Some thoughts on "Time"

I've historically not really thought hard about the significance of Time within fencing and have tended to only think that it's about the speed of an action (1 Action = 1 Tempo) and pretty much left it at that. This is true but this really misses the point that that's "a Tempo" not "the Tempo." The Tempo is the rhythm or speed made up by a series of individual Tempos. Once you've added up tempos from a few exchanges you will implicitly have formed "The Tempo" of the fight.

By consciously understanding The Tempo of the fight, which tells you the probable speed of the upcoming action, you can then vary your timing within that upcoming Tempo. This is acting slightly faster (Before), the same speed (Instantly) or slower (After).

Of course a more masterful fighter will look at timing from a more strategic perspective, perhaps referring to the character of their opponent, to deliberately set a slow initial Tempo to hide their true speed capability which will then allow them to then more easily act in the Before later in the fight. Or conversely they will try to set a faster Tempo to overwhelm their opponent and force their opponent into hasty action to regain the initiative thus allowing them to more easily act in the After.

So "Time" as a principle is about understanding The Tempo to use Timing to create advantage in a fight. And it's tied up with Mechanics and Measure because different movements of our body have different speeds and different Measures have different speeds: to stand at close measure and cut from the wrist facilitates acting in the Before, while standing at long measure and cutting long from the shoulder facilitates acting in the After.


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