Some thoughts on offensive v's defensive tactics

"Attack is the secret of defense; defense is the planning of an attack"  ― Sun Tzu, The Art of War

Just to clarify my understanding of terms, as I see it, being offensive or defensive is about who takes that first step from out of range to into range, whomever takes that step is being offensive and whomever waits to receive that step is being defensive. I then agree with Meyer that broadly people fall into four types based on who steps into range and then the type of action they do in range. So this means either acting Before or After in the first action and then acting Before or After on the second action. 

This breaks down into four behavior types:

1. Acts Before, then acts Before
2. Acts Before, then acts After
3. Acts After, then acts Before
4. Acts After, then acts After

Sounds weird but I think it is shorthand for:

1. This person steps into measure behind an action that blocks their opponent & takes center, they then act immediately to strike an opening.
2. This person steps into measure behind an action that blocks the opponent & takes center, then they wait for their opponent to try to come out from under this and seize the now very open opening
3. This person waits for the opponent to step into measure, they however take the center line and strike to an opening 
4.  This person waits for the opponent to step into measure, they work to keep the center and strike when their opponent tries to seize it again 

Meyer I think breaks it down with a weighting against acting in the After, or defensive, into:

1. Acts Before, then acts Before (relying on speed) - Wrathful
2. Acts Before, then acts Before well (relying on guarded actions) - Cunning
3. Acts Before, then acts After (keeps the center until a perfect opening appears) - Judicious
4a Acts After, then acts Before (Counter attacking) - Sharp
4b Acts After, then acts After - Foolish

Not surprising really because the whole tradition could be characterized by this weighting:

"Who goes after hewing, He deserves little joy in his art.

Gloss: This is when you come to him with the pre-fencing, then you shall not stand still and look after his hews, waiting for what he fences against you. Know that all fencers that look and wait on another’s hews and will do nothing other than parrying deserve such very little joy in their art, since they are destroyed and become thereby struck."


Interesting to compare to Silver, who breaks it down weighting against acting in the Before:

"3 actions by which you may endanger him & go free yourself:

1. The first is to strike or thrust at him, the instant when he has gained you the place by his coming in.
2. The second is to ward, & after to strike him or thrust from it, remembering your governors
3. The third is to slip a little back & to strike or thrust after him."

1. Acts Instantly (counter-attacking)
2. Acts After, then acts Before (parry & riposte)
3. Acts After, then acts Before (traveling after)

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