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.