Thursday, November 27, 2014

Fabris, Plate 22

It's barely Thanksgiving, so it's time for me to fire off a drill version of Plate 22!

This description really does benefit from a visual aid, found here. (Plate 22 is on the left.) Note that the blade of our fencer on the left is to the outside of his opponent's blade, but to the inside of his arm. This is important later.

Plate 22, "A third wounding another third."

To break down the actions that get us to the image:

Both fencers start in Third, on the inside. Distance isn't specified, but I'm thinking misura larga. To be clear, in this plate, Fencer A initiates the action and B responds, but A will still wound B.

  1. Fencer A begins with a feint, straight in.
  2. Fencer B moves to parry, dropping the hilt to catch A's sword. 
  3. In the tempo of step 2, A performs a cavazione to the outside, thrusting his sword through the angle created by B parrying and dropping his guard.
  4. B will be unable to push A's sword out because:
    1. A's forte will be right up against B's blade, as in the picture, and
    2. A's blade will be locked against B's arm. (Note that this could be a little problematic for the SCA, where if B is pushing hard enough outwards before A strikes him, A's blade could be locked into place, not having struck anything. It's an edge case, but technically possible.)
Examining this, and comparing it to Plate 21, we can see a lot of similarities. (Which makes sense, if we're seeing the fundamental actions of the system here.) Contrasting it to the second variation of Plate 21 (with the second response that he might use, returning to the outside and wounding in Third over the opponent's blade) , only assuming that 21's Fencer A strikes his opponent, shows us an almost identical ending.

Things of note (which are, unsurprisingly, the same as in the previous plate) include the victor moving in the tempo of their opponent's movement. Mezzo tempo actions are huge for Fabris, and it makes sense that he starts us off with them. Also, we can see a total lack of blade contact until the forte is right up against the opponent's sword - if even that much. Related to that, we start in Third. If there's no reason to leave it, we can stay in Third, regardless of whether we're on the inside, outside, or whatever. There's no blade contact, no need to really oppose the opponent's blade, so no need to move into another guard. Straightforward. Finally, we're making an attack without first gaining the opponent's blade; this is usually a bad idea, but in this case we're reacting to a specific response that the feint flushed out, and taking that tempo away. Since our opponent can't do two things at once, we can strike them while they're parrying, so we should be safe. (I feel that it's still far better to gain the blade and go from there, though.)

Another way the action could happen is like this:

Both fencers are again in Third, on the inside.
  1. Fencer A moves to find B's blade.
  2. B performs a cavazione and steps in.
  3. A takes that tempo and thrusts during the cavazione.
Fabris states that this illustrates that the motion of a cavazione is slower than staying in the middle and moving on a straight line. While normally this might not be the best idea, if the opponent isn't attacking, but merely disengaging around to the other side and stepping in, attacking does make a lot of sense according to Fabris.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Super great Fabris scans

They're digital scans, so they're not translated or anything, but they're really great and you can see the plates that I reference around here!

Go here!

Fabris, Plate 21

Man, real life happens and my blogging falls off. Again. What is with that? (Mental note: win lottery, do this full time.)

Anyhow, I'm really trying to spend more time figuring out Fabris. I'd like to get to the point where I can start to drop into his postures during a fight, but that's a lot of conditioning and practice. That said, his theories and practice can be applied without the postures (which he notes, saying “If you know how to carry your body forward [ie, leaning forward in his distinctive manner] properly and without awkwardness, you will be better served if you were to bend it. But if you think you cannot, you should rather remain straight, because if you force your posture you will never be as ready to move.” (Leoni, page 28.) That's not to say that I'm not going to keep practicing his postures, but rather to say that there's no reason I can't work on other parts of his system while I'm conditioning myself to said postures. In other words, I can keep drilling things standing upright and bending over. Therefore, let's start looking at Fabris' wounds! 

Fabris calls the plates in which he describes engagements and combat “wounds.” He describes them wonderfully and clearly, but I think that it will definitely benefit both myself and others to have them restated in plain English, in drill form. So I'm going to be doing this for the foreseeable future. If I'm very good, I'll even be doing them as drills at my local practices and in my basement. 

Onward, then!

Plate 21, “A firm footed attack of fourth against a third.” 
(As a note, Fabris includes some additional notes along with this plate, which while important to keep in mind, aren't necessary for to copy in full for a set of drill instructions. That said, go read them. They're important. So important that I end up touching upon them later.)

The distance isn't clearly stated, but I feel that the fencers should begin at misura larga.

(Edit: To clarify, in both of these variations, Fencer A is initiating the action. Fencer B is responding to this and wounding Fencer A.)

Variation 1:
Both fencers begin in Third, on the inside.
  1. Fencer A feints in attack on the inside against B. A is expecting a parry.
  2. B responds by taking the tempo, pushing his hilt against the point of A's blade while moving into Fourth, leaning forward, and lunging with the leading foot. 
While straightforward, it is important to note that this is done during the tempo of A's initial movement, giving him no time to respond to B closing the line, taking the blade, and attacking.

Variation 2:
Both fencers begin in Third, on the outside.
  1. Fencer A performs a cavazione to the inside, extending the blade and leaning the body. (Note that Fabris does not state that the feet move yet!) As before, A is expecting a parry. Should B resort to a parry, A would immediately move to one of the following attacks:
    1. Move from Third to Second and lower the body, wounding B in the tempo of the parry. (This could be an angulated Second, using a pass from the rear foot if necessary.)
    2. Return to the outside line and wound in Third, over B's sword.
  2. As before, B responds by taking the tempo, wounding A in Fourth.
The key to this drill working (beyond proper blade mechanics, including “pushing [your] hilt against the point of the opponent's blade”) is that B needs to respond during A's initial tempo, with a single tempo defense and attack of his own. While A is making their initial movement by definition they cannot be doing anything else, and as such that is the moment to strike - while they are moving inwards from misura larga. B immediately causes the measure of the engagement to become misura stretta, striking A because they have taken the tempo (or colloquially, seized the initiative). The fact that A has left B's sword free while they try to move in makes this, frankly, a terrible idea for A.

The other important thing this points out is that if you want a feint to be successful, you need to do one of two things - either wait for a movement from your opponent, or have placed him in obedience, so that you can better predict the response that you're trying to flush out.
This is a really straightforward drill, but it covers a lot of ground.