Opposition, Timing, and Francesco’s Pipes

Last Saturday, we took a break from staying in and defending and attacking from the lunge.  Instead, we worked on some timing aspects.  Specifically, we focused on counterdisengaging upon our opponent’s change of engagement. (If any of these terms aren’t familiar to you, check them out here.)  The most important highlights that we saw during the course of the lesson:

  • As always, opposition is critical.  Not only does it keep you safe by occupying the line your attack is landing in, but the angulation helps land the touch by directing the point in towards your opponent.
  • Act within the time your opponent gives you.  Given proper timing, your touche will land before the opponent completes the change of engagement (or whatever action he is doing).  Remember:  proper timing requires your action occur within the duration of your opponent’s action.  (The defensive converse of this, in the context of a changement d’engagement, is that your changes must be as tight as possible to keep you safe—that is, assuming that you are not laying a trap for your opponent by, say, trying to bait your opponent into performing a change of engagement.)  However, acting within the given time does not mean sheer speed; it is promptness (thank you, Russell, for the apt description).  We must be ready to move based on what our opponent gives us, not merely ready to move as fast as possible irrespective of what our opponent is doing.
  • Given half a chance, Francesco will break into an opera song.  So don’t say things like aria, soubrette, or La Traviatta around him.  And under no circumstances should you mention Puccini.  You are only asking for it . . . .

On Thursday, we’re going to do a few things differently with our warm-ups.  I’ll be adding some elements to the warm-up, so be prepared to hear such commands as “coup droit,” “circular parry,” and “parry prime.”


  • If you haven’t paid dues, please do so.
  • If you have a pic of yourself lying around, please send it to Kevin.  (I know some of you people have pictures of yourselves on Facebook, so stop stalling and just forward it to the man.)

One last bit:  Early in the Saturday class, we talked about the use of the saber and how modern fencing has lightened the saber, divorcing it from historically accurate usage.  Here is a link to the website of David Achilleus’s school Trovare di Spada in St. Louis.  On that page, you’ll see a YouTube video of David and Maestro Sullins bouting with heavy sabers.  As far as I can tell, these sabers are more historically accurate.  (I’ve held David’s saber, and I assure you it does not lend itself to some of the wider motions today’s sabers are known for.)  Note the care, timing, and set-up these impressive fencers demonstrate . . . all with weapons heavier than our fleurets or smallswords.

See you Thursday!

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