This Sword Points video addresses the 3 distances of swordfighting:
- Fighting Distance,
- On Guard Distance
- Trash Talk Distance.
If swords are out and you are close enough to hit your assailant, you are in Fighting Distance, and if you are not engaged in swordplay, there had better be a really compelling theatrical reason why you are not swinging steel.
If each combatant takes a step back, this is On Guard Distance. It’s called On Guard Distance because if you are this close to an assailant and swords are out, then you better be “on your guard” – prepared to defend, because you are one quick lunge away from being hit.
If the swordsmen take one more step back, this is Trash Talk Distance. At this distance, the characters can have swords out and insult each other to their heart’s content. They are too far to need to be in a “ready” on guard position, and the physicality can be loose and flamboyant. A mistake made in many theater productions when adversaries, with swords out, are blocked to be in each other’s face during pre-fight dialog. Once swords are out, the 3 distances of swordfighting come into play. Keeping the action consistent with the logic of the 3 distances gives your sword choreography verisimilitude and allows it appear more realistic to your audiences.