Wednesday, November 26, 2014

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.

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