This came up again on the HEMA Alliance forum, someone asked about the training that Mike Edelson was doing (which I talked about before).
Tabata's are a specific protocol of High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT). As Mike acknowledges, he is not using the term correctly. Tabata protocol is 20 seconds of high intensity and 10 seconds of medium intensity (i.e. active rest). The periods are alternated 8 times for 4 minutes. Work:rest ratio is 2:1. High intensity was defined using a cycle ergometer originally, but you can think of it as an intensity you can only maintain for around 20 seconds. This should be well above your anaerobic threshold i.e. you should be breathless at the end of each . As you improve over the weeks you can progress by increasing duration or intensity.
Mike is doing more conventional interval training. This is done with longer work periods of 30 s. to 2 minutes. And easier work to rest ratios of 1:2 to 3:2. Also the intensity is lower, around your anaerobic threshold. So a run but not a sprint.
Both do a good job of increasing conditioning, especially for anaerobic activities like fighting. But the HIIT is gonna be better for that purpose. For increasing the intensity of his stations to high-intensity you could use a sledge hammer in place of the axe (or an exercise bar) and replace the speed rope with some plyos like box jumps or med ball slams.
What Mike is doing is a lot like circuit training. The primary difference being that he has several different training stations while interval training typically refers to all the same exercise. Perhaps we should develop the "HEMAA Protocol", a high-intensity sword specific circuit.