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.


  1. 'Additionally, you're not forced to muscle against your opponent's blade, which can cause "fencing to degenerate into wrestling."'

    I have no idea what he's talking about... *looks around sheepishly*

    1. We're pretty terrible that way.

    2. I try to fence pretty and correctly but it always comes back to thuggery once in a while.