In this case, I am referring to the “big” wraps, not those techniques that are essentially a regular forehand blow, during which the hand turns over (snap-wrap).
The power for wraps is generated by reducing the radius of rotation of the sword by changing the position of the center of rotation.
When the sword is swinging at the end of an arm, and that arm stops, the blade will pivot around the hand at the end of the arm (the turning point). When this happens:
- The center of rotation moves from the center of your rotating body to your hand.
- The radius of rotation is reduced from the distance between the center of your body and the balance point of the sword (which is being held at the end of your partially-extended arm) to the distance between your hand and the balance point of the sword.
- The result is that the sword speeds up, a lot, as it “goes around the corner”.
Unless you have very fast foot speed, just stepping into the wrap will take too much time, and give your opponent too much warning. I prefer to use another technique to close the distance, and use the wrap as the second blow. In the videos, I have used an offside blow as the lead-in technique. This blow does not have to be powerful, just quick, to cover the slide step with your shield foot being used to close the distance. This could just as well have been a right cross (snap towards the opposite shoulder).
I used the offside for the example, because performing an overhead return puts your arm is a perfect position to do a wrap, as you start to step into the wrap with your sword foot.
To throw the wrap
Perform the lead-in technique, then:
- Start the step with your sword foot as you do the overhead return.
- The step with your sword foot should be towards the turning point (where the sword will swing around your hand).
- The distance between the turning point and the target should be the distance between your hilt and the “sweet spot” of your sword.
- As you take the step into the wrapping position with your sword foot:
- Delay shifting your weight
- Have your sword shoulder and hip lag behind. When you do this while stepping forward, you are “winding” your torso like a spring.
- Simultaneously, shift your weight towards your sword foot, and twist your sword hip and shoulder forward – both towards the turning point.
- As you do this, don’t unlock your shoulder, or extend your arm, but move the sword elbow slightly in, as your body turns.
- Allow the blade to swing around towards the turning point – like a snap with the arm partially extended.
- Since you are moving everything in a circular motion from sword-side towards shield-side, while shifting your weight towards the turning point, the motion of your hand is easily stopped, without pulling back.
- Allow your arm to extend – not fully – as the blade approaches the turning point.
- As the blade swings around the turning point, push towards the turning point with the heel of your hand to keep your hand from moving in towards your opponent.
- The plane in which the wrap occurs is basically defined by the line through your shoulders. To throw a low wrap, lean towards your sword side as you throw. To throw a high wrap, lean towards your shield side as you throw.
- The arm never fully extends.
- The arm remains “locked” at the shoulder.
- Everything should arrive at the turning point at the same time - your weight, your shoulder, and the sword.
Potentially injurious problems arise when we consider how the hand is stopped.
- The arm fully extends
If the arm is fully extended, and the hand is stopped because of this, considerable stress, in the form of a sharp outward pull, is placed on the elbow and shoulder.
- The arm is pulled back sharply
The same thing happens when the hand is stopped by the sword hip and shoulder being pulled sharply back, causing the arm to fully extend.
- The elbow rises above the plane of the shoulders
In addition, for the higher wraps, the elbow is often above the plane of the shoulders, and this causes the shoulder to be “unlocked” when the stress is applied, so that the shoulder is not in an optimal position to withstand the stress.
Please note that very powerful, fast wraps can be thrown while doing all of these things. However, the shoulder and elbow will suffer incremental injury, eventually to the point of disability.
The technique cannot be used for wraps thrown with your sword hand close to the front of your face. These require pulling back with the sword hip, shoulder and elbow. While these techniques are effective, it is my opinion that the poor body mechanics involved will eventually cause injury to the person using them.
To avoid this problem:
- Never extend your arm fully when using these techniques.
- Don’t pull back sharply with your shoulder or hip, especially if it will fully extend your arm.
- Keep the elbow below the plane of your shoulders to keep the shoulder “locked”, even if it is necessary to tilt the plane of the shoulders to make this happen.
- Use the rotation of your body (shoulder), rather than your arm, to move the sword. Try to throw the wrap without unlocking your shoulder. You may not be able to do this, but the closer you come, the better off you will be.
- Shift your weight towards the point where the sword rotates around the hand, not towards the target. For best results, time it with the arrival of the blade at the turning point.
- Keep your hand from moving in towards your target from the point at which the blade turns.
- This not only reduces the force of the blow by increasing the radius of rotation, it causes stress on your elbow and shoulder because you are applying lateral force with an extended arm.
- To help keep your hand at the turning point, push forward with the heel of your hand as the blade crosses in front of your hand.