In a recent practice I noticed a fencer using Meyer’s dussack style was scoring a lot of hand hits. And it got me thinking about the subject.
In Manciolino, the very first technique you learn is the three strikes to the hand. This is literally the first attack presented for Guardia Alta, the first guard in the manual. Why choose this particular technique as the first thing you teach? Especially when few people stand in a full Alta?
Well first of all, consider what Meyer says about the high guard. He tells us that we enter the high guard (Meyer: Tag, Manciolino: Alta) whenever we pull up the sword for a cut. And that happens a lot in a fight.
Secondly, it is a way of defending yourself. As Manciolino says, your opponent isn’t going to be eager to lower is hand if you are cutting at it. And if he can’t lower his hand, he can’t cut at you.
And that’s what I was seeing. The agent was pulling up his hand into an Alta/Tag-like posture and the patient fencer was attacking the hand before the agent’s cut could begin. Usually the hand would be hit on the second or third try, as the agent found it hard to attack and impossible to retract his hand without exposing his head and chest.