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69 Training 2

    Jareth took a firm stance, arched his knees a little bit low, back erect and his head steady. He maintained that posture for a minute, allowing Astrid take it all in, before standing straight again.

    "Now you try," he watched as Astrid tried mimicking him but failed once more.

    Jareth sighed, shook his before continuing, "Stand with your feet shoulder width apart, then turn so that one foot preferably your right, is facing forward, with the other between 45 to 90 degrees off."

    She assumed the posture according to his instructions, but her back still lacked something.

    "Your back should be erect, with your weight balanced between your feet, and your body dropped slightly so that when you advance or retreat your head should remain steady and not bob up and down as you move."

    Trying again, she got it almost right this time. He slightly nodded and walked up to her, he held her shoulder with one hand, the other hand on her belly and helped her straighten her back.

    "For a beginner, you sure learn fast. Good. Now again," he took three steps backward, giving her space to try again. She did this for some minutes more and got it right most of the time.

    After some minutes of making her strike forward, he stopped her then turned around.

    "Why did we stop all of a sudden?"

    "Perhaps I should first lecture you on something," he walked round her in a circle, watching her.

    "Okay, then what is it?"

    "Things to learn about swordsmanship. Four important things one should take note of, timing, distance, perception, technique."

    He came to a stop in front of her, hands held together at his back, he looked like a master teaching his student. Well, technically, that was the situation right now.

    "Timing is everything in a fight, the right time to attack, defend, being too fast or too slow, everything should be rightly timed."

    "Okay, the next... " Jareth glared at her and she quickly shut her mouth, displaying a small smile across her lips.

    "Sometimes you want a quick little movement to take control of a situation, and other times you want a bigger motion that will result in a kill. It's choices, and when you understand timing, you can decide very quickly how much time you have in a window and how much time your movement buys you to put your next action into motion. Fights are often decided very quickly, even with evenly matched opponents."

    "Timing is everything, I got that."

    "I would be grouping distance with perception here, because while one is about maintaining a safe distance, the other is in, correctly perceiving it. By perception, then, I'm talking about taking into account that your opponent size, weapon or sword as in this case," he lifted his index finger and pointed at her sword.

    "Distance on its own, is maintained by footwork. Footwork is basically how you move. Forward and back, in a line, in a semi-circle, a pivot" he demonstrated causing various movements with his feet.

    "The basic goal of footwork is to give you a balanced center from which you can lunge, advance, retreat, attack, parry or whatever you are trying to do. And you use perception to select the right footwork, because you know your own abilities, and have assessed your opponent at least marginally, so you can identify how close you need to be to hit him, and how quickly you can retreat if he surprises you with a lunge."

    He paused for a minutes, watching her process the information. She needed to know these major basic things, if she intended to learn swordsmanship.

    "The other goal of footwork, is to not give your opponent an opportunity to react. Footwork is such a huge lesson on its own, but it's a super important thing to learn so you don't trip yourself, get off balance, or lose your perception and distance. Got it?"

    "Yes."

    "Good, cause now, we fight. You attack, I defend, watch closely. Attack!"

    "Wait, what about the fourth one? Clearly you haven't forgotten now, have you?"

    "No, it is technique. Worry about surviving attacks and defending yourself first, then we would advance to that. For now, attack with all you've got."

    Astrid lunged for him, raising her sword and striking it down towards his head. Easily Jareth held his sword above his head and blocked the attack.

    Using this opportunity he propelled his hand forward and pushed against her, already losing her balance she fell with her butt on the ground.

    "What did I tell you! The perfect stance and be prepared. Timing, perception, distance. If it was a real fight, I have the upper hand. Again!"

    Astrid charged for him again, but he easily knocked her down. Sometimes he flung her sword out of her hand and had his by her throat or a vital part.

    Minutes turned into hours, but by the time it was noon, she had greatly improved and could withstand a few strikes before he won.

    She became better with attacking and defend against his attack. One time, she kept attacking and he kept retreating, till she got close and he ducked her next attack and tackled her to the ground.

    "Oww!" That was the fiftieth time she had said that, anytime she fell, 'ow' or 'ouch' he was getting tired of hearing it.

    "Get up," his voice held no form of emotion, just plain.
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