Thursday, February 11, 2016

Mair's Sickle, Plate Two Followup Thoughts

Part of the fun of making the trip down to King's and Queen's Arts and Sciences Championship was the fact that Doroga and I would be stuck hanging out for a large chunk of the day.

With our A&S displays.

And sickles.

So the inevitable happened, and we worked on Plate Two! We had a few immediate takeaways from it that I wanted to mention here, and I'm sure that we'll spend more time on both Plate One and Two at practice tonight so we'll end up with more. (I'm hoping to get Plate Three written up tomorrow, and get some work done on it as soon as we're in the same place at the same time again.)

  • We both found Plate Two to be a good deal simpler to work through than Plate One. Granted, it was a full step shorter, even considering the decision point at the end, but it just clicked better for us.
  • The decision tree was a really interesting one, and something that I think comes up a great deal in that kind of close combat; how does it fall out when combatant feels that they're pressing a point that they really shouldn't and decides to bail vs. when a combatant doubles down on the position that they're in? In either case, it's absolutely possible to capitalize on your opponent's decision if you're in the right position, and Mair points that out to us.
    • Yes, this does mean that you can be pulled into a position from which there is no good exit. The best answer to this is to not get into that position in the first place, however...
    • ...the lack of a good exit relies on the combatant knowing how to capitalize on the situation that they're in. You can get away with bad positioning if you sufficiently outclass your opponent's skill, but that's absolutely not a winning strategy long-term.
  • The final strike in the play if the opponent presses ("If B presses the engagement, A pushes B's arm off to his left [this is the opponent's weapon arm, which A has grabbed moments before] and strikes B's left arm with his sickle and pulls back") was a really interesting moment to work through. As we read it, you are striking the arm of your opponent as they continue to hold your weapon arm with their hand. This was something that I did without thinking, which caused Doroga and I to go back and examine the movement fairly closely, since it didn't seem to be a motion that was as natural to him. (Doroga, if I'm wrong, you should tell me!) It really seemed to be something which relied very heavily on the properties of the specific weapon in use here - this wouldn't work with a dagger, or a blunt object. The wrist-roll involved can either catch the point of the sickle in your opponent's forearm (potentially even the crook of the elbow depending on where on your arm you've been grabbed) or loop the entire curve of the weapon around their whole forearm. In either case, when you pull back sharply, there's going to be quite an effect on your opponent.
  • The height differences between Doroga and I were an interesting problem. For instance, when the text for Plate One specifies that he is to push my am back to my ribs, he found it easier to be able to fold it across my body. That made the final step of the play a little more difficult, but not impossible. It's interesting to have to reconcile the text vs. the reality of the situation. For now, the text takes precedence, but in the long term being able to investigate other possibilities could be interesting.
I'll hopefully have more thoughts after tonight! After I post any that we have, I'm looking forward to a post on Plate Three, and then I want to ramble out some thoughts I've been mulling over about Fabris' extended guards compared to his more withdrawn ones, and the pros and cons of each. (Because we never forget our Fabris around here.)


  1. I agree fully that the motion seems to work exceptionally well with this weapon compared to any others I have used. You can curl a knife in a similar way, but it is much different in terms of where you are wrapping (closer to wrist with the knife instead of up the forearm with the sickle) and the overall affect (the knife can clear the hand with a wrapping cut of sorts, but the sickle either pierces up higher like you mentioned or acts like a grapple that wraps the forearm and scrapes down on the clearing motion). I am finding that the sickles curve gives a very different set of options than a straight blade. I look forward to more review as well as the next plate and I am sad I won't be able to make it tonight.