Mair’s Sickle fight 3: Incisio Contra Habitum Hostis Vellendi

From the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek. The moment of Patiente’s counter-strike, Agente on left, Patiente on right.

 

Translation by Rachel Barkley

Incision against the Position of an Enemy Pulling Away

In this fight, if you will have come up nearer to your enemy than before [1], you will place forward the right foot and you will grasp the sickle in the right hand against him. You will hold the left hand to your left thigh. Thence if you will have pursued with the left foot you will graze the head of the enemy with the sickle. [2]

But if he has attempted the same against you placing forward the right foot, you will hold the sickle stretched out with your right hand, you turning the enemy, you will repel his blow on your right side, the left hand having been applied to the left thigh[3]. Thence however if you will have applied the sickle to his right arm, you quickly turning tear yourself away.

If by the same reckoning he has attempted to attack you, with your left hand grab his right hand and if you will have moved away from the blow of the enemy to your right flank, immediately plough up his head on the left side. You will retreat backwards. If the enemy  has moved backwards, quickly you should press on the retreating enemy and you will graze him on the right hand with the sickle.

Notes:

[1] Starting within measure.

[2] Latine “perstringere”, which means “to graze” or “to scratch.” Obviously, you are not meant to make the kind of fatal blow that proscindere indicates.

[3] Your own thigh.  Attempts at this point to apply the left hand to the opponent’s thigh did not go smoothly.  Also, the application of the left hand to the thigh seems to be a means of keeping it out of the way, also possibly providing counter-balance as seen in modern strip fencing.

 

Interpretation by Owen Townes

Setup:

Agente:
Close measure
Right foot forward
Left hand at Left side
Sickle held forward and vertical

Patiente[1]:
Close measure
Right foot forward
Left hand at Left side
Sickle held forward and vertical

 Play:

Agente:
Enters with Left foot[2]
Descending strike to Patiente’s head

Patiente:
Step forward[3] with R foot to void
Strike A’s R arm
Recover

Agente:
With Left hand grab Patiente’s hand [4]
Rotate to Right
Onside descending cut to head [5]

Patiente:
Retreat from Agente’s cut

Agente:
Pursue with passing steps and strike Patiente’s Right hand [6]

Observations and Notes:

[1] The only instance of an African that I’ve seen in these plates yet.  Still, a fairly impressive document that they were apparently teaching all comers how to fight. Or maybe the artist was just tired of old German guys.

[2] This step does not appear to be included in the art

[3] Also, to the inside, to provide for the void

[4] From underneath the Right arm

[5] Basically this pulls Patiente off-balance to his front, while also cutting into his face counter to his motion

[6] Mair tends to be vague about these final retreat/pursuit steps, but it seems to boil down to “If he slips away from you and tries to get out of measure, don’t let him.”

1 comment to Mair’s Sickle fight 3: Incisio Contra Habitum Hostis Vellendi

  • Wistric

    In the ongoing saga of the Purpleheart armory sickles, we ran into a pretty tough time figuring out Agente’s opening action and the nature of Patiente’s attack.

    Eventually we arrived at the conclusion that, assuming Agente and Patiente start with their sickles in parity, vertical, on the inside of each other (there is good reason to assume this, more on that later), Agente’s initial action needs to bring his sickle around to Patiente’s outside (with a quick withdrawal of the weapon, almost entirely from the wrist), and then bring it forward as swiftly as possible to strike the shallow target. Or, in other words, punch Patiente in the right eye.

    Why is the opening measure a safe assumption: It started with a bit of realization: This play, where both fighters are in middle guard, starts at closer measure (“if you will have come up nearer to your enemy than before”). The left-shoulder fights all seem to start at the rough equivalent of Coda Lunga: You have to step in to deliver an attack. In those, an immediately accessible defense is not necessary. These middle guard fights, starting closer, require that immediately accessible defense (e.g. putting your sickle toward your opponent). Also, given that they tend to target arms and hands when no step is taken, that would require the sickles be essentially next to each other when both fighters are in middle guard.
    Why is the opening attack a safe assumption: Just as with a short sword (or other dui tempi weapon) in parity on the inside line, an attack that stays on the inside is likely to be knocked aside and open the attacker to a counter. The pump-and-punch, we found, was the quickest way to disengage and attack, before the opponent could counter-parry to the outside, and still drive force into the opponent (via that step with the left foot).

    So that’s Agente’s action.

    Patiente’s action was all the more troubling:
    In the art, Patiente (our Moor of Augsburg) is in an elongated stance, almost a lunge. He’s clearly stepped, but the text does not speak of a step. So, first, was the text wrong? Would it work without a step?

    “But if he has attempted the same against you placing forward the right foot, you will hold the sickle stretched out with your right hand, you turning the enemy, you will repel his blow on your right side, the left hand having been applied to the left thigh[3].”

    This was pretty easy to identify: Somebody is punching at the right side of your face, you bring your sickle up and block it. Tassin, in an effort to internalize this (he and Ruairc still have too much of a fencer mindset in this) had me punch at him, with my sickle, with his mask off. He executed the defense instinctively. You probably will, too. After that, he had step one of his defense automatic.

    “Thence however if you will have applied the sickle to his right arm, you quickly turning tear yourself away.”

    From the static block, Patiente tried a quick break of engagement to attack Agente’s hand, then pull it down to the right. It wasn’t very safe: If Agente pressed at all, then when the engagement broke he could continue through and connect with Patiente’s head. Additionally, because Agente was not attacking with as much forward momentum as from the longer range plays, directing him to the right side was more difficult. Coupled with the lack of any step on the part of Patiente, there was not sufficient power available to upset Agente’s balance.

    So, what if we DID take that lunging step? Stepping during Agente’s initial attack was impossible: there just was not enough time to effectively do it. However, as soon as the static block was made, if the forward step was taken simultaneous to breaking engagement, then a few things happened:
    1) The head was voided (forward) out of the path of Agente’s sickle
    2) Patiente’s sickle, traveling forward, hooked onto Agente’s extended forearm with no further effort than that step
    From this position, Patiente could now rotate to his left instead of his right, with power from his front leg and hips. The result pulled Agente’s elbow up and forward and put him into a partial shoulder lock. We like. We like a lot.

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