Tuesday, July 9, 2013

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!

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