Agrippa’s Long Step

For a long time I thought that Agrippa disliked the lunge. It turns out that I made this mistake by a combination of unfamiliar terminology, a poor translation, and  reading far too much into the paragraph that explains the counter to the lunge.

Agrippa’s lunge starts in wide third, which is illustrated below.


To perform the lunge, move the right foot forward half a palmo. A palmo is the maximum distance between the tip of the thumb and pinky, which for me if the length of my foot minus the toe. So for the sake of argument, lets say a half palmo is half your foot length.

Agrippa says to extend the right shoulder perpendicular over the right knee, thus gaining 3 palmi of distance.

We don’t know exactly what he means by this, but this illustration from Fabris seems to fit the text.


The Recovery

Most rapier manuals I’ve studied from has the fencer recover back to the same guard from which he started. Agrippa is a bit more cautious.

When performing a recovery after a lunge, bring the right foot back to the left so that you stand in a narrow first or second. By doing so, your opponent will be unable to reach you even if he employs the long step as well.

Preliminary Interpretation of the Counters

What follows are the counters are my first guess at how they are supposed to work. I’ll write a follow-up post once I’ve had a chance to try them.

Counter 1

The first counter to the long step is to thrust at the knee, then recover into first or second as above.

I suspect that this works better against opponents that lead with their feet.

Counter 2

If he raises his hand to strike in first or second, thrust at his chest without moving your foot.

Here I think what’s happening is the opponent is leaving the center line before attacking, giving you an opening and a tempo to take advantage of it.

If he steps forward while doing this, respond with an equal step backwards.

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