Giganti 7: Strikes in Tempo and Cavazione   6 comments

Giganti in these section reiterates his main theme of forcing your opponent to take a tempo and attacking him in that tempo.  At length.

Explanation of the Strike in Tempo

For instance:

Gain your opponent’s sword from out of measure… so that the opponent cannot attack you without a cavazione.  So, in the very tempo in which he performs it to attack you, push your sword forward turning your hand at the same time, and strike him in the face as shown in the illustration.

Close the line, opponent disengages, and you attack as he disengages.  I’m nowhere near being able to consistently attack in that tempo, but when it happens it’s pretty.  He also instructs to turn the hand, closing your opponent’s new line.  As has been mentioned and will be mentioned repeatedly, not doing so causes double kills.  Not something I’d quite picked up on until I read this.

If you were to first parry and then strike…

Again he’s saying “don’t take two tempi to make your attack when one will do.”

If the opponent does not perform the cavazione, advance into measure while maintaining the advantage of the sword, and immediately attack his opening with a thrust

So if your opponent lets you keep the line closed, kill them for it.  Beautifully simple.

The Correct Way to Gain the Opponent’s Sword and Strike Him while He Performs a Cavazione

I swear, I can tell no difference between this section and the previous.  Somebody else who’s read this book, please let me know if I missed something.  One discusses gaining to the inside, one to the outside, but otherwise…

If you set yourself as I have just described [having gained the blade] the opponent will not be able to attack you… without first performing a cavazione; if he does so, turn your hand and, in the same tempo, deliver your thrust.


If he performs another cavazione, push another thrust in the same way, turning the hand and then again recovering out of measure

Not that I don’t believe it’s worth emphasizing, though.  I’ve just not been able to glean any different information from this section.

To be good at this type of play, you need much practice, because it is from this that you learn to parry and strike with great agility and speed

Can’t disagree with that.

Please observe that you should always… parry with the forte of the sword…  This is the first lesson you should learn with the single sword

Earlier he said that we should first learn to lunge properly.  I’m willing to accept a reality where lunging properly and always parrying with the forte are both the most important lessons a student should learn.  I’ve spent years working on it with myself, and with my students.  Yet again I find myself wondering if a Nick Evangelista-style disciplined approach to fencing would produce a far superior fighter, far faster than the usual SCA approach.  We’d just need a willing student and a coach who didn’t get bored.

The Correct Way to Perform a Cavazione

So it was right about the time I got to the last section during my first read-through that I wondered, not for the first time: “If you can be attacked during a disengage, why would you ever bother doing one?”  And one of the top three reasons I am so enamored of this manual is that Giganti answered it on the next page.  Proper recovery from lunge and proper disengage technique were the two Great Insights I had in the first ten pages of this book.

I come from a foil background, which means my disengages are either tight circles or, more often, just a quick dip of the blade from the wrist.  Afterall, if a parry is coming towards your blade you don’t actually have to make a circle to disengage, just dodge out of the way and pop back in.  Which is great in foil, where the hand rarely moves out of tierca.  But when fighting in tierca in rapier, as most fencers do, doing a simple disengage as described means that you present the flat of your blade, its weakest part, to your opponent’s eventual re-parry.  And that cuts down on the success rate quite a bit.  So what does Giganti say?

Proceed to gain your opponent’s sword…
If your opponent is as knowledgeable as you, your swords will always be in parity, and in that case perform a cavazione under his hilt while quickly turning your hand and, in hte same tempo, deliver your thrust to his opening.

Turn your hand.  Don’t just disengage, also put your true edge on your opponent’s blade and close the new line.  The body mechanics of this slow my disengage down horribly and displace my point a bit much, and I’m still trying to determine if a dip of the sword followed immediately by a turn of the hand would be just as effective.  With more practice, the motion may tighten up, but it’s still experimental right now.

Posted June 15, 2010 by wistric in Giganti, Italian Rapier

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