Also, voids. There was a lot of void talk last night, and I figured that I'd throw my rambling thoughts here.
(Fabris likes voids. He even says that it's preferable to just void your opponent's attacks, especially with single rapier. So that's good, too.)
Anyhow, I tend to think of voids as slipping the sword in one of a couple directions - to the inside or outside. (Yes, underneath is also an option but it's a bit advanced. See Plate 40, on the left. It's absolutely doable, but starting easy is a thing. You can also legitimately pull back your lead foot, suck in your abdomen, and fairy godmother over the top, but I just don't care for that.) Breaking it down, you have two feet. Each can move to either side. (With gradations, for sure. You can step a full 90* perpendicular off the line of attack, or only 45* off, or whichever.) So you can sort out if you want to step to the outside with your left foot or right foot, or inside with the left foot or right foot. Mess around! Try things!
Things to keep in mind include:
- How you angle your foot and your knee. Consider Plate 18, on the right. Note how the lead leg is turned so that the foot is no longer pointed at the opponent. This is really important given the lean in the torso, because it lets the fencer really sink into that leg to drop further off line without making the knee bend unnaturally. That last bit is super important. If you're doing a void and all you need to do is lunge a bit offline such that the majority of the force is forward? Cool, lunge offline and you're good. Stepping off the way Fabris illustrates here? You need to make sure your knee can take the weight as it is designed to do.
- You should still have some forward movement, even if it's mostly a full body twist. The safest place for you to be is to the side of the blade, true, but also past your opponent's point.
- If you can void in such a way that you can continue out of it in a productive manner, awesome.
- If you can do it with minimal torso lean, good. Center of gravity is your friend. What helped me with this is remembering that rather than leaning, I can get comparable results by rotating my torso along the line of my spine.
- Along the lines of that last point, remember that the hand is faster than the body which is faster than the feet - and that you're really trying to get your body out of the way. Rotate your shoulders along the line of your spine, and that rotation will feed the movement of your feet. It'll flow down from there, and your squishy organs will be out of the way faster.
- Minimal (or total lack of) blade contact with voids is awesome. You tend to not have the body structure to support strong opposition, and a mezzo-cavazione is usually faster anyway.
You can mess around with void ideas and drill solid ones with just a blade pointed at your chest. Start with your hand just by the point (under, to the side, whichever) and perform your void. Repeat as needed.
There! Practical applications of theory. Good stuff.