Thursday, July 18, 2013

Fabris, Part Seven - Chapter 9

Wow. I get this set up and then... don't do much with it. Shame on me! The heat has been sapping my will to live. It's pretty terrible. So, without further ado, I give you MORE FABRIS.

(pages 15-17)

Chapter 9 - What Is Finding The Sword And how it is effected. When a sword is understood to be found.

Fabris starts off by saying that "finding the sword means occupying it." (I'm curious how to read "occupy" here.) He notes that it's similar to the counter-posture, but there are differences because you can find your opponent's sword without closing the exact line between it and your body - but you'll still retain an advantage over his blade because you can't be wounded without your opponent's blade passing through your forte. (Is this the first time he's mentioned the forte in these terms? I need to go back and reread the earlier chapters, suddenly. Because forte. That's important.) Also, your forte is close enough to the point of the opponent's blade so the moment he moves to lunge, you immediately find the blade. Compare to a counter-posture, where it's not truly correct unless "the line between the opponent's point and your body is completely covered, although even in this case you are playing with the advantages of the forte against the debole." (To me, this is saying that you can find the blade without completely cutting off the line of attack for your opponent. This seems to indicate that using an invitation isn't a true counter-posture, but you can find the blade with an invitation.)

So your opponent's blade is "found" when yours is more strongly positioned such that you can move his, but he can't move yours. (That seems straightforward enough. I wonder when it'll get more complicated than that!)

So to quote Fabris' further explanation in full (which is the ratio example that I tend to use), "If you are in guard, and wish to find the opponent's sword, you should situate your point against his so that the fourth part of your blade is into the opponent's fourth part, but with the greater portion of yours into his. He who has more of his sword into the opponent's (no matter by how little) will have the advantage of the sword, as long as the opponent's sword is found on the weaker side."

The sword is always stronger on the side to which it is pointing. (Tom Leoni points out in a footnote that understanding this concept is key to being able to understand Fabris.)

You don't want your point to be so far away from your opponent's that while you're looking for the fourth part of his blade that he can push ahead into his third or second part. You should push your sword into your opponent's and take up distance if he does this. (I don't think I quite grasp this, unless he's saying that you should immediately push in to regain parity rather than retreat to regain parity, which I think I can see, except that your opponent has the advantage.)

However, no matter how close your points are, if you go to find your opponent's sword, he can defend against that by angling his blade, moving his point farther away. If he has a good distance when he does this, it can happen as part of an attack, and his forte will be such that you cannot parry. If he involves a void away from your blade as well, this situation is even worse for you. (What I'm getting out of this is that if you don't take the initiative or are appropriately careful about your opponent taking the initiative, when finding the blade everything can go terribly wrong.)

If you want to avoid this, you need to be very cognizant of measure, and if you move, be prepared to alter your movement if need be. (Because any movement is a tempo, even if you're moving to gain the blade, and if you make a tempo, your opponent can take advantage of it. Even if you're trying to gain his blade at the time. Awkward.)

Fabris notes that when finding your opponent's sword, you should never touch your opponent's blade. (Yeah, this kind of flies in the face of how I've done this, too.). If you don't touch his blade, it's less likely that he'll know that you've found it and do something about it. Fabris points out further that with blade contact "you somewhat disrupt your own form" and it's harder to take advantage of tempi. (This makes perfect sense to me, though. Huh.) Additionally, you're not forced to muscle against your opponent's blade, which can cause "fencing to degenerate into wrestling."

Fabris mentions a couple techniques to keep your blade free - a disengage (as opposed to a cavazione - though he doesn't call it a disengage, but that's how dropping the point reads to me) or yielding the blade, which is always fun.

Fabris closes by saying that finding the blade is the first part of victory. If he tries to take advantage of the tempo created by you finding the blade, you will wound him. If he wants to avoid this, he must withdraw and entirely change his position.

Notes: This is, unsurprisingly, a fantastic overview of finding the blade. It really is the type of thing, I think, that requires a lot of practice and a lot of not getting it because of a lot of little things, but there'll be a sudden epiphany and it'll be awesome.

This also reminds me, for a couple reasons, that I should ramble in a future entry about some reasons why period techniques don't work so well in the SCA sometimes. Maybe I'll do that before Pennsic, because that's less interpretation and thinking about a manual, and more just kicking ideas around. Maybe not, though. We'll see.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Calontir has rapier!

We interrupt this blog to say that as of today, Calontir has enacted a rapier program.

From what I'm told, it's effectively cut and thrust - but this means that every kingdom in the SCA has a rapier program now. Awesome!

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Fabris, Part Six - Chapter 8

(pages 12-15)

I've got more inline comments as opposed to a collection of them at the end. I suspect that going forward, I'll be using a combination of these - I was just pretty tired while writing this one out, so the inline notes were plain easier for me at the time.

Chapter 8 - On The Advantages and Drawbacks Of Parrying; on those who parry using the left hand in sword alone.

Fabris begins by describing the parry as a form of fear; if you were not afraid of harm, you would not need to defend. Because of this, it can be considered falling into obedience, moreso when it happens due to necessity, because if you don't want to see yourself wounded you feel compelled to parry. On the other hand, if you can cause your opponent to parry, you have an advantage because when he moves to parry he creates an opening where he can be wounded. [Straightforward second intention stuff here!]

Therefore, Fabris feels that parrying is counter-productive.

If you feint an attack in one place, you can redirect it elsewhere, deceiving him through that action. "It is infinitely better to let cuts fall away from you and to void your opponent's thrusts." This is exceedingly true when using the sword alone, because with the sword and dagger you can parry with one hand and attack with the other. [Clearly, Fabris didn't fight in the SCA, where that empty hand is all kinds of active with people.] With the sword alone, you need to be much more careful to use these techniques of simultaneous offense and defense.

Fabris says that if you have to parry, put your forte where your opponent's sword is about to fall and at the same time thrust quickly so your attack lands before your opponent contacts your forte (so your point control remains good). This is how you parry a cut - because it takes longer to hit than a thrust does.

If you know that your thrust can't reach your opponent, then you don't need to parry because he can't reach you either. [I can think of some mismatches that this in no way applies to.] If you doubt that, just pull back a bit, let the cut drop past, then counter.

If you still want to parry despite knowing your sword can't reach your opponent, you should still move your sword as if you will hit him. This way your opponent can't just keep attacking. If you are lucky, your opponent might abort to a parry because your point will come at him in the tempo, and then you can wound him.

Generally, Fabris says, don't parry if you can't counter (or fake it) so you can put your opponent into obedience while freeing yourself from it. Also, because the cut us slow, you can sometimes wound him and retreat before it drops.

All these things are possible if you have a solid grasp of your opponent, his distance, and measure. At a wider distance, you'll need to bait your opponent into an unwise overreaching attack. At a narrower distance, you'll need to wound him before the cut falls, because thrusts are faster. You can withdraw the left foot a bit to help control your distance that way, but your thrust won't be as effective. If you parry, you can pass in boldly, and since it's a thrust you will recover more easily.

Fabris also notes that if you're worried about people who cut into your sword to beat it away and then attack? If you understand tempo and cavazione, then you have no need to worry at all. [Beats: not all that great sometimes.]

Now Fabris moves on to defending against thrusts. Because they are faster and deadlier, defending against them is likewise more difficult, but generally less strength. Because you can easily employ a second intention with the thrust, even if you parry and simultaneously counter, your opponent can void your blade and redirect his blade into the opening created by your parry. This is why voiding your opponent's point with your body is preferable for defending against and countering thrusts in tempo, as long as you know what you're doing with this.

Fabris does say that it's important to be able to parry so that you can void or parry, as the situation demands. It's best if you do both at once, because it's more effective and doesn't change the location of your sword too much. Also, it is fast and makes it difficult for your opponent to easily change lines.

Further, Fabris states that there are many fencers who use their empty left hand to parry, and base their defense on that rather than the sword. They even go so far as to grab the blade (so he refers to this as 'sword and glove')! [Well, in some kingdoms, anyway!] Fabris does not even think this possible with a sharp sword. Frankly, he thinks this whole thing is foolish, but he'll go into it so we know how to operate against it, and then describe the proper way to use the left hand.

It is true that the left hand can make wider motions than the sword. Also, it is true that if you make straight line attacks without any feints or cavazioni, the left hand can easily parry. Against opponents that parry with the hand, Fabris advises keeping your sword at a slight upward angle, so that he can't pass with the body or counter before you straighten your point against him. This will also make it difficult for your opponent to grab your sword while you are on guard. He advises you attack along an oblique line to deceive the parrying hand. Basically, once you find your opponent's sword, get measure and tempo and an opening, you attack and take care to keep your point proceeding forward. This way, once you straighten the angle against the target, the point is already there before your opponent can bring his hand into play, as long as he doesn't break measure. [I really, really like this description.] One can also employ "all sorts of feints" depending on the hand position.

He feels that it is easier to fight people who defend with their hand, because they don't make use of their forte. Their big concern is keeping their sword free, so it tends to be withdrawn, leaving more openings to choose from, making it easier to wound them and retreat to safety. This is even easier against those who first parry with the hand and then jab with the sword. [This happens SO MUCH.]

The proper way, Fabris says, is to always move your sword in a controlled manner, and always observe the tempo - even if you use the left hand. It's important to know how to use the hand, but it should only be used in case of emergency, not as a habit. Generally, don't use it at all unless you can reach the opponent's hilt or get into grapples and wrestle him. [A&S! A&S!] (Fabris does say that wrestling isn't really what we're doing here since we're only interested in proper defenses and attacks with the sword. "However, since once a sword bout becomes a wrestling match you have passed the greater risk, it is more important to stay on the subject of how to safely overcome this "greater risk" and wound your opponent in the process.")

So, to correctly use the left hand. When your opponent makes an attack, you parry with the sword and counter. At the same time, place your hand so as to defend the most likely opening you make. This way, the hand defends the body and closes a line without touching your opponent's sword. This should be done whenever the tempo allows it. [Yup, this makes sense to me so far.] This is the best defense, because your hand isn't in danger, the body is covered, and you don't give anything away to your opponent by molesting his sword. If he attacks, his path will be blocked and if he doesn't attack, you can wound him without unsettling your form.

Fabris, Part Five - Chapter 7

(pages 10-12)

Chapter 7 - On Cuts: On their number, nature, and uses; on which of them is better; on whether it is preferable to cut or thrust.

(Out of the gate, I'm unsure of how useful this will be in standard SCA rapier, where percussive cuts are forbidden. I might be surprised, though! Regardless, this is absolutely applicable to cut and thrust, so that works fine.)

Fabris begins by stating that there are four principal cuts: the mandritto, riverso, sottomano, and montante. Each is used differently and has different targets. He notes that later in the book he includes an illustration of all the cuts that derive from these.

(Note: A mandritto is a cut you make from right to left. A riverso is one you make from left to right. These can be of varying subtypes which can move almost vertically down, diagonally down, or be horizontal. A sottomano moves upward from the right, and a montante moves upward from the left.)

Fabris goes on to say that these cuts can be delivered in any of four different ways - from the shoulder, from the elbow, from the wrist, and from the shoulder but with an extended and stiff arm.

Delivering a cut via the shoulder is too slow - the sword needs to describe a wide arc to land with any strength, so it is the worst of the available options. The tempo you take to deliver this, including your windup, is long enough that your opponent can wound you before the sword even begins to fall.

Delivering a cut from the elbow also takes your hand off-line, but is less easily countered than the first method. It is problematic in the same ways as the first, but not to the same degree.

The third method, delivering the cut from the wrist, is yet more preferable. The sword makes an arc, but the arm itself is largely stationary and directed towards an opponent. This helps protect your body, and after delivering the cut, your sword will be pointed at your opponent. (The previous two methods risk too much followthrough.) Your forte remains useful to parry with, and you can proceed into another cut to counter.

The fourth method, a cut from the shoulder but with a stiffened, extended arm, is good for defeating the first two methods of cuts. You can deliver it simply by dropping the blade, or even with just a little lift and drop, and let it land on a convenient opening that his movement opens. If you add body and foot movement as well, this becomes more true. You may need to lower your body somewhat, and should keep your sword facing your opponent so that it is easily brought in-line afterwards.

For general cut-related advice, Fabris states that you need to wait for a good tempo, because cuts aren't usually small motions and you don't want the tempo to end before your cut lands. He recommends fenting a cut and striking with a thrust. The reverse is also possible, and if you do not want to wait for a tempo, necessary. However, he does note that if your opponent is stationary, initially feinting with a cut can be dangerous because of the time needed for the initial motion.

Generally, cuts are slow. If you cut, you cannot counter-attack while parrying. That said, you can put your opponent into obedience while you parry, and in so doing keep him from delivering more attacks. Fabris does say that the cut "is not a very useful technique anyway. The need to talk about it is only proportional to the need to expand on the techniques of the cut and the thrust, since it is necessary to know about both."

Fabris points out that cuts take more strength to perform than a thrust, both because they are more awkward and also because if they don't meet resistance, they can pull your body into disorder. Recovery can be slow, which is the large part of why they carry more risk. "In all respects, thrusting is more advantageous and deadlier than cutting. With a thrust, it is easier to strike quicker and from farther away, and to recover afterwards. Thrusting is a most excellent and elegant attack, since it embodies all the subtleties of fencing."

Fabris does close, however, by noting that if you have to face multiple opponents, it is better to use both the thrust and the cut because you can create more disarray among your foes and parry many swords at once.

Notes - Chapter 7:
This was remarkably straightforward! The way I'm visualizing the cuts as he describes them has a large percussive component, rendering them not really useful for SCA rapier. That said, I think a wrist cut can easily be turned into a draw without sacrificing much in the way of form, so that may be something to try.

Even if cuts are a terrible idea. ;)

Fabris, Part Four - Chapter 6

(pages 8-10)

Chapter 6 - On Flinging The Sword: And on the principle of the two tempi. On whether it is better to perform controlled thrusts and observe the correct tempo.

(Or: How to fight That Guy.)

"There are some who, wanting to execute a thrust, fling their sword-arm forward with force in order to give it more momentum. This is a bad technique for the following reasons:"

Fabris goes on to enumerate the reasons why this is a terrible idea. In short:
- If your opponent defends the original opening, you can't rapidly switch to another target.
- If your opponent pushes your debole, you will end up much farther off-line than you would otherwise be. Additionally, it doesn't take as much strength to move your blade in this case.
- The forte of a flung sword can be weaker than the debole of a parrying sword.
- Flinging your blade dramatically reduces your point control, as well as increasing the chance that if you do this while lunging, your sword and arm will fall out of line, giving your opponent a chance to strike you.
- If you fling your sword, you need to withdraw it before you fling it again, which is a long enough tempo for your opponent to wound you during the first jab, and while you withdraw your arm he can remove himself from measure before the second jab, after which a two tempi parry and counter can be used.

Fabris points out that the last point illustrates how techniques with two tempi (which are usually less desirable) are quite useful against people who attack like this. He goes on to note that people who perform such attacks do not typically perform proper feints - they tend to feint with the body or feet, rather than moving the sword - or if the sword moves at all, they will then pull it back much farther to wind up for another stab, which is an exceedingly long tempo that can easily be taken advantage of.

Fabris then moves on to discuss using two tempi. He writes that while he says they can be effective against some people, they are strictly inferior to a single tempo parry-counter. The best way to counter is to "meet the body of the opponent in the very moment that he moves forward." Otherwise, he might retreat and if you follow, you give him a chance to parry and make another attack.

In his experience, people who use two tempi have a habit of beating the blade to create an opening to attack. This might work except for the danger of being deceived. While if your blade gets beaten away, you can't counter in the same tempo, if you perform a cavazione as your opponent tries to beat your sword, his blade will end up out of line and allow you to wound him. This also works if he is just feinting to beat your sword (to provoke a cavazione) to beat it on the other side. If this happens, you should fake the cavazione, keeping your blade on the same side of your opponents'. Either way, his attempt to beat your sword is what ends up causing him problems.

Generally, you cannot beat your opponent's blade without bringing your blade off-line - especially if you can't find your opponent's blade. Also, when you are trying to beat their debole, he can push his blade forward so you end up trying to beat his forte, which will neutralize your attack as well as making an attack of his own that you can't parry. Either way, if your opponent doesn't fling his arm, his forte will generally stay put against a beat.

Fabris concludes that it is much better to parry and counter in a single tempo, though with a single blade it requires "great judgement." It is, though, always better to thrust rather than fling your arm. A sword that moves in a controlled way can yield to a beat with the debole while keeping the forte still, so you can strike another target.

Additionally, you need to retain blade control at all times, and occupy your opponent's debole. If he can't free it up, he can't attack. These rules can only be followed by someone who moves their sword in a controlled and measured manner and remains in control - and can interrupt an attack they are making if they see their opponent can defend against it. These are the fencers who will wound in the same moment that their opponent will try to parry.

Fabris says that the best course of action to follow is that once an attack has begun, the point must continue uninterrupted into the opponent's body. Once the sword's movement pauses because of a cavazione or another change, it will not arrive in the same tempo. This subtlety cannot be observed by someone who flings their sword.

If the movement of your sword is backed and supported by the movement of your body and feet, it will have more strength and more accuracy. If you move your blade in this manner, it will not fall out of line. You won't need to do anything after wounding your opponent other than withdrawing your body and foot to keep the advantage over your opponent's sword. If he follows while you withdraw, wound him again. All of this is possible because of the union of sword, body, and feet.

Notes - Chapter 6:
This all seems reasonably straightforward, honestly. Flinging your arm is a bad idea - you sacrifice control, and make it easier for your opponent to deal with the attack and then counter. Heck, it lets them get away with using two tempi to respond, which is usually a terrible idea. He revisits that a lot in here.

Other interesting things that he points out are ways to deal with beats. Good stuff there. Also, unity of body when you're moving. You can't just rely on your arm to make the attack for you - everything needs to work together. Body mechanics - they work! They're also really, really important.

While Fabris could have used an editor in this chapter, it's really pretty accessible. At least, I think so.

Fabris, Part Three - Chapter 5

(Pages 6-8)

Chapter 5 - Of The Two Measures: the Larga and the Stretta. On the way to gain one and the other with little danger.

(Okay. I'm not sure how well this is going to work out, but let's go! Also, SHOUTING!)

The misura larga is immediately defined as the distance from the opponent where you can wound him by stepping forward with the right foot.

Fabris then goes on to point out that after you form a good counter-poster "not too far out of measure" you start "cautiously moving your foot forward" until you reach misura larga. That said, you need to be careful when stepping if your opponent's guard is static, because when you take the tempo to move your foot, he can push his foot forward and attack - so you need to be careful knowing this. Fabris suggests using a feint to unsettle your opponent's posture, such that you will be able to then wound him. He then points out that you must always be mindful of what your opponent can do to you, and in doing so you will be much safer because you will be ready to counter him.

Moving on from this, once you have entered misura larga, if your opponent moves to settle into his stance (as opposed to breaking measure), you should immediately hit him without even waiting for a movement of his sword. Fabris then points out that this won't work if he moves his sword but not his feet, because the feet move more slowly than the sword. If his feet aren't moving, he could still parry because your sword is carried by your leading foot - and even if he can't do that, he could just break measure and then you'll be open to a counter when you're in the end of your lunge.

So instead of that, if your opponent moves his sword and not his feet, Fabris advises that you should take that opportunity to gain the misura stretta - which he defines as the distance from the opponent where you can wound him by just bending the body forward without moving the feet. In doing this, your opponent will need to step back to not remain in danger; if he does not do this, he can easily be wounded, as long as you retain the advantage of the counter-posture.

Fabris also states that it is possible to wound the opponent without him moving, but this can only happen after you take careful stock of the distance between your point and your target, the relationship between your debole and his forte, and how much you need to move your point closer to the target and away from his forte. He goes on to note that if you know the tempo of your opponent's parry and counter is equal to your attack, you will be able to strike first because you will be moving first. If he's in a strong guard though, you should attack the first opening and move to another that his defensive movement creates when he begins his parry.

So, if you are in misura larga and want to reach misura stretta and your opponent is static in his guard, Fabris asserts that it is very dangerous, because as soon as you lift your foot to step, your opponent may take the tempo to wound you while he steps back to misura larga, so you end up back where you started. This is because the foot moves with a minimum of two tempi - picking it up and putting it down. Fabris states that some people slide their foot to try and get around this, but he also says that this is a terrible idea because while it may work in a salle, in a street, you'll trip on something - so always pick your foot up and put it down.

The safe way to get to misura stretta is to ensure that you're in a strong counter-posture, put your weight on your left foot, and cautiously lift your right to move it forward. At which point:

- If your opponent uses the tempo to strike, you use the contratempo to parry and counter, and instead of stepping forward, you stretch into a lunge. This may allow you to reach him if he tries to break measure.
- If your opponent does nothing, end up in misura stretta in the same position you were just in before you stepped. Then you can strike your opponent wherever you like.
- If your opponent retreats, you're still in misrua larga so you can bend your body, shift your weight onto your right foot, and then retreat.

If you are trying to close to misura stretta, remember to not move your body at the same time as the foot, but rather only after the foot moves forward. After you wound your opponent, pull back your body and retreat with your foot.

Finally, if your opponent keeps retreating as you gain measure, don't be impatient and follow him, because it could be a ruse. Be calm, maintain your form, and wait for him to come forward and you can wound him in that tempo.

Notes - Chapter 5:
My notes are a little more rambly here, because I think that this chapter is a little bit looser than the others we've seen so far.

So the misura larga reads to me as what we tend to term "lunge distance." I'm a little puzzled by the phrasing of "you move your foot forward" until you reach the correct measure. I really feel like I'm missing something really key here.

The line about striking your opponent when he settles into his stance reminds me a lot of a line Tom Leoni has said about looking like Donald Duck when you assume your guard. I think this is a really key point - you should be able to go from casual to in a guard without needing to shimmy into it, and if your opponent is inside your range and decides to take some time to figure their guard out, hit them because they're clearly not in a good counter-posture. This pushes back to a post I made a bit ago about people taking trash time in range, too. Hunh.

Misura stretta seems to be analogous to extension distance for more modern fighters.

I'm intrigued by how Fabris seems to be indicating that striking a nonmoving opponent is more complex, or possibly more dangerous - and how he lays out what you need to be aware of. I'm assuming this is because a nonmoving opponent is not handing you a tempo in which to act, and they could have a superior counter-posture that you need to examine before you commit to this action. Additionally, I think it's a valid reading that when he says "your opponent's parry and counter" he's talking about a single motion and/or tempo, not a parry and then a counter. Finally, he pretty well describes a second intent here. Yay, second intent!

Don't slide your feet. Don't drag your feet. Pick them up. Put them down. Footwork, footwork, footwork!

I'm not sure I see where Fabris is getting the "if you end up here, you can just hit your opponent." Is he assuming superiority at this point, or what? I mean sure, you're close enough that you can just strike him with an extension (or as he puts it, leaning forward) but that seems a bit of a stretch.

Fabris, Part Two - Chapter 4

(Pages 5-6)

Chapter 4 - How To Form The Counter-Postures, In order to learn how the sword and body should be positioned and when the counter-postures should be formed.

Not tons of text for such a long introductory line, but here we go anyway! Straight from the master's pen, we lead off with, "Forming a good counter-posture means situating the body and the sword in such a way that, without touching the opponent's blade, the straight line between your opponent's point and your body is completely defended." Fabris goes on to note that this basically means that the fastest, most direct attack that your opponent could normally make is denied them without you needing to move your body or sword at all. If your opponent wants to be able to touch you, they need to move their sword from where it currently is, which means their tempo is going to be longer than yours, which means you'll have plenty of time to parry.

To do this, you must be sure that your sword is placed in a stronger position than your opponent's sword, so that when you need to parry, you can do so effectively. Fabris states that this is true regardless of what is in your other hand, and that if you can maintain this "subtly" then you have a definite advantage.

Fabris mentions two problems. First, that when you are forming a counter-posture, your opponent will form one against yours. Second, that if you form a counter-posture while too far out of measure (far enough that your opponent can wait for you to "move your foot towards him") during that tempo, he can change his posture and shut you out of line. To deal with this, you need "to be rich with different postures, to quickly find an advantageous placement against the opponent's and to present him with a new effective counter-posture." (Yup, I can see why Giganti may have ended up plagarizing Fabris for his second book.)

This is all based around a measure where you're not quite close enough to strike your opponent as he's shifting his postures; or if you are that close, that he keeps stepping out while shifting his counter-guard. To deal with this, Fabris tells us to step forward (achieving or maintaining good measure, respectively) and in the same tempo, take a new counter-posture appropriate to the opponent's posture.

On that note, you need to be able to form your counter-posture far enough away from your opponent that he can't hit you. Otherwise, if you're already at misura larga (wide measure, which is baaaaasically lunge distance), form your counter-posture without moving your feet - that way, if your opponent takes that tempo to attack, you can either parry and respond or step back out of measure, as appropriate.

Further, if you're forming your counter-posture slowly and your opponent comes in to attack, you should be able to interrupt yourself so that you can use this tempo to parry and wound your opponent at the same time. Basically, you need to keep your movements controlled so you can modify them on the fly.

Finally, if you want to safely gain distance on an opponent, form a counter-posture - and if you find yourself shut out by an opponent's counter-posture, step back and break measure rather than approaching unsafely, until you come up with a good counter-posture.

Notes - Chapter 4:
Counter-postures! I kind of prefer this term over counter-guard if only because it indicates, to me, that there's more to a good guard than just the placement of the sword - rather, the whole body is part of a good guard. Body mechanics, they matter!

This is, honestly, pretty straightforward in a lot of ways, but for me, it's a really important foundation to start working from. You need to form a guard before you do anything else. Ideally you form a guard based on your opponent, so that you don't give anything away unnecessarily, and you manage to shut down what your opponent is doing - and if you do this subtly enough that they don't grasp what you've done, you cruise to victory. (Of course, there's a whole "what if both of you are standing there out of measure and nobody wants to really commit to forming anything" bit, and I think I know the way around that, but I'm mulling that over just to be sure.)

I like how Fabris notes in a couple places that sometimes, you just need to step back and break off the engagement to reset; we see our fighters doing that all the time anyway, right? I just like that it's a Thing here. (Though don't do it in range, or it'll be your own damn fault when you get stuck in the squishy organs.)

Finally, you deal with your opponent's sword with your sword. Not with your dagger, or buckler, or cloak, or hand. Your sword. This strikes me as being Really Important and Really Deep, too. I've heard elsewhere that your off hand is really, really easily deceived, and I think that's true compared to the sword. Are there other reasons for this point he makes that I'm not seeing?

Next time: Chapter 5! All About Measure!

Fabris, Part One - Chapters 1-3

The first copypaste from gplus. Hooray, Fabris!
(Pages 3-5 in the book.)

This is really a short starting entry; nothing super new for people who have any familiarity with Italian rapier, but it's still important and worth looking at before we get into the good stuff.

Disclaimer: There is some occasional wiseassery. Gotta crack a smile along with my Serious Scholarship, dammit.

Second Disclaimer: I'm new at going through a manual like this, discussing it and such for people. Suggestions are gratefully accepted!

Chapter 1 - General Preface To Book 1, On the basics of the sword alone.

Fabris points out that the basis for his book (and whole system) is using a single sword, "from which stems the understanding of all other weapons." He goes on to note that many principles here will apply just as well with any other weapon combination, and if you know how to use a single sword confidently and well, you will be even better with different things in your other hand. (So there!)

Fabris quickly moves into mentioning the four guards, and that they form the basis of pretty much all actions of the blade, forever and always. "In short, no defensive or offensive action can be effected outside of the four guards." He points out that the guards can be formed in a number of different ways, with a variety of postures - positions of the feet, body, and sword - that can be made from the four guards. Fabris states that we'll go into the guards later.

He explains that the book is structured such that he is trying to teach when to use which technique, and how to face someone in guard. "...a more knowledgeable swordsman is more free to choose his techniques, because no matter in what posture he finds himself, he will be able to maximize his effectiveness through his knowledge..." (Mental note: when did Fabris publish this as compared to when Giganti published The School?) He concedes that some postures are better than others, some approaches safer than others, and when you're in measure, your strategy has to be based off your opponent. All of that is pretty common sense to me

He notes that there are two distances, which he'll go into later.

Next, the four guards and parts of the sword, then other stuff!

Notes - Chapter 1: The big takeaway for me (besides, y'know, FOUR GUARDS FOREVER XOXOXO) is that Fabris seems to be saying that he's not going to be teaching "When your opponent does X, you must do Y." Instead, he's going to teach with the four guards are, what you can do with them when you combine the basic ideas with the rest of your body, and when you know your postures really well and you know timing, distance, and every other important concept and you combine them, you'll know what you can do with things and how they work, so you won't have to follow Fabris' directions about What Specific Way To Respond, but you'll be able to sort all that out for yourself. Which is pretty neat, and I like seeing it laid out like that.

Chapter 2 - The Four Basic Guards, And the reason for their names.

Basically, since a sword has two edges and two flats, there are four positions it can rotate through. Right? Right.

The first is what happens when you pull the sword from the sheath and point it at your opponent. (Which Fabris notes is where your sword should always be pointing, especially if you're using a sword and nothing else.)

From there, rotate your hand palm-down. That's the second guard. From there, rotate your hand to a natural position. That's the third guard. Then rotate your hand such that it is palm up. That's the fourth guard.

(I note that this does require the reader to be familiar with how to pull the blade from the sheath and point it at the opponent in a single motion.)

Fabris goes on to say that the hand can only be in one of these positions at a time as it turns. If you're in the first position, by necessity you need to pass through the second and third to get to the fourth.

Interestingly, Fabris points out that nothing can happen that doesn't proceed from the "essence" of these guards. This word is used, he explains, because there is some distance between the guards (generally about 90* of rotation) and there is a midpoint between each of them where you could stop your rotation - between One and Two, Two and Three, Three and Four. To avoid confusing things, Fabris won't really go into these "bastard" guards, beyond noting that they share properties with the guards between which they are formed. He goes on to note that beyond this hand position, the quality of a guard consists of the direction of the point, which gives a guard its strength. Additionally, Fabris states that he insists on these four guards because there are really only four ways to wound someone - inside, outside, below, and above. (Basically, he's describing lines.)

Notes - Chapter 2: There isn't anything really surprising here, but this is the first time I've seen mention of the bastard guards in writing. I like that he points out that the position of the hand is only a small part of things, though.

Chapter 3 - Division Of The Sword, In order to know its Debole and Forte.

Fabris divides the length of the blade into four equal sections, and works from the guard outward. The first part, closest to the hand, is the best for parrying. "There is no blow, whether a cat or a thrust, no matter how stoutly delivered, that cannot be effectively parried with the first part of the blade - as long as you observe the proper form and tempo..." (Emphasis mine, because it's that important.) The second part of the blade is also good for parrying, as long as you meet a weaker portion of your opponent's blade.

The third part of the blade is poor for parrying, especially cuts, unless you're using an advanced technique.

The fourth part of the blade is useless for defense, but the best for delivering attacks. Fabris notes that if you deliver a cut, you should use a combination of the third and fourth parts of your blade, so it will be more damaging.

Notes - Chapter 3: Again, nothing remotely shocking here, especially to anyone familiar with rapier combat. Parry with the forte, strike with the debole - though Fabris doesn't use those terms while defining the parts of the blade.

Next Time: We move into Chapter 4, in which Fabris discusses counter postures (and again, I need to compare this with Giganti). Chapter 4 is interesting enough that I think I'll focus just on that next time.

Thoughts? Comments? Discussion? Have some!

Fabris Readthrough, Initial Comments and Such.

Right, here we go. Parts One through Six are copied from my Google Plus account, after the interface there got really dumb, and after I figured that I wanted this to be more accessible to people, so I can learn more and more people can learn, and we can all get more awesome.

I'm not able to easily carry over all the really awesome discussions that were had there, which is a shame. They'll just have to happen here all over again, so go and reread them and comment on them, people!

I'm using the absolutely excellent translation by Tom Leoni for this. If you can find it for a price you're willing to pay, you really must grab it immediately. Unfortunately, it's out of print and going for shamefully high prices used. There are reasons why it only rarely leaves my house.

(This is where I plug any manual that Tom has translated. Because.)

Now that the initial copypasting is complete, I'm going to get started on continuing this here readthrough. (As well as using this blog for other related things, naturally.) If there's some kind of really cool functionality of this site that I'm not using that would be helpful, hey, clue me in.

And off we go!

First Post!

First post, woo!

Right, so. I'm in the process of moving my progression through Fabris' manual from gplus to here for a bunch of reasons. Hopefully, I'll be able to actually make this here blogger thing do what I want it to do. I'm pretty open to advice on that. Now that I've got it set up, and am motivated, and am posting this post (which, I mean, I don't think anyone will read for a while but that's beside the point) which makes me actually accountable to get things done, I'll be coping the posts from gplus to here, and then continuing onward with things.

There may be occasional forays into Giganti, or drills, or general WMA stuff, or SCA/rapier culture, or any number of things. Heated discussions in comments are cool, but arguments in poor faith, terrible logic, or insults will get the banhammer. So there's that.

Right. Eat some leftovers, get copypasting.

Welcome to my rapier and other interesting stuff blog. Enjoy!