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Hello and welcome to our fencing blog, The Pointy End!

This blog is the brainchild of a few Caidan fencers who want to promote awesomeness in our community. We hope to foster an environment of education, healthy competition, and fun!

We aim to support all the members of the community, from newbie to White Scarf to marshal. Our hope is that this site will provide a resource for discussion and self-guided education, from advice on techniques to period documentation to tutorials on making garb and offhands. We also wish to provide a resource for newer fencers to connect with their local groups, and get to know the different members of their community.

We firmly believe in the benefit of studying period techniques, but only when used in conjunction with modern-day knowledge of physiology. Every body and every fencer is different; our aim is not to espouse or condemn one method of thinking, but to offer diverse techniques and opinions and allow the reader to choose what works best for him or her.

We hope this website becomes a valued resource for our community. Please get in touch if you have any questions or feedback!

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Fall Queen’s Champion Cancelled

Queen’s Champion event was cancelled this past weekend due to rain and sloppy conditions.  I know this is probably the best course of action on behalf of all parties, the park certainly didn’t want us to tear up the wet, sloppy ground, the dangers of injury increase with poor footing, and I know that I, for one, hate taking out my nice steel swords in wet conditions (the maintenance on that gets nasty).  But, I can’t help feeling saddened by the cancellation.

Firstly, I know that a lot of work went into setting up the event, finding the site, making all the arrangements, and it’s certainly got to be disappointing for those who went through all the hassles to see the event get pulled.  I wonder if the park refunds the rental fee… Beyond all that and the normal disappointments, this is Queen’s Champion.  For us, especially, as rapier fighters, this is the big day.  The day filled with pomp and anticipation.  We don’t have Crown, this is what we fight for.  I always get geeked up for this one.  All of the pageantry of the day, the Queen’s Guard v. White Scarves melee, the finals of the tourney, I love that feeling.

I am sure that eventually the tourney will be rescheduled, but for this week, I feel lessened.

Spear Program Phase 2 Begins

10/29/11 – It was announced on the Caid-Rapier Yahoo List that Phase 2 of the Experimental Rapier Spear Program was approved at the society level today.

The focus on this phase is to incorporate a new method of authorization for spear simulators on the melee field.  No other changes from the rules of operation under Phase 1 were announced. The approved program is posted in the Files section of the Caid-Rapier Yahoogroup.

Anyone with questions should seek out the program sponsors, THL Meala Caimbeul and Don Oliver Dogberry, or Don Lot Ramirez, the Deputy KRM for Experimental Programs.

Have Fun Spearing Folks!

A Quick Lesson for the Use of Secondary Devices

Being able to utilize your sword and secondary in combination is the key to fighting effectively.  If you have to spend time concentrating on using both hands simultaneously, you’ll react more slowly and have a harder time focusing on controlling the fight.  Situating yourself in a posture, or guard, and being prepared with the most appropriate defense will speed up your decision-making and allow you to react quicker to your opponent’s actions.

There are a multitude of systems that can help this process, but I find the easiest and most flexible to be the ones presented by the Italian Masters of the early 17th Century.  After distilling the works of Ridolfo Capo Ferro (1610), Nicoletto Giganti (1606), and Salvator Fabris (1606), we can find that all of these masters present a system that is fundamentally based on a quadrant defense.  In these systems, more often than not, the secondary device (often a dagger) parries the incoming attack and a simultaneous counter attack occurs with the sword.  The simultaneous action and reaction in this system allows for the secondary to be used primarily on defending the opponent’s attack and frees the sword to make the counter attack safely.  The simultaneous attack and defense also cuts down the time the opponent has to react to your strike.

The quadrant defense:

The fundamental concept of this system is to break down your own target zone into 4 quadrants:

  1. Outside and above your secondary
  2. Outside and below your secondary
  3. Inside your secondary, above your sword
  4. Inside your secondary, below your sword

In each case, the defense is enacted to close the line of attack with the secondary and support the action by counter attacking with the sword.  We are not simply impeding the arriving attack, but pushing forwards to actively disrupt and deflect the incoming attack.  Also, by pushing forwards instead of sideways, we do not open a space between the sword and the secondary that the opponent can take advantage of.

Note in the examples below how the arms are portrayed moving forwards to defend the incoming attack.

The following images present examples from Capo Ferro’s 1610 treatise (Gran Simulacro…)[1] and a 1644 German-French reprint of Giganti’s 1606 (Scola overo teatro…)[2]:

Defenses in quadrant 1, outside and above your secondary:

– Giganti with sword and dagger

– Capo Ferro with sword and cape

– Capo Ferro with sword and Rotella

Defenses in quadrant 2, outside and below your secondary:

– Giganti

– Capo Ferro

Defenses in quadrant 3, inside your secondary, above your sword:

– Giganti

– Capo Ferro

Defenses in quadrant 4, inside your secondary, below your sword:

– Giganti

– Capo Ferro

The general idea of this system is that by simplifying everything into one of four defensive actions, you short cut your decision making of ‘how do I defend this attack?’, and move quickly into defending yourself.  Wherever your opponent’s point goes, you counter with a deflection from your secondary, putting your sword to an opening in their defense, usually just inside of their sword arm, and pushing forward with a counter attack.

Try this with a friend:

  • Set yourself in guard with your secondary shoulder loose and as extended as possible without straining or rotating your back hip forwards.
  • Your partner approaches you in guard and aims their point where they see an opening, stopping just at the edge of their lunge distance.
  • Determine which quadrant they are pointing at and prepare the appropriate defense with the secondary.
  • Your partner attacks the opening with a lunge.  You defend the attack with your secondary and extend your sword arm to where they are not defended.
  •  Note: the key to this action is that both hands move forwards together, one defending and the other attacking.  Leaning forward with your torso (and not moving your feet) will also help.
  • Repeat and practice defending against attacks to all 4 quadrants.

If you find that your partner is attacking the same quadrants over and over again, and not attacking others, then you are probably covering the un-attacked quadrants in your guard.  Try situating yourself in a different position that will create a new opening for your partner to attack.

With practice you should find that you can easily respond to a predictable, straight-line attack, and can quickly assess where your opponent’s attack is directed.  Also, you may find that if you situate yourself in specific postures, your opponent is more prone to attacking you in one spot more than another, making them more predictable and easier to counter.

1.Capo Ferro, Ridolfo.  Scans of illustrations. Gran Simulacro della Arte e dell Uso della Scherma. Siena, Italy, 1610.

2. Giganti, Nicoletto. Scola, overo, Teatro : nelquale sono rappresentate diverse maniere, e modi di parare, e di ferire di spada sola, e di spada, e pugnale; dove ogni studioso portra essercitarsi e farsi prattico nella professione dell’ Armi. Herzog August Bibliothek. 2009.