Last night was a practice that wasn't immediately productive, but it should end up helping out a lot in the long run. It was mostly a "Donovan really just grinds Fabris instead of Just Fighting" night, which is fine. I need those, too.
Warmed up with Malocchio. He was on, and I was warming up. Went predictably, but I could see what I could do instead, so that was pretty great. I was focusing more on moving forward more than anything else, and when someone is as ready to keep retreating and be as noncommittal as he is, it messes with my Fabris work. Working against his cane is also pretty hard right now, especially with how removed his blade was. I'm sure I can figure out What Fabris Would Do given a little time though, and then apply the hell out of it.
More passing steps! More timing my extensions better, and more bladework.You know, the usual. (Which isn't to say that it wasn't a solid reminder.)
The bulk of my fighting was with Dr. Deth. He's great to throw myself at, because he's completely unconventional - we call him our local swordboxer for a reason. He's also taller than me, has more reach, and uses case of longer blades.
I've been starting to take a cane against him, because I think it gives me a lot more room to work with than dagger. (That said, I may take a 35" in my offhand soon, and see if I can apply the same principles - except with a thing I can kill with. I feel like I get more snap off of the cane though, which is a thing.) My go-to Plate 60 guard worked solidly (even with a cane and not a dagger), in that it protected my core really well. That said, he was able to chew me up outside that cone, and my hands and forearms took a lot of punishment. My foot did too occasionally, and that was super irritating because I know that I should have just stepped in. He's damn fast though, so I'll just need to get better.
I switched things up though, and worked on variations of Plates 54, 67, and 68 - guards in Second and Fourth, and trying to work oblique lines to keep both of his blades on one side of me. Second worked out a lot better, partly just because of how we ended up circling, and partly because of blade mechanics. The closest analogue I can come up with was that I was trying to sort out what Kenric calls "zone defense." If Deth had been fighting single or dagger, I would have been a lot more comfortable, but that off-hand sword of his just allows him to access a number of different lines.
Sure, I could have just ended up doing the usual "hang out, hand-snipe a bit, get a tempo and then fire" thing that works pretty well, but I may as well practice what I preach - I go to practice to work on things I'm bad at, and die a lot.
I need to just work on passing steps and lunges from that nice low stance - passing steps especially, since I've been reflexively lunging from it and coming up short when a pass would have let me follow someone out and still land a good shot. (Also off-line movement, because yeah.) Hooray explosive movement. Yet more gaining the blade, because there's never enough of that. Working postures in front of a mirror. So all the usual stuff.
Relearning reflexive movement is hard, but I can see how awesome it'll be.
What kicked my brain into thinking though, was when I was done fighting with my cane, and I wondered "so how many Fabris purists would I send off on a rip if I said that I was using my Fabris, but with a cane." Probably a few, I'm sure. That said, I think it's still solidly Fabris. I'm using his principles, and modifying my guard to take advantage of things like more reach and a stronger defensive off-hand, but not so much that they're unidentifiable compared to the plate.
Similarly, Anastasia's been working Fabris a lot. Mostly dagger, but also quite a bit with her buckler. Fabris didn't write about cane, and he didn't write about buckler, either. It's still very identifiable though, and she's clearly taking the original dagger plate, sorting out what to do from there, and then figuring out what, if anything, to change to make it work with the buckler. It's really great to see, on a number of levels.
So I guess I'm really just trying to sort out how far I can go from the source text and still be able to think of it as "I'm fighting Fabris." Single, dagger, and cloak? Totally, they're all in there. Cane or buckler? Maybe. Case? That seems like more of a stretch, but I also think that I can fit it into the wider angle picture. Maybe not "Fabris' fight" but more "fighting in the tradition of Fabris."
It occurs to me that this is really one of the ways to sort out how much you've internalized the principles of a system. Not just the plates, but the core concepts - being able to figure out "how would this master have you fight with this weapon combination that wasn't ever described as such." That comes up a lot in the SCA (hooray for rotating weapon forms!), so it's probably worth thinking about a little.