Second Giganti VI: Defense against Passing Lunges   Leave a comment

Giganti devotes two sets of plates to what he describes as “furious passes” but which seem more likely to be the combination of a passing step that flows into a lunge (the passing lunge or pass-lunge) that shows up on the SCA list so very often.  The big advantage to the passing lunge, and why I used it for longer than I’d like to admit, was that it gobbles up huge amounts of territory and if your opponent thinks they are at “normal” measure they are really two steps or so inside your pass-lunge measure.  The big disadvantage to it is that distance = time.  It covers huge distances, but takes a huge amount of time doing so.  Also, the way most people do it, it hits like a fucking Mack truck, but that’s body mechanics.

Giganti says that, yeah, people might try this stuff.  He describes the counter to it as “a deceit” which leads into the most awesome sentence of the entire second book:

When two masters fence, they do not exchange thrusts or cuts, but rather wiles and new deceits.

Isn’t that a beautiful sentiment?  I think so.  And it’s exemplified by so many high-end fights, and absent from so many others.  After all, the big switch from thinking “How am I going to overwhelm my opponent?” to “How will I make my opponent obey my will?” is a pretty clear marker of high-end fighters.

The deceit prescribed by Giganti is a simple invitation.  Give your opponent an opening to attack.  It can be a big opening.  You’ll be okay.

Since his attack sacrifices time for distance, your counter turns that huge tempo he gives you into control of measure and line. When he attacks, you step back with your lead foot, moving your torso outside of the range of his big mucking lunge, securing your person and regaining control of measure.  As you can guess, if you’re not at the edge of measure for that big mucking lunge, you may not sufficiently clear range to avoid the lunge.  Giganti warns in a later plate (The Method of Defending Against a Pass of the Left Foot, at Distance Using a Counter-Disengage) that if you are in or inside measure there’s a chance his thrust will land before you can counter it.

While taking the step back, Giganti instructs to bring your dagger down/across to parry his blade away from your body, regaining control of line.  And since at this point pretty much just extend your sword forward and let him plant his face on your sword.  Winning.

This is one of Don David’s counters to righties who lunge at him (he’s a lefty).  It’s an effective tool, but has some weaknesses: because the lunge is a smaller tempo than the pass-lunge described, righties can move into a continuation through passing steps to eliminate the measure gained by the defensive step back, and because the extension and lunge disorders the body less than the pass-lunge, cavazione and voids are more available to the righties.

Still, Sir Morgan Ironheart is the biggest user of passing lunges* I encounter these days, and he and Don David fight each other often enough that I’m going to start taking notes, and possibly video, and maybe handing out photocopies of the pages from the second Giganti to bystanders, because learning is fun.

*Sir Morgan also throws the safest and fastest passing lunges I’ve seen, by efficiently converting all of the rotational energy into a linear expansion of the body. Think pulling ribbon off of a spindle instead of throwing a punch.  But they still take so much time you can usually block with your dagger, sidestep, stop thrust, and make a chicken salad sandwich before it arrives.


Posted June 5, 2014 by Wistric in Giganti, Italian Rapier

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