Sunday, February 8, 2015

Wiktenaur Donation Drive

It's time for me to do this quick driveby fundraising mention here for Period Combat Nerds! 

The good folks over at the Wiktenaur site are holding an Indiegogo fundraising campaign, to pay for ongoing site costs as well as access to more manuals to scan and post for all of us to use.

This site is a fantastic resource, and being able to see them post even more manuals would be really awesome.

The drive ends on February 17. They've already met the base goal and are well into stretch goals, but every little bit, right?

Let's breeze through Plate 26 and 27, and get to Plate 28 and 29!

Woo hoo, we're back! In the time since the last post, things got wild and crazy for the rapier community, and a little wild and crazy for me, and also some real life. Also, snow. Good times, everyone!

So we're just going to briefly look at  Plates 26 and 27. It's not that they aren't interesting (they are) or contain important information (they do, but it's really an application of the fundamentals, like a lot of plates), but they're primarily interested in dealing with what SCA would consider percussive cuts. As I'm mostly interested in working through what we can really do with historic technique underneath the SCA's limitations, they're not hugely applicable, but here's a quick and dirty overview of them anyway.

Plate 26 has both fencers starting in Third, on the outside. (I want to work through this slowly sometime soon with someone else to see how this works, because I can absolutely see how it's on the outside, but saying that you "find them in Fourth" doesn't make sense to me, but I'm probably wrong and Fabris is right. Regardless, though.) You find your opponent's blade and they respond by raising their weapon to perform a mandritto (a cut from their right side). When they do, you hit them. Since the cut is coming from your opponent's right, or the inside line, you want to strike with your hand in Fourth, so that even if the cut falls, you can just raise your hand a little to catch it.

Basically, your opponent takes a big tempo in raising their sword to cut from the shoulder, and you take a much shorter tempo in killing them. Fabris does say that even if they take a shorter tempo and strike from the wrist, you still do the same thing and just catch the cut on your guard as you strike them. This is a fundamental concept, and we've seen this illustrated constantly up to this point. 

Note that Fabris does instruct us to make sure to roll our hand into Fourth and cover our heads if need be. This is consistent with his previous plates as well, in that if we're striking in mezzo tempo when our opponent is taking an offensive tempo (as in Plate 23) we want to make sure we're defended against it. If we're striking when our opponent is taking a nonoffensive tempo (as in Plate 22) we just strike cleanly in, without covering for anything.

Plate 27 is really the same thing, but on the other side. We find our opponent on the inside, they move to prepare for a cut on the outside, and we strike them in that tempo, rolling our hand into Second to cover for the cut from the outside.

...huh, okay, that was a fair amount of time spent on Plates 26 and 27, after all. That's fine, let's move to Plates 28 and 29 anyway. It's snowing outside, I'm warm inside, so I'm going to keep writing!

On the surface, Plate 28 looks very similar to Capo Ferro's Plate 8, which I've referenced to a lot of people before. It isn't really, but it does still serve to visually remind us about distance, leg shots at range, and how a2+b2=c2 and how that can make some attacks really bad ideas.

Reading the text though, we can see what Fabris is really getting at. We start on the outside, and we're way out at misura larga. We start to find our opponent's sword, and they respond by rolling into a mandritto at our head.

Again, a mandritto is coming from their right, or our inside line. We're at misura larga though, so Fabris says we should lean our head back a bit, and let the cut just "pass harmlessly." Yep. No parry, no nothing. Not even necessarily something a lot of people would call a void. As soon as the cut passes, you lunge and kill them. No muss, no fuss.  Fabris outright tells us that he thinks it's better to just "let cuts fall without parrying" rather than spending a lot of effort parrying them.

Plate 29 is predictably a similar action on the other side. We find their blade on the inside, they roll to perform a riverso, which is a cut from the outside.

The two real differences here are that this time Fabris specifies that we drop our point a bit to avoid blade contact, and when the cut passes we strike, and that he specifies we should strike in Fourth to cover the side that the cut has fallen into. This may not be necessary, but perhaps if it was a smaller cut from the wrist, it might be important to keep in mind.

As I said at the start of this entry, if we're not doing Cut and Thrust, these aren't things that we'll really see in this form while we're using rapiers in the SCA. That said, these techniques are absolutely applicable to anyone who loves large blade beats. Earlier in his manual, Fabris states that we can use a cavazione to deal with someone beating your blade, and avoid contact entirely. This is absolutely true - but I think we've all seen people who will, at a very wide measure, wind up and deliver a heavy beat to your blade - and in such a case, the techniques in these four plates would also serve very well.

Again, he's being consistent in his principles of avoiding blade contact unless absolutely necessary, and striking in mezzo tempo whenever possible. He's not trying to gunsling against his opponent, but hit them when they're doing something else.