Fencing Journal 1/25/10   1 comment

No Tuesday practice for me; the Durham county animal control committee was mulling over a change to its policies that would make my other hobby (trap-neuter-return of “free-roaming” cats) no longer a misdemeanor, so I showed up and to watch my government inaction.  While entirely not fencing related (but related to certain other social dynamics that govern our fencing experience), I’ll take this opportunity to observe that I LOVE the American governing process, which is the same basic governing process that arises wherever Americans get together and try to make rules.   Everything takes forever, nothing gets done, and nobody’s happy with the outcome, and it is a beautiful thing.  The same applies to considerations of “Why I/my friend is not a member of My Favorite Polling Order” or “Why this stupid society level marshal policy has never been changed”.  Hasty change will a) only be “right” to some people, and the hastier the change the fewer the people, and b) if everybody’s pissed off, well, at least EVERYBODY’s pissed off.  Strange that humanity is such that this is still our best option for governance (until we outsource government to aliens).

Thursday had Letia, Jauma, Joe, and Skippy show up, and so we’ll start there

Holy crap, practice pays off

My buckler game, my lunges, and my parries were all nice and precised last night.  The past months of sliding down the backside of the plateau seem to be turning into the climb up to the next plateau.  What to work on next…

Skippy’s been knocking his posture and parry’s into something resembling good form, too, and was noticing that the slashing parry’s of old still feel “right” to him, whereas the correct parry’s are slow and alien.  That’s the bitch of the backside of the plateau.

Of course, it’s possible that my lunges and blade work were due more to exhaustion than practice.  The bike and rowing of Monday and Wednesday left my legs feeling pretty gelatinous (and, after fencing last night, even more so this morning).  It’s a phenomenon I’ve noticed, and that The Book of Martial Power commented on, that you have to practice to exhaustion before your muscles start rewriting their muscle memory.  Or maybe it’s the same sort of “conservation of effort” discussed earlier in the hungover-fighting post.

Video camera time

In watching everybody’s fight (and mentally observing my own), I think it’s time to bring Letia’s video camera to practice.  Once the fighters have, in their mind, the ideal of what they should look like, getting video of what they actually look like tends to be painful.  I wonder if we can get their Ex’s to plug the camera into their computer so we can have some instant elucidation gratification.

Aggressive Attack against Grounded Opponents

Watching Joe and Jauma repeatedly leg eachother, and thinking about the highly-defensive standard style I use for fighting grounded opponents, I set about visualizing a much faster way to end that fight.  So I tried it out against Skippy: Parry with Silver’s Bastard Gardant, exchange to off-hand, close to cup-in-facemask range, strike with a draw cut or a thrust (at a high-angle across the body).  This was inspired by Dom’s attack against tall people.  It began with a couple of caveats, of course:  It would only work on legged opponents – if they could retreat the rush would never succeed; it would only work if they did not have an offensive secondary – stepping in to cup-in-facemask range would just result in walking on to their secondary.   Of course, that all assumed it would work in the first place, which it didn’t: Skippy rotated his primary shoulder back, withdrawing his blade and disengaging it from my offhand, so that he could strike me about the same time I struck him.  No good, that.

So we tried a variation: Instead of blocking his sword to my inside, starting with our blades roughly parallel (as they usually are in these fights), I flicked mine under his and rotating to a prime hand position perpendicular to the line of attack (a sabre parry 5) passed in, pressing his sword back until it was above his head where I could restrain it (about half of the time, directly to the top of his mask) with my off-hand, and then finishing the fight.  Given the  orientation of his arm he was not able to rotate out of the bind, but it was also not necessary to force his arm back far enough to throw off his center of balance, risk injury to his joints, or actually entrap his blade (he did have the option of letting the tip drop behind him and bring it around in a circle to, essentially, a flat snap.  A slow, ugly, and ultimately futile option, but an option).

I actually wonder if, having made the exchange, you stepped to their sword-side and away from their off-hand, the attack could be useful against an opponent with a dagger in their offhand.

A nifty trick, ney?

Or is it

So I’ve been thinking about the discussion re: definition of tricks, and my own thoughts on the matter.  Thank you all for your input, and in comparing everybody’s thoughts I think I’ve figured something out, at least for myself.

We tend to use “trick” as a dismissive and perjorative term.  “Oh, that’s just a trick, it won’t work on everybody”.  Then again, we also talk about our “bag of tricks”, which is a set of techniques that form the fundamentals of our fight and do actually work.

I think the distinction I have in mind between tricks and techniques is that a trick assumes an opponent’s response (“If I take case, my opponent will not have experience fighting case” or “If I stomp my foot, my opponent will flinch and freeze”) whereas a technique controls an opponent’s response (either by blocking or by more overt manipulation).  So, to my mind, the above attack on grounded opponents  is not so much a trick as a technique.  No response is assumed, but by maintaining pressure and closing quickly the opponent’s potential responses are reduced to zero.

Now to examine my bag of tricks and see which ones are maybe actually techniques.

Posted January 29, 2010 by wistric in Journal

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