Note the figures are not in alphabetical order (probably because the author has wanted them to be facing each other in a remotely realistic manner), so you need to actually look at the little letters by them.
There are two positions depicted (the fifth and the sixth) that are not mentioned in the definitions. The translators' theory is that they depict "guards involving an auxiliary arm where the sword is low", but what strikes me most in the pictures is not the sword being low but being pulled back, the elbow of the sword arm practically touching the side of the body.
Another thing that strikes me as interesting here is the hand position in his third position, which looks to me almost a low seconda, and definitely is placed outside of the knee and not at all at the middle of the body like he suggested to be the best idea before.
Just like you need letters to write a beautiful composition, you need defined positions and movements of the body to fence. Therefore, here's six figures that show the basic positions.
A = first position (prima), B = second (seconda), C = third (terza), D = fourth (quarta), E = fifth (quinta), F = sixth (sesta)(*)
(*) You would think that it would actually have been easier to simply number the pictures.
He actually talks about how to draw the sword rather than about the grip as you might expect from the topic.
And yes, I have been sadly slacking off and playing with interweb spaceships when I should have been doing push-ups and writing about CF. Sue me. Interweb spaceships are about as useful for me as 17th C Italian fencing, all things considered.Relevant picture is there. I might bother putting pictures here too properly at some point. Don't hold your breath.
(1) I find this bizarre; why would you prefer to place yourself left leg forward after drawing? This sentence is not very clear, and it is remotely possible that he means that if you start left leg forward, you should still draw the same way, and will have the advantage of ending right leg forward. However, the previous one seems crystal clear and he very clearly says to pull the right leg back. The next sentence also suggests that yes, you start with right leg back. So meh. Luckily I will in all likelihood never need to draw under threat, so who the hell cares.
Because customs differ, and sometimes are not respected much at all, it is useful to know how to draw the sword safely.
If you find yourself the right leg forward when you wish to draw, draw back said leg while pulling the sword into high prima.
If you find yourself left leg forward, you can draw the sword without changing pace.(1)
If you then wish to use a cape or a dagger in the other hand, step forward or pull your left leg back (depending on the range), going into quarta. Then you can easily keep them away from you while you wind your cape around your arm or draw the dagger.
There, I can't think of anything else to say about that.
I admit to cheating here: I asked Guy to pick up a sword and read some of the following paragraphs out loud to me, while doing the appropriate motions. Many thanks also to Rami for kindly standing still and being repeatedly stabbed in the most technical and scholarly manner.
I find myself quite in the agreement with CF when (ok, if) he says that we don't need quite so many technical terms.
Guy also said something yesterday that means I should go through all of the previous entries, looking for words "wide" and "narrow", and see if a certain interpretation makes sense. I am not going to, not on this read-through - I have research I am actually paid for to do.
This is the final part of this chapter; tomorrow, my friends, we move on to some pictures.
(1) Yes, indeed, after all the previous this is the chapter on cutting.
15) Of striking. There's two kind of strikes: cuts, and thrusts.
I will first describe the types of cuts. There's four types of thrusts but I'll come to it later.
Cuts can begin from either your left or your right. Cuts that begin from the right are called mandritto, those that come from the left are called riverso.
We further divide true-edge cuts based on the direction of the cut.
The ordinary cut is a descending one, cutting in an oblique line from the adversary's shoulder (left for the mandritto, right for riverso) to the opposite knee.
Fendente is a descending vertical cut (in a straight line from up to down).
Tondo is horizontal (right to left, or left to right).
Mondante is an ascending oblique cut, starting low and exiting at the shoulder.
As additional terms, stramazzone is a cut done from the wrist, wheeling the sword around, and ridoppio is when you knock down the enemy's sword with a mandritto, and then go for their body with another.
Other than the stramazzone, these cuts should be done from the elbow, and if time and measure permit, even from the shoulder.
Falso is a cut with your false egde. You can do these against the enemy's sword, in order to parry, falso dritto when you brush it toward his right (to the outside), falso manco when you brush it towards his left. However, I do not recommend the falso dritto parry, because it makes you unable to thrust; it is better to parry with the true edge on that side, in quarta. (From a falso manco parry you can both cut and thrust, so it is ok.) When you parry with a falso, you parry with the debole, but when you parry with the true edge, you parry with the forte; this is crucial.
16) Of the cut(1). Cuts must slice, so that you use the full length of the debole, including the sharpest part of the sword. You must also go as far across his body as measure permits, instead of stopping half-way, so the cut does maximum damage.
17) Of the thrust. There are three types of thrusts.
Imbroccata comes from the prima, with the false edge down, goes in at the adversary's left shoulder down towards his right knee. You turn the true edge down in the middle of it, but only after the point lands and you need to turn the hand in order to bring it down.
Stoccata strikes on the line from from terza towards his right shoulder(2).
Punta riversa is when you start from quarta, but strike from outside of his arm, turning your hand inside so that you arrive to his breast going upwards, and end in a low guard.(3)
(2) I render this "on the line of", despite the translation saying it starts from terza; I do not think it matters much if you are in terza or seconda to begin with, what matters is the line.
(3) Which actually makes it sounds like the only actual difference between stoccata and punta riversa is whether you come in inside or outside... which again supports the idea that who the ever hell needs all these technical terms if you have the concepts of line and tempo.
Said trailer seems to consist mostly of falling, running, chases, explosions, and hitting people on the head with ghostly things, spiced here and there with abrupt glowing eyes, yells of terror, and witty one-liners.
Words fail me, so I will resort to the short and explosive expression of the new entertainment too: FFS. I'll just re-read the book.
More of the same, just different. To the people who went "Oh? He has a dagger now?" reading the previous: do not blame me, that is how the original reads too.
Daggers, by the way, come they with the sword or on their own, I find awesome and fascinating to look at and to hear about, but quite boring to practice with. Useful, yes, so do not bother giving me the talk about it, but still boring.
12) Of stringering the sword. You stringere for two reasons: to come to measure, or to uncover the adversary. Regardless of whether you do it out or in, high or low, you must always stay on the straight line. Make sure the adversary is moving or staying still so that you know what he is up to, that is, that you have tempo to do so. Usually you stringere in two tempi: first you gain his debole with yours, and then you move in to gain his sword with your forte, at the beginning of his forte. If he disengaged, you can counter-disengage or not, but if you have contact with your debole you must follow it with that of the forte when you step forward.
13) Most useful admonition regarding dominating the sword. We say that you are "dominating" his sword in two cases. First, if you have acquired it with your forte and do not give that domination up while striking. Second after a beat, it is considered in your domination for as long as it is still moving under the force of your blow. So, when you dominate your opponents sword, it either is still (when you have it on your forte) or it is moving (after a beat). You also dominate with the forte when you parry, obviously. Usually, you beat with the debole, to seek measure and time. If you are fighting with a sword alone, you should never attempt a cut when you have him at your forte, though you can cut after a beat if you are back enough. With a dagger in the other hand, it's a bit different, because you can use the dagger to keep the domination while preparing for the cut.
14) Of the disengage and counterdisengage. The disengage (and the counterdisengage) are used to aqcuire measure and tempo, or to exit it. This means, you do them either moving forward or back. When counterdisengaging, you follow the opponents sword and return to the same place you left. Usually you disengage under the opponent's sword, but you can also disengage over it. When going under, you end up with your arm extended and your goal is to stringere their sword, possibly stepping forward a bit. When you go over, you must cede your body a bit to clear their point, and when you come around it place your forte immediately over his sword, and your goal is not just to stringere, but also to strike.
Today for the second time inside a week, a person that is not a close friend asked if they can ask me for advice on a personal matter. As this was a person who I do not even know at all, but who had just read my posts and comments here and there on the interwebs, I find this surprising and frankly bizarre, but what the hell, here goes.
Q. Can I ask you for personal advice?
A. Short answer: yes.
1) I am not currently legally able to give medical advice. If you have a medical problem that concerns you, or a loved one, or another person you are worried about, please contact a fully-lisenced physician, or your local health care center or equivalent, or an appropriate telephone advice service, or other such source. I can answer general questions about medicine, but I will react very crossly to anyone trying to pass soliciting for medical advice as asking for general information.
2) If you are a friend (loosely defined as someone I have invited to my house or one of my special people online) or a relative, ask away, I'll do my best.
3) If I do not know you, you can still ask, but here's the catch: it'll cost you 25 euros an hour, with a minimum charge of 20. Please email the question to me (that will cost you nothing), and I will let you know if I think I can do it, and how long I estimate it will take.
4) You should be aware that about fifty percent of people that I give advice to get upset and think I am a mean and heartless person. I never give advice intending to be mean, but that's still what happens.
This is turning out to be a bit of a difficult chapter for me, with some descriptions of moves that take me some time to decipher without a sword and a partner. Yes, I could get a sword and a partner and do it e.g. in free training, but as I have this idea of proceeding in order and proceeding a bit most days and doing this during my commute, that is not completely practical. Besides it is probably useful for me to go through sequences in my head based on a verbal description, anyway. Consequently, there will be more parts than two.
Speaking of translating verbal descriptions to action, today in my private class Guy gave me a set exercise by simply verbally going through it while I was catching my breath and he was massaging my arm and shoulder (which did not hurt when he did, which is an improvement), and I got it without really paying any attention to what I was doing. Mind you it was very basic - just a stringere, parry and riposte, parry and riposte on my side - but still, I got it as if there was nothing to it and only in the bus on the way to work realized that it might not be a given that I can follow that sort of spoken instructions.
Anyway, onwards, ho.
(1) He actually uses the phrase "you will go back with the left leg, accompanied by the right", which is a repeating phrase in the text that I cannot invent one interpretation for that would fit all situations, which bugs the hell out of me. It is the "I am not sure if any interpretation I have heard of CF's footwork is correct" here again I mentioned before.
9) Of changing from guard to guard. Changing from one guard to another can be done in three ways. "Directly" is when you go from first to second, from second to third, or from third to fourth. "In reverse" is when you move to the opposite direction, that is, from fourth to third, from third to second, or from second to first position. "In exchange" is when you skip one or more positions, ie, go from first to third or fourth, from second to fourth, from third to first, or from fourth to first or second. When changing guards on measure, you need to take care that you are back on your left leg enough(1) to be safe from the adversary.
10) Against those who circle. An adversary can easily gain your sword from the inside by circling. If they do this, disengage quickly and step diagonally towards your left, their right, coming to outside line. Place your point towards their right shoulder. This will highly likely provoke them to try and regain the line, and when they move to do so, you will disengage and strike them with a lunge and thrust in quarta.
11) Against the guard of the left foot. If you find your adversary in low terza with his left leg forward, take also a low terza but with the right leg forward and your point crossing towards your left, their right. This has two advantages. First, it will be more difficult for them to dominate your sword, and they will seek it with the dagger instead(2). Second, it uncovers a bit more of your body, inviting him to pass to strike. This you can parry with your point high and then riposte to their chest with a pass of your own.
Wishing to attack first against someone with the left foot forward, you can encounter them in terza with your sword towards their dagger hand, and hit them in mezzo tempo at your leisure. Or, you can pretend to attack over their dagger, and when they want to parry, disengage under it, finding at the same time their sword with your dagger, and thrust under their arm. Or, you could feint under the dagger, and when he wants to parry, you can disengage and strike him in seconda over the dagger. Note that you can do all these without the pass, but then you need to wait for him to come forward, which he likely will after parrying anyway, and parry and riposte.
Now if the person you are fighting is actually left-handed, and is standing right foot forward, it actually is a good idea to put your left foot forward, and keep your sword withdrawn. With your weapons on the same side, this will convince him that he cannot attack without you being able to defend it.(3)
(2) It is possible that it is implied that being in terza with the left leg forward without having a dagger or whatever in your left hand is unlikely, which I think it should be, because it would be stupid.
(3) Though how exactly it does that, I cannot say. Left-handers are the bane of my life, in any case, I just cannot anticipate their moves at all. Guy has promised to teach me how to figure them out, later.
Because, you know, terms that do not pertain to the use, would have been ever so much more interesting. This is a terribly long chapter, so I will split it into two.
(1) He then describes positions of the arm, not of the hilt. I think this is because it is taken as a given that you do not change your grip from terza when you move the sword around, and so the easiest way to describe the orientations of the sword is to describe where to put your arm. Maybe. The names of the guards are simply first, second, third, fourth, and I am actually tempted to translate them as such, being the hater of mystifying technical terms that I am.
Because it is necessary for the scholars to understand the terms that the Masters of fence use in teaching, we have proposed to explain them in the following briefest words.
1) Of the sword. The sword has a forte and a debole, and a true edge and a false edge. Though some divide the blade into three parts, forte, debole, and the middle in between them, or even to more, that's quite useless.
2) Of the guards. "Guard" means a certain orientation of the hilt of the sword(1). When the arm is above the shoulder, the sword is in prima; when it moves to the level of the shoulder, it is in seconda; when it moves towards the knee, it is in terza, and when it moves beyond the knee, it goes to quarta. Of this pretty much all masters agree, but beyond that, it is all a mess: where to keep your arms and legs and body, whether to extend your arm and how much, whether to hold the point high or low or whatever. Also, people give different names to various other positions, naming them high or low or narrow or wide such-and-such guard, until your brain explodes. Sometimes they call terza or quarta counterguards, used to gain the sword, but actually all guards are counterguards in that sense.
3) Of tempo. People talk of four sorts of tempo: single and double tempo, the mezzo tempo, and the contratempo. Single tempo is when I can do something that takes one motion, double tempo takes two actions. Mezzo tempo is something that takes a very short time, not even a full action really, for example when I can strike someone on the advancing, uncovered arm from the wide measure, or strike them on a very narrow measure when they move to do something. Contratempo is when we strike at the same time. It is crucial to realize that any movement and any staying still of the adversary creates some tempo.
4) Of measure. The measure is wide or narrow; wide when I can strike the adversary but only by advancing a foot; narrow when I can strike him by simply reaching forward.
5) In how many tempos one knows to strike. You have a tempo to strike when any of the following happens: he lifts or moves his feet to come forward; you have just parried a strike; he moves from one guard to another without an obvious reason to do so; when he raises his sword; when a blow has travelled past your body.
6) Of the pace and of walking. There are many ways to call the different steps: ordinary, extraordinary, just, half pace, narrow, wide. Steps change depending on the situation, too. You step back and forward, to the side, on the diagonal, with one foot or both. There are even some who after recovering hold one leg off the ground, in order to strike again faster.
7) Of the parries. You parry with the true edge, except in some rare cases. A parry can be on a straight line or an oblique one, up or down, depending on the situation. Take care that you parry with a straight arm! When the parry occurs in two tempi, you should draw your left foot near the right when you parry, and then pass forward on the right to strike(2).
8) Of the feints and of covering the sword. Feint is when you move as if to attack in some particular way and then do the exact opposite. Counterfeints are dones as the counter to the feint. "Covering the sword" is one particular kind of feint, done by covering the adversary's point with your debole when you are in a low quarta; it needs to be done on a straight line(3).
(2) I am starting to get the impression that we step totally differently from what he describes. At least that makes no sense whatsoever. How the hell do I move my left leg on the parry without putting my weight on the right and totally getting forward and dead?
(3) My theory is he mentions this specific move not because he wants to advocate it, but because it was "in" at the time of writing, and so he thought that anyone reading a book on swords would want to know what it is, or think him incompetent if he did not even explain it.
I hear that Google Reader disses my blogs feeds again and mangles several posts into one.
This seems to happen at least to the atom feed, possibly in some cases to the RSS feed, if there is broken HTML in the post itself. Unfortunately in the update something's gotten borked with the markup, so broken HTML happens, especially with the CF posts that have superscripts inside italics inside paragrapgs inside blockquotes, because I have to do some of that manually.
RSS seems to be stabler than Atom. To use that, make sure the URL you use for the feed ends in ".rss", not in ".atom" (or unsubscribe from the feed and resuscribe using this link or the one in the sidebar).
I seriously wish I knew how to completely fix this, but I don't. Apologies for the inconvenince, and please keep me posted when things break, so I can maybe at some point finally figure out what breaks it exactly.
At least the comments should work now. Maybe.
(1) No! I am totally not making that up, you suspicious people! He actually uses a word translated as "delight".
1) Keep your eyes on the swordhand of the adversary, because that's the best place to look at to see what he's up to.
2) Of parrying and striking, and voiding the body. When you parry, you must follow it with a strike; when you strike, you should do so with a parry. If you do not strike, avoid their strike. If you parry with the dagger, strike with the sword.
3) The virtue of the unaccompanied sword. The unaccompanied sword is the best. Not only is it the most fun(1), but it's also most useful in teaching you to do the basics properly.
4) Method that one must employ against a bestial man(2). That is, someone without any sensible measure and tempo, who flails blows at you with brute force. You can do two things. Mezzo tempo play to strike him to the arm while he flails about will be explained later. Alternatively, you can evade a little by pulling back so as to make his blow land in empty air, and then immediately stab his chest.
5) Way of becoming a perfect player. Taking lessons is not enough. You must also seek daily to play, and do so with diverse opponents. Practice with those better than you.(3)
6) Of the most secure guard. As I already said in the theory book, terza at the middle of the body is the best.
7) Of the vanity of the feints. Feints are no good, really, because they make you lose timing and measure. If you feint out of measure, what the hell for would I move? If you feint on measure, I can strike you when you take your pose(4).
8) From whom must one learn. There are some people who want to teach as soon as they have learned something. That is not good. Knowing something is not the same as knowing it well enough to be able to teach it.(5)
9) Of gaining the sword. Gaining the sword is of very great importance. Likewise is recovering yours if he has it.(6) You must know three things about this. First, if you disengage, do not do it to throw a full-out cut, because while you are winding up to it he will stab you. Second, if you retreat so that he has to move his right leg to strike you, that movement will create timing for you in which to strike(7). Third, "to stringere" means nothing more mystical but "to gain the sword".
10) Of striking in contratempo(8) I only approve of two contratempo strikes. One is if you are in quarta with your point on your right and he comes to gain the sword, when he moves his right foot to cross the swords, you can strike him, still in quarta. The other is when you are in terza, and he comes to gain it from the outside, you counter-attack in seconda. Both of these can be done with either a lunge or a pass.(9)
11) Of walking. Masters really can't agree on how to step with weapons in hand. I say that when you have to step on the line, it is a good idea to always keep your right shoulder forward, and left foot pointing to the side, and always have both feet move when you take a step.(10)
12) Methods of striking the hand. Whenever the adversary puts his point somewhere away from you, be it too high or too low, or too much to your left or right, you can place your sword towards his hand, and then approach measure taking care your body stays to the back, and once you are on measure strike in mezzo tempo(11) to that hand. When you do, bend your right knee and push your body forward to hit, but at the same time push your left leg back and recover quickly there(12). If you want to strike the dagger hand instead, this same method works.
13) Method of retiring, having struck Whenever you have struck, you must immediately recover. If you have room, it is best to take too passes(13) back, so that you end up back in guard. Sometimes you can take one step, and sometimes you can only bring back the right foot, but if you at all can you should do the two passes.
(2) Unfortunately no werewolves involved.
(3) Anyone for a Rapier Freeplay Club?
(4) Yes, he totally seems to contradict himself, considering most of his plays on the plate later have some sort of feint or another in them. But Orava said something interesting in the car last Wednesday after class. He feints quite well, unlike practically all of the rest of us. He said that it is probably because inside his head he really actually never feints as such, he attacks -- but then does not go forward if the situation changes as he expects it to. If it does not, though, he is prepared to go forward and kill the other guy. This "mental state" of attacking is very likely why we perceive his feints as more "real" than those of others'. CF is correct that if you do a feint as "feint, wait to see what happens, do something else", you lose tempo. But if you do them just as "start an attack and react depending", maybe you don't, at least not as much.
(5) Considering the state of the art in various weapons/styles hereabouts, though, not like we have all that much choice in that regard. And Helsinki is luckier in that than most other places... So meh. I think we'll disregard that for the next 20 years or so and just learn from whomever we can grab that seems to be further on the road than us, or if one is not found, from each other.
(6) The uninitiated must now just bear with us. The concept of "gaining the sword" is easy to explain if we both have swords and are in the same room; explaining it in text is beyond poor old me, as I am firmly in the group of people that was just warned about in the previous paragraph.
(7) And doing so sooner or later is a good idea, or else you will end up just retreating until you hit a wall or he gets lucky.
(8) That is, to strike on a tempo that is created by his strike, or, to put it really simply, at the same time as he.
(9) It would be too much to ask that he would actually explain why he does not approve of a counter-attack in quarta from terza, now, would it?
(10) Or whatever, I can't make heads or tails of this paragraph, frankly.
(11) If my tempo interpretations are correct, this pretty much means simply "really really quickly".
(12) "... just by propelling the body forward and bending the right knee will one strike, but you will take care that in such striking you must carry the left foot back, accompanied by the right". Sometimes explained as meaning a pass back, but I don't think that's right.
(13) Fucker uses "ordinary pace" for what is obviously a pass now, just when I in the previous chapters decided it cannot be. I am so not going back there on this read-through.