Fabris, Notes on Chapter 8

Parries are a demonstration of fear. The fear of being hit puts a person into obedience. If you can force someone to parry, you have an advantage over him. Because of this, some say parries are counter-productive.

Fabris agrees, except when the parry is accompanied with a counter-attack.

If you feint to one place and then attack another, your opponent may parry the first allowing you to strike with the second. This is more a problem with single sword, you need to counter attack with the parry because you won’t necessarily get a second tempo to make an attack.

Parrying cuts

To parry a cut, thrust. You should be able to hit the person a moment before his blade strikes your forte. You should do this because catching the cut will otherwise throw your tip offline. Earlier I wrote,

The third part is not effective especially against cuts. You can parries when the sword is pressed against the opponent’s body (Fabris promises more on this later).

Perhaps this is what he is talking about. If you have your tip pressed against the opponent, i.e. in him, then your sword is more stable and thus can catch the cut using the 3rd part. Obviously you couldn’t catch it with the 4th part this way because it is buried in his chest.

Don’t parry if you cannot reach your opponent. If you can’t reach him, he cannot reach you. If in doubt, void the cut by pulling back slightly, then quickly counter.

If you cannot reach him but want to parry anyway, thrust as if you could reach him. This will at least prevent him from changing his attack and the fear it instills may give you a tempo to attack with.

Don’t parry unless you can counter-attack with a thrust. The cut is slow and its range limited, giving you plenty of opportunity.

All of this requires that you have a good idea of the opponent’s moves and distance. If he cuts a wide measure, you can easily void and counter once the sword passes by. If he is at narrow measure, you can hit before the cut lands.

If you void by stepping back with the left foot, you will be safer but your thrust will be less effective. If you parry, your thrust will be stronger and you pass right into him if you want to. If you don’t pass when you parry, make sure you can still recover safely.

On Beats

Don’t do it. If you aren’t a completely fool you can avoid the beat and counter.

Parrying Thrusts

This is hard. Parries are fast, deadly, and deceptive. It is far preferable to void the thrust than try to parry it. If you try a counter, your opponent will void your counter-thrust and make his own counter.

Since you sometimes need to parry the thrust, it is best to learn how to combine parries and voids. A parry with a void is very fast and makes it so that your opponent cannot simply change lines. Also, it requires less displacement of your own blade.

Left Hand

Some fencers defend solely with their left hand. This is probably not a very good idea.

There are a lot of good reasons to parry with the hand:

  • The hand is free to defend when the sword is in motion
  • It can easily parry straight attacks

But if you do parry with the hand, your forte is often withdrawn and you offer more openings.

You can use your hand, but only in emergencies. Train with it anyway, if only so you know what your opponent can do with it.

In general it is better to not use the hand unless you can grab the hilt or grapple with him. [Fabris then goes on to say wrestling is an inferior defense.]

It is better to close off lines with the left hand than to actually touch your opponents sword. This means use the hand to passively defend an opening.

Against the left hand

Against a person who parries, keep the sword at a slightly upward angle. This makes it harder to find or grasp with the hand.

When attacking use an oblique line. That is, straighten your sword as you attack so that it isn’t straight until you have hit your target.

Use feints.

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