My club has recently started looking at the works of George Silver, as interpreted by Stephen Hand. Right now the class is focused heavily the theory and philosophy of fencing rather than the mechanical aspects. Here are my personal notes from the discussions we had during the first class.
In Silver’s philosophy, there are four actions of an attack. I question the word “action”, as I think moments of time, tempi if you will, is a better term.
Bent: The first action isn’t really movement at all, but rather a position. Silver calls it bent, an apt term for being prepared for the cut, but he is just as happy to use that term to mean being prepared for a thrust.
Spent: A cut (or thrust) is considered to be spent when the attack is completed and the sword has reached its destination. Though a position, one may think of it an action to
Lying Spent: It seems that Silver distinguishes between an attack that has reached its natural destination and one that has been interrupted. This interruption can be from either a parry or the attack striking the opponent. Either way, as long as you lay spent you are particularly vulnerable.
Drawing Back: This is the only one of the four actions that is explicitly an action. It is act of pulling back the sword after a thrust or cut so that you transition from spent or lying spent back to bent.
Hand makes note that you do not necessarily go through all four actions with every attack. If, for example, your cut completely misses you can go directly from spent to drawing back without spending any time laying spent. Furthermore, at the completion of a descending cut you can turn the hand so that you skip from spent to bent for a rising without the need for drawing back.