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Fencing and History Nut Extraordinaire. While I am tending toward 16th century at the moment, I am and have been interested in history for a long time. Hence the fencing focuses more on the Renaissance period than the modern. This explains two out of three of my blogs. The third is a more personal one focusing on fibromyalgia. What I write in these blogs, I hope will be of use to people.
 

Friday, September 24, 2010

Update on Fabris from a Chair

Greetings,

A post was made some time ago about working on manuals from a different point of view, and more to the point, working on Fabris but from a seated position. With regard to this, I have made a start on the discussion paper variant of the overall project. I have run into some interesting findings in the process of writing the investigation actually.

The first part of the process was to describe to the reader exactly what I was doing, and the perspective I was taking with regard to the manual itself. This was mostly covered in the introduction, but a little more detail is required. An additional part to this particular discussion of intent is discussing the fact that only the single sword will be discussed. This is because it is considered by Fabris that if the single sword is known then the other forms will follow without much difficulty.

An important part of the introductory part of the discussion was to highlight the tactical differences between the seated and standing combatants. Much of this has been discussed earlier in one of my blogs so I will not go into any detail about it here, for such information I would direct you to the previous blog mentioned. Needless to say this is designed to introduce the normally standing combatant to the important changes when being seated.

From this point on there is a discussion of the various theoretical principles which Fabris delves into and must be understood before delving into the more practical aspects of the manual. The discussion of the single sword has already been pointed out. This then needs to be combined with his division of the weapon in order to understand the various important parts of it. The next part of the discussion follows on with more of the basic elements.

One of the most basic elements of fencing is those positions that the combatant adopts in the performance of the art, the wards. Now, Fabris calls these guards, but they are wards in effect. While they do protect certain areas they are not the guards found in the modern sport. These are the foundation positions that the fencer will adopt and as such it is important to go into some detail about them, thus there is discussion of the four basic guards, counter-positions, body and sword position. Armed with this information, the reader can then proceed with more of the theoretical elements.

Time and distance are the two essential elements from which no art with the sword, true no martial art can escape. To this point there are two separate sections one about distance, or measure, and the other about tempo. It is important also that the reader also understands how these two interact, thus there is also a part within both of these sections about how they both interact. Once these theoretical elements are understood it is then possible to discuss the actions made with the weapon.

The actions of the weapon go along with the movements of the body and as such it is important that both are understood. The essential offensive action with the rapier is, of course, the thrust and as such there is quite a bit of detail about this particular action. The other offensive action with the weapon is the cut, and while Fabris has some misgivings about its use, he does describe it as a technique that can be used should the opportunity present itself.

With regard to defensive actions, Fabris actually says surprisingly little about them. For the most part with regard to this, Fabris advises the use of the void as a purely defensive action over the parry. He makes some various points about this and also goes into a little detail about the reason for his preference for the void over the parry.

The next set of actions with the weapon once offensive and defensive actions have been discussed are those with regard to blade engagement, such things as finding the blade and the disengage. With very little surprise, Fabris goes into a great deal of detail with regard to all elements of blade engagement as he finds them essential to the proper use of the weapon. These particular elements are most important if Fabris' method is to be understood completely.

The tactical elements are those which divide the beginner from the more experienced fencer and it is these considerations which are important to truly understand and be able to plan how to defeat the opponent. To this will be added feints as they are a tactical option more than a specific action. Fabris also goes into a discussion about how the fencer should deal with different sorts of opponents as many Renaissance theorists did.

The final part of the theoretical part of the discussion covers the guards. There is a great deal of information covered in this particular discussion. Each guard is discussed separately for its advantages and flaws. There is little surprise that Fabris makes his impression of which guard is better than another and so on. He also presents some basic actions which can be performed directly from the guards and their defensive potential. This is designed to lead on to what he calls the "wounds" which are his practical demonstration of the theory previously presented.

This completes the update for my investigation of performing Fabris from a chair. No doubt I will come up with a better title for the investigation as time goes along. I am in the process of now working through the various "wounds". This will form one of the most time-consuming parts of the investigation as they will have to be deciphered and then seen whether or not this technique will work from a seated position. This will be the first and final update as the wounds are very specific and to go into each would take a great deal of time. Needless to say, I will continue working on the investigation and hopefully publish (in some form) my results.

Cheers,

Henry.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Taking a Hold of Your Training

Greetings,

There is a time in each person's fencing career when they need to take a hold of their own training. What this means is that the fencer needs to take hold of the direction in which the training goes. This blog is designed to address this particular concept and present some ideas about how each fencer can take a hold of their own training and thus push it in a direction which interests them.

The first thing that each fencer needs to realise is that training is actually a very personal thing and that the fencer is the real person who gets benefit out of training. Sure, the teacher or coach may get some satisfaction out of the progress made by the student, but in the end it is really up to the student. This is the most important thing and the reason why eventually each fencer needs to take ownership of their own training and give it some personal direction.

To begin with the teacher supplies the direction because the fencer does not understand those skills that he or she will require. In this particular element the teacher will supply the basic elements of training and through such the basic skills which are required of the fencer. Once these basics have been learnt then the fencer needs to have some idea about where they want to go after the basics. The new direction will always be based on the basic skills which the fencer has learnt, but will tend to go in a direction different and more personal than previously.

There are many different directions that the training can go once the basics have been learnt. For the more Renaissance oriented fencer there is the question of whether a particular school or nationality will be the focus. Or the fencer may focus toward a particular skill-set or weapon combination. Or the fencer may even decide that a particular manual may be their focus. Each one of these gives different options for the fencer and gives a slightly different direction. The important thing in this particular situation is that the fencer has to choose the direction. The teacher may suggest or encourage, but in the end it is the fencer's decision.

For the fencer who is primarily training alone the taking a hold of training has to happen a lot sooner. Firstly this is because it is only the fencer who can really motivate himself in order to do the training in the first place. In this particular situation there really is no teacher or coach that can give the direction for the fencer. Other teachers or fencers may supply suggestions, but in the end it is all up to the fencer. In this particular situation the fencer needs to decide where he is going and what to work on next as there is no one else to supply the plan of where to go.

In order to continue to progress the fencer requires some sort of direction. Even if that direction is merely to improve the skills that he has already, still this is a direction. The best direction for a fencer to go in is one which the fencer is self-motivated to go in. The teacher can supply ideas and encouragement, but in the end the fencer must make the decision and then stick to it. This requires the fencer to have the motivation to start and continue along their chosen path.

In the end the fencer must choose the direction in which they want to go. The fencer should get some ideas about what options are open to them from various sources. These ideas can be based on a particular direction based on a specific text, general improvement or at a specific goal that the fencer wants to achieve. The fencer should take the time to put the suggestions on paper in order to compare them. This way there will b a clear idea about the choices open to them. Once the fencer has an idea about where he wants to go it is time to plan.

It is necessary to plan the direction that wants to be taken. If there is no plan made of the direction it is difficult to see any sort of improvement. It is also difficult to see what end result is planned and whether the fencer has deviated from the direction chosen. The plan is what will keep the fencer striving toward their goal and also having some idea about where that is.

In choosing this direction for training it is a good idea to get some help and advice. This should preferably be from your teacher. There are others who can supply some ideas about the direction and the plan to make to get there. People who are on the same path are also useful as they are currently doing it and will have ideas about good things and bad things. The same can be said for people who have travelled in the same direction, experience is very useful in this endeavour.

Some people like to make plans and keep the ideas in their heads or some other loose form. The best idea is to put it on paper. In this way the plan is obvious and presented to the fencer so they can see exactly what they need to do next and what is coming up. Putting the plan on paper also gives it a solid quality. This being said, it is also important that the plan has some ability to be modified if required, some level of flexibility to meet different challenges along the way. Things happen which are not controllable, illnesses and injury will mean that the plan may have to be changed or put on hold for a period, and it is important to take these things into account.

Once the plan has been put on paper it is important to work towards the goal described. It is also important that it is not packed away and then never seen again. The plan should be placed somewhere it is easy to get a hold of it and to examine what is happening and whether the plan needs to be modified. Integrate the plan into normal training this way the plan will be followed by habit rather than being something separate from normal training. It is also important to discuss the plan that has been worked out with your teacher or coach. This way they will know what is going on, what is being worked upon and will be able to help with it. They may also be able to help with it and assist in improving the plan.

In essence, each fencer will come to a situation where they have completed all of the basic training which enables them to fence at a reasonable level. It is at this time that the fencer really needs to take control of their own training. What happens after this will determine the length of their fencing career. If the fencer is clever they will look at many different options and discuss these with various people. In the end the decision is the fencer's and this is of great importance. Remember to plan the direction, put it in some solid form and then work towards it. Don't be afraid to ask for help.

Cheers,

Henry.