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Equilibrium is death

From my experience there is a school of thought I commonly encounter, what I call in my head the "conversation" approach. This is where one persons makes an action, your opponent makes a response and then you respond back and forth like having a civilised conversation. This mental approach can be detected most easily in two areas, in the onset and in the bind. It looks like follows:

1. Two people advance to just outside of measure
2. At an agreed signal or after a certain amount of circling one will adopt a guard
3. Then the other a counter guard
4. The attacker will then attack
5. The defender will take a defensive action
6. A bind is formed
7. Both partys push backwards and forwards for a bit "feeling" in the bind
8. It all ends up in a heap with scrappy cuts in the bind or semi-half sword wrestling 

The problem with this approach is it encourages equilibrium, where the person with the initiative is continually giving it up so their opponent can respond and potentially take the initiative. This approach is completely understandable but largely draws from traditions of sports fencing where talking turns is enshrined in the rules. However in "real" fighting it is remarkably unhealthy. From reading Meyer I can see that he presents something of a different approach.

If the above is likened to a conversation with the parties politely taking turns to speak then I think Meyer is more like a shouting match whereby one party berates the other until they are able to get a word in edgewise.

I think Meyer looks more like this:

1. There are two people in a room with swords
2. The attacker launches themselves at the patient and their attack passes through a "guard" based on the opening they are targeting
3. The defender is not perfectly sited to respond but struggles to get their response by cutting back traveling through the appropriate "guard" positions

To my mind the system outlined in Meyer recognises that unless your initial strike from the onset is spectacularly well devised and your opponent is an unlikely level of incompetent your initial attack is very unlikely to land. So it is almost certain that they will attempt some kind of parry and a cross of swords is a likely occurance eventually. However there are two difference I detect, firstly because your opponent isn't already sited in the correct counter guard you are actually putting him on the spot to make their defence. Secondly I do not think Meyer would characterise the bind as a "good" thing, something to be desired, instead I think he sees it as an likely but not optimal outcome.

From my reading of Meyer the best case for a skillful agent in my mind is like this:

4. The attacker flits immediately to the next opening
5. The defender responds as best they can, their response traveling through the appropriate "guard" positions
6. The attacker flits immediately to the next opening
7. and on until the attacker lands a hit

However this is likely to happen eventually if the agent cannot land a hit within a few moves:

4. a bind is formed
5. The attacker immediately feels strong/weak to either take off or drive through

At this point the attacker should immediately try and break out of the potential balance, to retake the initiative immediately. If this does not take place immediately then the safest course is to withdraw. Why no sawing backwards and forwards in the bind, why no stopping and standing in measure to see what happens? Because in an equilibrium the chance of a double hit taking place skyrockets as both parties strive to take the initiative. Therefore in the world of life or death with real swords it's best to take the long view, reset and begin again than risk it in the throw of a dice. To break the initiative of an attacker is high skill technique and from a secure fencing perspective for most practicitioners with modern skill level it's actually safer to be either attacking fully or defending fully and to only risk breaking an attack when absolutely certain.


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