Practice Cut: Practice performing valid draw and tip cuts on a stationary opponent or object.
  • Can You Feel That?: Have an opponent perform draw and tip cuts on you and get accustomed to what a valid cut feels like.
  • Cutting It Close: Find an opponent and try to successfully perform draw and tip cuts during a fight.


What we hope to see from fencers who learn Draw & Tip Cuts is their ability to incorporate them into their fencing safely and with purpose. Our swords will always be more effective at point-in strikes and so the priority in which we place strikes compared to Draws & Tip Cuts should match that mindset. We want to see fencers who can consistently recognize when they make a valid cut, as well as know when to use them in a fight.

What’s NEXT?

  • Suggested Next Lesson: Range & Placement, Rules of Engagement, or Advanced Attacks could be potential next lessons for someone studying Range & Placement. Matching how to perform these maneuvers with the strategy behind them can be helpful to learn.
  • Activities to Try: If you’re struggling to recognize Draw & Tip Cuts, practice feeling what each feels like in a slow fight. Familiarize yourself with what is valid and what is not. If you are more confident, challenge a peer to a duel where only cuts are valid. Emphasize performing these techniques safely before adding speed.
  • Conversations To Have: Open a discussion about when and how a cut compares to retreating or waiting for a solid strike. What do you gain from a cut and what might you lose?