Fabris 12/1/11   27 comments


Neither Letia nor I had fought for a while so our warmups ran a bit longer than usual, until it started raining to be precise. At that point we went inside and began to look at Wounds 1 and 2 from Fabris’ first book. Each wound has a picture showing the end result and a description of the various ways that the two fencers could have ended in that situation.

The First Wound

This wound shows our fencer in fourth striking his opponent, who is holding his sword in third, with a firm footed attack (a lunge) in the chest. Fabris suggests two ways this could have happened.

The first, starting with both fencers in third on the inside. The opposing fencer feints inside, but instead of parrying the feint our fencer turns his hand into fourth and lunges, placing his forte on his opponents tip as he does so.

The second way involves both fighters being in third on the outside. The opposing fencer performs a cavazione, coming inside with the intention of obliging our fencer to parry. Instead of parrying our fencer once again turns his hand into fourth and lunges as his opponent perform his cavazione.

The Second Wound

The second wound shows our fencer in third striking his opponent, who is also in third, in the chest. Once again, Fabris gives two ways this wound might have occurred.

The first involves our fencer performing a feint inside, when the opponent goes to parry our fencer performs a cavazione to the outside as he lunges.

The second way involves our fencer finding his opponents blade. His opponent, needing to free his blade, performs a cavazione. As the opponent performs his cavazione our fencer lunges, striking before the opponents cavazione is complete.

The Take Away

1) A feint should start by finding the opponents blade and attacking as normal, if he moves to parry then cavazione and kill him. If you do not find his blade first you leave yourself open when you attempt your cavazione.

2) When striking with a lunge strike during an opponents action, for instance strike as he performs a cavazione or as he raises his foot to step. By doing this he will be unable to break measure. In addition, always maintain advantage of the blade while lunging.


Monday we talked about the first two wounds and the idea of striking while the opponent takes an action. While I understand the concept easily enough I currently lack the skill to do it. So after warmups and a brief review of the Wounds Letia devised a drill to help me train the necessary skill/timing/instinct/whatever.

The Drill

The student with a sword sets up in guard. The teacher, unarmed, stands at the edge of the students range. The teacher then takes a step, exaggerated if necessary, towards the student and then a step back out of range. Ideally the student should strike the teacher before their foot hits the ground, if this doesn’t happen then the teacher can tell the student at what point in their footwork they were struck.

Eventually the complexity of the drill can be increased by giving the teacher a weapon and having them perform different movements of either the sword, the foot, or both.

Thursday Night Fencing, or how Tassin learned that finding the blade is awesome

Lacking Wistric the universe decided that we needed a Provost at practice and so Percy showed up. All of my passes with Percy were done with single sword which for me meant using Fabris.

The first few passes went poorly for me, while I could defend myself I could not attack. Percy was able to push my sword all over the place. One of the things that Fabris teaches is not to allow your opponent to molest (I had thought this was just an odd translation, but it is a good description of what Percy was doing to my sword) your blade and to keep it free.

The next pass I made an effort to keep my blade free and after some maneuvering I not only kept my blade free but I found Percy’s in the process. What I saw was an opening that I could exploit and limited Percy to breaking measure if he wanted to defend himself. We fought again and I found his blade, and once again I saw that I could attack safely. We fought a bit more and I continued to find his blade until eventually he started to keep his blade where I could not easily find it. However, from those positions I was able to form a counterguard because of the limited ways he could attack.

Keeping my blade free helped me see what I was doing and what I needed to do to find my opponents blade. Frequently moving the blade made me use not just the third guard which is my natural inclination but also the first, second, and fourth guards, each of which has advantages when finding the opponents blade.

Dante and Wistric have told me the benefits of finding the blade, it figures prominently in Fabris. For whatever reason I have had difficulty seeing when I had found the blade before last night, without seeing that I had the blade I would not act on it. Last night I was able to find the blade and see that I had done it, the difference was stunning. It was like opportunities I hadn’t been able to make or exploit before were flashing neon lights saying “Here I am!”

Posted December 2, 2011 by Tassin in Italian Rapier

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