Thursday, July 14, 2016

Fabris and His Dagger Guard Concepts

In our last post, we looked at Fabris' extended single guards, and the reasoning behind them. Now let's take a look at his dagger guards, which in general have the dagger quite extended with the sword much more withdrawn.

Interestingly, Fabris points out that you should be careful about extending your sword forward because your "opponent can find it with his dagger and attack you." He also notes that this weapon combination is more difficult because "you must pay attention to the position of your two weapons and the two of the opponent." In short, Fabris assumes matched weapon forms. While it may be a reasonable assumption that you could well use a sword extended guard with the dagger held back at the hilt if you were fighting someone who was using only a single blade and stay true to Fabris' teachings, there are some advantages to the withdrawn guard that Fabris feels that you wouldn't be taking full advantage of.

Fabris begins by describing the dagger postures such that the dagger arm should be held at shoulder height, and the dagger pointing at your opponent's sword. You should extend at least one fifth the length of your sword past your dagger, and join them at the points to prevent your opponent from attacking between them. (I'm assuming that Fabris is considering the hilt of your dagger the point your're moving the sword past, otherwise if your blade is past the point of the dagger, by definition you can't join them at the points.) Should you extend your sword, you should join the dagger to it at the hilt, for the same reason. He repeats this through the section, underlining the importance of it. If you leave space between your weapons for your opponent to attack, you are leaving yourself vulnerable. (Or making an invitation, but that's a different topic.)

When it comes to engaging your opponent, Fabris warns that if you extend your sword to find your opponent's withdrawn blade, you run the risk of allowing them to find you with their dagger. Rather, you should remember that you can effectively find your opponent's weapon without contact, and simply place the forte of your sword on the line created by the point of your opponent's sword and your body. (Alternatively, you can replace the sword with the dagger while you attack with the sword, which Fabris thinks is particularly good when your opponent's sword is withdrawn.) Likewise, you don't want to creep so close as to find their withdrawn sword with your dagger, because you risk moving too closely into measure without finding their blade.

If your opponent's sword is extended though, Fabris recommends finding it with your dagger. He notes though, that you should already be positioning your dagger such that its height is appropriate to your opponent's sword. You shouldn't have to raise or lower your dagger to find your opponent's sword, nor to defend yourself if they cavazione over your dagger. In the case of your opponent holding their sword "somewhat" low, Fabris naturally says that you should lower your body such that you don't need to move your dagger down to find their sword and are still covering yourself. If their sword is lower than that, you can cover them with your sword, albeit differently if they're working towards your inside or outside - working from Third to Second towards your outside, and into Fourth on the inside - but always keeping your sword and dagger joined, so as to prevent them from performing a cavazione over your sword and between your weapons.

While Fabris goes into some more detail about specific counters to specific guards, all of his advice really finds its way back to the core information here. He closes though, by noting that "other masters" decry his core advice that "you may always find your opponent’s sword with yours, provided that you place your dagger so as to require little motion to defend any target your opponent may attack." These other masters, according to Fabris, say that you should work your weapons separately - if one is attacking, one should be defending, and vice versa. "They say that since the sword and dagger are two distinct weapons, they should be used for distinct purposes, instead of being both used for only one end." Fabris strongly feels that using both weapons in unison will allow them to better support each other, be less disjointed in their movements, and be better able to position yourself to wound your opponent while keeping yourself safe from harm. (To add to this in modern terms, I'd say that you're reducing your cognitive load and the need to timeslice between your weapons, making your fight overall easier and better.)

That's our overview of Fabris' sword and dagger concepts! I'm not sure where I'll go for my next post. Possibly going through the invitations that Fabris scatters through his plates, or some other interesting trends in them if they jump out at me.