Fabris Chapter 6 – On Flinging the Sword, Dui Tempi Actions, and Beats

Flinging the Sword

Fabris seems to be advocating for relatively slow, measured attacks. He gives numerous reasons for why you shouldn’t “fling” your sword. A fast, jabbing action lacks the control and accuracy of a normal thrust, especially in a lunge. It can be more easily pushed aside, and if that happens it will go further off the mark. It also prematurely commits you to the attack; you cannot redirect a flung sword to a different target.

Even worse than a flung sword is a series of flings. Each subsequent jab requires pulling back the arm, which gives more tempos (opportunities for action) to your opponent.

Those who fling their sword rarely perform proper feints. Either they feint by moving the feet or body without moving the sword, or they pull back so much after the feint that they create a “long and dangerous tempo”.

Against Dui Tempi Actions

Dui tempi actions, such as a parry followed by a thrust, are not entirely unusable, and can be effective against those who fling their sword. But because there are two tempos, the opponent can retreat and, if you follow, possibly counter-attack.

For this reason Fabris prefers the same-time or stesso-tempo parry-counter, where in you attack and defend in the same action. In my own experience, correctly performing the attack has a side-effect of creating a solid defense. Somewhat perversely, actually trying to parry usually leads to an overly wide and thus weaker defense.

Later in this chapter Fabris flat-out calls 

Beats and Responding to Them

Beats could work, if not for the fact that they are so easily avoided with a disengage. And since the attempt to beat brings your sword off-line, you open yourself up to an immediate attack.

Another counter to the beat is to catch the beat on the forte, in doing so your sword will not be moved. I imagine this to be done with a thrust, or at least the feint of one.

A third option is to accept the beat and yield to it. Simply use the energy of the beat to return the point on-line. According to Fabris, and my own experience, you can do this in such a way that your forte never moves.

More on Timing

Once you start an attack, you must complete it uninterrupted. Otherwise the point will not land in the tempo allocated to it. Any kind of disengage or mutation counts as an interruption in this context.

A former teacher of mine says that is ok, so long as your opponent gives you another tempo to work with. For example, if you feint to his left shoulder and he raises his sword to parry, then that parry gives you the tempo you need to redirect to his right.

But if he doesn’t defend his left, then you need to turn that feint into an earnest attack. If you jump the gun and disengage when you don’t need to, you give him the tempo that he needs to counter-attack.

On Control

It is vitally important that you always maintain control of your sword. You need to be able to occupy your opponent’s debole while keeping your sword free. If you can do this and your opponent cannot, then he cannot hit you.

In order to do this, each mutation and attack must be done in the measured and controlled fashion. Don’t rush or fling your sword, but instead be prepared to redirect or abort as necessary.

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