Giganti 18: Feints and strikes around daggers   12 comments

This week was mostly taken up by a marshal’s class at practice, but we got in our Giganti, and closed out with a double bearpit.  Meanwhile, I tried to sit down to write this and got distracted watching Reclaiming the Blade, thinking “this will be cute”.  ZOMG… watch that shit!

The Feint of Sword and Dagger, to Strike above the Dagger

Having worked through some examples of guards for defensive purposes, he’s back to attacking, but first an old saw:

Knowledge of tempo and measure is the foundation of fencing

He says in the first chapter of the book that he will not repeat himself unnecessarily.  He does not.

The cavazione and the feint are its ornament

This is a thinker.  How, exactly, are they ornaments of the foundation?  My thinking: They are the means of creating a tempo that your opponent cannot take advantage of, and instead forcing an action on them which then creates a tempo you employ to finish your attack.

Feinting is acting as if you are doing something and then not doing it

Which is very similar to one of his early statements in the opening of his sections on feints when dealing with single sword: Feinting means motioning to do one thing and doing another

So we can repeat here what was said there, to wit: motion a strong attack, but don’t move your feet, rather than pulling the half-ass sword wiggle most of us do.  Those aren’t feints, those are tempos that let your opponent attack you. He then expands on feints by saying of them…

This action cannot take place without a cavazione

And here comes an interesting thought.  The general conception of a cavazione conflates it with “disengage”, that little wiggle of the tip you do to avoid a parry.  But this is where I think a wider definition of cavazione must be taken in to consideration.  Instead of “disengagement” (which Google says is the translation), I think a “line change” is the better definition.  Disengage changes from inside line to outside line or vice versa, but a cavazione following a feint can also be a change from a direct line to a broader line or higher line or lower line (see Part 13).

If you are gallant and proficient you will find it almost impossible to defend against it; if you are not, get rid of the “almost”.

This is mostly a bit of further emphasis, though I found the wording humorous and wondered how much was Leoni’s license, so I checked to the Italian and French version (since I can read, sort of, French).  “La feinte est une fraude mortelle, & quasi irrepatable meimes aux personnes vaillates & professeurs de ceste science; & a ceulx qui n’en ont cognoissance, du tout inevitable”  As I read it, the translation is pretty close, except that the ending phrase is roughly “And those who don’t have that knowledge, it is always inevitable”.

So, on to actually killing each other

Advance on the opponent with your sword under his dagger… in measure, deliver a full-intent thrust and recover.

Full. Intent. Thrust. Each hugely important.  And then, Recover.  Also hugely important.

But what’s this shit?  How is this feinting?

Well, it’s not.  But it’s an important first step, because he’ll attempt to parry.  Now, Giganti doesn’t really explain why this is necessary, so I’ll presume to do so: When your opponent makes his parry, you will find out exactly how he parries that attack, in what speed and at what angle and, basically, everything about it.  Sir Christian calls this triggering the “panic parry”, and once you know your opponent’s panic parry you own him, because you can feint to that spot, disengage around the panic parry, and finish them.  Which… oh wait, that’s the rest of this section.

If he doesn’t parry, though, hit him, you don’t need to do anything else.

If he parries, advance on him once again

Here he leaves out the important step of recovering out of measure after the first full intent thrust.

and when you are in measure, deliver a thrust without extending your front foot

This is a repeat of the feints with single sword.  A feint is a thrust without a foot movement, then cavazione and finish with the foot.  In this case, the cavazione goes around the downward parrying dagger to strike above into the opponent’s exposed face.

Bear in mind that while you move your sword-point above his dagger, your sword moves forward with the cavazione; this way, the cavazione and the strike happen in one single tempo.

To which nothing need be added.

Feint of Sword and Dagger, to Strike in the Chest

This action follows the same rules as the previous one… this one ends with a strike under (not over) the opponent’s dagger

So, as before: Full intent thrust to draw parry, cavazione and step in same tempo

Start with your sword high and… deliver a thrust above his dagger, lifting your sword-arm even more.  This strike is called “scannatura of the dagger”

In his footnote, Leoni tells that scannatura means “throat-slitting”, and is an attack parallel and close to an opponent’s blade.  In this case, close to and parallel above the dagger, raising your arm to keep the blade away from the dagger as it rises to parry.  This draw’s his dagger further up, exposing the chest to the cavazione and strike.

When he attempts the parry, go with your sword-point under his dagger by turning your hand

This bit of body mechanics is rather interesting.  While Giganti never sets out the prima-seconda-tierca-quarta system, and most of the illustrations are shown in seconda or tierca, this motion only works starting from prima and rotating to tierca.  All other rotations-to-disengage require moving more than just the hand to void the point.  So there is a “right way” to hold the sword for this attack, even if he doesn’t bother telling you.

Feint of Sword and Dagger, to Strike to the Face with a Cavazione over the Dagger-point

To easily strike the opponent in the face, you need to perform this feint, which is the most difficult but also the most beautiful

Have I mentioned how much I love the Italian mindset towards fencing?  We are creating art and beauty, not just killing eachother.

Advance on the opponent on the side of the sword… feint a thrust to his face.  As he goes to the obedience with the dagger, perform the cavazione over his dagger-point (using only a turn of the hand) and strike him

A relatively straightforward description (here again we have the idea of the cavazione by the turn of the hand).  The illustration, though, is interesting:

The attacker has stepped from the opening advance on the opponent’s outside well towards the opponent’s inside, and has parried the sword to his own inside (across the body), with his dagger held below his extended right arm.  And the difficulty and the beauty both come from that sweep of the opponent’s blade across the body while angling to the outside (using the step to further carry the opponent’s sword offline).  Very pretty indeed.

Two more weeks.  Then whatever shall I do?

Posted December 8, 2010 by wistric in Giganti, Italian Rapier

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