Description of Drills
Lesson Schedule from
End of the Line: The purpose of this drill is to practice a variety of parries, and it requires two fencers. One fencer (A) stands on guard, back foot against a wall, foil in hand (mask on). The second fencer (B) finds her/his lunging distance. Fencer B then takes his/her guard and
proceeds to attack in a line of her/his choice. It is fencer A's job to parry the incoming attack and riposte immediately (fencer B will recover). Note that if fencer A chooses a poor parry, fencer B should make the touch (i.e. it should be a committed attack). Once the fencers become comfortable with both roles in the drill, an additional level of complexity should be added by allowing the attacking fencer to perform actions on the blade prior to the attack.
Immediate Riposte: The purpose of
this drill is very simple--to teach the student to riposte immediately
after the parry. In this case immediately should be defined as: before the
opponent can even think about a recovery or a remise. This is a very simple
drill and can be executed in any line. Moreover, it should be practiced in
all lines whenever possible.
Start out of distance, with an aggressor and a defender. The aggressor should
perform an advance-lunge to either the high line or low line as previously
decided. The defender then performs his/her choice of parry, and ripostes
(direct by detaching the blade, direct along the blade, or indirect, but not
compound) immediately. The defender's goal is to make a successful riposte,
while the aggressor, his attack having been foiled, attempts to recovery to
his guard as quickly as possible to avoid the riposte. Note: the defender must
not lunge with her/his riposte.
Variations: This drill can be performed in many variations. Possible ideas
are to have the attacker add feints on the attack, to start in distance, or
to perform actions on the blade prior to the attack. However, these should be
saved for more advanced students as the additional complexity detracts from the
focus on the immediate purpose of the drill--an unhesitating riposte.
The general form of this exercise was written in 1932 by Luigi Barbasetti as:
"The master makes a strong thrust and then recovers rapidly, whereupon the
pupil, without lunging, executes a riposte before the instructor can recover."
Openings and Responses:
By now the student should be familiar with the 3 main openings: the invitation, the
engagement, and the extension. They should also be familiar with the 3 simple
attacks: the straight thrust, the disengagement and lunge, and the glide. For
each of the openings, one of the simple attacks supplies the most direct/efficient
means for taking advantage of the opening. For the invitation, it is the straight
thrust (make sure to close the line!), for the engagement, the disengagement and
lunge, and for the extension it is the glide. However, it takes some time to
internalize those relationships, so the purpose of this drill is to meet each opening
with the correct response.
This drill should first be done from an immobile guard. First, fencers A and B will
guard in 3rd at fencer A's lunging distance. Fencer B will then offer one of the 3
openings, either inviting in 3rd, engaging fencer A's blade in 3rd, or extending
to the high line. As soon as the opening is offered, fencer A will respond
with the appropriate simple attack in the high line and touch. After a certain
amount of time they should switch roles.
Obviously the above is a bit simple, so let us extend it. Now, still from a stationary
guard, allow fencer B to choose the starting line at random. That is, fencer B will
invite or engage in any of the 4 lines, or extend to either the high line or the low
line. Fencer A will respond with an appropriate simple attack. Switch roles.
Finally, to complete the drill, do it 'in time with mobility'. That is, allow fencer B to
control the movements as well as the timing of the opening. Fencer B will advance
and retreat at will, and fencer A should maintain an appropriate lunging distance.
At will, fencer B offers an opening, and fencer A should immediately
respond with a correct attack that is in time with the opening, appropriate for the
opening, and at a proper distance.
Obviously this can continue to be extended until it eventually resembles an actual
assault. A couple simple extensions are: first, to allow fencer B to attempt to
parry-riposte, and second to change the distance so that fencer A is using an
advance lunge, possibly with a feint, to which fencer B can respond with his/her
choice of parry, which fencer A must evade and continue through for the touch.