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Pointy stick
-17th December 2003, 17:01
Following on from various threads about proposed rule changes, flick hits and what is or isn't like a duel...

Someone made the point that in epee you have to parry sufficiently well to deflect your opponent's tip away from your target. In foil, the merest deflection is usually considered enough, even though the rules appear to say otherwise!

Back to basics: why is there a right of way rule? Because otherwise, why would we defend ourselves? Stay with me on this...

In a real duel, you can fight for as long as your stamina allows, and if you haven't hit your opponent, it doesn't really matter. However, if (s)he hits you just ONCE then that completely ruins your day - especially as most duels are fought in the early morning.

The development of fencing arose from the introduction of firearms; armour became redundant, so swords became lighter; lighter swords are more manoeuvreable; you've lost your protection (armour and shield) but you've gained a new protection: the parry.

So fencing became the science (or art) of 'defence' - the skill of defending yourself with the sword, as well as attacking your opponent.

Then some bright spark suggested a button on the end of the sword to prevent injuries. So no one's afraid of being hit and they just prod at each other trying to hit first... no good at all. So another bright spark comes up with the concept of right of way. The idea is that if someone attacks you, you must act as if a hit would really really hurt you. Stopping that attack is much much more important than hitting the other person.

I get the impression that we have lost sight of this principle. I *know* that I was awarded lots of hits last week where I found my opponent's blade, deflected it an inch or so, then riposted - but the original attack landed with just as much force as it would have if I hadn't 'parried'. I'm not sure if this is the same thing as a 'mal parry', but I know it feels wrong.

Where does this take the argument? Well, if all foilists had to parry properly, rather than simply 'finding the blade', phrases would be slightly slower, at least as technically demanding, and much easier for spectators and Referees to follow. Never mind the flick hits - the change of emphasis arising from enforcing proper parries would change the balance of the game and (possibly) reduce many of the (real or imagined) problems arising from arguments over the definition of attacks.

Perhaps. :0)

I sit here waiting to learn from your responses.:)

gbm
-17th December 2003, 17:27
Then some bright spark suggested a button on the end of the sword to prevent injuries. So no one's afraid of being hit and they just prod at each other trying to hit first... no good at all.
And thus was epee invented...

But seriously,
I agree with you whole-heartedly. More attention should be placed observing mal parry. Obviously you don't have to parry properly (a feint parry?), if you think your opponent will stop his attack, but if he correctly continues, you are skewered.
I should point out there are two types of simple parry (not counting seeding parries e.t.c.). Opposition parries are good for practice, and involve moving your sword so that you push their sword physically out of the way. Failure to completely move your sword (and thus their sword) would normally constitute a mal parry.
The other type of parry is the beat parry, which is favoured by the French style as faster and more efficient, since it comes purely from the wrist (up with those French grip foils!). Here, again the object is to move your opponents sword so that it no longer threatens your body, but by beating their sword, your sword does not necessarily clear your body, enabling a faster riposte. It is still quite easy to perform a mal parry, if not easier with this type of parry (by beating insufficiently).
However, I don't think just improving recognition of mal parries would solve all the games problems, although I agree completely with the way you see foil.:)

ceprab
-18th December 2003, 09:36
Unsurprisingly, I am gong to weigh in, but briefly...

At the point of foil becoming a sport (which was very early on) it began to evolve away fro the duel concept.

If a foil beat parry is judged to be a malparryif the blade continues then essentially you would drive the sport in the direction of brute force and sheer physical power ie. if you are strong enough that you can just ignore the parry and force through to target it was your point. The epee mechanism that avoids this is the stop-hit and not having ROW as a consideration.

Significant deflection of the blade is not a great deal. The foil parry is not an attempt to block the attack, it is a way of saying I have now taken ROW and can make my attack.

If you would require a parry to completely redirect an attack in order to take ROW, ROW becomes pointless. What you are describing would be a fourth discipline that could be summed up as limited-target epee. I would suggest that this is not going to happen, and you would probably best served by taking up epee if you want to pursue this style of fencing.

OK, I failed on the 'briefly' bit. Sorry.:moon:

pinkelephant
-18th December 2003, 09:50
Originally posted by goodbadandme

I should point out there are two types of simple parry (not counting seeding parries e.t.c.).

That would be ceding parries (to cede, as in to yield).

gbm
-18th December 2003, 15:48
Yes, that would make sense (ceding not seeding). I have only ever heard the term spoken. You learn something new every day!

cerprab said

Significant deflection of the blade is not a great deal. The foil parry is not an attempt to block the attack, it is a way of saying I have now taken ROW and can make my attack.

The rules:

The parry is the defensive action made with the weapon to prevent an offensive action arriving.
The purpose of a parry is to prevent an attack from hitting. If this is no longer required, then right-of-way becomes meaningless!
A parry that achieves nothing other than make a clicking noise is worthless. Such a noise may stop an opponent from attacking, but it does not require him to do so. Only by preventing the initial attack can any advantage over the opponent and thus right-of-way be gained.
Beat parries are fully valid, and generally superior to opposition parries, as they do cause the opponent's blade to be deflected, setting up the correct advantage for an immediate riposte and thus demanding a suitable change of strategy from the attacker (i.e. parrying or avoiding the riposte if there is one). In the case of a correct en-garde angle, assuming you to be of average width, starting from a central hand position, a deflection of only 3-4" is often required. It is quite possible to beat parry a sword a considerable distance further than this.
In an actual bout, a parry often does not have to be complete because it is known that the opponent will probably not try to drive through, in the same way attacks are often feints and so do not have to be parried at all. It is this not incorrect behaviour that right-of-way merely enforces, and this is above and beyond the requirements of right-of-way as far as the rules are concerned, and simply an extension of the science of the fight, from which the conventions are created!

Are there any other classifications of parry, and could anybody with more experience of them than me describe ceding parries?

And there's nothing wrong with not being brief.

Oh yes, and nobody, not even the entire male Russian weightlifiting team, can force their way through a correctly executed parry of forte against foible.

Pointy stick
-18th December 2003, 16:49
Goodbandandme asked: <<anybody with more experience of them than me describe ceding parries?>>

I don't claim the experience, but I'll have a go.

Ceding parry - easier to demonstrate slowly than it is either to do at fight speed or to explain!

Imagine I'm on guard in a poor sixte position, and you pressure my blade further into the outside line...

I can pressure back, I can disengage and attack, I can wait for you to release my blade, or I can do a ceding parry.

The ceding parry works a bit like this: I keep contact with your blade and I appear to be letting you push my blade where you want it to go.

Suddenly you find my blade is on the inside of yours and our roles are reversed. Haha! (Fiendish laugh.) It's a slight movement of the fingers/hand/wrist, which lets my blade sort of slip under your blade. I appear to be ceding (giving way) to your greater strength and control, and suddenly I've used your momentum against you.

Imagine a film of an envelopment played backwards... it's that sort of thing.

Of course, you can do a ceding parry in any of the positions, although I guess sixte and quarte are easiest. I've been shown, but I've never knowingly used one. :0)

nahouw
-18th December 2003, 23:38
Originally posted by Pointy stick
Following on from various threads about proposed rule changes, flick hits and what is or isn't like a duel...

Back to basics: why is there a right of way rule? Because otherwise, why would we defend ourselves? Stay with me on this...

So fencing became the science (or art) of 'defence' - the skill of defending yourself with the sword, as well as attacking your opponent.

I get the impression that we have lost sight of this principle.

You have raised really good points which I agree with... and I think that you will appreciate the article I wrote for the FIE about this. When the next issue of ESCRIME comes out with my article, maybe we can all discuss this again.

reposte
-19th December 2003, 08:12
SRB is correct to the full extent. "The parry is a defensive" etc.. -All these quotations from the rule book when you bring out one sentence and ignore volumes. Every time someone doesn't like foil they think it's the fault of foil (no hard feelings, Pointy stick).

gbm
-19th December 2003, 09:51
When does the Escrime come out? I would like to read this article. I also think they are good points.
And to reposte, who said that I am quoting single lines and ignoring volumes, I believe that I could in fact quote every one of the rules relating to how foil is fenced in the 10000 character limit of this forum (It end up a few posts though). The rulebook may be thick, but that is only because of the material rules, the organisational rules, how to run the World Cup, how the clothing must be tested by a high-speed dynameter, the FIE approved hand signals, how the blades must be forged, the type of wire that must be used in the mesh of masks, the size of the piste e.t.c. The actual rules that affect the fencer's fencing directly (e.g. right of way, what a simple attack/compound attack is) are actually quite short. I find most information in the technical rules for the three weapons at the start (a few pages), and then in the individual section for each weapon (a fair amount of pages, at least for foil, less for epee, som for sabre). They consist of a simple set of rules, much like the Universe is based on a simple set of rules. But it is possible to write volumes on fencing because of the emergent behaviour that comes from these rules, which is far more complicated than the rules, in the same way the complexity of the Universe, although founded on simple rules, allows me to write this post to you. There is not a Universal Law of Forum Posting, it is just something possible under the rules of the Universe. There is not a rule describing a ballestra, but it is a part of fencing.
However, the rules are the fundamental TRUTH. Anything which goes against the rules is not, therefore, fencing (that sounds very exclusionist, so I am referring only to fencing which is fenced within the rules i.e. competitive electric FIE-approved foil/epee/sabre). If the rule book says a parry is an action which prevents an attack from arriving, then that is what it is, no matter what anybody says until somebody changes the rules! This is not going to stop the emergent behaviour which causes people to stop their attack instinctively once they have been parried (since once parried, unless you are SURE it is going to be or is a mal parry, it is a good idea to get ready to parry the riposte). It just means that people, seeing a mal parry-er, can choose to drive an attack successfully past their insufficient parry, and thus teach the opponent to parry properly!
In most cases, I find it is trying to stop beginners from parrying the attack of the person standing next to them that is usually the problem anyway.:)

Robert
-19th December 2003, 16:55
As a rule I think this is a bad idea. I am very defensive for a foilist, much more so than almost anybody I have fenced at an open. If the rules were altered it would simply make foil more aggressive and diminish the use of parries (people would use distance instead and the phrase would largely vanish).

On the sort of notes raised on this thread. I parry, the blade IS deflected but as I riposte my oponent breaks the rules and restarts the attack by using a finger or wrist movement. The apparent continuation speed and force of the final hit is because my opponent is driving through with his body weight and is off-balance.

So, in fact, it is the development of the sport-like (rather than duel-like) nature of the attack that forces the modern sport-like defence.

Robert

Pointy stick
-20th December 2003, 00:26
Originally posted by reposte
(no hard feelings, Pointy stick).

I'll quote myself from the initial post on this thread:

<< I sit here waiting to learn from your responses. >>

And that's what I'm doing. No one ever learned anything from not having their ideas challenged or their misunderstandings corrected.

Tonight, by coincidence, I had some hits against me because I was told I hadn't taken the blade properly, and some hits against me where my opponent had caught my blade with the lightest and most glancing contact. It was only a few hits in a great night's fencing and cameraderie, and there are no sour grapes - I'm the sort of fencer who declines to accept points if I think the President has made a mistake in my favour, and who determines to do it more convincingly next time if a mistake is made against me - but it is frustrating sometimes to see the definition of the parry applied inconsistently.

And Reposte, I don't dislike foil. I have no big complaint about foil - just a few niggles about things which appear to me (as a keen neophyte) to be inconsistent. I'm just trying to understand it better. I think foil suits me far better than the other two weapons would. I even like it enough to do it three nights a week.

reposte
-20th December 2003, 14:49
Foil is done in a certain way and manner, there is no argument that it can be contested, but ought not beginners (myself included) learn how to take in best what is now in existence before we try and question the very basis of what's now?
If you mal parry - whilst your opponent takes row with the slightest contact of blades - go to your trainer, ask for a tutorige and try to amend what is obviously wrong in either how you perform parries or the way you perceive the bout. Understanding foil takes time, and it doesn't seem to me proper form to raise questions which assume that there might be something wrong with the game before you've reached a certain level of experience and ability in it, does it?

Gecko
-20th December 2003, 17:07
re Pointystick's comment that parries are not seen by referees - in the past presidents used to move with the fencers along the piste (they learned their trade when they had 4 judges who all move to and fro with the president). Now when Joe Bloggs referees, it is cool to stand rooted to the spot; the only parries he can see are vertical quinte ot neuvieme parries, not subtle sideways or circular parries.

Pointy stick
-20th December 2003, 17:48
Originally posted by reposte
it doesn't seem to me proper form to raise questions which assume that there might be something wrong with the game before you've reached a certain level of experience and ability in it, does it?

And nobody should be allowed to vote in a General Election until they're at least 40 and have passed a written exam on current affairs.

I don't assume there's something wrong with the game except to the extent that I hear and read comments from experienced fencers. These comments raise questions which suggest to me, as a mere beginner, that there are some areas of disagreement about how the game is or should be played, and how the rules are or should be interpreted.

So, as a beginner, I think, "Perhaps I ought to understand the issues so I can reduce the chance of learning and developing the wrong technique. I know: I'll ask in the forum and see what other people say. That's what a forum is for."

You seem to suggest that you feel I am arrogant to ask a question whilst I think I would be foolish not to.

reposte
-20th December 2003, 17:58
You seem to suggest that you feel I am arrogant to ask a question whilst I think I would be foolish not to

not at all.

I just don't think it's helpful to you.
I don't know how many times I've had "stop thinking, fence!" or
"your problem is you're too smart" said to me in the recent weeks.
My coach is right. There is no such think as too smart for fencing, but at a certain level - beginner's level - there is no use in contemplating the meaning of fencing. You just have to practive until you get to that certain level - and believe me, you'll know it when you get there - which you'll be able to make advised contemplations into the philosophy of fencing and back it with experience and first hand knowledge.
I too made the mistake (in my view) of intellectualizing fencing to a degree where it became disconnected from reality and I fear you're headed the same way. It's a friedly advice, meant as such if not expressed explicitly as such hitherto.

gbm
-20th December 2003, 19:11
Questions are good, no matter what level the fencer is at (as long as they don't get in the way i.e. 30mins in every hour is probably a bad idea, but a few questions an hour is very good). Beginners should not expect to get questions 'right', i.e. they should not expect to know the answer right (I often ask questions as a way of checking my own knowledge). To prevent someone from asking questions is to prevent them from learning. My coach always for questions after explaining an exercise, and although nobody ever does, how is he to know if he has successfully explained something without asking?
Its not really what answers you get that show how good a fencer is, it's what questions you ask. But beginners should ask questions to improve their thinking. I think modern fencing, at low-mid level, could do with a bit more thinking. When you say your coach says "Stop thinking, fence!" I suspect you are taking him/her out of context. How can you fence without thinking? Only by making reactive movements. This is an inferior way of thinking, as it leads to poor technique, signalling and makes you more predictable. For example, you will react more to feints, parrying too far reactively, and then panicking and setting yourself up to a one-two or a one-two-three (by which time you will have hit the referee). The 'correct' way to learn is not instinctive, it is to learn and understand the actions until you gain the ability to instantly recognise patterns and respond correctly, instead of unhelpful reactive responses.
For example, last night we did an exercise where we attempted to lunge at somebody's hand and hit it (without swords) before they could withdraw it. With practice, I was able to hit my opponent at a distance of up to six/seven inches out of arm extension range (the distance I could hit without moving, just by extending my arm, it's more difficult than it sounds!). This was part of a practice on the fleche, to learn to do it without signalling. We were encouraged to do it without thinking so much about the hit. My opponent first was consistently leaning and beginning his lunge a fraction (tiny, but sufficient) of a second before extending his arm, as he was putting a lot of effort into the quick extension, but the rest of his body was giving him away. I suggested he used a technique which I had used, which was to imagine he was being yanked by the fingers. This helped me to clear my mind and make sure the first thing to even know that it was going to move was my fingers, then my hand, then my arm, then my body. By doing this, I was able to give no signal as to my imminent attack and attack from a considerable distance before he could react. When he tried it, he hit me for the first time at a reasonable distance, and said "Ohh....". Enlightenment!:rolleyes:
Thinking in the correct way is paramount in fencing, and by asking questions, you are shaped into the correct way of thinking and you learn faster (provided you ask the right people, older classical coaches are the best I think, but then I would!:))
Don't be afraid to ask questions, and don't ever be put off by the answers, just seek to learn. Everbody has something to learn, sometimes the people you ask can learn as well!

Pointy stick
-20th December 2003, 21:05
Originally posted by reposte

{1} not at all.
{2} I too made the mistake (in my view) of intellectualizing fencing to a degree where it became disconnected from reality

{1} Fair enough. I misread you. Sorry.
{2} I have over intellectualized everything I've done for at least the last 30 years, from cycling to diving to dancing, so I don't see why fencing should be any different. I've often wondered why I overintellectualize everything... It's probably a Gypsy's curse.

When I'm fencing, I don't worry about the rights and wrongs of flick hits, or whether blocking times should be longer, tips should move further, springs should be stronger, or any of that. I just try to hit without being hit. This is my simple recipe for success. The recipe is simple, but I'm a lousy cook.:o

That said, I don't think it's harmful to engage in a bit of bullsh'ing in this forum, at whatever level. I might learn something, avoid a few mistakes, and even provide some harmless amusement for the rest of you.

randomsabreur
-21st December 2003, 15:59
Normally a good idea, but your opponent has to be able to respond to your clever cues. There are times when your gorgeous 1-2 attack fails because your opponent couldn't or didn't react to the threat by parrying but by sticking his arm out and you get tangled up.

There are times when too much sophisticated thinking is worse than not thinking at all.

That said, fencing is SO much more satisfying when you have set up the trap and the opponent has walked straight into it, preferably without realising it!

Pointy stick
-21st December 2003, 21:07
Originally posted by randomsabreur
Normally a good idea, but your opponent has to be able to respond to your clever cues. There are times when your gorgeous 1-2 attack fails because your opponent couldn't or didn't react to the threat by parrying but by sticking his arm out and you get tangled up.

There are times when too much sophisticated thinking is worse than not thinking at all.


Thinking of a 1-2 and trying to set it up and execute it is sophisticated. Being able to do that, but realising that it would be inappropriate against a particular fencer is one stage more sophisticated. (I speak with the satisfaction of having applied this principle successfully this week. A fast and strong novice, who was difficult to beat last time I met him, was an easy victim to several simple disengagement attacks in a row.)

gbm
-21st December 2003, 21:53
And expecting your opponent to think that you have thought of a one-two, but have actually decided it is inappropriate, and then doing it anyway, is either another step forwards or another step back (depending on if it works or if you make a hash of it, or more likely, you're not psychic):)

ceprab
-27th December 2003, 12:49
Originally posted by randomsabreur

That said, fencing is SO much more satisfying when you have set up the trap and the opponent has walked straight into it, preferably without realising it!

Based on observation of the guy who did it to me, setting an obvious trap and catching the opponent when he tries to avoid it is even more amusing. :(