Chapter 3 Cerrada
3.1 Introduction
Cerrada addresses close distance, i. e., the distance when the opponents
are well within the reach of each others sword without any step.
In slightly different writing, “Serrada Escrima” addresses the Escrima
style of Angel Cabales, who focuses on close distances. However,
while the preferred weapon of Serrada Escrima is the short stick — which
can be also a proxy for a single hand short sword — we practise the
Cerrada distance with two handed swords, mainly with the Japanese katana,
either the classical wooden training swords of the Samurai (called bokken)
or robust stage fighting katanas made of steel.
3.2 The 100 Steps Form
For quite some time, we have been teaching newcomers the first strikes and
steps simultaneously. For people without experience in sports that
require the concerted movement of arms and legs (like martial arts or
dancing), this can be very difficult. Therefore, we start now by practising
steps only, without any strikes, and then move on to exercises with
simultaneous steps and strikes. An exercise for practising steps only is the
100 Steps Form. It is described below.
The end position of each step is a boxerlike stance with the feet
shoulder width apart laterally and one foot about the same distance in front
of the other. Thus, the line connecting the two feet makes an angle of
45^{∘}
with the forward direction. The weight is 70 % on the front
foot and 30 % on the rear foot. The knees are slightly bent. The heel of
the rear foot is lifted off the ground. The arms can be held in a boxing
position (or you can hold a printout of the 100 Steps Form sequence).

The starting position is an upright parallel stance with the feet
lateral shoulder width apart.

Step ten times forward, alternating feet, starting with the right
foot. This pattern is like normal walking.
At the end of each step, the (new) rear foot may slide a little
bit forward to catch up with the front foot for the correct distance
between the feet.
If everything went well, the left foot should be
in front at the end of the series.
 Step ten times to the side, alternating sides, starting with a
step to the right. If you step to the right, the right foot
moves first and becomes
the front foot, the left foot moves second and becomes the rear foot,
vice versa for a step to the left. With each step, front and rear foot
exchange their role. The movement of the body is only sideways.
If everything went well, the left foot should be
in front at the end of the series.
 Turn the body 90^{∘} to the right. The feet stay on their
position. The right foot, which was the rear foot, becomes the front
foot.
 Step ten times sideways to the right. The right foot always moves
first and is in the front after each step.
The left foot always moves second and is in the rear after each step.
If everything went well, the right foot should be
in front at the end of the series.
 Step ten times sideways to the left. The left foot always moves
first and is in the front after each step.
The right foot always moves second and is in the rear after each step.
If everything went well, the left foot should be
in front at the end of the series.
 Turn the body 90^{∘} to the right. The feet stay on their
position. The right foot, which was the rear foot, becomes the front
foot.

Step ten times to the side. Count the ten steps. If the number
is a prime number or it is 10, step to the left. Otherwise, step to
the right. Recall that the smallest prime number is 2.
If everything went well, the left foot should be
in front at the end of the series.
 Repeat items 2–8.
Note that you are now facing the opposite
direction from that in the beginning, so the whole pattern is rotated
by 180^{∘}.
If everything went well, the left foot should be
in front at the end of the repetition.
 Take the front foot back to an
upright parallel stance with the feet
lateral shoulder width apart.
If everything went well, you should now face the same direction as
in the beginning, and you should be at about the same place.
3.3 Drills
3.3.1 The drill concept
A drill is a closed loop sequence of strikes and blocks which are
executed repeatedly.
One advantage of this type of training is the fact
that many repetitions are
executed in a short amount of time.
3.3.2 Nomenclature
There are 16 drills. They are referred to by Arabic numbers, e. g., drill 7.
The part of the one who starts with the first strike is denoted
by an appended letter “a”, the other part with begins with a block is denoted
by an appended letter “b”, e. g., 7a and 7b.
In section 3.3.4 below, tables are provided which
list all movements of a drill. The syntax is as follows:

Strikes are denoted by their number preceded by a number sign,
e. g., strike number one is listed as “#1”.
We discriminate four strikes: #1 is diagonally
from top right to bottom left, #3 is diagonally from top left to
bottom right, #3 is horizontally from right to left, and #4 is
horizontally from left to right. In the Cerrada execution
a strike always starts from a block position and the force
is mostly directed forward; this is quite different from the
Larga Mano execution, cf. 4.2.
A subscript to the number denotes a step to the side, either to the
left (“l”) or to the right (“r”), e. g., “#1_{r}”.
After a step to the left,
the left foot should be in front, and vice versa.
 Blocks are listed as follows:

R1: Roof block against #1, to the left.
 R2: Roof block against #2, to the right.
 C: Cross block against #3, to the left.
 S: Side block against #4, to the right.
 W1: Wing block against #1, to the left.
 W2: Wing block against #2, to the right.
 W3: Low wing block against #3, to the left.
 W4: Low wing block against #4, to the right.
 An arrow — “→” or “←” — points
from the strike to be executed to the respective block.
3.3.3 Learning sequence
Drills are listed below in section 3.3.4
in their numbering sequence, however, the
numbering reflects the sequence in which they have been developed, which is
not necessarily the sequence in which they should be learnt.
The recommended sequence for learning the drills is the following:
8b, 9b, 15b, 1,
16b, 2, 3,
9a, 5, 6,
8a, 12, 11,
10, 4,
15a, 16a, 7,
13, 14.
3.3.4 List of drills
Drill 1 and 2
The sequence of drill 1 is (for two partners a and b):

a delivers a number 1 strike.
 b blocks this strike with a number 1 roof block.
 b delivers a number 4 counter strike.
 a blocks this strike with a number 4 side block.
 a delivers a number 1 counter strike.
 b blocks this strike with a number 1 wing block.
 This is repeated from the beginning with roles reversed.
a  1  b 
#1_{r}  →  R1 
S  ←  #4_{r} 
#1_{l}  →  W1 
R1  ←  #1_{r} 
#4_{r}  →  S 
W1  ←  #1_{l} 
a  2  b 
#2_{l}  →  R2 
C  ←  #3_{l} 
#2_{r}  →  W2 
R2  ←  #2_{l} 
#3_{l}  →  C 
W2  ←  #2_{r} 
Drill 3
a  3  b 
#4_{r}  →  S 
W3  ←  #3_{l} 
#2_{r}  →  W2 
R2  ←  #2_{l} 
#3_{l}  →  C 
W4  ←  #4_{r} 
#1_{l}  →  W1 
R1  ←  #1_{r} 
Drill 4
a  4  b 
#1_{l}  →  R1 
S  ←  #4_{r} 
#1_{l}  →  W1 
R1  ←  #1_{r} 
#2_{r}  →  R2 
C  ←  #3_{l} 
#2_{r}  →  W2 
R2  ←  #2_{l} 
Drill 5 and 6
a  5  b 
#1_{r}  →  R1 
S  ←  #4_{r} 
#3_{l}  →  W3 
R1  ←  #1_{r} 
#4_{r}  →  S 
W3  ←  #3_{l} 
a  6  b 
#2_{l}  →  R2 
C  ←  #3_{l} 
#4_{r}  →  W4 
R2  ←  #2_{l} 
#3_{l}  →  C 
W4  ←  #4_{r} 
Drill 7
a  7  b 
#4_{r}  →  S 
W1  ←  #1_{l} 
#2_{r}  →  R2 
C  ←  #3_{l} 
#2_{r}  →  W2 
R1  ←  #1_{l} 
Drill 8
a  8  b 
#4_{l}  →  S 
W1  ←  #1_{l} 
#3_{r}  →  C 
W2  ←  #2_{r} 
Drill 9
a  9  b 
#2_{l}  →  R2 
C  ←  #3_{l} 
#1_{r}  →  R1 
S  ←  #4_{r} 
Drill 10
Drill 11 and 12
a  11  b 
#3_{r}  →  C 
W4  ←  #4_{r} 
#1_{l}  →  W1 
C  ←  #3_{r} 
#4_{r}  →  W4 
W1  ←  #1_{l} 
a  12  b 
#4_{l}  →  S 
W3  ←  #3_{l} 
#2_{r}  →  W2 
S  ←  #4_{l} 
#3_{l}  →  W3 
W2  ←  #2_{r} 
Drill 13 and 14
a  13  b 
#4_{r}  →  S 
W1  ←  #1_{l} 
#3_{r}  →  C 
W2  ←  #2_{r} 
#1_{l}  →  R1 
S  ←  #4_{r} 
#1_{l}  →  W1 
C  ←  #3_{r} 
#2_{r}  →  W2 
R1  ←  #1_{l} 
a  14  b 
#3_{l}  →  C 
W2  ←  #2_{r} 
#4_{l}  →  S 
W1  ←  #1_{l} 
#2_{r}  →  R2 
C  ←  #3_{l} 
#2_{r}  →  W2 
S  ←  #4_{l} 
#1_{l}  →  W1 
R2  ←  #2_{r} 
Drill 15 and 16
a  1  b 
#1_{r}  →  R1 
S  ←  #4_{r} 
#1_{l}  →  W1 
R1  ←  #1_{r} 
a  2  b 
#2_{l}  →  R2 
C  ←  #3_{l} 
#2_{r}  →  W2 
R2  ←  #2_{l} 
3.4 The 64 Strikes Cerrada Form
In some earlier version of this document, I boldly wrote
We do not practise “forms”,
however, later I found some value in practising a
prescribed sequences of movements without
training partner.
I still think that only training with a partner can be a preparation for
real fight, but practising alone can be a preparation for the training.
The Cerrada form comprises all drills, so if someone knows the
form by heart, he has also the sequence of all drills at hand when they
are practises in partner training. Moreover, the sequence of the drills in
the form represents the sequence in which the drills should be learnt.
In this sense, the form contains the complete Cerrada curriculum.
A good way to learn the form is in parallel with the drills, assuming
that the drills are learnt in the sequence in which they appear in the form
(which is the recommended sequence).
Whenever a new drill is learnt, the respective part is appended to the form,
thus the student then practises the form from the start to
the end of that part.
The table below is made of four columns. The first column is just a numbering
of the strikes. The numbering also helps to memorise the sequence. The second
column is the block position from which the strike starts. In drill
partner training, this actually blocks a real attack. When practising alone
the form, the attack should be imagined and the block executed correctly.
The third column is the strike. The fourth column lists the drill which
is represented by a sequence between two horizontal lines. The steps are
not denoted in the table. They are the
same as in the drills. The step is always with the strike, not with the
block. The step is always to the side, away from the sword of the opponent,
where it was stopped by the block preceding each strike. For a brief
description of blocks, strikes, and steps, see 3.3.2.

1  S  #1  Drill 8b 
2  C  #2  

3  R2  #3  Drill 9b 
4  R1  #4  

5  W1  #1  Drill 1a 
6  S  #1  
7  R1  #4  Drill 15b 

8  R2  #3  Drill 2b/16b 
9  W2  #2  
10  C  #2  

11  S  #3  Drill 3b 
12  W2  #2  
13  C  #4  
14  W1  #1  

15  R1  #4  Drill 3a 
16  W3  #2  
17  R2  #3  
18  W4  #1  

19  S  #2  Drill 9a 
20  C  #1  

21  R1  #4  Drill 5b 
22  W3  #1  
23  S  #3  

24  W4  #2  Drill 6a 
25  C  #4  
26  R2  #3  

27  W2  #4  Drill 8a 
28  W1  #3  

29  W2  #4  Drill 12a 
30  W3  #2  
31  S  #3  

32  C  #4  Drill 11b 
33  W1  #3  
34  W4  #1  

35  R2  #1  Drill 10b 

36  R1  #2  Drill 10a 

37  R1  #4  Drill 4b 
38  W1  #1  
39  R2  #3  
40  W2  #2  

41  R2  #1  Drill 4a 
42  S  #1  
43  R1  #2  
44  C  #2  

45  R1  #1  Drill 15a 
46  S  #1  

47  R2  #2  Drill 16a 
48  C  #2  

49  S  #1  Drill 7b 
50  R2  #3  
51  W2  #1  

52  R1  #4  Drill 7a 
53  W1  #2  
54  C  #2  

55  S  #1  Drill 13b 
56  C  #2  
57  R1  #4  
58  W1  #3  
59  W2  #1  

60  R2  #3  Drill 14a 
61  W2  #4  
62  W1  #2  
63  C  #2  
64  S  #1  

3.5 Cerrada free flow
Cerrada free flow has the same mutual attack and defence pattern as the
Cerrada drills, i. e., partner a attacks and partner b
blocks the attack,
then partner b attacks and partner a blocks the attack, and so an.
However, in free flow, the attacks are not prescribed but can be any strike
to head or upper body. Strikes to the legs are exempted.
Students should start to practise free flow after they have gained some
proficiency with Cerrada drills. This is usually the case after
they have practised each of the 16 drills at least once. Assuming that
a student learns one or two new drills each lecture, this would take
8–16 lectures. Assuming one lecture per week, the student is ready for
free flow after 2–4 month.
The transition from prescribed pattern drills to the free flow
exercise is usually quite seamless. The difference is just the processing time
the brain needs to decide which block to apply. This time depends on the
number of options between which a decision is to be made.
Let n be that number,
the processing time needed is
t = 180 ms · log_{2} n .
(3.1) 
The Cerrada techniques are structured in a way that there are at
most four different options at any time. With n=4, we get a
decision time of 360 ms. A decent sword attack strike takes about
500 ms (half a second), so there are 140 ms left for the blocking
movement. This can work if the movement is small (and fast) enough. Therefore,
we are never doing a step with a block in Cerrada. A step with
relocation of the body’s centre of mass would take about half a second,
thus the attack would hit before the step is completed.
Note that in weaponless fighting, the time an attack takes can be
significantly less
than the 500 ms for a sword strike. Moreover, many systems
discriminate much more than four different attacks.
Under these circumstances, the needed decision time may already be larger
than the attack time. No matter how much one practises to make the
blocking movements lightning fast, it can never work, as the attack
already hits before the decision which defence to apply is completed.
It is interesting to note that the decision time cannot be reduced by training.
Practising Cerrada free flow is quite an experience.
It is really fascinating to feel this working.
If one starts thinking about what to do next, he instantly gets stuck.
If one manages not to think, he gets into the state of mind
which is called flow in psychology.
Free flow is also nice to watch and can be used as stage fighting.
Because the flow of attacks is free, it is much more lively than
a prearranged sequence.