Character Profile: The Knight

When we talk about the Knight character on the Warrior Masterclass, we aren't talking about Jedi Knights! No, we're talking about knights from the middle ages. A Medieval knight would have started his career between the ages of 7 and 10 years old, starting off as a page to another knight before making their way to a squire at the age of 14, and then hopefully graduating as a Knight at the age of 18. As a page they would have started to learn the art of fighting, mostly using wooden weapons, and then moving onto real weapons as a squire. It wasn't just being a good fighter that made you a knight though, becoming a knight was far more complicated, you needed to have aristocratic birth, money to pay for your weapons, horses and squires, and knowledge of the rules of chivalry. This meant that not only were knights well regarded in high society, they were also the fiercest Warriors to face on the battlefield.

Knight's were feared opponents on the battlefield, not only did they have the best training, their wealth and status also afforded them the best and most expensive armour. At the start of the middle-ages, this would have consisted of chain mail which would have covered most of their body, before evolving into plate metal armour. In battle, a Knight was most deadly whilst on horseback, but when fighting on the ground would usually use a heavy two-handed sword, which was double-edged and could be up to one metre in length. The knight would have to be fit enough to move around fast in his heavy armour whilst wielding his heavy sword, and they were also proficient using small daggers, and battle-axes. 

It's this duality which can make the knight a tough character to portray. Our students are required to look skilled and graceful, fully showing a knight's training, whilst also keeping in mind the heaviness of their armour and weapons, meaning that every move needs to be powerful and precise.

The most important aspect to remember when portraying the knight character is the stance. Even when weighed down with heavy armour it needs to be powerful, and upright. You can't be seen to be leaning or bending forwards.  Every move has an equal step, so remember to move with large balanced steps as you move backwards and forwards. 

When wielding your sword it's important to always place both your arms in front of your body, using your wrists to control the weapon and wield it swiftly and effectively. A trained knight would always keep their point at the centre of their opponent whenever possible. Every attack would be powerful and deliberate, any wild swings would leave the Knight vulnerable to attack, you need to use symmetric blade work when attacking and defending. When attacking remember to use the full extension of the weapon, making sure you step the front foot forward to achieve maximum range. You should also work on putting your full body behind each attack showing power and aggression. A knight is a powerful and disciplined trained killer, this must be shown when performing as this character. 

When it comes to researching the knight character, history is the best place to start. The history books are filled with the stories of famous knights, and any of them could be used as inspiration for your character. There was Sir William Marshal, the son of a lesser noble who was left no money, but soon became a superstar of the tournament scene, and one of the richest men in Britain and Regent of England. 

You could look into King Richard The Lionheart, the English king known for his military prowess and spent most of his reign as King fighting in the Crusades. 

Alternatively, you could research Joan of Arc, Prince Edward "The Black Prince", Sir William Wallace, King Robert The Bruce, or Sir Henry "Hotpsur" Percy. There are plenty of Knights out there so do your research!

The best way to nail the portrayal of the Knight character is to practice! Build up your strength and stamina by using heavier or weighted weapons. This will help you build up your stamina, and it will also strengthen your wrists allowing for more efficient and swifter weapon control. 

Practice all your moves in slow motion and in front of a mirror, making sure you know the full routine off by heart and every move has a precise, deliberate and powerful movement. Remember that energy and power doesn't equal speed. 

As always film all your routines, watch them back, compare them against your training videos, critique your performance, and go again! 

Happy Training Warriors!

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