Sword Forms

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The following sword forms are expanded upon for use in your roleplaying for three basic types of blades. Before launching into the types of forms, let's start with basic terms that are used throughout them.


Basic Terms


The end of the handle used to secure the blade tang, usually wider than the handle and often in a rounded shape to resemble the fruit from which it earned its name, the "pomme," the French word for apple. This may not be written out in WoT writing, but worth knowing nontheless. Depending on the kind of the sword, the pommel may have many different shapes, yet most can be used as a bludgeon for thrusting. If the sword has an extended handle, it can also be used for blunt attacks while the sword is stil inside its sheath. Without drawing your blade, you can use an extended handle to shatter the opponent's swordhand before either has produced their blades from their sides.

Handle or Grip

The part between the pommel and the guard or hilt, designed to be held by one or two hands. For certain swords such as the rapier, smallsword, sabre, schlager, or basket-hilted broadsword, this area is further protected by some form of hand or knuckle protection, such as a knuckle-bow extending from the crossbar, a solid metal shell extending from the top of the handle, or a basket that protects the whole hand.

Hilt or Guard

The part between the handle/grip and the blade, usually including a cross bar, to protect the hand from a weapon that might slide down the blade. In the WoT books, the guard looks like the one on the image at the very top of this page, while in the Japanese "katana", has a circular dish of artistic shape and design. Sometimes, the cross bar is enjoined with a previously mentioned guard in any of varying shapes such as a bell/cup, clamshell, basket, swept-shaped bars, rings, or prongs for blade-catching.


The metal portion, usually having at least one sharpened edge and a sharp point at the extreme end, secured to the hilt by a metal tang that protrudes through the length of the hilt and grip to the pommel. A groove could be cut along the length of either or both flat sides of the blade - named "fullers". Such is used for maintaining blade shape and firmness, and removing excess weigh. They are also sometimes termed "blood grooves", pursuant to the common belief that the grooves aid in the removal of a sword blade from inside the target's body, by allowing blood to escape and air to enter the wound so as to alleviate the vaccuum effect of a human torso wound. However, this belief is deemed a misnomer by sword historians, who for medical reasons deny the significance of such a "vaccuum effect".

Slash or Cut

A sweeping, cutting stroke. The blade "saws" into the target. Also called a draw-cut or push-cut. The latter of those two cuts by way of hitting with the edge and extending forward with the blade.


A direct impact. The blade embeds itself straight into the target. May be used to strike the opponent's blade aside, usually in order to open a line of attack. A strong, unexpected beat may succeed in disarming the opponent.


Blocking another blade with your own, using the flat of the blade and not the edge. To parry by quickly catching and sliding back along the length of the opponent's blade, toward its point, involves the risky act of bringing one's point away from the opponent's target areas. By parrying, one often grant the opponent and opening.


An abrupt or sharp thrust or punch.


To aim the point at a target area on the opponent and to either attack or threaten the corresponding target area. An extended point toward an unprotected valid target area is a valid threat to that area. Usually followed by a lunge or an advance, or any combination of the two.font>


Upon having executed a parry, to attack immediately thereafter by extending, usually in the same line of attack from the parry position, a strike or a cut. Also called riposte.


To hold a sword with one hand on the grip and one hand on the blade, thus providing more force and better control of the blade in blocking or striking with the point of the sword.

Types of Swords

The following descriptions are for the purpose of these forms.

One-handed Swords

Swords specifically designed for use in one hand, whether singly, with a shield, or dually with another weapon.

Hand-and-a-Half Swords

Swords that can be used in one hand use as well as two hand use.

Two-Handed Swords

Swords that require two hands to use effectively.


Unfolding the Fan

The most common drawing technique, meant to be done in a simple arc smoothly and swiftly. The draw is meant to convey grace and confidence before committing to combat. This should be amongst the first things practiced by those who choose the sword as their weapon, as it should be the first thing mastered before a swordsman proceeds down the path of a Blademaster. In a more advanced version, this form is used to launch a direct attack from the sheath.

Folding the Fan

The mirror of Unfolding the Fan, this sheathing technique must be practiced as much as its counterpart. From guard stance to sheath, the sword follows through in a graceful arc. This arc that the blade makes in the air also serves to "shake" the blood from the steel. Blademasters are capable of performing this without looking.

The Oneness

A focus exercise, meant to heighten the swordsman's senses and make them fully aware of the world around them. It is a mental aspect that has bearing on the physical, as it tends to relax the body to complete readiness and balance the breathing and heart rate. There are many names for this exercise, depending on region. The Malkieri term is the ko’di. Illianers and other Southlanders may call it the Flame and the Void. Different individuals percieve the Oneness differently, but all versions serve to aid the mind in applying itselt to the task of control and perception. Furthermore, advanced training in this mental exercise allows for greater emotional control, and thus even more heightened perception.

The Ribbon Dances on the Breeze

This is more of a correction than an actual form of striking. The point is to keep the blade moving after an overpowered attack, so that one may regain a guard stance after a wide swing of the blade. One should continue the arc of movement of their swing, bringing the blade behind and then back overhead before resuming a guard stance. This is similar in style to fighting with a one-handed blunt force weapon, as the point is to use the momentum of the weapon to return to a guard.

Sheathing the Sword

Sheathing the Sword is a Borderland maxim, one that expands beyond sword work. It is meant to refer to an action taken that may be detrimental to one's self, but the gain far outweighs the price – even if that price is one's life.

The Swallow Rides the Air

This concept deals with drawing and moving simultaneously; the point is to intercept an attacker as they are moving to engage another combatant. This is a key concept for Gaidin in the defense of their Aes Seda/Asha'man. This concept requires speed, sureness of ability with the blade and absolute focus, so as to defend at the instant you reach the opponent.


Note: Have in mind that stances should flow into the next, depending on the strikes that the stance provides. It is not advised to remain in a single one for more than a very short while.


It has been argued by many that Emptiness in itself is not a stance, but a natural way of life among Blademasters. For this purpose, it is how a swordsman should move during any and every waking moment. It is movement in perfect balance, whether it be while entering battle or strolling through a garden walk. Each step is silent and unhurried, rolling one's steps from heel to toe. In theory, this is what gives a Gaidin the look of a living weapon, as he is prepared to strike from the balance at any moment.

Apple Blossoms in the Wind

In this stance, the blade is held low but in a relaxed grip. One moves slowly, as if being gently guided by the breeze. The blade may move up or down as one moves, but it is still held in a low guard. This guard does well in preparing for an opponent attacking with #The Serpent Strikes.

The Cat Crossing the Courtyard

This is a common stance, one that leaves the body loose and ready for any and all possible threats. To an untrained eye it may give the appearance of arrogance. One moves on the balls of their feet, with head held high and absolutely alert. The eyes move quickly to watch for threats. Arms and hands are kept free and unencumbered, making them available to move to the sword at a moment's breath. One's walk should remain confident and unhurried.

The Creeper Embraces the Oak

This stance is a slow form of movement, circling one's opponent. The blade is in a guard stance, but moving from high to low and back again to offer new threats and guard against those same threats. Two common forms that begin from this stance are #The Falling Leaf and/or the #Lightning of Three Prongs.

The Hawk Surveys the Plain

This guard is a very high guard, commonly used with hand-and-a-half or two-handed swords. The sword is held over the head with both hands in a standard grip, point high. This stance leaves the body completely open, and is meant to be used in open space. This stance allows for powerful downward strikes, allowing momentum to assist the blade.

Submitted by: Kubotai Sobatsu

The Heron Wading in the Rushes

This is a practice form for those that have just started on the path to attaining Blademaster. The form is intended to teach balance and footing. The blade begins at shoulder/head height, moving into a horizontal slash as the swordsman pivots on one foot. The movement should be practiced with full knowledge that it is unusable in actual combat, as it leaves the body open without recourse.

The Kingfisher Watches the Sky

This form is a defensive stance, and is quite effective against #The Dove Takes Flight. The blade is in a middle guard, held horizontally before the body, with the grip held on the strong side of the body - that is to say the swordsman's dominant hand.

The Leaf Floating on the Breeze

This guard is considered a horizontal guard, and adjusts to the situation. In defense, the blade should move up and down, with the grip relaxed and ready to take action. Offensively, the blade moves side to side in an unhurried motion while maintaining the threat of striking at any point in its movement. Two strong attacks from this guard are the #Lightning of Three Prongs or the #The Lizard in the Thornbush.

The Leopard in High Grass

This is more of a movement, to be used when surrounded by opponents. Both hands are on the sword's hilt, and one's steps are slow and measured. Like #The Cat Crossing the Courtyard, the eyes should be constantly moving amongst your opponents to watch for the first threat. One's movements should be in relaxed but ready anticipation, as if stalking prey and looking for the first opening to pounce.

The Leopard in the Tree

This stance is intended for use with a preferred drawing technique. Swordhand is on the hilt, the other closed around the mouth of the sheath/scabbard, and the knees are bent in a relaxed position. The body leans forward, ready, much like a coiled spring.

The Lion on the Hill

A guard stance, with sword held point-up and hilt near to the shoulder. Considered a high guard, it can also be assumed with the blade pointed directly at the opponent instead of vertically.

The Ox Lowers His Horns

This is a middle guard, and expressly offensive in nature. The form begins with a lowered stance, feet spread apart, with the front foot outstretched, lowering the body on the back foot. The hilt is held close to the face, and one regards their opponent by looking at them from just over the hilt. The sword point is angled downward towards the opponent, and most of the weight is placed on the back foot, which provides the power for the forms used from this stance. Two good forms to come from this stance are #The Moon on the Water and #The Falcon Stoops.

The Swallow Glides to the Branch

This is a guard stance to be used while moving; the blade is diagonal across the front of the body, with the point tilted towards the direction one is moving. Hands are on hilt, and held at waist level. From here one may move into #The Swallow Takes Flight upon reaching their target.

Defensive Maneuvers

The Branch in the Storm

This form is any high, horizontal slash used to deflect an opponent's blade. Any deflection should use the flat of the blade, and not the edge. This form is quite commonly used to counter #River of Light.

The Cat Dances on the Wall

This form is not precisely done the same way twice, and practicing over time, it will strengthen the wrists and make it more effective for the user. It is a series of feinting slashes, thrusts and parries, all of them short and intended to feel out your opponent and buy time to pinpoint a weakness.

The Cat on Hot Sand

Similar to #The Cat Dances on the Wall, this form removes the tentative nature and turns it into an effective form for battling multiple opponents. The emphasis is speed and quick wrists; those with the greatest skill can accomplish this against an overwhelming number of opponents.

The Cyclone on the Plain

A maneuver best served against multiple opponents to open space around the swordsman and take initiative. The blade is brought around in a windmill fashion, the blade extended out and brought around quickly in a full circle before returning to guard stance. A good follow up to this maneuver would be the #Lizard in the Thornbush.

Submitted by: Kubotai Sobatsu

The Falling Leaf

An effective parry maneuver, it begins from higher point, and sweeps back and forth a number of times before it reaches the lowest point. From this defensive maneuver you can launch into #The River Undercuts the Bank or #The Wind Blows Over the Wall.

The Grapevine Twines

This form is a formidable disarming technique. It is accomplished by first engaging your opponent and binding their blade briefly, then dipping the tip of your blade under their hilt. By twisting at this point, you use leverage to disarm them and quickly end the fight.

The Kingfisher Circles the Pond

This form is a combination of parry and movement; the parry is at shoulder height or higher, typically to counter an overhand blow or beheading strike. The movement is either a retreat to the side or an advance into your opponent.

The Sapling Trembles

This form is a basic downward strike at your opponent's wrist. Best used when your opponent has overextended a thrust or swing. A good follow-up would be the #Arc of the Moon.

Submitted by: Kubotai Sobatsu

The Storm on the Mountain

This is a very quick maneuver, beginning with a pivot and strike at the opponent's wrist. The most advantageous use of this would be after a feint. After the wrist strike comes a chest thrust to finish the job. This is very useful against daggers and/or one-handed swords, as it is an effective disarming maneuver.

Watered Silk

The blade is brought up horizontally over the head, with the point forward, with the intent to diffuse momentum of the opponent's strike. This is often followed by a thrust to the opponent's face, and works well to counter #The Falling Leaf.

Willow Embracing the Breeze

This form is a combination of movement and strike, and can be used to increase or decrease distance from the opponent. It is a vertical parry with the blade pointed straight up, and a simultaneous movement either into the opponent's inner guard, or backwards to maintain space.

Submitted by: Kubotai Sobatsu


Arc of the Moon

This form begins at mid-body, arcs to the neck, and returns to guard stance. Its purpose remains to behead or severely wound the throat, making short work of your opponent.

Black Pebbles on Snow

This form is a combination of parry and strike. The first portion of the form is to deflect the opponent's blade with a parry, then down-cut to the opponent's ribs with sudden force. The point of attack is to work yourself inside your opponent's guard with the deflection, giving you precise opportunity to strike.

The Boar Rushes Down the Mountain

This is a standard among swordsmen of all skills, and is the basis for some more powerful forms. It begins as a powerful diagonal slash which starts behind the right shoulder, and then curves into a horizontal slash. It is common to deceive enemies with it because of its nature of altering course mid-swing.

The Boar Rushes Downhill

This form is similar to #The Boar Rushes Down the Mountain, but is simpler as well. It remains a powerful diagonal slash from behind the shoulder and down into the 'center' of the opponent, never changing course. It is a good counter for #The Cat Dances on the Wall.

Bundling Straw

This combination strike has come to be quite useful against opponents using the quarterstaff. It begins with a series of quick chest-level thrusts, following by a downward arc to the side, then a return arc upwards to center, before returning to guard stance.

Courtier Taps his Fan

This blow is a simple but powerful overhand blow, best used from a high guard stance. It is meant to be quick and split the head.

Cutting the Clouds

This strike is a short horizontal chop, best served when inside your opponent's guard and delivered with significant power.

Submitted by: Kubotai Sobatsu

Cutting the Wind

This form is slightly complex, and is primarily situational, as it requires some surprise in execution. The form begins with a sidestep and twist of the wrists, delivering a sharp and quick thrust to the opponent's open midsection. This is best used against a charging opponent, as the movement and strike serves to quickly end the engagement.

The Dandelion in the Wind

This form requires some finesse, and is considered an advanced form because of it. The blade slashes at upper torso or neck in a sinuous horizontal line, intended to weave around an intercepting blade.

Submitted by: Kubotai Sobatsu

The Dove Takes Flight

This form begins in a low guard. The knees are bent to approximately ninety degrees, and the sword is held at the hip. The blade is thrust upwards into the chest, against the opponent's attack. It is a gamble of an attack, but one the opponent may not be expecting.

The Eel Among the Lily Pads

This is a simple figure-eight strike, small and aimed for the opponent's thighs or legs. This is used not to kill, but to reduce your opponent's mobility.

The Falcon Stoops

This is a more conservative version of #The Kingfisher Takes a Silverback. It is a quicker, shorter overhand thrust before returning to guard stance.

The Heron Spreads its Wings

Most swordsmen frequently call this the 'operational' version of #The Heron Wading in the Rushes. Instead of suspending one's self on the balls of the feet, a firmer stance is planted. The blade is held at shoulder height, and brought around in a tight cut, roughly a quarter-circle, while pivoting on one foot.

The Hummingbird Kisses the Honeyrose

This form is a bold strike used in high guard. It is no more than a quick face thrust from shoulder height, and is a useful deterrent in the least. Against the charge, it is more often a killing blow than not.

The Kingfisher Takes a Silverback

This form has multiple uses, making it one of the most dangerous forms in a Blademaster's repertoire. The sword begins at shoulder height or higher, and strikes down in a stab toward the abdomen. The attack can be begun lower - chest or mid-torso height - and stab at the legs or groin. This maneuver can also be used effectively to parry an attack.

Kissing the Adder

This form is intended to finish an opponent who is overwhelmed and leaving themselves open. It is a series of quick thrusts to the torso, aimed more specifically at the heart.

The Leopard's Caress

This form is begun from low guard, and is a quick and sudden slash at the opponent's thighs or hamstrings, intended to immobilize or severely hamper the opponent.

Lightning of Three Prongs

This combination strike is considered best performed from the stance #The Lion on the Hill. It is a multiple-use form, as it begins with a thrust and can continue as a second and third thrust, or dual slashes to either side.

The Lightning Strikes the Oak

This is an intricate form that begins in defense, and then moves to use the opponent's movement against them. The form begins with a horizontal cross-parry, followed by a quick step-around while keeping the blade engaged with the opponent's blade - not quite binding the two blades, but keeping contact. While doing this, leverage can be applied to bring the point along the opponent's neck in a shallow cut. While engaging in this step-around, the swordsman extends their leg to trip the opponent. If the opponent falls, the form is completed by a downward stab - typically a fatal one.

The Lion Springs

A form best used from the guard stance the Lion on the Hill, it is comprised of a simultaneous outward thrust and upward slash. It can be used in either variation of the stance, and is a good opening move.

Submitted by: Kubotai Sobatsu

Lizard in the Thornbush

This form is used against multiple opponents, typically spaced at a significant angle or in front of and behind the swordsman. The form is composed of dual strikes; the first is a strong chest thrust to the first opponent, then a pivoting kneel combined with a thrust or slash at the second opponent. This second strike is typically a thrust, though it is always dependant on the circumstances.

Low Wind Rising

This form is a strong, often used form that is simple to learn but takes years to master so far as precision of application. It is a diagonal slash that begins low and ends high, typically from the swordsman's strong side. This form is well used following #The Grapevine Twines or the #Lightning of Three Prongs to return one to guard stance.

The Mongoose Strikes the Serpent

This form is used best when the blade tip is bound below low guard. The attack comes to the opponent's neck with the crossguard of the sword, brought up with the full power of the hand as if you were striking the opponent with your fist. It is a good reminder that the blade is not the only part of a sword in combat.

Submitted by: Kubotai Sobatsu

The Moon On the Water

The form is more of a defensive strike than an offensive one, and executed best from #The Ox Lowers His Horns or other high guard. It is a simple downward chest thrust, intended to force your opponent into retreat lest your blade skewer them.

The Moon Rises Over the Lakes

This form begins with a short horizontal slash, then commits to a vertical arc that, at its highest point, is aimed at the opponent's throat. In this form, the blade should begin and end at chest level.

The Moon Rises Over the Water

This form is identical to #The Moon Rises Over the Lakes, but instead begins and ends at waist level. Again, it is a short horizontal slash, followed by a vertical arc that reaches the opponent's throat at its highest point.

Parting the Silk

This form is another mainstay of battle. It is a precise abdominal slash, good for drawing first blood in combat.

Plucking the Low-Hanging Apple

This strike is sudden and aimed at the neck of the opponent, requiring patience to use at the right point in the engagement. This can be quickly followed up by #The Leopard's Caress.

Rain in High Wind

This form is an exercise in stamina, requiring quick wrists to maximize its effectiveness. It is an indeterminate number of quick and powerful side strikes, intended to wear down the opponent thoroughly and quickly.

Submitted by: Kubotai Sobatsu

Reaping the Barley

This form is another simplified strike, again relying on speed and strength. It is a begins with the sword out to the side, held horizontally, and brought into your opponent's midsection quickly. The movement is done by both the torso and the arms; the primary power for the strike is in the twist of the waist, but the arms propel the blade abruptly at the last moment before impact, with the intent to end the strike deep beneath the opponent's ribcage.

The Red Hawk Takes a Dove

A lighter attack than #River of Light, this form is a similar cut at the opponent's arm, but with the intent of causing damage to the flesh and weakening the opponent over time instead of taking the arm outright.

Ribbon in the Air

Another form utilizing a horizontal slash, this strike is accompanied by the blade moving up or down at the end of your strike. This form is also used in unison with an advance, bring the fight closer in to your opponent. The slash should not go above chest height.

River of Light

This form is best used last in series begun with #The Wood Grouse Dances followed by #The Red Hawk Takes a Dove. The sword is brought down in a powerful vertical swing with full intent to take off the opponent's arm.

The River Undercuts the Bank

This is another mainstay in the swordsman's knowledge, and has been the end of many a sword engagement. It can be accomplished by bringing about a fast and decisive horizontal slash, from either a kneeling or standing position. It is typically used to disembowel or behead the opponent.

The Rose Unfolds

This form is somewhat unique, but met to carve through an opponent's defense. The blade begins in middle or high guard, and thrust high at the opponent's torso. During this thrust, the blade is rotated through a very tight arc downwards, appearing as if you are trying to carve a hole into the opponent. The form is completed by returning to guard stance before moving into the next form.

Submitted by: Kubotai Sobatsu

The Serpent Strikes

This is less a 'form' than a dedicated strike. It is quite simply a sword throw; one hand placed at the crossguard, and another hand on the blade, near the point. The 'back' hand at crossguard provides the force as the sword is thrown. It is generally accurate from six to nine feet in distance.

Submitted by: Sigmund von Danzig

Soft Rain at Sunset

This form uses the art of half-swording to great potential, but if used faultily can leave the body open to a lethal strike. The first intent is to strike the opponent's face with your fist gripping the blade, but impacting the face with the hand. With the impact of the fist is the drawing cut of the blade's point against the opponent's face, which will at least scar the enemy and at best give a good chance of blinding.

Stones Falling Down the Mountain

This form is similar to #The Boar Rushes Down the Mountain. It begins at shoulder height, though differing from #The Boar Rushes Down the Mountain, the blade remains in line with the shoulder, and not behind it. The blade is brought down in multiple, powerful strikes to beat back the opponent's defenses.

Stones Falling from the Cliff

Similar to #Stones Falling Down the Mountain, it is a single overhand slash from shoulder height. This form can come down at a diagonal or straight vertical slash. Some consider this an advanced form of #The Boar Rushes Down the Mountain.

The Stone Falls from the Mountain

This form is another advanced form, and requires a great deal of grace. It is begun by an inward sidestep against a charging opponent. The body twists as the opponent charges past, and the sword is brought down in a slash on the opponent's backside.

Striking the Spark

Another exercise of stamina and quick wrists, this is a vertical attack much like Rain in High Wind. It is a series of multiple, powerful overhand blows. This works well against the return swing of #Low Wind Rising, or #The Heron Spreads its Wings.

The Swallow Takes Flight

An effective combination strike, this form begins with a diagonal slash towards the opponent, followed by a short thrust. The initial slash is not as much an offensive strike but a defensive one, as it serves as a guard to position the thrust.

The Thistledown Floats on the Whirlwind

This form is a jumping attack, one that is best used with surprise as an opening attack. The blade is held chest high, and close to the body as the swordsman makes a leaping spin to behead the opponent. The sword does not move more than a foot from its place against the body, instead using the body's momentum through the spin to apply the force.

Threading the Needle

This is a simple and fast strike, a very quick thrust at the shoulder or chest. It can be used in succession to keep the opponent on guard and buy time.

The Tower of Morning

Another of the standard moves for a swordsman to build their skill upon, it is a simple vertical slash from low to high. This form is best combined with #The Boar Rushes Down the Mountain or #The Courtier Taps his Fan.

Twisting the Wind

A form for multiple opponents, #Twisting the Wind utilizes slashes and short thrusts during a quick and continual rotation of the body to counter or attack opponents on all sides.

Two Hares Leaping

This form is a charging attack, consisting of two vertical slashes that arc in a windmill fashion. The form typically begins on low left and arcs to high right, then coming back to low right to high left, in essence forming a figure eight. This fares well against #Striking the Spark.

Water Flows Downhill

This form is considered an 'expert' version of #The Boar Rushes Down the Mountain. Its primary purpose is to evade the opponent's weapon and strike the easiest target. The blade begins high, in line with the shoulder, and comes down in a vertical slash that changes direction mid-stroke.

The Whirlwind on the Mountain

This is a ground-level form of #The Thisteldown Floats on the Whirlwind. Again, blade is held chest high and close to body, as the body is the force behind the blade. The swordsman turns in place, not moving the blade with the arms more than two feet away from the body. It is typically used to behead, but can be used to ward off multiple attackers. Care should be used, as this attack can leave the swordsman open to retaliation while recovering from the spin.

Wind and Rain

This is another combination form that requires quick wrists. It begins with a diagonal slash from low to high, then a number of short thrusts and/or overhand blows.

The Wind Blows Over the Wall

This form is a good form of feint before the strike. The blade is brought up in a half-circle towards the opponent. At the top of the arc, the blade is turned to the side and brought into a powerful horizontal slash.

Submitted by: Ash Falcon

The Wolf Lunges

This form is intended for close quarters; it is a combination strike. The first move is a pommel strike from waist or abdominal level, preferably used to double over the opponent. The follow-up is an overhand strike with the blade. Both movements should be completed in very rapid succession.

Submitted by: Kubotai Sobatsu

The Wood Grouse Dances

This combination of feinting, tentative short slashes thrusts and parries requires a good set of quick wrists, and is best used while remaining stationary. It is a good early-engagement form for feeling out the enemy for any weaknesses that might present themselves early.