Monday, May 7, 2018

Dual Entry - Brain vs Body and Secondary Fabris Sources

First up, Brain vs Body!

I've been noticing that for the past handful of practices, I've been really down on myself about my single rapier fencing.

Granted, I might have been feeling down in general. My tennis elbow is flaring (yes, again) and that's always going to be a drain. Also, lack of sleep and other stuff going on. Still though, this feels different - I'm being very hypercritical of what I'm doing, how messy it all seems, and how I'm just not able to execute the plays that I want.

Some of it, I think, is because I'm trying to execute something despite what my opponent is giving me. This is absolutely something that comes up in practice for a lot of us, especially when we've been reading or drilling certain actions. We want to try and use what we've been focusing on, but our opponent isn't often so accommodating - either they're not giving us the setup we need for the action we want to use, or as we often see in the SCA, there's a lack of commitment to their action for us to capitalize on. Or, well, both.

More than that though, I think that I'm running into a developmental hurdle which I don't see too many people talking about, but I do see people hitting and getting very frustrated by - your brain is internalizing an action as a concept before it's able to really make your body do it as you understand it. Basically, you can see what you should be doing, but you just can't seem to make it work.

Of course, if you have a tendency toward being hypercritical of yourself (hi!) this ends up being one of the worst mental places you can get into, despite it being part of normal skill development.

It might not always be the case for what's happening, but especially if you've really been focusing on training and expanding your skill set, it's worth considering as a cause.

Second up, Secondary Sources!

So one of the pieces of feedback I got at Kingdom A&S Champs was that I should be using more (any, really) secondary sources for Fabris. Problem is, I just don't know of anyone who's specifically writing on Fabris. (Capo Fero I could do easily enough, but Fabris? Not so much.) Depending on what I wanted to focus on, I could possibly reference some training videos but they'd be behind a paywall. (Though I did for a moment think that this would really just up the accuracy of any of my papers in terms of making them feel like real academic publishing, right?)

Aaaanyhow, I ended up tripping over a pair of manuals which I might end up mining for insights as secondary sources; just not modern ones. First is New Discourse on the Art of Fencing, translated by Reinier van Noort - originally titled Newer Discurs der Rittermeßigen und Weitberümbten Kunst des Fechtens, by Joachim Köppe. Köppe's manual was published in 1619 in Magdeberg, Germany - after meeting Salvatore Fabris in Paris in 1608 or 1609, where he says that Fabris gave Köppe himself a copy of Fabris' own treatise! Certainly, Köppe's manual is absolutely in the style of Fabris, though he takes pains to point out that he did not plagiarize Fabris' own book, pointing out that while he gained many insights from Fabris there is material in his own book that a reader would not find in Fabris'. Of special interest is Köppe's chapter on "resolution," which I hope will provide his interpretations of principles presented in Fabris' Book Two - proceeding towards your opponent with resolution.

The second book is Of the Single Rapier, also a translation by Reinier van Noort. This is a translation of Grondige Beschryvinge van de Edele ende Ridderlijcke Scherm- ofte Wapen-Konste, by Johannes Georgius Bruchius, published in 1671 in Leiden, in the Netherlands. Interestingly, after Köppe took many pains to point out that he did not plagiarize Fabris' work, it seems as though Köppe was himself plagiarized by Bruchius, among others. That said, there is material in Bruchius' work which is original, and I hope to be able to mine this book for some thoughts as well.


  1. Re: the first point, if you want to do some exercises in which I feed you what you're looking for and other things in about a 1:1 ratio, I'd be happy to do this thing.

    1. I could be very into this thing! I'll try and think of a simple branching set of options that a) contains actions I'm working on and b) makes like any contextual sense.