Most of fencing derived from First Principles   6 comments

I’ve been discussing actually working out my Derivation of Fencing from First Principles for a while now. Well, actually, just First Principle. And, there being no other, it isn’t actually The First Principle, just The Principle.

So, Derivation of Fencing from The Principle.

What is The Principle? I suppose I should actually clarify that:

Stick the pointy end in the other guy1

Is it in fact The Principle, or even A Principle? For our purposes, we will take it as though it were, and see if it holds up to testing. Therefore, The Principle is the thing which shall be done, nothing that does not obey The Principle will be done.

There are four elements to The Principle which shall be dealt with individually:

  1. Stick
  2. The pointy end
  3. In
  4. The other guy


1. Stick

  • One sticks by poking, not by cutting. Ergo, thrust. Don’t cut (yes, The Principle has a decidedly Italian Rapier bias).
  • Any other movement of the Pointy End is not sticking and should be eschewed.
  • Any extraneous motion, including thrusting motion begun too far away, should be eschewed.
  • Any wasted time should also be eschewed, therefore move your point along said line by the most expedient manner2
  • Therefore, you should stick along a line describing the shortest distance between The Pointy End and The Other Guy.
  • Don’t do anything else with the pointy end (like, parry)


2. The Pointy End

  •  You attack with the Pointy End. Not with the edge. Not with the off-hand. These are not Sticking the Pointy End in the Other Guy.


4. (yes, skipping 3, for now) The Other Guy

This has two sub concepts:

First, the concept of The Guy

  • Attack him, nothing else (like his sword).
  • If he positions his sword such that you are no longer attacking The Other Guy but instead his sword, then change to an open line and continue. This is not an extraneous motion of the point, because it will be done while continuing to move your point towards The Other Guy.

Second, the concept of The Other

  • Pointy ends should go in him, not you.
  • If he tries to stick his pointy end in you, prevent it.
  • Don’t retreat, it moves the pointy end away from the other guy
  • Can you defend with the off-hand? Only if the action of doing so does not interfere with the action of sticking your pointy end in the other guy (by, for instance, occurring before you stick the pointy end in the other guy, or by causing your body to rotate such a way that your point goes off line or is pulled back from your opponent).
  • What about the non-pointy end? Why, yes, you can defend with that. How? In such a way that gravity, geometry, mechanics, and physiology are to your advantage, elsewise he might stick his pointy end in you.


3. In

  •  Make it go in. Position your arm, torso, and legs such that you maximally propel the point in to your opponent.


Yup, a whole lot of cheating via prior knowledge. More a personal guide for Socratically teaching fencing to STEM newbs.

Did I miss anything?


1And Dom is probably twitching now.

2Which, with experimentation, turns out to look like extending your arm quickly followed by an explosive large step through measure. Or, a lunge. As with the other discussions of this part, it should not waste motion or move the tip other than towards your opponent. Moving your foot before your arm moves your point up and down, and should be eschwed. If a lunge is not sufficient to complete the shortest possible path between The Pointy End and The Other Guy, you may want to continue its forward motion by, say, a passing step. Letia.

Posted July 12, 2013 by Wistric in Musings

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