ACL Melee Positions: The Guard

Friday fight breakdown is delayed as I’m still working on the video. Had some soft and hardware problems but seems like it’s working now. Hopefully that’ll come out next week. In the meantime this is part of a blog series I started for the The Knights Hall. With the Knights hall blog still on hiatus I figured it would make a good stop gap and keep me honest about my posting schedule. This will be reposted there with an edited and cleaned up version when we can get that effort moving again. Too many balls in the air right now sadly. Anyway, if you want to catch up on the intro to the series(and you probably do) it’s right here

Part 2, The Center can be found at that link.

Find Part 3- The Flanker at this link

In this episode of Ringo Talks Like He’s an Expert About Stuff, I’ll be giving my thoughts on the Guard position in Melee Armored Combat. Full Disclosure I’ve never played this position so my explanation is from an outside observer. Alot of this is supposition. However I like to think my analysis is pretty good and considering there is basically nothing written on it, even if I’m only half right that’s more than what you had previously documented. So without further wasting words


The Guard is the most versatile position on field and at times the most demaning. A good guard needs to be able to step up into a Center’s role and become the anchor that the team fights around. They also need to be able to catch flankers in the back field or even make their own flanking runs. In addition the Guard will be responsible for dealing out punishing hits, using strikes to make openings, throw any opponent that gets in a grapple, while keeping control of the center of the field. They need to prevent openings from appearing in their line, protecting both Center and Flankers, while being ready to catch the opponents  openings that appear and take advantage of it. Basically a Guard should be able to do everything at any moment. In skill terms it is the most demanding, when trying to live up to the archetype.


However Guard is also where almost everyone gets dumped first if they don’t come in the sport with a specific physical trait, Big or Fast. If you are Fast you start as a Flanker. If you’re big you start as a Center. Otherwise we start almost everyone at Guard. Because while a Guard requires the most skill to master, it’s the easiest to just get by in. If the Center fails the line is open and can be rolled easily. If the flankers fail it means you’ve lost movement and you’re about to be run over from behind. If a Guard fails, well usually all it means is you’ve lost a guy.


Positionally the guard is least important. In a traditional line of the rail in the middle guard falls, the other guard and either shift over to fill the space, crush whoever came through into the rail or Center, or leave an meet up with the Flankers. If the far Guard falls, the line is smaller but the leftover Guard and Center can still work together.  If you switch up to 10’s or 16’s the same basically holds true. Any individual Guards position isn’t particularly important as long as the line holds.


And Holding the line is basically the Guards Primary job. Flankers don’t have to be particularly disciplined as their job is essentially go create chaos in the opponent’s line. It’s up to them to find opportunities and take them when they occur. A Center needs to hold a spot but there usually isn’t anything tempting to leave that spot, besides people pushing against them. Guards however need that discipline to hold not just a spot, but an area.


When the line moves the Guard needs to maintain positional play with the Guard to the left and right. They will need to sometimes separate by more than a yard or move in to the point they are actually touching their teammates. It’s absolutely crucial Guards know not just the overall plan but what commands are given and how to move with them.


The oft repeated quote, “No plan survives contact with the enemy” does mean that line play is not everything though. While maintaining good field position up to first contact can give you a huge advantage, once the crash occurs, lines fall apart. Initial contact will occur with alot of chaos. When this happens if everything works as planned a Guard will be able to finish their opponent quickly either because they are free to help 2 on 1 someone or because someone helped them in a 2 on 1. Then the chaos comes. Find a partner, work with them, and remember your job is to be a finisher. Your center and flankers are setting stuff up for you, you need to take advantage. You will also need to set things up for other guards and occasionally the center or Flanker too, but before you look to set someone up see if there’s a easy takedown you can find. If not the next highest priortiy is protecting your buddy. The center will probably be mobbed, peel some dudes off him so he can work. Has your flanker gotten stuck somewhere? Go free him up cause he’s useless when he’s not moving. Find your teammates and make plays as a unit. I know that’s kinda vagues so lets walk through a battle real quick with some examples.


When lines start to engage there are few things that happen. Polearms try to get a few quick hits in from distance. Hot Shots will try to tempt each other or make a sneaky run. And then finally a surge will go and the fight is now really on. Guards may have poles and if they do they should be working closely with a shield man to get in, land a shot and leave without getting hit. It’s rare this will drop someone, even with the giant 7 foot poles. But it will cause lines to jump before they are ready.  Guards need to be ready to catch that jump(or give it.)


After the hit you will hopefully dropped your guy, but chances are not great. Most fighters are ready head to head collusion. So now you’re probably wrapped up and that’s not good. Rule Number 1 of Grappling, Don’t. If you are controlling the grapple, try a quick throw, if it doesn’t work disengage and find something better to do. If not Get your ass to rail and look for a way to free yourself.  Kick the leg or hip of the guy(s) on the Center if the has given you nothing. If you see thigh or can do damage with a two handed axe start chopping. Give yourself 2-3 count max because someone will be coming. Since you will be working with a friend you won’t have to keep your head on a constant swivel like a flanker but you can’t get tunnel vision either.


Hopefully you drop this guy with your center or at least get him into a good position; if he is holding 2 guys and is stable it’s time to leave. Look for friend, whether Guard, flanker, or Center, find a rail, and start moving towards the enemy. Note, you may have to go across the open field to get to the enemy. If so do it on run. Do not spend time in the open field. That is not where you belong. If the rail is free the fast guy goes to the inside, so that the other can block him an open lane to move around and get a 2 one 1 from behind. If the rail has people but the bigger man there and walk into destroy. If you’re the inside man grab dude, turn your ass to rail and bend that fucker over. If you’re the outside man when dude is bent time to destroy whatever gaps that fool left open.


Hopefully that will put you up but incase it turns into your fighting against bigger numbers, form up as a unit near the bodies of fallen fighters. Field becomes your advantage. Put bodies between you. Make them walk through hazard and when they are, you hit them hard and drive over the terrain. And if you’re lucky you can pull out the victory,


This has run alittle long so I’ll close with some key skills for Guards in my opnion.


Key Skill number 1: Catching a charge. Whether a single fighter whose balls are bigger than brains or a full line charge your job will be to receive hundreds of pounds of steel and flesh moving fast into you. You need to have the timing to make sure you’re hitting them right at impact. You also have to know how to position yourself. If you can lower your weight and explode upward and forward that will do great. See video. Any form of clothesline will also work if you get the proper force high enough and let their low body continue on, they will over balance and fall. Either way, look into Riot Police Techniques, FootBall practice, or Rugby drills, because all of them will show you how to catch an incoming hit.


Key Skill Number 2: Keep your feet in a grapple. The default option in this sport is grab a guy. If it’s a fighter with a clue it’s grab and throw but half the time it’s grab and fall, pulling the guy with them. You do your team no help on the ground, so make sure you can keep your feet with people hanging on you. There are three things you need to pull this off. A good base with the ability to squat out of any downward or side pressure. Squat deep and brace yourself on your knees. Also, know where the rail is at all time and be able to get to it and use it as support. You can lose one foot, sometimes both if you are good at the rail game. Learn it and love it. Ass to Rail should be your mantra. Lastly and the hardest is being able to deweight yourself as someone moves you for a throw and recenter. If you they remove your left leg, quickly switch all your wieght to the right. If they move your center of balance over a hip or leg, quickly pull your weight off your feet and move them under the new position. Being able to mix a strong low base, rail work, and quick shifting of weight will allow you survive most grapples.


Key Skill Number 3:Damaging weapons work. Too many people don’t get their weapons on point. Takedowns are great. Knocking someone on their ass is great. However good athletes are able to handle most approaches for that. You know what even good athletes have trouble with? A few pounds of steel being driven hard into a gap. Far too often there will be a man held and strechted open and instead of just destroying his thighs, shoulders, or inside arms, people try to grapple him down or throw shots to the head. Learn your weapon. Learn your targets. And make people who leave themselves exposed pay for it. The vast majority of people quit much quicker than you’d expect.


Alright Guards. Hope that helps somewhat and if not tell me where I fucked up so I can write a better version. Till then


See you in the Lists.




4 thoughts on “ACL Melee Positions: The Guard

  1. Pingback: ACL Positions: The Center | Life As A Swordsman

  2. Pingback: ACL Positions: The Flanker | Life As A Swordsman

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