Fencing Journal 12/7   2 comments

(Real post tomorrow)

Made two practices this week.  Fought Charlotte, Roz, and Benjamin on Tuesday.  Hit the Kappellenberg practice on Thursday.  Need to keep working on the buckler game.

Still stressed from work, still cranky.


When feeling flabby and cold, warm up more.

Don’t waste the time fighting badly and off a step because my body hasn’t caught up to the idea that I’m fighting.  In fact, if the reason for fighting badly can be fixed quickly, always do so.

There is a right way and a wrong way to be callous

I made a friend cry last night, which makes me feel like absolute shit.  On the one hand, I was attempting to stick to my policy of fighting cleanly and not sacrificing my game, while also having a newish fighter watch the fight to work on his perception.  But this led to my friend getting frustrated, and then having her performance (and mine) discussed, which was just a bit more than she could take at that point.  Dreya was able to provide a bit of perspective, but I still feel like a rotten son of a bitch.

When tightening the game, don’t exclude opportunities.

The biggest problem I’ve encountered with this new policy is that, in tightening my game down to a low seconda with some quarta, I’ve excised a large chunk of my bag of as being too large or sloppy, or tending to sloppiness.

The biggest “for instance” is I’ve cut out my lazy guard almost completely (I know, I know, ironic timing after last week’s post, eh?).  While the stop-thrusts (rising into the stomach of my advancing opponent; flick up and rotation into broad ward to land on my opponent’s upper sword arm; flick into quarta over an opponent’s lowered sword) are my bread-and-butter defense, and off-line inside lunges (more of a “slope fleche”) are a top-five attack, they do rely on having a range and speed advantage over my opponents.  That single premise works fine on, I’d figure, 60% of the fighters I encounter.  Which would be fine if I just wanted to be better than most.  And while I can use it to success against more-than-half, when seriously pressed the defense is sweeping the blade up to almost vertical to block with the forte in a sort of saber parry (having never actually fought saber); and that shit is just sloppy and ugly.  But this can be refined: tip up with the opponent’s blade on the true edge forte, a simple drop of the sword tip down into quarta sets up for a demi-volte.  So that’s where Lazy Guard’s panic defense has to go.

So step one is to identify what, exactly, I’ve lost.  Yep, this is Wistric’s Bag of Tricks, as it were.

I also chuck in the modified Guardia di Testa, which serves as a mirror of the Coda Lunga y Larga.  Whereas Lunga-Larga originates low on the outside and rises up and in, Testa originates high on the inside, with the added advantage that a slight lean forward puts my target area behind the true edge of the forte of my sword.  The arm is already mostly extended, so the “extension” prior to an attack becomes a wrist-flick which is faster than the extension.  Dropping the tip straight down takes the forearm, at a diagonal lands chest, and rotating into prima and lowering combines a stop-thrust and body void.  Try this against 75% of right-handed fighters when they bring dagger.  Examine their guard, draw a diagonal line across their torso from your upper inside to your lower outside, and from Testa you can cut that diagonal to your target.  Of course, the defense here becomes more difficult.  While all close targets are concealed from linear attack, wide lunges and low lunges can pick up the forearm, and an aggressive attack can push through the foible to your inside.  The defense against those offline lunges is a sweep to low 6, but I’ve had that parry lodge in the dirt.  Again, ugly.  Of course, a well-controlled sweep 6 sets up for a low-lunge under the opponent’s blade, so this is where Testa’s defense has to move.

The biggest generic trick I have is my 6’ frame, long monkey arms and legs (I have a disproportionately short torso), and decent footspeed (third to the Atlantian flag at Pennsic woods this year, behind Benjamin and Kenji).  Such tricks work just great — like I told Tall Joe, being a tall motherfucker will get you really far — right up until you encounter somebody taller, or faster.  Then you’re boned.  Or, somebody who knows what to do against tall fighters: Tall Joe, being 6’4” or something ridiculous shit like that, for all his Eastern habits (Hi Easties!), could hammer away at me from ICBM range, until I started throwing Fabris at him.   While my footspeed and range doesn’t make me sloppy, it does make me slightly lax.  My footwork defense can’t just be a quick scoot out of range; it has to be a defense that will work against all fighters of all speeds and ranges; the same for my range defense and attacks.

Another attack in the top 5 is the feint on the inside, to the hand usually to draw a parry in four, followed by a disengage and slope step left, attacking in quarta over the opponent’s forearm into their shoulder.   I’ve seen similar in a Capo Ferro, but not quite the same, it’s more of an attack from early/mid-16th century Italian combat.  And while I love it, the large footwork (and slight cross-over of the front foot, though following-through brings the left foot up into position and effectively puts me at my opponent’s shoulder) just does not come into my mind when thinking “tight”, even though the disengage and sword in quarta should close out a single-tempo counter-attack, and by the second beat would occur as I brought my back foot up.

The initiation of this brings up a fundamental basis of my fight: whatever guard I start in, the vast majority of my first intentions are to hands.  It’s the shallow target, it’s relatively safe, but it also makes me fairly predictable.  I should change that, but I can’t assemble a convincing argument for NOT starting my attacks by targeting the shallow target (“Hey Wistric, ignore that big juicy hand and go for their back shoulder!” is a hard sell).

Rounding out my defense (though it’s as much an attack) is a full pass forward and to the left while being attacked.  It’s mostly a Scanso Inquartata (yeah, total rapier manual mental masturbation at this point, I admit it) but instead of the lowerings top thrust, which strikes me as a great way to guarantee immobility, I reach out my long-ass monkey arm and, since I’ve ended up right next to my opponent’s guard, place my hand on their quillon, pommel, or guard, in such a manner as to immobilize their weapon without seizing it illegally (also, the hand on the quillon when they keep charging tends to put the blade up above their shoulder, which will stop them unless they’re a raging idiot.  If that’s the case, walk away from the fight).

The last of my great bag of tricks, at least that I can think of (If you know of some I haven’t mentioned, please remind me of them), are what Roz calls ‘presence attacks’.  Holding your sword where it can actually protect you means you think you might need protection.  Guards like Marozzo’s Guardia Alta, and Tail Guard, say “I just don’t think you’re a threat”, and there is a tragically high level of willingness to meekly submit to that message, even among Atlantians.  These guards have a limited number of options for defense (three — or maybe ‘two and the one that shall not be named’ — for Guardia Alta, two for Tail Guard) and no offense, but almost de rigeur accomplish what Musashi called “Extending your will beyond your opponent”, thereby winning the fight, or at least gaining a significant advantage, even before “lay on” is called.  Lunga y Larga has the same sort of “My Armor is Virtue” air about it.  Holding it where it can’t do shit, though, means all of your fighting from those guards looks like shit.  Still… there has to be a place for it, somewhere.  Right?

Also, new rules for terminology for teaching:

There are not “feints”, there are first intentions and further intentions.  Alejandro once pointed me to a fighting manual that had a flow chart of combat: Your ‘feints’ should be attacks that will land unless your opponent acts.  Only if the expected action should occur does your attack become a feint, then followed by a second intention.  So, first intentions, second intentions, third intentions, however many are needed.  Stab them until they say “Dead”.

Also, there are not parries, there is not “taking the blade”, there are merely binds.  Afterall, they’re the same thing, the different terminology only indicates who originated the pass.  Unfortunately, using those inaccurate terms often leads fighters to thinking of parries and ripostes as two separate actions, the same with taking the blade and attacking.  Fuck that noise.  Bind-while-extending as range narrows, whoever’s doing the narrowing.

Posted December 12, 2009 by wistric in Journal

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