Presenting a Danger versus Presenting a Threat

Regardless of what weapon or tradition you are using, there will be times when you need to present a clear threat to the opponent. Sometimes you’ll do this in order to just get him or her to back away and stop crowding you. Other times you will use a threat to cause the opponent to hesitate and question their intentions. You can also use a threat to make start moving out of a previously comfortable posture.

No matter what the reason you choose to present a threat, the most important thing is that it is actually a threat, not just a danger. All too often a fencer will present the point of his sword to his opponent’s sternum or belly. While in an excellent to strike the opponent, it isn’t a threat.

To understand why, consider the definition of the word ‘threaten’.

to say that you will harm someone or do something unpleasant or unwanted especially in order to make someone do what you want

Unless your opponent has eyes where others have nipples, a sword pointed at the sternum or belly isn’t likely to be seen. And if it isn’t seen, then the opponent won’t even know that you want him to do something.

If instead you aim the point for the face, the message will be heard loud and clear. Even a novice will understand that the point needs to be dealt with before he or she does anything else.

It is important to note that this discussion isn’t academic. Many of the techniques in the historic manuals involve using threats to manipulate the opponent’s actions in a semi-predictable manner. Without a creditable threat, the technique will not work as expected.

That said, there are also techniques such as invitations that rely on presenting a danger without presenting a threat. For those you want the point of the sword to be hidden or clearly off line.

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2 Responses to Presenting a Danger versus Presenting a Threat

  1. PJ McKenna says:

    I think you meant to write ” is unlikely to be seen”.

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