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I am pretty good with a singular weapon, but trying to do two at once often just ends up with doing one hand and then doing the other hand instead of actually doing two at the same time.

Are there any tricks other than tons of practice to help one get the mental/physical coordination for doing two things at once with different hands? I would think there is a way to help train the brain to get used to doing two things with different hands at the same time. I seem to be able to do one thing two to three times as fast easier than doing two things at the same time. Maybe some people are just more gifted at dual wielding than others, but I thought I would ask for any that are proficient at dual wielding.

Note: I juggle which I would think helps practice this, but it's not as the goal is the formation of juggling and not two completely different things. Hand/eye coordination and reflexes are a great benefit to juggling, but the mental split of doing two completely different things with each hand at the same time is a hurdle.

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It sounds like whatever style you're training, it doesn't have two-weapon forms as part of it? That would be the first thing to look at. If you're training without a form/teaching that includes two weapons, you're basically re-inventing the wheel and would do best by cross training in something that already has it.

Conceptually, you're not "doing two things at once" you're doing one thing, like how if you have a stance that involves stepping forward and striking - it's one movement, not two. You practice it until the compound movement is one thing, and in the same sense, the movements for two weapon styles are "one position" or "one movement" as far as the way you process it once you've ingrained it.

Filipino martial arts, silat styles, Kung fu with two dagger forms, all of these handle the issue quite well and solve the two first hurdles: not injuring yourself in the process and having functional attack/defense through your movements. After that, it becomes a lot of two person drills to get your range and timing down, and then from there actual live sparring. (Edited to add a youtube video of Heaven 6 broken down into clear steps.)

Alternatively, if your style has a long weapon + a parrying dagger or smaller shield, those also tend to develop similar skills, though the reach and use difference significantly changes how you go about it. (Larger shield mechanics around attack and defense work very differently and don't carry over as much).

It's also worth noting that a key skill that often gets overlooked in two weapon styles is fluid transition from unarmed to armed and back again - you might start with one weapon, begin a counter, draw a second weapon and attack in one motion, get your 1st hand locked, drop the weapon to escape the grip and counter grip while your 2nd hand makes another attack. The ability to switch up quickly in response to the need of the moment makes it harder for the opponent to adapt.

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  • I tried with sai, escrima, and kamas. The "doing one thing" didn't really help as I tend to only strike/parry with 1 at a time instead of flowing. I have heard people instruct that it's just like an extension of the body, but it doesn't click like that for me. Shield and weapon feels different and I don't seem to struggle the same in concept there. Usually two handed weapons or single weapon works for me. Your answer would indicate the "practice/practice/practice" and then it will click eventually and feel like a single thing instead of two separate things.
    – mutt
    Sep 4, 2017 at 17:11
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    Are you training in a style that has two weapon forms/movements? If not you are reinventing the wheel. It's not just practice - it's about correct practice. Once you gain basic fluency, the movements transfer quickly and easily to many other short weapons held in both hands as well as empty hand work.
    – Bankuei
    Sep 5, 2017 at 16:40
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    @mutt: As Bankuei said, the actual movements are already largely figured out, sequences that get you from one stance to another without tangling yourself up. I personally recommend the Escrima drills to start with because they're fairly versatile whether you're working with clubs, swords, or knives. Sep 5, 2017 at 17:15
  • I've just added a link to a video one of the basic drills of kali/escrima - you may want to watch that to get an idea of what we're talking about. You learn patterns like this early on, then you become able to switch between the patterns quickly and easily, and finally you become comfortable enough to where you are forced to break pattern completely, it's also natural because you've ingrained what positions are useful with two weapons.
    – Bankuei
    Sep 10, 2017 at 2:15
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Drills. There are innumerable videos out on you tube delineating basic drills in pretty much every two hand weapon out there.

For simplicity and utility, I would recommend focusing on double escrima. One, there are almost always sticks around. Two, you get instant feedback when you do it wrong. Three, it is popular enough that there are tons of videos on the strike drills, from one to eight count, single and partner.

Go slow. If you can't do it slow, you can't do it fast. You (presumably) didn't pick up a single weapon and start slinging it around like Wyatt Earp, so follow the same progression with a double.

Use a heavy bag. Actually hitting something also gives you valuable tactile feedback in how it shifts your weight, stops the weapon, and disrupts the flow.

So, to reiterate: Drills, do them slow until you get it, partner drills and heavy bag practice.

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From my experience dual-wielding swords, I would say the things you really need to get good at it are strength, cardio-vascular endurance, and coordination. To build your strength and endurance, I highly recommend getting a pair of Indian clubs and just trying out slowly some patterns of movement. For your clubs, don't go over 5 lbs; it's unnecessary to use over-heavy clubs since no one-handed sword is that heavy.

If you're mainly into swordsmanship, I half-recommend but would caution against getting too deep into things like kali or escrima. While their cutting pattern drills are helpful to build coordination and does work for sticks and knives/short blades, one issue I find with the stances they use is that it tends to not cover yourself well enough for sword-work and they mainly train striking and counter-cutting and not really focus on the subtle parrying, blade-engagement, and defensive moves need to protect yourself well against swords. That and the sticks will give you a false impression of how quickly you can move a sword around when dual-wielding since they are too light.

To get the coordination you need for sword-work, a trick I find to be really helpful is to not think about it as using both swords at the same time, but instead use one sword as a shield/blocking device by keeping it in front and the other sword in the back as a striking/attacking implement. If you're just starting off, then you can just use your non-dominant hand as the "blocker/parrying item/shield" and your dominant hand as the "attacker" and just focus on trying to block and defend well with your non-dominant weapon then attacking with your main hand. Once you get comfortable with that, mirror your stance and then try practicing using your dominant hand as the "blocker" and the non-dominant hand as the "attacker." Once you're good at that, practice quickly swapping your stance and footwork between your two sides and throwing a cut, attack or defense while doing the swap and you should have everything you need to be a good dual-wielder.

Finally, get a full body mirror so you can see yourself and your stance and what openings you create when attacking/defending with both weapons.

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Although I have been trained with one and two weapons both western and eastern,my opinion is that two presents a larger target,slower,unwieldy,-that is why both western and eastern masters both use only one.This may not be true for sticks,but for anything sharp.

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  • Thanks for the answer, do you have any references for the masters usage you are talking about or any comments on speed of 2 vs. 1?
    – mutt
    Sep 5, 2017 at 19:34
  • I was captain of my school fencing team and trained with the English national team in both foil and saber 55 years ago,although I am Thai(Siamese),so both my western and eastern masters are all dead. Sep 6, 2017 at 16:53
  • That makes sense, but the issue is that this site is trying for objective evidence and not just opinions. Opinions are often based on evidence, but the goal would be to articulate the evidence that would lead to the opinion stated. Would you be able to edit the post and list more of the basis for which your opinion is formed instead of just your opinion?
    – mutt
    Sep 7, 2017 at 14:20

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