Before we get into I.33 itself, first we need to learn some terminology. Everyone knows the terms “weak” and “strong” in reference to the blade, but that is insufficient for this discussion. So instead we’ll use the terminology after L’Ange.
In his illustration above, the sword is divided into four sections.
- Full Strong
- Half Strong
- Half Weak
- Full Weak
With four sections in each of two swords, that gives us 16 possible binding locations. But we’ll only look at a handful of them.
Full Weak on Full Weak
If we, being the fencer on the left, bind the full weak of our sword on our opponent’s full weak we end up with several problems.
- First, it isn’t a strong bind. There is a good chance that he’ll push right through it.
- If we lend any extra strength to the bind by pressing his sword, he’ll just slip over the top.
- We aren’t posing a threat, so he still controls the vor.
Half Weak on Half Strong
Lowering our point somewhat, we can achieve half weak on half strong. As the terms indicate, this gives our opponent a mechanical advantage and will most likely push through our sword.
Moreover, we are still not posing a threat. With neither of our blades online for a direct thrust, the advantage goes to the one with a stronger bind.
Half Weak on Full Strong
This is the version actually shown in the manuscript. The point is lowered further so that our half weak is on the opponent’s half strong. In terms of the bind, we are somewhat worse off than the previous arrangement. Our opponent is still has a lower part of his sword against ours, making him stronger in the bind.
But look at the point. Now that it is online we have the option for a direct thrust. With his superior bind he can counter it, but it is something that he has to deal with. This means that, for the first time, we actually have a chance.
Full Weak on Full Strong
If we draw back the sword even further, by lowering the hand or be being further away, we see obtain a full weak on full strong bind.
In some ways you could say that we are still posing a threat in the form of a direct thrust. But with the point much further away from the face, it is no where near as disconcerting as the previous example.
And being so weak in the bind, our opponent merely has to extend his arm for his own thrust to drive our sword off-line. By giving him our full weak, we’ve removed the need for him to even attempt the over-bind discussed in I.33.
Underarm: Throughout this whole discussion, the fencer on the left never obtains the advantage. At best he can neutralize his opponent’s advantage, which is why I.33 discourages the use of underarm against anyone who knows how to use half-shield properly.
Half-shield: The fencer on the right needs to be aware of his opponent’s mistakes. If he binds incorrectly, be prepared to either twitch over this blade or to thrust strongly. Only over-bind when there is a creditable threat for you to deal with.
During our experiments for this post, we were using straight edged blades. If you use the broader, triangular blades of actually shown in I.33 that may change the results because the wider blades may act like lugs in a thrust.