How Much Does Participant Skill Affect Overall Behavior

First of all, keyword: Overall Behavior. If you thought that this was going to be an article where Sean spins his fancy book learnings to tell you that beginners fight differently than advanced fighters, you will be pleased (disappointed?) to know that this is not what this article is about.

In my previous article, How Much Does Initial Point Value Discourage Safe Attacks?, I addressed the question: does having a high value target with a low deduction afterblow lead to people attacking it unsafely?

The result was clear: no it does not. The 4 point shot (as you will see) had the lowest rate of afterblows. The data used also shows that other factors, such as ease of defending/throwing afterblows against different targets, appear to be more important.

After I published one of the questions raised was how much participant skill would affect this; which made me curious. In this case I’m fortunate. The tournament data sets I have access to always have multiple longsword tournaments running at an event. So we have the ability to do a rough sort on the basis of skill.

I separated the tournaments into two groups:

  • Higher Skill Tier – Fairly simple to understand.
  • Lower Skill Tier – Occasionally there were 3 skill divisions, meaning I had to decide where to put the middle one. I mostly followed my gut, and they could conceivably go either way.
  • Women’s Group – Because there are less women there is only ever one women’s tournament. As it has to bridge the gap between all skills, it can’t be classified as either one. So it gets broken out all on it’s own.

Afterblows and Target Points

After separating the values based on the tournament type, we see that (drum roll)….

There is essentially no difference:

Though it is significantly more colorful this time

This result honestly didn’t surprise me a whole bunch, but it’s always good to run the numbers to check that our gut feeling lines up with reality.

Afterblows and Opening Height

Similarly, we don’t get much of a surprise when looking at the same opening height graph I presented in the previous article.

 

Would it have been more exciting if I used different colors for the second one?

The only thing that is interesting is that the lower openings appear considerably safer for women than for anyone else. However the pool of women fighters is very small and homogeneous from event to event, leading to only a few women who are very adept at throwing lower openings shots to significantly skew the average.

Conclusion

Well, we didn’t really learn anything exciting here. But sometimes no news is news in and of itself. We can clearly see that the overall patterns of afterblows don’t change a whole lot based on the skill/experience of the participants.

Remember that this is not to say that they are fighting the same way. I have watched these tournaments and can verify the difference between the more and less skilled fighters. If anything it is stronger reinforcement that the target area of the initial strike is very important to the safety from an afterblow.

Full Data

For those of you that care. 😉

Higher Skill Tier

Target Points Afterblow % Afterblows Clean Total
1 10.3 109 948 1057
2 15.9 88 466 554
3 16.8 121 598 719
4 5.6 52 882 934

Lower Skill Tier

Target Points Afterblow % Afterblows Clean Total
1 10.7 98 820 918
2 14.2 46 277 323
3 21.7 117 421 538
4 5.7 40 661 701

Women’s Group

Target Points Afterblow % Afterblows Clean Total
1 10.2 31 273 304
2 10.6 18 152 170
3 14.4 27 160 187
4 5.6 16 268 284

Events Used

Higher Skill Tier Tournaments
Longsword – Advanced Steel Combat Con 2016
Longsword – Steel Combat Con 2015
Longsword – Steel Rose City Classic 2016
Longsword – Advanced Steel PNW HEMA Gathering 2015
Longsword – Invitational SoCal Swordfight 2015
Longsword – Open Steel SoCal Swordfight 2015
Longsword – Advanced Steel SoCal Swordfight 2017
Longsword – Open Steel SoCal Swordfight 2017
Longsword – Advanced Steel Combat Con 2017
Longsword – Steel PNW HEMA Gathering 2014
Longsword – Invitational Steel Rose City Classic 2017
Longsword – Advanced Steel SoCal Swordfight 2018
Longsword – Open Steel SoCal Swordfight 2018
Lower Skill Tier Tournaments
Longsword – Beginners Synthetic Combat Con 2016
Longsword – Synthetic Combat Con 2015
Longsword – Synthetic Rose City Classic 2016
Longsword – Beginners Synthetic PNW HEMA Gathering 2015
Longsword – Open Synthetic SoCal Swordfight 2015
Longsword – Beginners Synthetic SoCal Swordfight 2015
Longsword – Open Synthetic SoCal Swordfight 2017
Longsword – Beginners Synthetic Combat Con 2017
Longsword – Synthetic PNW HEMA Gathering 2014
Longsword – Intermediate Open Steel Rose City Classic 2017
Longsword – Beginners Open Synthetic Rose City Classic 2017
Longsword – Open Synthetic SoCal Swordfight 2018
Women’s Tournaments
Longsword – Women’s Steel Combat Con 2016
Longsword – Women’s Combat Con 2015
Longsword – Women’s Rose City Classic 2016
Longsword – Women’s PNW HEMA Gathering 2015
Longsword – Women’s SoCal Swordfight 2015
Longsword – Women’s SoCal Swordfight 2017
Longsword – Women’s Combat Con 2017
Longsword – Women’s PNW HEMA Gathering 2014
Longsword – Intermediate Women’s Steel Rose City Classic 2017

If you are nerdy enough to want to pore through this kind of thing, drop me a line! I’m always looking for analytically minded people to collaborate with, and expand the size of data sets the community has access to.

About Sean Franklin 26 Articles
Sean has a Bachelor's Degree in Mechatronic Systems Engineering, and is currently employed as a Controls Engineer. He is passionate about developing more analytical ways to view sword fighting, wishing to develop evidence based standards for protective gear and rule sets informed by tournament statistics. His martial arts history includes competitive success, medaling in international competitions for Longsword, Messer, Grappling, and Cutting. In addition to competition Sean has been invited to instruct at a number of events across North America.