Question for the Audience: Tells   5 comments

I was thinking about the Most Dangerous Swordsman I’ve known (though, this was when I was a foil fencer at the club in Orlando, so it’s been a while), who was this late-60-something guy shaped like a beachball.  In no way, by physical judgment, could he have been thought of as dangerous.   I was a newbie, and he generally didn’t work with new folk.  Still, the few times I crossed blades with him I got a hell of a lesson.  He barely moved his feet.  When I attacked, he twitched and I was parried, and then his point was on me.  But it wasn’t just him beating up a newbie.  Everybody in that club feared him at some level, even the forty-something guys who’d started fencing in college.  He spoke with an Hungarian accent, which has led to the First Maxim: Beware old, fat Eastern Europeans.

Clearly he had superior mastery of the fundamentals of combat and had drilled his sword work and footwork to a fine edge, but he also had that nearly telepathic capacity to read his opponents, always.  These qualities made up for any physical advantages his opponents might have.   Most of the voices on this blog are bouncy little twenty-somethings, but they won’t always be.

There are a few times where something, just some slight shift of weight or change of an angle, in an opponent has not just said “I’m going to attack” but “I’m going to attack in this particular manner.”  I remember the first time I read it – Alejandro was fighting me left handed and there was something that led me to hold up a hand and ask “Are you about to take your big offline lunge and hit me over the top of my inner elbow?”  He allowed as how he was.  Another time, I think, got me Sir Christian’s positive vote for the white scarf polling.  He had lunged, and when I didn’t counter he asked “Why?”  I said I was pretty sure he’d intentionally lunged short to bait my counter attack so he could strike in counter-time.  Again, something about his lunge that I couldn’t have measured at that moment.  He gave me a great compliment, saying “There are Provosts who can’t make that assessment.”

Uncle Walter’s got his list of rules, and one of them is “If you know where your opponent is going to be a half second from now, you should win.”  That’s why we put our opponents in obedience.  It’s also why that old Hungarian monster learned to read every body (see what I did there?  Clever, n’est-ce pas?).

Our bodies give us away, and our opponents’ bodies give them away.  So here’s the question: What are your tells?  What do they say?

Reply here.  And, audience, if somebody misses a tell, point it out for them.  Be HELPING.

Posted January 17, 2014 by Wistric in Musings

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