Giganti 13: Blade Angles, Agrippa’s K, and Passata Soto   Leave a comment

This week brought two more voids, with an interlude of sword positioning for advantage (and that skipped page about fighting aggressive fighters)

How to Parry Thrusts to the Chest with Single Sword

This illustration shows you a safe way to parry thrusts to your chest and to deliver a counterthrust… in different ways; some pass from out of measure, others start in measure and others yet get inside the measure.

He starts with the variations on the theme, without yet discussing the theme itself.  We’ll come back to this.

If you have a good notion of tempo and are proficient at parrying like my illustration teaches you…

So, how does the illustration teach?  All previous illustrations, and almost all discussions, show the eventual parry performed with the guard below your opponent’s.  This one, though, ends, with the guard above the opponent’s, blade angled down and striking below the opponent’s pommel into their chest.  How to get there:

[Start] without any of you having the advantage of the  blade… [when] he passes to attack you with a thrust to the chest, in that same tempo, follow his blade with yours, lower your point by lifting your hand and parry.

The slightly ambiguous part of this is “follow his blade with yours”.  It could mean just maintain contact, but I think  it also means that a slight withdrawal is needed as he extends, to buy space and time in which to rotate your blade down.  In practice, without the withdrawal, my tip usually ends up caught on the opponent’s quillons.

Finish with the pass of the left foot and thrust home, and

perform a cavazione… and recover.

Here, and Leoni has a footnote to the same effect, cavazione indicates a line change different from the typical basic disengage.  Instead, its a reversion back to the high line of the standard guard.

The Thrust to the Face, Turning the Hand

This illustration shows a splendid way to strike your opponent in the face

But really, what way of striking your opponent in the face ISN’T splendid?  “Opponent has sword in face” is kind of a good definition of “splendid.”  Well, assuming you defend yourself properly at the same time.


Make the opponent parry by feinting with a cavazione;

Setup on the outside, and cavazione to the inside.  Or, if setup on the inside, cavazione… more insiderly?  The goal is to get your opponent to parry to the inside, then…

In the same tempo, turn your hand, place your left hand against his hilt, and pass while delivering a thrust to his face

Here again we have a complex single action, a “turnplacepass”.  This was a concept that Gawin got, but I’m not sure everybody listening to us talk about this at practice did.  It’s not three separate actions, it has to be one single, smooth, combined action.

And then there’s “turn your hand”.  What’s that mean?  I don’t know that it is even properly described as a turn of the hand, as it’s more a turn/bend of the wrist, that can be performed with your hand in any of the “Big 4”.  The important result, which caused Gawin to furrow his brow as he realized it, is… well…

It’s a little hard to tell from the illustration in Giganti, but it appears to be something like Agrippa’s position K:

(Borrowed from ARMA. It’s worth noting, though, that Agrippa’s footwork is different, with a slope step to the left instead of a pass)

Your opponent’s blade actually ends up between your head and your sword, an initially horrifying thought.  The hand on their guard, though, protects you from a cut to the head, and your own thrust drives into their face, bending around their parry to get there.  The few times this has worked, it’s been awesome.  The few times this hasn’t, it hurts.

Counterattack with a Cavazione from out of Measure

The basic setup for this one is an opponent in refused guard, out of your measure, who to close measure is very probably going to throw a passing lunge.  This is a big, slow, ugly action, which opens up an opportunity to…

Make sure you are in a guard… giving him an opening to attack your chest.  A good opponent will quickly pass forward with his right foot and turn his hand [to the inside] to shield himself from your blade.

In that same tempo, perform a cavazione under his hilt, lower your body as illustrated, and strike him in the face before he finishes his attack

Passata soto, or “DUCK!”   You close the line of the incoming attack, stick him, avoid his thrust, and his great big passing lunge pushes him thoroughly onto your blade.  Giganti adds a bit of nuance:

[Hit him] even before his right foot hits the ground.  He will be unable to parry this action.

Another rule on Triplette’s salle wall: attack when your opponent’s front foot is in the air.  With this big step forward, you have plenty of time to start your attack, and your opponent must end his first action before he can start another, which will be way too late.  I kind of wish Giganti had discussed that a little more thoroughly, but there are so many topics I wish he’d delved in to more deeply, and so many he plumbed too deeply.


Posted July 27, 2010 by wistric in Giganti, Italian Rapier

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