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How'd I get hit?

"Every wrestling must consist of three things. The first one is skill, the second one is speed, and the third one is the proper application of strength. Keep in mind that the best of them is speed as it prevents your opponent from countering you. It is also important to attack a weaker opponent first, an equally strong opponent at the same time as he attacks you and a stronger opponent after his attack. When you attack first use your speed, when you attack at the same time as the opponent use your balance and when you act after your opponent pay attention to his knee bendings." Otto Jud

So for the last wee while I've applying my swordsmanshp theory to assessing the weaknesses in my technique to understand where I need to work on. A large part of this revolves around answering the question: "how'd I get hit?"

Usually getting hit once is no big thing however if I'm consistently getting hit then I've got a problem. Fortunately having a good theoretical base to your fencing helps you break it down, and one of the first things I do is run through the key principles to describe what's happening in a 360 degree fashion. This involves looking at the Body Mechanics, Timing and Measure. Usually, a combination of two or even three of these factors lets you understand the issue and you can correct it.

I'll give a couple of examples, none of which are rocket science however being able to objectively evaluate and respond it a useful tool to have in our kit.

For a while I consistently got hit on the forearm, a downright or middle blow to the arm. So, looking at the Body Mechanics I determined that this was happening when I was leaving my elbow bent to parry or threaten a thrust in the Middle. Looking at the Measure I determined that this allowed someone to gain distance on me, i.e. they could slip and still strike my arm while I couldn't reach them. Finally looking at the the Timing I determined that my opponent could reliably find this elbow by simply striking After me, as I invariably stuck it out at the end of my blow or while seeking to parry.

Once the problem had been determined, resolving it was relatively easy: keeping my arm beside (or even a little behind) my body when cocked or ensuring I kept it straight when spent so it was protected behind my sword, no more resting with bent elbow. Bringing the sword back to my body also made for strong parries and forced my opponent in closer for blade engagement which resolved a few other niggling problems.

This issue with myself then gave me some inspiration for my own technique and focused my mind on the advanced target of the forearm. Now if anyone advances towards me with the hand extended but elbow bent I'll often give the forearm a stab as I'm confident that their counter-attack will fall short.

A second frustrating example was against a particular new person, he would often hit me with these long, slow low cuts. Looking at the Mechanics of what was happening it was apparent that I was dropping into a point forward Plough or coda lunga stretta, looking to parry and riposte with a thrust. However because the move was from long measure and therefore took a long time, it was a strike in the After provoking me to form my parry and giving him plenty of time to sweep his attack below this position. Basically something I know from Longsword: that Plough is a really crap position to parry a very low strike. To respond to this I needed to drop into a Hanging Guard or spring into his attack and cut down onto the hands. Either worked, problem solved.

This issue then gave me further inspiration, for the next few weeks I started testing to see if my opponents would properly defend their lower legs against a low cut or if they were automatically forming a parry in the low hands/point up guard position. Many were and therefore I could strike low at an advanced leg while withdrawing from their riposte.

Anyhow, just a flavour of what I'm working on at the moment.


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