Wednesday, February 12, 2020

B.3 Right and Left Handed Fencing Rules


In the classical period it was common for fencing (and many other sports) to be promoted for its value in contributing to the individual's good health.  For example, Maestro Generoso Pavese included in his 1905 Foil and Sabre Fencing a 5 page encomium "The Beneficial Effects Resulting from the Use of Fencing as a Physical Exercise" by Thomas Yarrow M.D.  This was perhaps a longer than normal advocacy for fencing for health, but the message was not unusual at the time.

Enter Maestro di Scherma Leonardo Terrone, a graduate of the Italian Military Fencing Masters School at Rome.  After teaching in Venice and London, he emigrated to the United States in 1902, taking a position at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia.  By all accounts Terrone was an unusual personality with an absolute belief in his own skill, reinforced by his competitive success fencing in open international tournaments in Italy, and a willingness to believe that anyone who disagreed with him was his enemy for life.   

What makes Terrone unique among Fencing Masters of the time, and to this day, was that a doctrine of equal bilateral development of both sides of the body was critical to the athlete's success.  This extended to an analysis of each movement to ensure its anatomical and physiological correctness.  To this end he developed a School of Right and Left Handed Fencing.  When we consider our standard understanding of what makes a school of fencing a School: 

(1)  An established doctrine of fencing - that fencers should develop and demonstrate equal proficiency with both the right and left hands.

(2)  A unique weapon - Terrone developed three increasingly effective models of the Terrone Foil designed specifically to be used in either hand.

(3)  Literature describing the School - Terrone wrote a substantial body of lessons for teaching his method, and in 1959, some years after his death, his students published his book as Right and Left Handed Fencing.

(4)  Students - he never had a large pool of adherents, but he did develop successful competitors, both for Intercollegiate Fencing Association and Amateur Fencers League of America competitions.

(5)  Some form of organization - a small Left and Right Handed Fencing Association was formed by adherents of the School.  

The key missing element is a body of Masters to teach the School.  Terrone's teaching was deeply personal, and, given his personality, it is difficult to imagine him sharing the stage with another professional.  This resulted in the School disappearing after his death (although the central core of his students may have continued to practice his technique for some time), much as was the case with  Siebenhaar's Dutch Method.

With a unique method of fencing, unique rules were required.  Terrone was very critical of how competitions were conducted by the Intercollegiate Fencing Association and the Amateur Fencers League of America were conducted.  Essentially that critique was focused on the level and type of training, the abandonment of principles of sword use in the duel, and a search for victory that led to sloppy and unscientific fencing with a drive to the bottom on the quality of technique.  To address the problem, Terrone created specific rules for right and left handed fencing:

PHILOSOPHY

1.  A fencing bout should not be judged by the point total, but rather by the struggle of the mind between the two opponents as could be recognized by an experienced fencer from the actions of their muscles.  Tournaments should be exhibitions of mind control.  Only experts with well-trained minds and great character should be appointed to serve as judges.

2.  Only the hit without being hit should count.

2.a.  The fencer should put his or her opponent in a sate of psychological inferiority before lunging.

2.b.  If the opponent less psychologically prepared attacks in error into the lunge, the score should be awarded against him.

2.c.  If both fencers lunge, demonstrating inadequate psychological preparation, neither hit should be allowed.

THE STRIP:

3.  All bouts should be fenced on a strip 20 t0 25 feet in length by 3 feet in width.

4.  Stepping off the strip with one foot results in a touch against the fencer.


THE FORM OF THE BOUT:


5.  Each regular bout should be fenced in the following order:
  • The first touch is fenced with both fencers using their left hands.
  • At the end of the first touch the fencers change ends of the strip and fence the next touch with both using their right hands.
  • At the end of the second touch the fencers change ends of the strip and fence the next touch with one fencer using the left hand and the other the right hand.
  • At the end of the third touch the fencers change ends of the strip and fence the next touch with the fencer who fenced the last touch with the left hand now fencing with the right hand and the other fencer fencing with the left hand.
  • If at the end of the four touches the score is tied, a deciding touch will be fenced with both fencers using their preferred hand.
6.  If time does not permit the regular bout format, a shortened format may be used:
  • The first touch is fenced with the left hand by both fencers.
  • The second touch is fenced with the right hand by both fencers.
  • If at the end of the two touches the score is tied, a deciding touch will be fenced with both fencers using their preferred hand.
7.  The length of the bout in a tournament should be 5 to 10 minutes.

FOIL:


8.  The target:

8.a.  To score a touch the hit must arrive on the torso from the waist to the collar bone, including the back, and including the upper arm.

8.b.  If the opponent crouches to hide the target, a hit to the mask counts as a touch.

9.  The hit:  To be counted as a hit:
  • The foil blade arrests with a slight upward arc,
  • The wrist is at the height of the target,
  • There is the impression of a proper grip, and
  • The nature of the hit permits a pause of a couple of seconds on the target.
10.  Feints:  A feint executed with a bent arm and a feint executed with the point out of line are incorrectly executed and an attack against either has priority.  

SABRE:

11.  The same procedures for the conduct of the bout were to be used in bouts at sabre with the following sabre specific rules:

11.a.  The target is the body above the hip line, including the arms and head.

11.b.  The carving cut (we believe this is a slicing cut) on the forearm only scores it is well executed so that there is no double hit.

11.c.  The point stop thrust on the forearm executing a carving cut is a source of weakness and will be ignored.

Sources:

Pavese, Generoso; Foil and Sabre Fencing; [fencing manual]; Press of King Brothers, Baltimore, Maryland, United States of America; 1905.

Terrone, Leonardo F., Right and Left Handed Fencing; [fencing manual]; Dodd, Mead and Company, NewYork, New York, United States of America; 1959.

Copyright 2020 by Walter G. Green III

Creative Commons License
Right and Left Handed Fencing Rules by Walter G. Green III is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

Saturday, February 08, 2020

13. The Renewals

One of the challenges of understanding classical period technique is the considerable variation in how a technique is executed, and even what it is called. In some cases two or more actions may share the same name; in other cases an action may share a name with others.   As a result, it is important to discover early on in your study of the work of a particular Master what the Master calls a particular action and how he or she defines it.

One place where this becomes quite confusing is in the definition of what happens when a fencer is parried but still takes clearly defined actions to try to hit.  For the purposes of analysis the various techniques of renewals of the attack are grouped together as the Remise, Redouble, and Reprise. Readers should be aware that this is a general classification and is not necessarily the approach used by any single Fencing Master of the period.

Note that the summaries provided are a general attempt to capture the key characteristics of the class of action as a point of reference.  As always we recommend that classical fencers base their selection of how to perform the actions on the technique and tactics taught by the particular classical period Fencing master whose works they study.

REMISE


1877 - The French Ministry of War defined the Remise as an attack executed when the opponent detaches from the sword after a parry.  The point is replaced in the original line without being lifted.  

1884 - Appuntata - Parise described the Appuntata as being executed from the lunge with a thrust in the original line against an opponent who attempts to riposte with a single or double feint.

1890 - Prevost described the Remise as an action of returning the point to threaten the opponent after a parry when the opponent (1) uses a compound riposte, (2) uses a timed riposte, or (3) retracts the arm before he ripostes.  The riposte is (1) never executed against a direct riposte, (2) executed without opposition against a timed riposte or a riposte with a retraction of the arm, and (3) otherwise made with opposition.  Note that the "timed riposte" appears to be one executed with broken tempo.


1892 - The Replacing - Rondelle described Replacing as a direct thrust (with opposition as necessary) without recovering against an opponent who (1) does not riposte, (2) does not hold his or her blade in the proper position, (3) abandons the blade after a parry, (4) ripostes direct slowly and without opposition, or (5) escapes the attack and attempts to regain distance in order to riposte.

1895 - Heintz described the Remise as a second thrust executed by the fencer after the lunge if the opponent does not riposte or the riposte is slow.

1904 - Simple Ripigliata - Pavese described a Simple Ripigliata, executed with simple actions following the attack when the opponent parries but does not riposte.

1908 - The French Ministry of War defined the Remise as an action executed without returning to guard against (1) a compound riposte or (2) an insufficient parry with no riposte.  The Remise is similar to a time hit gaining time against a compound attack

1915 - Senac and Senac described the Remise as a secondary attack executed from the lunge after the attack with a lunge has failed.  The Senacs' definition of a secondary attack includes a variety of actions intended to capitalize on the opponent's own advance when he or she is in thrusting distance.

1927 - The International Fencing Federation Rules defined the Remise as a renewal of the attack in the same line as the original attack.

1930 Cass defined the Remise as an offensive action that is executed on the lunge without recovering to guard and without finding the opponent's blade.

1932 - Barbasetti defined the remise as a repetition of an attack or a riposte from the lunge position against opponents who fail to riposte or retreat while parrying.  The remise includes the simple remise, the reprise (raddoppio), and the reprise of attack (ripresa d'attaco).


1932 - Simple Riposte - Barbasetti described the Simple Riposte as a repetition of an attack or a riposte from the lunge position by disengage, feint, double feint, or any other appropriate movement against opponents who fail to riposte or retreat while parrying.


1932 - Appuntata - Barbasetti did not include the Appuntata as a remise, but he likened its technique and employment to the remise.  He described the appuntata as being executed in the same line as the attack from the lunge against opponents who, instead of riposting, react with a feint or frequently withdraw their blade from the fencer's before initiating the riposte.

1934 - Grave defined the Remise as a placement of the point on the target after the opponent's successful parry without returning to guard when and if (1) there is no riposte and the target is not protected, (2) the riposte is delayed, or (3) the riposte is by disengage or a compound action.

1937 - Replacement - Castello described the Replacement as replacing the point in the line of the attack with opposition against a parry with a hesitant riposte, a riposte as a feint, or a compound riposte. 

1937 - Replacement - Vince described the Replacement as a second thrust made in the same line as the original attack when the opponent does not riposte or does not riposte immediately after the parry.

1943 - Nadi did not distinguish between the Remise and Redouble.  It is a counterattack against the opponent's riposte executed (1) in same line when the parry is insufficient, (2) in any line when the riposte is delayed or executed with a compound action, or (3) in a second intention action.

1948 - Deladrier defined the Remise as a second attack executed from the lunge position against an opponent who replies to the first attack with a riposte.  It is executed in the same line as the parry and fulfills the roles of parry and counter-riposte.  As such it is essentially a time hit (a stop hit with opposition) against the riposte.


1952 - Lidstone defined the remise as a second immediate attack without withdrawing the weapon when after the parry an opponent (1) makes a delayed riposte, (2) makes an indirect riposte, (3) makes a compound riposte , or (4) detaches from the blade with making a riposte. 

1952 - Counter Attack on the Riposte - Lidstone described a Counter Attack on the Riposte, and also a Counter Attack on the Counter Riposte, as being the use of a remise against the riposte or counter-riposte.  

IN SUMMARY: The majority of these descriptions give us an action that is (1) executed from the lunge without a recovery (2) in the line of the original attack by a deliberate technique of replacement of the point (3) with opposition in the line against any riposte (4) against an opponent (a) who ripostes and the blade can be opposed, (b) who does not riposte or whose riposte is delayed or hesitant, (c) does not maintain a parry, or (d) attempts a compound riposte. 

REDOUBLE

1877 - The French Ministry of War defined Redoubling as a succession of two attacks on a parry for which there is no riposte with the fencer not being raised (possibly meaning standing up to guard).  The redouble is executed immediately after the parry, retaking the attack and not waiting for any riposte.

1884 - Second Blow - Parise described the Second Blow as a disengage executed from the lunge with opposition and without withdrawing the arm after the opponent's parry. 

1890 - Prevost defined Redoubling as an action performed on the lunge to hit with a coupe or disengage when the opponent does not riposte after the parry.


1892 - Rondelle described Redoubling as a renewed attack taken on the lunge against (1) a parry not accompanied by a riposte or (2) when an opponent retreats to make the attack fall short and then advances to make a riposte with opposition.  The Redouble may be made in all lines except that it may not be direct; a direct response means the action is a Replacing.

1904 - Circular Ripigliata or Ripigliata Circolata - Pavese described a Circular Ripigliata, executed to avoid the opponent's circular action following the attack when the opponent parries with a circular action but does not riposte.

1908 - The French Ministry of War defined the Redoublement as the execution of a second attack immediately after the initial attack, whether the attack is in the same or a different line when the opponent has (1) parried without executing a riposte or (2) who has avoided the attack with a retreat.  In case (1) the final attack is made after the guard has been assumed with a recovery backwards.  In case (2) the final attack is made after resuming the guard after a forward recovery.

1927 - Redoublement d'Attaque - The International Fencing Federation Rules defined the Redoublement d'Attaque as a renewal of the attack made with a change from one line to another.

1930 - Cass defined the Redoublement as a second attack executed immediately after the initial attack in the same, or a different, line.  There are two cases: (1) when the opponent parries without a riposte the fencer resumes the guard by a backwards recovery before the second attack, and (2) when the opponent has avoided the attack by retreating the guard before the second attack is taken forward.



1934 - Grave defined the redouble as a placement of the point on the target while in the lunge after the opponent's successful parry when there is no riposte and the fencers are maintain pressure on the blades.  It is executed with a change of lines by coupe, disengage, or a one-two.

1937 - Castello defined the Redouble as a retaking of the attack when an opponent hesitates to riposte while still holding the parry.  The Redouble is executed from the lunge (1) by disengage or coupe or (2) if the opponent retreats with the parry, by recovering forward and then lunging with the disengage or coupe.


1937 - Vince described the Redouble as an action used if the opponent closes the line making a remise impossible but does not riposte.  Any simple or compound attack may be used except the straight thrust.

1948 - Deladrier described the redouble as a immediate attack, which may involve a line change, made from the lunge position when the opponent fails to riposte.  The redouble had two categories: (1) if the line was closed the fencer should execute a beat followed by a straight thrust, disengage, coupe, or compound attack, and (2) if the line was open no attempt would be made to retake the blade by a beat, but simply execute a straight thrust, disengage, coupe, or compound attack.

1952 - Lidstone described the Redoublement as a new action made in the lunge with a change of line, a preparation (such as a beat), or a combination of both against an opponent who (1) does not riposte, (2) delays the riposte, or (3) or avoids the attack by displacing the target.

IN SUMMARY: The majority of these descriptions give us an action that is (1) executed from the lunge without a recovery or with a recovery forward if the opponent retreats (2) in a different line from the original attack by a disengage, coupe, a compound action, or with a preparation (3) against an opponent (a) who parries but does not riposte, (b) parries but delays the riposte, or (c) retreats.  The redouble as described by some texts does have characteristics of the reprise, being done with the forward or rearward recovery.

REPRISE

1877 - The French Ministry of War described the Reprise as a renewal of the attack after having retaken the sword without being raised (possibly meaning without a recovery to guard).  The redouble is executed immediately after the parry, retaking the attack and not waiting for any riposte. 

1884 - Feint of the Renewed Attack - Parise described the Feint of the Renewed Attack as an action where the fencer recovers backward from an initial lunge followed by a disengage immediately following the recovery.  It may also be executed as a Double Feint of the Renewed Attack or a Disordinata of the Renewed Attack (with more than two feints).

1884 - Raddoppio - Parise defined the Raddoppio as a return to guard forward after the initial attack, followed by an immediate thrust when the opponent retreats or jumps backwards with the parry. 

1890 - Renewed Attack or Reprise d'Attaque - Prevost described the Renewed Attack as an attack executed immediately following the end of a phrase.  When the adversaries find themselves at the on guard, the fencer seizes the offensive by a simple or compound attack, with or without an advance.


1892 - Rondelle described the reprise as an action immediately after a phrase in which neither fencer has hit.  One fencer, immediately after a recovery to guard or even during the recovery, launches an immediate simple or complex attack to take advantage of an opponent who believes that he or she is no longer under threat.

1895 - Heintz described the Reprise as a double attack executed after the lunge, as a simple or compound attack, as quickly as possible at the moment when the two fencers are resuming the guard position or even before the resumption of guard is complete.

1908 - The French Ministry of War described the Reprise d'Attaque as an offensive action taken in the lunge (without a recovery to guard) against a parry which is not followed by a riposte.

1930 - Cass defined the Reprise d'Attaque as an offensive action that is executed on the lunge without recovering to guard after finding the opponent's blade with a parry.

1932 - Reprise or Raddoppio - Barbasetti described the reprise as a repetition of an attack or a riposte from the lunge position by recovering forward and repeating the lunge against opponents who retreat.

1932 - Reprise of Attack or Ripresa d'Attaco - Barbasetti described the Reprise of Attack as a repetition of an attack or a riposte from the lunge position against opponents who attempt to evade the attack.  The action moves forward by advance, balestra, or patinando followed by a lunge. 

1934 - Grave defined the reprise as a placement of the point on the target while in the lunge after the opponent's successful parry when there is no riposte and the target is covered.  It is executed with a press or beat to open the line. 

1937 - Note that Castello did not describe a Reprise as a type of action.  However, his Redouble can be executed with a forward recovery and lunge characteristic of the reprise.

1937 - Renewal of the Attack - Vince defined the Renewal of the Attack as a second attack made immediately after the first attack fails to hit as a result of the opponent retreating in defense.  The fencer takes a forward recovery to guard and then executes a second lunge with either a simple or compound attack.  If necessary an advance lunge may be used after the recovery to guard.

1943 - Reprise of Attack - Nadi described the Reprise as the continuation of the attack(1) retreats during the fencer's attack or (2) retreats after having parried the attack without riposting.  It is executed as a walking attack with the attack, recovery, and reprise as a continuous movement while the bladework may be simple or compound.

1948 - Retaking the Attack or Reprise d'Attaque - Deladrier provided a broad statement that the Reprise or Retaking is the act of initiating offensive action after any phrase that is not conclusive (presumably that does not result in a touch).

1952 - Re-Lunge - Lidstone did not categorize this technique as a renewal of the attack, but the description seems directly equivalent to the general descriptions of a reprise: a second lunge executed when the opponent avoids an attack by retreating by recovering forward and lunging after an initial attack, all as one continuous attack.

1952 - Lidstone defined the Reprise as a new attack immediately after the fencer recovers to guard.  It may be executed in three ways: (1) against an opponent who parries, but does not riposte, by a recovery backwards and then the new attack, (2) against an opponent who retreats by a recovery forward and then the new attack, and (3) against an opponent who retreats by continuing on the attack by re-lunging with a simple or compound attack.  The distinction between cases (1) and (2) and case (3) is that case (3) is one continuous attack of two phases, rather than two separate and distinct attacks in cases (1) and (2).

IN SUMMARY:  The majority of these descriptions give us an action that is executed with the recovery from the lunge either forward or backwards followed by an immediate second lunge.  The recovery is generally backward if the opponent takes a parry and remains in place. The recovery is generally forward if the opponent retreats. 

Sources:

Barbasetti, Luigi; The Art of the Foil; [fencing manual]; E. P. Dutton and Company, Inc., New York, New York, United States of America; 1932.


Cass, Eleanor Baldwin; The Book of Fencing; [fencing manual]; Lothrop, Lee and Shepard Company, Boston, Massachusetts, United States of America; 1930.


Castello, Julio Martinez; The Theory and Practice of Fencing; [fencing manual]; Charles Scribner's Sons, New York, New York, United States of America; 1937.

Deladrier, Clovis; Modern Fencing; [fencing manual]; United States Naval Institute, Annapolis, Maryland, United States of America; 1948.

France.  Ministry of War; Fencing: Foil, Epee, Sabre, Theory, Method, Regulations; translation by the Amateur Fencers League of America; [fencing manual]; Alex Taylor and Company, New York, New York, reprinted by Rose City Books, Portland Oregon, United States of America; translation printed 1908, Rose City Book reprint no date.


France.  Ministry of War; Fencing Manual; translation by Chris Slee; [fencing manual]; reprint by Long Edge Press, no place; 1877 reprinted 2017.
Grave, Felix; Fencing Comprehensive; [fencing manual]; Hutchinson and Company, London, United Kingdom; 1934.

International Fencing Federation Rules  in Bertrand, Leon; Cut and Thrust: The Subtlety of the Sabre; [fencing manual]; Athletic Publications, Ltd., London, United Kingdom; 1927.

Lidstone, R. A.; Fencing: A Practical Treatise on Foil, Epee, Sabre; [fencing manual]; H. F. and G. Witherby, Ltd., London, United Kingdom; 1952.

Nadi, Aldo; On Fencing, {fencing manual]; G. P. Putnam's Sons, New York, New York, United States of America; 1943.

Heintz, George, Sr.; Theory of Fencing With the Foil, in Form of a Catechism; [fencing manual]; Freidenker Publishing Company, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, United States of America, reprint by Forgotten Books, London, United Kingdom; 1895, reprint no date.

Parise, Masaniello; Treatise on the Fencing of the Sword and Sabre; in The Roman-Neapolitan School of Fencing: The Collected Works of Masaniello Parise, Maestro di Scherma; translation by Christopher A. Holzman; [collected works]; Christopher A. Holzman, Wichita, Kansas, United States of America; 1884 reprinted as a collected work 2015.


Pavese, Generoso; Foil and Sabre Fencing (Scherma di Spada e Sciabola); [fencing manual]; Press of King Brothers, Baltimore, Maryland, United States of America; 1905.

Pollock, Walter H., F. C. Grove, and Camille Prevost; Fencing; 2nd edition; [fencing manual]; Longman’s, Green, and Company, London, United Kingdom; 1890.

Senac, Regis, and Louis Senac; The Art of Fencing; [fencing manual]; American Sports Publishing Company, Nee York, New York; 1915.

Rondelle, Louis; Foil and Sabre: A Grammar of Fencing in Detailed Lessons for Professor and Pupil; [fencing manual]; Estes and Lauriat, Boston, Massachusetts, United States of America; 1892.

Vince, Joseph; Fencing; [fencing manual]; A. S. Barnes and Company, New York, New York, United States of America; 1937.

Copyright 2020 by Walter G. Green III

 Creative Commons License
The Renewals by Walter G. Green III is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

Friday, January 24, 2020

10.1.1.7.1. Half-Circle

What is a Half-Circle and why?  Fencing has a number of things that are halves of other things: Half-Lunge, Half-Disengage, Half-Step, and I am sure that is not all.  But Half-Circle is a very particular case that deserves some examination.

We are used to lists of French School parries that include First, Second, Third, Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, Seventh, and Eighth parries.  But occasionally the series is broken, and we encounter … Fifth, Sixth, Half-Circle, and Eighth.  The Italian School also has a half-circle of its own, the mezzochercio.

Half-Circle, and its other incarnations as Demi-Circle and Semi-Circle is a parry, of some antiquity found in sources prior to the classical period as early as Clarke's Boy's Own Book in 1829.  Clarke notes that the parry of Semi-Circle is of specific use for defense against attacks of Low Fourth, Second, and the disengage thrust of Fourth Over Arm. The parry was executed by lowering the point and moving the blade to the inside approximately 6 inches as the blade is advanced forward and the hand is raised to mouth level. .

Clarke is important in another way.  His illustrations show parries in the low line executed based on a target above the waist.  The forearm remains in the same place as in a parry of Third, but the hand is bent downward with the blade extending below the waist.  This same version of the parry appears in illustrations accompanying Griffiths (1868), The French Ministry of War (1877), Benedict (1883, a close copy of Griffiths), and Colmore Dunn (1891).  Although this parry in Eighth and Half-Circle appears unusual to modern eyes, it makes sense for the protection of the target area when that target is limited to above the waist and allows a quick riposte in the high lines.

In 1863 "Stonehenge" and Wood make a brief mention of Demi-Circle in their book Archery, Fencing, and Broadsword.  Demi-Circle is described as a sweep of the fencer's blade across the low line.

Griffiths describes the Half-Circle parry in 1868 in The Modern Fencer as being used, after a parry in third, against an attack in second or low fourth.  The hand is raised to shoulder height in supination, the point low, the arm is bent across the body, and the elbow drawn inward.

Griffiths also describes the use of Half-Circle as a Counter of Half-Circle and possibly even a Double Counter of Half-Circle.  In the Counter of Half-Circle, if the opponent avoids the parry of Half-Circle by disengaging over the blade as it crosses to the inside, the fencer makes a circular parry to meet the opponent's blade in the final position of the Half-Circle.  The Double Counter of Half-Circle repeats the circular parry to defeat a second attempt to escape the parry.

The 1877 Fencing Manual published by the French Ministry of War (Slee translation) describes Half-Circle as a defense against attacks in the low line.  The fencer turns the hand into supination and lowers the point so that it is below the opponent's wrist.  The fencer executes a movement of the blade and wrist from outside to inside, the wrist remaining at the same level throughout.

If the opponent attempts to escape from Half-Circle, the fencer raises the point and passes above the opponent's blade to return to the parrying position.  This is essentially the same as Griffiths's Counter of Half-Circle. 

Benedict in his Manual of Boxing, Club Swining and Manly Sports in 1883 does not address Half-Circle.  However, he does include a paragraph discussing in brief the Counter Half-Circle and the Double Counter Half-Circle parries with essentially the same text as Griffiths. 

As late as 1920, Manrique in Fencing Foil Class Work Illustrated discusses Seventh or Half-Circle.  The description identifies the purpose of the parry as defending against an attack in the low line, and could be consistent with the above descriptions of Half-Circle or with the modern execution of Seventh.

Collmore Dunn's 1891 edition of Dunn's Fencing Instructor and Hutton's The Swordsman includes the modern concept of Septime (Seventh) as a low line parry equivalent to Octave (Eighth).  It is a distinctly different parry executed from Fourth against the attack in the low line with a semi-circular blade movement to the outside.  This description is repeated by Rondelle 1892, in Prevost's section of Pollock and Grove in 1902, and the 1908 edition of the French Ministry of War's manual.  Effectively Half-Circle in what may be its earlier configuration disappears in the 20 year window between 1890 to 1910.

So what can we extract from this data?  

First, we do not know why all of the French system parries were initially numbered except Half-Circle.  The fact that this is the case suggests that Half-Circle is different from the normal lateral, vertical, or circular parry. 

Second, for Half-Circle (Semi-Circle or Demi-Circle) itself, it is a parry that sweeps across the low lines ("Stonehenge and Wood) dealing with attacks in Second, the disengage into Fourth Over Arm, and Low Fourth.    

Third, how Half-Circle is executed is open to some question.  Illustrations and text references suggest that it starts from Third or Sixth (French Ministry of War, Griffiths), or possibly from Fourth with a large circular movement.  Descriptions refer to lowering the blade (French Ministry of War).  However, a semi-circular movement, initially to the outside, from the high line taking the opponent's blade from behind to move it from Third or Sixth to the low lines would seem to be faster than dropping the point vertically and then moving laterally.  It may be of some interest that this is a parrying movement that is often experienced with beginners when teaching the parry of Eight or Second from Third of Sixth; in error the student takes the semi-circular parry toward the inside, instead of toward the outside.

Fourth, this appears to be a contraction parry, one which moves the parried blade across the target area.  Contraction parries have an increased risk of the opponent scoring by simply continuing the attempt to hit after first contact.  None of the later First through Eighth parries are contractions whether as a direct parry, a semi-circular (high to low or reverse in the same vertical line, or a circular parry.  However, if the parry is intended as a diagonal or lateral movement from Sixth toward Fourth, 

Fifth, if we are correct, why does Half-Circle disappear?  The movement pattern, if in fact it is a semi-circular transition into a sweep across the low line, actually appears to be close to the modern concept of the diagonal parry.

Sixth, if we accept Half-Circle as distinct technique, we have identified three distinct classical techniques in the Counter of Half-Circle and the Double Counter of Half Circle. 
   
Sources:

Benedict, George H.; Manual of Boxing, Club Swinging and Manly Sports; [sports manual]; no publisher, no place, reprint by Read Books Ltd., no place; 1883, reprint 2013.

Clarke, William; The Boy’s Own Book; [sports manual]; Monroe and Francis, Boston, Massachusetts, reprinted by Applewood Books, Bedford, Massachusetts, United States of America; 1829, reprint no date.

Collmore Dunn, H. A.; Dunn's Fencing Instructor; [fencing manual]; Street and Smith Publishers, New York, New York, United States of America; 1891.  

France. Ministry of War; Fencing Manual (Manuel d'Escrime); translation by Chris Slee; [fencing manual]; Ministere de la Guerre, Paris, France; translated edition published by Long Edge Press, no place; 1877, translation 2017.

France.  Ministry of War; Fencing: Foil, Epee, Sabre, Theory, Method, Regulations; translation by the Amateur Fencers League of America; [fencing manual]; Alex Taylor and Company, New York, New York, reprinted by Rose City Books, Portland Oregon, United States of America; 1908 translated 1908, Rose City Book reprint no date.
Griffiths, B. T.; The Modern Fencer with the Most Recent Means of Attack and Defence when Engaged with an Adversary; [fencing manual]; Frederick Warne and Co., London, United Kingdom; 1868.

Hutton, Alfred; The Swordsman: A Manual of Fence for the Foil, Sabre, and Bayonet; [fencing manual]; reprint by The Naval and Military Press, Uckfield, East Sussex, United Kingdom; 1891, reprint no date.


Manrique, Ricardo Enrique; Fencing Foil Class Work Illustrated; [fencing manual]; American Sports Publishing Company, New York, New York, United States of America, 1920.

Pollock, Walter H., F. C. Grove, and Camille Prevost; Fencing; 2nd edition; [fencing manual]; Longman’s, Green, and Company, London, United Kingdom; 1890.

Rondelle, Louis; Foil and Sabre: A Grammar of Fencing in Detailed Lessons for Professor and Pupil; [fencing manual]; Estes and Lauriat, Boston, Massachusetts, United States of America; 1892.

"Stonehenge" (possibly John Henry Walsh) and J. G. Wood; Archery, Fencing, and Broadsword; [sports manual];  Routledge, Warne, and Routledge, London, United Kingdom; 1863.

Copyright 2020 by Walter G. Green III.

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Half-Circle by Walter G. Green III is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

Thursday, January 16, 2020

14.1.2. Intrecciata

The Intrecciata is the Italian Schools' change beat.  We are fortunate that there are three English language fencing manuals from the classical period that describe this technique:  Mansaniello Parise;s Treatise on the Fencing of the Sword and Sabre (1884) available in a 2015 translation by Holzman The Roman-Neapolitan School of Fencing, Generoso Pavese's somewhat rare Foil and Sabre Fencing (1905), Luigi Barbasetti's The Art of the Foil (1932 although the majority of the text may have been written in the late 1890s) available in reprint.

Maestro di Scherma Parise described the intrecciata as a disengage followed by a beat to free the fencer's blade from the opponent's.  The technique is executed in two ways:
  • when the opponent is engaged in terza (third) the internal intrecciata is executed with the hand in third-in-fourth, ending with a straight thrust in fourth.  This is termed the intrecciata in quarta.
  • when the engagement is in fourth, the external intrecciata is executed with the hand in second in third directed to the flank, termed the intrecciata and cartoccio.  It may also be performed to the chest. with the thrust with hand in either second or fourth.
Parise described two additional uses of the intrecciata.  The first is the intrecciata and  feint direct employed when it is likely the opponent will use a lateral parry in defense. 
  • The inside intrecciata is followed with a feint of straight thrust and a disengage to the external chest to deceive a parry in four.
  • The outside intrecciata is followed by a feint to the flank and a disengage to the chest in four to deceive a parry of two.
  • The outside intrecciata can be followed by a feint to the chest and a disengage to deceive the parry of three.
The second is the intrecciata and circular feint direct.  The disengage at the end of the intrecciata and feint direct, the disengage is replaced by a circular movement to deceive an opponent's circular parry.
  • The internal intrecciata is executed as a straight thrust with the hand in third in fourth and avoids the outside circular parry by returning to the same target in a circular movement.  To elude the parry of mezzocerchio it may be directed to the flank with the hand in second.
  • The external intrecciata is executed with the hand in second in third.  If the opponent executes a circular fourth parry, the attack moves circularly to the inside chest with the hand in fourth. If the opponent attempts a parry of mezzocerchio, it can be deceived with a feint of cartoccio with a circular action to the flank.
Maestro di Scherma Pavese's text appears to be the first English language publication describing the method taught at the Military Fencing Masters School of Rome and to be based on Parise.  He described the technique as a passage of the blade under the opponent's blade.  This tracks slightly further away from the blade than is normal in a disengage and ends with a beat in the new line to displace the opponent's blade laterally.  The beat is executed with the hand in second-in-third and is the immediate preparation for a straight thrust with the hand in fourth hand position and lunge.

Pavese described the intrecciata con la finta (change beat with feint) is a combination of (1) intrecciata, (2) thrust in the line from which the beat was made as a feint, and (3) a disengage to avoid the opponent's attempt to make a lateral parry and hit.  This is essentially an abbreviated form of Parise's explanation.

Maestro di Scherma Barbasetti used the English language term "change beat" and addresses it in the context of the binds (an engagement that diverts the opponent's blade from the line).  Barbasetti's standard binds are: (1) Prime - from both blades on the inside line, opponent's blade diverted to the inside, (2) Seconde - from both blades on the inside line, opponent's blade diverted to the outside, (3) Tierce - from both blades on the outside line, opponent's blade diverted to the outside, (4) Quarte - from both blades on the inside line, opponent's blade diverted to the inside, and (5) Quinte - from both blades on the inside line, opponent's blade diverted to the inside in the extended arm guard.  Note that Barbasetti's English language text used the French titles of the various positions.

The movement of the change beat is described as being the same as that required to change a bind.  This creates a wider interpretation of the change beat than the descriptions of Parise and Pavese.   Barbasetti suggested that the change beats listed below are possible:
  • from bind of quarte, change beat in tierce.
  • from bind of quarte, change beat in quinte.
  • from bind of tierce, change beat in quarte.
  • from bind of tierce, change beat in seconde.
  • from bind of seconde, change beat in quinte.
  • from bind of seconde, change beat in prime.
  • from bind of quinte, change beat in quarte.
  • from bind of prime, change beat in seconde.
  • from bind of prime, change beat in quarte.
These create movement patterns that are semi-circular, rather than the circular beat of Parise and Pavese.  Barbasetti also discussed the change beat as a method of disarming the opponent - Pavese had mentioned this possibility but did not provide specific examples.  Also of note is that Barbasetti taught a Counter Beat, executed as a circle against an opponent whose arm and blade are fully extended.

All of these actions require a good understanding of Italian School hand positions, the meaning of internal and external, and the formation of Italian School guards and parries, all of which have differences from the French School.  The Classical Academy of Arms Catalog of Classical Fencing Actions and Glossary may be of assistance.  Understanding the movement patterns themselves requires walking through them with a partner and weapons.

Sources:
  • Barbasetti, Luigi; The Art of the Foil; [fencing manual]; E. P. Dutton and Company, Inc., New York, New York, United States of America; 1932.
  • Holzman, Christopher A.; The Roman-Neapolitan School of Fencing: The Collected Works of Masaniello Parise, Maestro di Scherma; [fencing manual]; Christopher A. Holzman, Wichita, Kansas, United States of America; 2015.
  • Pavese, Generoso; Foil and Sabre Fencing; [fencing manual]; Press of King Brothers, Baltimore, Maryland, United States of America; 1905.     
Copyright 2020 by Walter G. Green III

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Intrecciata by Walter G. Green III is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

Wednesday, January 08, 2020

E10.6. La Marche and Parries

In modern epee there is considerable variation in what suite of parries is possible and necessary to protect the fencer.  For example, Terence Kingston lists the standard eight, adds Ninth and a High Second.  In contrast, Imre Vass stresses the need for a smaller number (typically 4 to 5) of parries organized in an integrated system that is consistent with the fencer's preferred tactical approach to fencing.  So, what is a classical fencer to do … master all of the parries or use a smaller set tailored to his or her view of epee?

Maitre Claude La Marche addresses this problem in The Dueling Sword (House's translation), and it appears that he is very much a system advocate.  Some background is important.  The French Dueling Sword (what we term an epee, whether of the salle or of the terrain) is an evolving weapon when La Marche wrote his two editions in 1884 and 1898.  Training for the use of the sword in the duel originally was based on the foil, but by the 1880s the complication of foil play was recognized by some French Masters as being unrealistic for the dueling ground (the terrain).  In that evolution we see a number of Master's adopting different approaches to teaching the dueling sword; La Marche is one of these Masters.

The turbulence in technique extended to what we would consider very fundamental differences in how to execute blade actions.  For example, today a modern fencer knows how to execute a circular parry - the hand and arm stay stable and the blade and point is moved in a teardrop "circle."  In contrast in La Marche's time the circular parry could be executed in that way or, according to other masters, by maintaining the point in one location in space and moving the hand and wrist in a circular motion.  The tenor of La Marche's comments suggest that blade movement is more desirable than the hand and wrist technique.

In this environment, La Marche defined two classes of parries.  These were oppositions and counter-oppositions, the latter being the circular parry.  They could be simple (one tempo) or complex (two tempo).  He believed that the six necessary parries were:
  • Fourth opposition
  • Fourth counteropposition
  • Sixth opposition
  • Sixth counteropposition
  • Second opposition
  • Second counteropposition
He advocated that these parries should be employed as follows:

(1)  Simple oppositions and counteroppositions:
  • Fourth opposition or fourth counteropposition
  • Sixth opposition or counteropposition
(2)  Complex (compound) oppositions and counteroppositions:
  • Fourth opposition and fourth counteropposition
  • Sixth opposition and sixth counteropposition
  • Fourth counteropposition and sixth opposition
  • Sixth counteropposition and fourth opposition
  • Sixth counteropposition and second opposition
There are a couple of points that deserve discussion in evaluating La Marche's choices for simple and complex parries.  First, this is clearly a system in the same sense as Vass suggests.  The limited number of opposition parries (3) and the smaller number of counteropposition parries (2) makes it easier to learn and to automate defensive responses.  

Second, if we assume the system is intended for use in the duel, the system provides a solid defense for the arm, especially when combined with the short retreat he suggests in response to any attack.  The sequencing of opposition and counteropposition parries allows the fencer to deal with both indirect and direct attacks with sufficient options to complicate the opponent's tactical decision making. If we look at what these actions defeat, the defense deals with the following common attacks:
  • Fourth opposition - straight thrust in fourth
  • Sixth opposition - straight thrust in sixth
  • Fourth counteropposition - disengage from fourth
  • Sixth counteropposition - disengage from sixth
  • Fourth opposition and fourth counteropposition - feint of straight thrust disengage starting in fourth
  • Sixth opposition and sixth counteropposition - feint of straight thrust disengage starting in sixth
  • Fourth counteropposition and sixth opposition - two successive disengages (double) in the same direction starting in fourth
  • Sixth counteropposition and fourth opposition - two successive disengages (double) in the same direction starting in sixth
  • Sixth counteropposition and second opposition - disengage starting in sixth followed by half disengage to the low line
This system deals with the common direct and indirect single tempo attacks and with the feint of straight thrust-disnegage, double, and a high-low attack all supported by an opening of the distance sufficient to allow the compound parries and to remove the torso and leg targets.

Copyright 2020 by Walter G. Green III

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La Marche and Parries by Walter G. Green III is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.