Since I've been wanting to work through Capo Ferro in a marginally more structured manner, I'm going to be moving through plate by plate. While the plate I'm starting with is pretty basic, and we've been going through Guy Windsor's hierarchy drill regularly (so we've been indirectly working on some of the basic plates already), I want to really pay attention to each one individually.
Plates 1-4 illustrate the guards. 5 is the lunge, and 6 is how to gain the blade on the inside. (Maybe I'll go back and touch on those specifically? That seems reasonable.) Plate 7 is the first action that we see, so here we go.
Plate 7 - This Illustration and the Following Show Various Ways to Strike to the Outside, After You Have Gained the Opponent's Blade to the Inside and He Performs a Thrusting Attack by Cavazione
To start, Fencer A gains the blade of Fencer B on the inside. Fencer B performs a cavazione to the outside to thrust to A's chest, and A rolls his hand into seconda while thrusting B "in the left eye" with either just an extension or a lunge as needed, all in a single tempo.
If B was "a prudent opponent," the play goes differently. A gains B's blade on the inside, and this time, B feints the attack by cavazione, keeping his body withdrawn (but A does bring his blade to the outside, and extend somewhat if necessary). A rolls his hand into seconda and begins to push the attack. This time though, B parries to the outside with either the false or true edge, and responds with a mandritto to the head (if parrying with the false edge) or an imbrocatta to the chest (if parrying with the false edge). B then recovers in low quarta.
Comments: This is one of the most fundamental sets of actions in Capo Ferro's rapier. The first part of the plate is a straightforward contratempo action - B takes an action, and A responds in the same tempo, reclaiming the line and striking. It's also the fastest way to reclaim the line - there's no contra-cavazione, it's just turning the hand over into seconda. As the first and most basic action to learn from this manual, I think that says something.
Capo Ferro doesn't explicitly say to move to seconda as part of the counter - he simply says to strike. It's very clear in the picture that A has moved his hand into seconda, and A must do this to get his true edge into play, but it's worth noting.
As an aside, A would do well to remember the last comment given by Capo Ferro immediately preceding this play, and not put his point directly into his opponent's forte. That'd be bad.
The second part of the play has B performing a feint by the cavazione instead. Capo Ferro notes that B should keep his body "somewhat back" and immediately move to parry A's counter. Capo Ferro doesn't explicitly say that it's a two tempi action, but I think it's pretty clear that it has to be. The use of the word "parry" carries this implication to me (though I admit this could be flawed, or also a result of the translation), and the fact that Capo Ferro points out that B must parry and then counter lends weight to this. Also, the mechanics that have to happen to counter and then riposte - either with a cut or rolling the hand into something resembling prima for an imbrocatta really pull it into two tempii, albeit two that flow quickly from the first into the second. (And hey, both Guy Windsor and Tom Leoni agree with me here, so we can all be right!)
Capo Ferro's note about keeping the body back is important to me; you don't commit the body forward until you're sure that you're safe, and you haven't closed that line with the feint. It also says to me that B has begun his movement already planning for it to be a feint, and that he's not falling back to it. I imagine that if A doesn't take the bait, B could far more quickly move from a feint by cavazione to an actual cavazione and push the attack home rather than bailing from an actual attack into a feint or an abortive parry?
Going through this plate live at practice tonight should be pretty good, if we can pay attention to a lot of the little details and not draw too many unsupported conclusions.