Written by Kalel Olorin
This page documents the known sword forms in the Wheel of Time series.
These include basic descriptions useful for writing fight scenes and for acting in roleplay. For a visual representation of these sword forms, we recommend visiting The Way of the Heron.
Apple Blossoms in the Wind
A versatile technique, intended for use against an ambush by multiple opponents (TSR, Ch. 2). The blade is held low, but ready for use in a number of strike forms. The strike starts from above the waist, moves diagonally down and to the right, a pivot to the far left, followed by a strike up and left, a short pivot right and finished with a strong vertical blow downwards. The key is to keep loose and move slowly. This move is considered to be very difficult.
Arc of the Moon
A simple slash, meant to sever an opponent’s head. It is a downward and circular strike that starts above the opponents head and ends with the tip of the blade at the opponents thigh. This finishing move ends back in a guard stance.
Black Pebbles on Snow
A countering strike at the opponent’s ribs (NS, Ch. 16). The technique is to deflect the opponents blade with the false edge and proceed immediately with a a downward cut with the true edge of the sword.
The Boar Rushes Downhill
Probably pretty similar to The Boar Rushes Down the Mountain, only with a more diagonal cut instead of a vertical. Counters Cat Dances on the Wall.
The Boar Rushes Down the Mountain
A powerful diagonal slash, starting behind the right shoulder and smooths out into a horizontal slash. This form is used to deceive enemies because one can alter course in mid-swing quickly. Try this with Tower of Morning.
The main purpose of this stance is to evade the opponents attack. Through a series of quick steps the defender circles his opponent and uses a series of quick chest-level thrusts, followed by an arc and a paired return arc that should return the blade to a guard stance. Try this against a quarterstaff opponent.
Cat Crossing the Courtyard
Not really a sword form. It is a method of movement that starts from a relaxed stance with a straight back, which maximizes alertness and reaction potential. Once the movement starts weight should be on the balls of the feet, with head held high and eyes constantly shifting, watching for threats. Arms and hands should freely move, not in pockets or holding items. Each step should be taken confidently, but not hurriedly resulting in you looking superior and overconfident. This can be used to unnerve the opponent.
The Cat Dances on the Wall
A low sweep, followed by a low slash meant to take out the opponents legs from under him. The swordsman must have good wrists and quick feet for this to be effective. Useful for buying time.
Cat on Hot Sand
A fast maneuver of with foot work that is used to evade a blow or strike that is hard to counter or parry. This is often used when facing multiple opponents.
The Courtier Taps His Fan
A quick, powerful overhand horizontal blow, aimed at the opponents head. This is often a move used if you must quickly disengage from a fight. This is a good move for anyone to have in his repertoire.
The Creeper Embraces the Oak
A slow, circling stance with a sudden step inwards to the opponents attack range. So that he is unable to effectively use his sword. Once inside his range use your sword arm that is bent back and deliver a possibly lethal thrust. One must be alert and look for an appropriate opportunity to used this move. This makes the enemy fight defensively instead of offensive. If thrust is not lethal forms that can be effectively used after this are: The Falling Leaf, Lightning of Three Prongs.
Cutting the Clouds
A downward strike at the opponent’s wrist (NS, Ch. 16).
Cutting the Wind
Use against a charging opponent. Sidestep and twist your wrist to deliver a thrust in the opponents open stomach area. The meaning of this is to be a surprise and must only be preformed simultaneously with the charging opponent. This form can be followed by Unfolding the Fan.
Dandelion in the Wind
A horizontal wild swing aimed at the opponent’s throat with the means of startling your opponent (NS, Ch. 16).
The Dove Takes Flight
Starts from a low stance with the knees at around 90 degrees. The sword is held at the hip. When the attacker comes at you, you are able to thrust the sword at the enemies chest with good punch and power.
Eel among the Lily Pads
Horizontal strike of the sword aimed against the enemies thighs and legs.
A movement where every step you are in perfect balance. It is meant to start a battle and to gain advantage over the opponent. It starts as to look as if you are merely walking however only a well trained eye can notice that the attacker is in balance with every movement.
The Falcon Stoops
An abbreviated version of The Kingfisher Takes a Silverback. A quick overhand thrust, returning to a guard position just as quickly
The Falling Leaf
A more exaggerated and slower version of The Boar Rushes Down the Mountain. Starting high, the blade sweeps back and forth before reaching its lowest point. Can be used to parry effectively against multiple opponents, or just one. Move from this straight into The River Undercuts the Bank or The Wind Blows over the Wall, and you’ve got an effective pair.
Folding the Air
A form similar to “Unfolding the Fan” however this is a pure defensive form. The arms are close to the body and with one hand on the blade in order to give more control and power.
Folding the Fan
The sword sheathing technique (TDR, Ch. 36). The blade is smoothly swung around from guard stance and sheathed, all in one motion.
The Grapevine Twines
A circular motion when blades are locked, used to disarm an opponent (LoC, Ch. 1).
The Heron Spreads Its Wings
The operational version of Heron Wading in the Rushes. The sword is used in an upward and circular slash in to the flanks of the opponent. This is effectively used against a charging opponent who is not expecting an attack.
Heron Wading in the Rushes
A training stance where you balance on hand and holding the sword overhead in a reverse grip. This s followed by a horizontal pivoting slash on one foot. It is possible to use this form in combat, but it is highly likely you will receive your opponent’s weapon in your chest before you take his head.
Hummingbird Kisses the Honeyrose
A quick thrust in the face. Will at least deter an opponent, and will usually kill a charging opponent outright. Blade should start from shoulder height, though it may be performed from any level less quickly.
The Kingfisher takes a Silverback
Starts from a low guard stance, while the sword is at shoulder height or higher. It is followed by a downward stab for the abdomen. Begun when the sword is lower than shoulder height, a downward stab meant to cripple a leg or the groin. This is a good move to counter “Cutting the Clouds”
Kingfisher Circles the Pond
Defensive stance that can be used to fend off Dove Takes Flight (KoD, Prologue).
Kissing the Adder
A fast series of thrusts that is only to be used when the opponent is overwhelmed and leaves and opening (This passage needs a reference). Often aimed at the opponents heart and is meant to be used to finishing off the battle (NS, Ch. 16).
Leaf Floating on the Breeze
A horizontal guard position with a form similar to The Falling Leaf. The blade will move up and down according to the threat while moving horizontally to offer new threats. A good basic form. Attacks from this position should include Lightning of Three Prongs and Lizard in the Thornbush. This if also a good counter move against Eel Among the Lily Pads.
Similar to the Plucking the Low-hanging Apple however this results in a sudden slash at the opponents thigh.
Leopard in High Grass
A stance used when you are outnumbered and expecting multiple attacks (NS, Ch. 16). It is used to intimidate the enemy and is used with a constant observation of the enemies moves.
Leopard in the Tree
A preliminary stance that puts you on the verge of drawing your sword. It is begun with both hands on the hilt of the sword, knees bent, and leaning forward in a ready position. This form is used to prepare for Unfolding the Fan or another such drawing technique.
Lightning of Three Prongs
Beginning from a basic stance like Lion on the Hill. It starts as a parry where your blade is binded with that of the opponent. It is followed by stepping around the opponent and and sliding the blade off the cross of his sword while making a a cut along his neck. While doing this you must simultaneously trip the opponent with your back hand. Once the opponent is on the ground it is finished with a downwards stab.
Lion on the Hill
A basic guard stance. Here you stand confident and upright with a straight back. The sword is resting on or just above the shoulder. This can be used to move into a variety of other forms. It is best used for going into or coming out of a horizontal strike.
A vertical slice aimed at the enemies thigh. Effectively used after Swallow Takes Flight (KoD, Prologue).
Lizard in the Thornbush
Consists of two thrusts, each aimed at a different opponent. One thrust to the chest, then pivots and kneel with either a thrust or a slash, usually a thrust. Good mid-level technique; most veteran-level soldiers have mastered this form. It can also be used against Lightning of Three Prongs
Low Wind Rising
Can be done from almost any stance – even sitting (TFoH, Ch. 21). A diagonal slash, beginning low and rising cleanly. May be used to return to a guard stance after a form such as The Grapevine Twines or Lightning of Three Prongs.
The Moon on the Water
A swordform that is executed from The Ox Lowers His Horns. It is a offensive strike that is carried out from a defensive position. The form consists of a thrust downward into the opponents chest and then returning to the form The Ox Lowers His Horns.
Moon Rises Over the Water
A vertical arc after a horizontal, tentative slash. The blade should begin and end in the same position – near the waist.
The Moon Rises Over the Lakes
Similar to the Moon Rises Over the Water except that at the highest point of the arc the blade is aimed at the opponents throat (This passage needs a reference). This form can be executed from a sheathed sword (TGH, Ch. 27).
Not a sword form but actually a state of mind. This is a state one usually takes before they are to knowingly enter into the battle. Its main purpose is to make you feel calm and focused on the battle ahead.
Parting the Silk
A more controlled slash, probably used as a precision block or strike. Directed at the abdomen, a good move to draw first blood or inflict non-lethal damage on an opponent. It can also be used to displace high vertical slashes.
Plucking the Low-hanging Apple
A quick and sudden slash at the opponents neck. It is meant to quickly take off the opponents head. This can turn into Leopard’s Caress (KoD, Prologue).
Rain in High Wind
A horizontal high slash used to deflect an opponent’s blade (This passage needs a reference). Often used to counter River of Light (KoD, Prologue).
Reaping the Barley
A very quick and powerful slice that is meant to end deep beneath the opponents ribcage. This move costs a lot of energy if one hopes to be successful. It can be used against Swallow Takes Flight (KoD, Prologue).
Red Hawk Takes a Dove
A vertical slash intended to inflict a gash in the opponents arm. The desired result is to weaken the enemy through gashes (KoD, Prologue).
Ribbon in the Air
Mostly used to regain form after a wide swing. After the wide swing the blade should not stop but continue in one fluid motion with the sword finishing behind your back. Afterwards the sword comes from above the head and directed down on the enemy.
River of Light
A vertical slash aimed at taking off an opponents arm. Best and most effectively used in series with The Wood Grouse Dances and the Red Hawk Takes a Dove (KoD, Prologue).
The River Undercuts the Bank
Can be done to dodge an attack by dropping into a kneeling position. It is the followed by a wide full arm slash that can either disembowel or behead the opponent. (TGH, Ch. 45).
The Rose Unfolds
An advanced concept that starts with inviting the opponent to attack (This passage needs a reference). During the point of the attack a vertical or horizontal slice is made towards one of the opponents extended arms (NS, Ch. 16).
Sheathing the Sword
More of a concept than a sword-form, this is used when what you can gain is greater than or equal to what you may lose in the process of gaining it. This might be using Heron Wading in the Rushes like Rand al’Thor, or it might be using Lizard in the Thornbush to take down two major opponents when you know a third, less important one is coming up behind you. The purpose is to gain more than you lose. Only to be used in a last resort.
Soft Rain at Sunset
A strike at the opponent’s face with your fist around your sword. Once the blow is made the blade is either swept across the enemies face to give a false edge strike or the point is used to scar the enemies face. There is also a good chance of blinding the enemy in one eye. If the move fails there is a great chance that you will take a lethal strike.
Stone Falls From the Mountain
Kind of like stones falling from the cliff however there is a inward sidestep against the charging opponent. It is then proceeded with a twisting of the body and delivering a downward slash on his back as he passes.
Stones Falling Down the Mountain
Same as the Stone Falling from the Cliff, only with multiple cuts instead of one.
Stones Falling from the Cliff
The medium difficulty version of Boar Rushes Down the Mountain. A good mainstay of a battle, this form is useful for both parrying and attacking. The sword should begin at least at shoulder height and come down.
Striking the Spark
A rapid series of powerful overhand blows, best begun on the return swing of a slash like Low Wind Rising or The Heron Spreads Its Wings. If you’ve got stamina this can win a battle for you.
The Ox Lowers His Horns
A stance where you hold the sword in such a way that your eyes are looking over the sword hilt with the sword point hanging down. Moves that may follow from this form include Moon on the water and The Falcon Stoops.
The Swallow Rides the Air
This is an attack meant to disrupt the opponent when he/she is attacking another person who is already down. When he/she is focused on the opponent the idea is to close in on him/her faster than they are able to do so on their target. ie. The person who is already down and thus hitting then first.
The Swallow Takes Flight
Basically, Low Wind Rising followed by a short thrust. The form is angled more toward the opponent, though, so that the opening slash is more a guard for the thrust (This passage needs a reference). Can be used to counter Threading the Needle and followed into the Lion Springs (KoD, Prologue).
Thistledown Floats on the Whirlwind:
A short-range jumping spin-swipe, used for beheading. Best if done by surprise. An opening move in most cases. The sword should not move more than a foot or so; the main force is provided by the spin of the body. The blade should not extend too far out from the body, and be approximately chest high.
Threading the Needle
A sudden and very quick thrust at the opponents shoulder. Can be used in succession to keep the opponent on guard (KoD, Prologue).
Tower of Morning
Starting with knees bent this form is a vertical slash aimed at the opponents groin, and followed by using all the force you have to slice upward through the opponent.
Twisting the Wind
For use in a tight situation, when one is outnumbered. A quick, continual rotation of the body, using slashes and short thrusts to counter or attack as the situation dictates.
Two Hares Leaping
With blade in a vertical position it is easy to counter opponents attacks against the head. It can be used in combination with a ready stance. It is an effective counter against Hummingbird Kisses the Honeyrose
Unfolding the Fan
The exact opposite of Folding the Fan. Can be used as an opener, since this form can unsheathe the sword and stroke at the same time. Can also be used if caught off guard or in an awkward position.
Water Flows Downhill
A more complicated form of The Boar Rushes Down the Mountain. This form can and will change direction in mid-stroke; only the more advanced swordsmen use this form. Like its name, it takes the easiest route from high to low, avoiding contact with the other weapon while seeking its target.
A form that is a defense against downward blows. By lifting the blade horizontally over the head and catching the falling blade the purpose is to diffuse the momentum of the slash. This move is often followed by a thrust to the opponents face. It is a counter for The Falling leaf.
Whirlwind on the Mountain
A form of Thistledown Floats on the Whirlwind, except done while remaining on the ground. Can be modified for use for striking uphill or downhill simply by changing the angle of the spin. The sword also is extended further than with Thistledown Floats on the Whirlwind.
Wind and Rain
A fully body spin whos intent is to deliver a horizontal strike and then a lift of the arms to deliver a sideways downwards thrust. It can begin with either Low Wind Rising or Parting the Silk, this form follows through with multiple short thrusts or quick overhand blows.
The Wind Blows Over the Wall
Pivot and strike at the opponents wrist before thrusting at his chest. Useful against knives/one-handed sword, as you can unarm the opponent, leaving him open to you (TSR, Ch. 9).
The Wood Grouse Dances
Similar to the Cat Dances on the Wall, but from a more stationary point. Mainly to feel out an enemy, more than to do serious harm.