I'm translating a book by Victoria Schwab and I'm not sure about the meaning of a sentence here. The scene describes a character fighting a monster, and here's the sentence that has confused me:

"She danced between blows, trying to avoid the monster's claws and get under its guard. Nails racked the air above Kate's head as she ducked and slashed the iron spike across the creature's out-stretched hand."

Does it mean she is trying to find a flaw in the monster's guard so that she can attack it?

2 Answers 2


In any conflict, fighters' guards are the weapons and shields used for attack and defence.

Where people are concerned, such weapons are traditionally spears, swords and daggers for attack and shields and armour for defence.

An attacker who, for instance, was able to stab a defender's legs beneath the shield, got under the defender's guard.

Where predators (other than birds), whether real or imaginary, are are concerned, typically claws and teeth are the creatures' weapons.

An attacker who gets past or avoids such a monster's claws and teeth (its guard) and close to its unprotected body, can wound or kill the monster.

This is the image that's being described.

  • Thank you so much for your thorough explanation. It totally solved my problem. :)
    – Moody
    Dec 7, 2019 at 13:18

Guards in swordmandship are formal defensive positions. If you fighting with the sword you are using it to slash or thrust with but also to parry. It can also (as here) refer to the area protected.

Here the usage is somewhat looser but it means that Kate looking for an oportunity to attack low as the monster attacks high.

  • Thank you so much. :)
    – Moody
    Dec 7, 2019 at 13:19

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