Small Beginner’s Tip: How to Block or Parry a Sword Thrust (LARP & HEMA)

It’s my goal to get so clear an understanding of life in the Middle Ages that one might wonder if I actually traveled back in time. Everyday there are questions I try to answer.

One question on my mind was “how to block a sword thrust?”

To get an understanding of swordplay I’ve been taking HEMA lessons at Blood and Iron Martial Arts and sparring with foam LARP swords in my backyard. I’m still a timid noob, but recently I’ve come to a conclusion of how to parry a thrust, which I’ve turned into a rule: NEVER PARRY UPWARD OR DOWNWARD! Let me explain why.

One of my roommates has developed a very sneaky style of thrusting when I least expect it, and upon him thrusting toward my chest I tried to parry upward and ended up pushing his blade up into my own face! Because we humans stand on two legs, we are vertical, and because we are vertical you can imagine why parrying leftward or rightward is a better idea against thrusts. Parrying from side to side (horizontally) assures that your opponent’s blade will be directed away from your person, if you’re able to see the thrust coming and act quickly enough.

Let’s remember the golden rule for blocking thrusts one more time: Because we stand vertically, PARRY SIDE TO SIDE!

There are of course always a few exceptions, one of them being a binding parry in the ox guard, which is technically parrying upward, enabling you to thrust and defend at the same time. We’ll get more into that another day. There’s more awesome medieval information coming soon!



  1. Makes sense once you think about it. 🙂 Just like you wouldn’t dodge a punch to the face by jumping over the blow! What do you think about your HEMA lessons so far, by the way?


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