Brass Frog 2016 Video and Photo Links

https://drive.google.com/open?id=0BzMYjPfUwbECdHZsVDI1aW8tUGc

I’m not all that media-savvy, so the only way I know how to handle all these files I’ve uploaded to my google drive is via links in a blog post. I can’t seem to get them to embed. Anybody who’s media-savvy is welcome to put these in more user-friendly form.

But if you competed at Brass Frog, I’m pretty sure I got you in stills or video.

Great Stick:

https://drive.google.com/open?id=0BzMYjPfUwbECZmlNcWNNcXA2c1E

https://drive.google.com/open?id=0BzMYjPfUwbECZDl0aG5HNVJlTXc

https://drive.google.com/open?id=0BzMYjPfUwbECV09PSjUzdHB2YUk
https://drive.google.com/open?id=0BzMYjPfUwbECd3FkalQ3cTktRVk
https://drive.google.com/open?id=0BzMYjPfUwbECNFN5ZGxxYmpnTUk
https://drive.google.com/open?id=0BzMYjPfUwbECQm1HcVpuT1Vjanc
https://drive.google.com/open?id=0BzMYjPfUwbECbThVZkpTTUNLVVk
https://drive.google.com/open?id=0BzMYjPfUwbECNjBjc0tjcGJZLUk
https://drive.google.com/open?id=0BzMYjPfUwbECLTE2SkdtNHNjQWs
https://drive.google.com/open?id=0BzMYjPfUwbECaDdCeWFleXNTWGc
https://drive.google.com/open?id=0BzMYjPfUwbECR3gyamVKQ2lBTTQ
https://drive.google.com/open?id=0BzMYjPfUwbECdzRELTJBZGpFR2s
https://drive.google.com/open?id=0BzMYjPfUwbECOHNESkNORUxVSWM
https://drive.google.com/open?id=0BzMYjPfUwbECTHJOSVBqOGNreDg
https://drive.google.com/open?id=0BzMYjPfUwbECandSU1h5SlpUa2c
https://drive.google.com/open?id=0BzMYjPfUwbECQVI0RloxOVZkVFU
https://drive.google.com/open?id=0BzMYjPfUwbECVkdQRW1WMXJ2TjA
https://drive.google.com/open?id=0BzMYjPfUwbECNlV6YUk1aEs1eVE
https://drive.google.com/open?id=0BzMYjPfUwbECcVhub1dGUDlXVlE
https://drive.google.com/open?id=0BzMYjPfUwbECWi1WaDV1Z044YWc
https://drive.google.com/open?id=0BzMYjPfUwbECYkRyUGV5djJtelk
https://drive.google.com/open?id=0BzMYjPfUwbECZ2ZKZUc1cGQ2YU0
https://drive.google.com/open?id=0BzMYjPfUwbECTFdJanlkMnMzRm8
https://drive.google.com/open?id=0BzMYjPfUwbECODF4Nkp1ZjRrWDg
https://drive.google.com/open?id=0BzMYjPfUwbECWlplQk1YOEFUalU
https://drive.google.com/open?id=0BzMYjPfUwbECcFIwS3lya09IMzA
https://drive.google.com/open?id=0BzMYjPfUwbECQjNTVnFLTUtPVmM
https://drive.google.com/open?id=0BzMYjPfUwbECeEZjdXhtMFZGVFk
https://drive.google.com/open?id=0BzMYjPfUwbECQlkzMEpQVTJEU28
https://drive.google.com/open?id=0BzMYjPfUwbECdFhsWEsyQ2pxaUU
https://drive.google.com/open?id=0BzMYjPfUwbECSVR0bW9BQTZjNk0
https://drive.google.com/open?id=0BzMYjPfUwbECMmJlNzFuQlNSQTQ
https://drive.google.com/open?id=0BzMYjPfUwbECcWJsUUVmUXBOYVE
https://drive.google.com/open?id=0BzMYjPfUwbECUmREN2FZLXhBb1k
https://drive.google.com/open?id=0BzMYjPfUwbECazJrOEI2aDRYVW8
https://drive.google.com/open?id=0BzMYjPfUwbECVkF1TC10djhWcjg
https://drive.google.com/open?id=0BzMYjPfUwbECdmpKZWNMNHJKaXc
https://drive.google.com/open?id=0BzMYjPfUwbECNEtSeXdFTUR6MEk
https://drive.google.com/open?id=0BzMYjPfUwbECUHBmYko1cDUtMzA
https://drive.google.com/open?id=0BzMYjPfUwbECTzhZQl9Hc2l0MlU
https://drive.google.com/open?id=0BzMYjPfUwbECdFYtUkJRVDFJaEU
https://drive.google.com/open?id=0BzMYjPfUwbECMFl2Q3NZWkwwSlk
https://drive.google.com/open?id=0BzMYjPfUwbECalZpZVZ6YUpQYzQ
https://drive.google.com/open?id=0BzMYjPfUwbECSV9RYTVRY2EyVUU
https://drive.google.com/open?id=0BzMYjPfUwbECUUdNR29oN2k0cG8
https://drive.google.com/open?id=0BzMYjPfUwbECNW05SkYzNnZTV0U
https://drive.google.com/open?id=0BzMYjPfUwbECY3pMQVlnMHl1MFU
https://drive.google.com/open?id=0BzMYjPfUwbECUllnNnd2bUk0LTQ
https://drive.google.com/open?id=0BzMYjPfUwbECdDEyd2x3RWpuQ1E
https://drive.google.com/open?id=0BzMYjPfUwbECMm41VzZTd1FfTFE
https://drive.google.com/open?id=0BzMYjPfUwbECaEozOVhiVFIzVnc
https://drive.google.com/open?id=0BzMYjPfUwbECRnVuSXlsUW5iLTQ
https://drive.google.com/open?id=0BzMYjPfUwbECZjk4bHRrVlRES2M
https://drive.google.com/open?id=0BzMYjPfUwbECSFM5N0t5eHFsd1U
https://drive.google.com/open?id=0BzMYjPfUwbECR0R6UDBVTmZKRDQ
https://drive.google.com/open?id=0BzMYjPfUwbECWFB1d29IRFdYakE
https://drive.google.com/open?id=0BzMYjPfUwbECUTFIUEZHRFpPVm8
https://drive.google.com/open?id=0BzMYjPfUwbECekxjdHAyTGZmZUU
https://drive.google.com/open?id=0BzMYjPfUwbECNklWWnVYUmFWTXM
https://drive.google.com/open?id=0BzMYjPfUwbECeWc3QUlDNTd5YU0
https://drive.google.com/open?id=0BzMYjPfUwbECd09NUGlTd3p6Vms
https://drive.google.com/open?id=0BzMYjPfUwbECdHYxSGZaUXhNOGs
https://drive.google.com/open?id=0BzMYjPfUwbECR0dmaF83LTJ5LW8
https://drive.google.com/open?id=0BzMYjPfUwbECcTJtb2o0cFRaeVU
https://drive.google.com/open?id=0BzMYjPfUwbECRjI1YjA3cWxRTU0
https://drive.google.com/open?id=0BzMYjPfUwbECczBPQkJKcEgwWmc
https://drive.google.com/open?id=0BzMYjPfUwbECZG5SWVRZNENfQ3M
https://drive.google.com/open?id=0BzMYjPfUwbECckVSa2lwcnc5LWs
https://drive.google.com/open?id=0BzMYjPfUwbECTFVHYkNFRWVRTnM
https://drive.google.com/open?id=0BzMYjPfUwbECVXNjaTRiSjdqODQ
https://drive.google.com/open?id=0BzMYjPfUwbECNC1haGI1RU0tS0U
https://drive.google.com/open?id=0BzMYjPfUwbECNnpIQ2daR1N4bDg
https://drive.google.com/open?id=0BzMYjPfUwbECNHMzb0ZYNGZrbEE
https://drive.google.com/open?id=0BzMYjPfUwbECdE5SNEwxcm8tcXc
https://drive.google.com/open?id=0BzMYjPfUwbECeXNtNDRrWmMtczQ
https://drive.google.com/open?id=0BzMYjPfUwbECcHlPQTU2dHRNdzg
https://drive.google.com/open?id=0BzMYjPfUwbECZV9wU2xNeC0wOFE
https://drive.google.com/open?id=0BzMYjPfUwbECdjluUGdjUFFVWlU
https://drive.google.com/open?id=0BzMYjPfUwbECN1ctSVpWNjAtVVU
https://drive.google.com/open?id=0BzMYjPfUwbECMGdITHJzc2I1azg
https://drive.google.com/open?id=0BzMYjPfUwbECV20yeWQ3bU56WEE
https://drive.google.com/open?id=0BzMYjPfUwbECbm82ckc5ZlBvRE0
https://drive.google.com/open?id=0BzMYjPfUwbECVFA1c3hnLVhKTE0
https://drive.google.com/open?id=0BzMYjPfUwbECclNBVXhLaTAwcWc
https://drive.google.com/open?id=0BzMYjPfUwbECa1FvZVEzWF9yNE0
https://drive.google.com/open?id=0BzMYjPfUwbECLTZfMzJvajRkRzQ
https://drive.google.com/open?id=0BzMYjPfUwbECWTg3TG14YWtSRXc
https://drive.google.com/open?id=0BzMYjPfUwbECbktXQko1SkRSZ1U
https://drive.google.com/open?id=0BzMYjPfUwbECNThXREg3X08yQVE
https://drive.google.com/open?id=0BzMYjPfUwbECdF90NzhhLTB2OVE
https://drive.google.com/open?id=0BzMYjPfUwbECREVVSW5hSnBJQVk
https://drive.google.com/open?id=0BzMYjPfUwbECVDhYenM3TjZubHM
https://drive.google.com/open?id=0BzMYjPfUwbECenRjVm5rdkFHMjQ
https://drive.google.com/open?id=0BzMYjPfUwbECbHBCbzVoZ0Fac1k
https://drive.google.com/open?id=0BzMYjPfUwbECVmxjVE9GbkN0aW8
https://drive.google.com/open?id=0BzMYjPfUwbECck1sa1ViSWNjTWs
https://drive.google.com/open?id=0BzMYjPfUwbECMVhMN1EyRUdTZ3c
https://drive.google.com/open?id=0BzMYjPfUwbECWEFtNnpOWjVZbGs
https://drive.google.com/open?id=0BzMYjPfUwbECQjJ0WDdnLVVndmc
https://drive.google.com/open?id=0BzMYjPfUwbECMzJCNVFmTzBFNXc
https://drive.google.com/open?id=0BzMYjPfUwbECc09zMnM5OWRTV0E
https://drive.google.com/open?id=0BzMYjPfUwbECbVc2ZmRaTXVJMWc
https://drive.google.com/open?id=0BzMYjPfUwbECbGdid3FKTWRRXzA
https://drive.google.com/open?id=0BzMYjPfUwbECYnVwc1BsUmNpUnc
https://drive.google.com/open?id=0BzMYjPfUwbECOTMtSDcxd09iMEE
https://drive.google.com/open?id=0BzMYjPfUwbECUm42azZGRU9NQWM
https://drive.google.com/open?id=0BzMYjPfUwbECOXFfZElZZERRdHc
https://drive.google.com/open?id=0BzMYjPfUwbECWGlnNmpXeExqZlU
https://drive.google.com/open?id=0BzMYjPfUwbECVFROMS1JOUdtQUE
https://drive.google.com/open?id=0BzMYjPfUwbECaEpFb2htRkRVLUE
https://drive.google.com/open?id=0BzMYjPfUwbECQlBaN3NDb3NNZkU
https://drive.google.com/open?id=0BzMYjPfUwbECemlFbVhPNTVjeFU
https://drive.google.com/open?id=0BzMYjPfUwbECOXlOTkNjQmk4cHM
https://drive.google.com/open?id=0BzMYjPfUwbECazE0V1NGTkQwalU
https://drive.google.com/open?id=0BzMYjPfUwbECZDNfenJGWjNYQVk
https://drive.google.com/open?id=0BzMYjPfUwbECTHlJRGVyMldZYjA
https://drive.google.com/open?id=0BzMYjPfUwbECcF9VYWlQYWhncVk
https://drive.google.com/open?id=0BzMYjPfUwbECc2JHSEpCQzdjSTA
https://drive.google.com/open?id=0BzMYjPfUwbECd2xnaE5ZSnhydG8
https://drive.google.com/open?id=0BzMYjPfUwbECQVJRS1pNU0dDMnc
https://drive.google.com/open?id=0BzMYjPfUwbECYWVRLUdYS0pKVlU
https://drive.google.com/open?id=0BzMYjPfUwbECRGhLZTMtR05xaU0
https://drive.google.com/open?id=0BzMYjPfUwbECNFhqS1JXY1ZMWlU
https://drive.google.com/open?id=0BzMYjPfUwbECRHY5Wk5IaHl3bXc
https://drive.google.com/open?id=0BzMYjPfUwbECVGVuU1hicHAwRnM
https://drive.google.com/open?id=0BzMYjPfUwbECa011Wm1pVjJtTmM
https://drive.google.com/open?id=0BzMYjPfUwbECUFpIWllhNzYya1E
https://drive.google.com/open?id=0BzMYjPfUwbECNV9nVS04OXNtY1U
https://drive.google.com/open?id=0BzMYjPfUwbECTWRiZUdMWUxra1E
https://drive.google.com/open?id=0BzMYjPfUwbECMTNxSzd4MmMxXzg
https://drive.google.com/open?id=0BzMYjPfUwbECczNUaHEyV05uM1E
https://drive.google.com/open?id=0BzMYjPfUwbECM3N3bXVhRlNLWHM
https://drive.google.com/open?id=0BzMYjPfUwbECSmtJd1F1M0JTRUU
https://drive.google.com/open?id=0BzMYjPfUwbECWERIMGJCTEV0R2c
https://drive.google.com/open?id=0BzMYjPfUwbECS2NPSnlheGp4a28
https://drive.google.com/open?id=0BzMYjPfUwbECZDRna0RvRWE4dEU
https://drive.google.com/open?id=0BzMYjPfUwbECUHM0MU9TcWpRX00
https://drive.google.com/open?id=0BzMYjPfUwbECVVZOWEc1eHV5TU0
https://drive.google.com/open?id=0BzMYjPfUwbECeHlLd0hQX0FsNzA
https://drive.google.com/open?id=0BzMYjPfUwbECSEdBcUdVU0E4d2c
https://drive.google.com/open?id=0BzMYjPfUwbECQlFHRmI0cVpVc0E
https://drive.google.com/open?id=0BzMYjPfUwbECcW1DeDJFVDFqTTg
https://drive.google.com/open?id=0BzMYjPfUwbECRWU1eG5CbHJseUE
https://drive.google.com/open?id=0BzMYjPfUwbECcm12OGNKN3UxTnc
https://drive.google.com/open?id=0BzMYjPfUwbECTUVtdlpEUlJwbGM

Cudgel:

https://drive.google.com/open?id=0BzMYjPfUwbECMGZvX2oyeFM4MVU
https://drive.google.com/open?id=0BzMYjPfUwbECT2hka29LMHEyY0U
https://drive.google.com/open?id=0BzMYjPfUwbECTEVUVDJKaW0yWTQ
https://drive.google.com/open?id=0BzMYjPfUwbECanYydGZXQmxfMms
https://drive.google.com/open?id=0BzMYjPfUwbECZHFxRWxvenBzMVE
https://drive.google.com/open?id=0BzMYjPfUwbECcDY4MFlGN09CWEE
https://drive.google.com/open?id=0BzMYjPfUwbECT0o3WTNGbnJMaEU
https://drive.google.com/open?id=0BzMYjPfUwbECNVhPVlJfX2hhTk0
https://drive.google.com/open?id=0BzMYjPfUwbECVDlmblUxVV9kQjg
https://drive.google.com/open?id=0BzMYjPfUwbECQ0p4VkVPZFRLWk0
https://drive.google.com/open?id=0BzMYjPfUwbECb195ZjExc1hrMGM
https://drive.google.com/open?id=0BzMYjPfUwbECcFpXbFpUYnRMVW8
https://drive.google.com/open?id=0BzMYjPfUwbECbXBsR0NpSlR1UmM

Assorted Stills:

https://drive.google.com/open?id=0BzMYjPfUwbECOUxlaDRpbGwtVTA
https://drive.google.com/open?id=0BzMYjPfUwbECVVZUQWJTQWgxaDA
https://drive.google.com/open?id=0BzMYjPfUwbECNFZITXNGVFVHeFk
https://drive.google.com/open?id=0BzMYjPfUwbECM0FaYzB0Q2t3RHc
https://drive.google.com/open?id=0BzMYjPfUwbECY0dULWZVSGVBUDQ
https://drive.google.com/open?id=0BzMYjPfUwbECd09Mdmktb3Zta2c
https://drive.google.com/open?id=0BzMYjPfUwbECeXJmYTRsUHFPZjQ
https://drive.google.com/open?id=0BzMYjPfUwbECcWFkUlpZR3hCNVk
https://drive.google.com/open?id=0BzMYjPfUwbECb1h1ZmZydTZGZUk
https://drive.google.com/open?id=0BzMYjPfUwbECcWxVQ3p1MDVuUTg
https://drive.google.com/open?id=0BzMYjPfUwbECOXVxMGtFbndiekU
https://drive.google.com/open?id=0BzMYjPfUwbECRk5HMFh2WFRVcGc
https://drive.google.com/open?id=0BzMYjPfUwbECQlZ6OWI2Z2NEN28
https://drive.google.com/open?id=0BzMYjPfUwbECWlFoR3QtRThSOFU
https://drive.google.com/open?id=0BzMYjPfUwbECOEtaZXozcDNuWkU
https://drive.google.com/open?id=0BzMYjPfUwbECVWEyTXJGYTk3OW8
https://drive.google.com/open?id=0BzMYjPfUwbECdncyZUxCd1BTWWs
https://drive.google.com/open?id=0BzMYjPfUwbECUDhiMUZiQ0NaV2M
https://drive.google.com/open?id=0BzMYjPfUwbECNlE1MFZsWm1hUmc
https://drive.google.com/open?id=0BzMYjPfUwbECMmN2RFFvUnpweG8
https://drive.google.com/open?id=0BzMYjPfUwbECNzAyRF9RV0xfRWM
https://drive.google.com/open?id=0BzMYjPfUwbECQmRJcDZ0Z2VOaVk

Sabre: Remedial Cutting and Moulinets

Students with any kind of athletic background will find performing the basic cuts to be easy.  The problem for them is not that the cuts are difficult, but that they will be perceived as too boring to practice.  These students will believe that they have mastered basic cutting when they have not.

An alternate problem happens when a student has no athleticism upon which to draw.  Some students will not have engaged in “watch a movement mimic a movement” behavior since they learned to mimic their parents’ gaits as small children.  It is very important that these students not be left behind while other students are being held back until they can actually perform the cuts that they think they are performing.

This challenge should not be under-estimated: many individuals go through life not actually knowing where their bodies are in space.  If introduced to the joy of elegant movement, these students will often turn out to enjoy practice immensely, and to practice more diligently than their supposedly more-gifted peers.

Here is an alternate method for teaching the basic cuts and moulinets.

  1. The fencer holds the sabre forward, with the point high and to the right. The student then makes Cut 1. The instructor takes care to make sure that the cut is perfectly linear and does not wobble.
  2. Once the blade reaches the end of the cut, the blade should be pointing down and to the left. The student flips the blade over, and makes Cut 4, bringing it back to the original position. The instructor coaches the student to keep the cut purely linear, retracing the line of Cut 1.

The process is inverted for Cuts 2 and 3.

Though the classic targets of Cut 3 and Cut 4 are to the inner thigh, in this case, the student is made to perform the cuts at a higher angle so that he learns how to recognize the location of his limbs in space, and how to regulate his movements.  Usually the student will need to look at a target, thinking of bringing Cut 1 down into the joint of the neck and shoulder, and out of the ribs under the armpit, and vice versa for Cut 4.

Once the student has a reasonably-firm grasp of how to regulate his arm’s movement in space, keeping his cuts on the proper angle, you can introduce moulinets.  At this point the student is very likely to be frustrated because this cutting method fights the weight of the sabre, rather than using it to advantage. This is especially a problem for students who have never been graceful or physically powerful who are likely to wear out quickly.

We teach remedial moulinets as follows:

  1. Have the student start with the sabre forward, and make Cut 1. The student then proceeds to make Cut 2, repositioning the blade in order to be certain the angle is right.
  2. The instructor has the student make Cut 1 again.
  3. The instructor, standing closely behind the student, then physically assists the student in making a moulinet from Cut 1 to Cut 1, taking care to help the student feel the power generated by the moulinet.
  4. The instructor helps the student moulinet Cut 1 and Cut 2 while another student parries, making sure that the student can feel the cuts change from somewhat-awkward “line movement” to feeling more like hammer blows.

The moulinet is introduced to this student not as a way of transitioning between angles of attack, but as a way of gaining power in order to make an attack. This will allow even the smallest, weakest, and clumsiest of students to throw powerful cuts within a session or two.  The instructor physically assists the student in making these cuts so that the student can get a “body memory” of what the correct motion feels like.

Once the student has reached the stage where the basics of the cut can be performed, he or she can join the other students in practicing cut angles and blade alignment.

Common recurring problems and simple solutions: it is helpful to have raw materials for same handy.

Problem: Solution:
Student cannot distinguish edge from flat Provide student with wide cardboard sword/sabre to improve tactile awareness of edge alignment.
Student cuts a low horizontal and then up rather than making a rising diagonal cut Student has allowed cutting-hand hip to drift forward out of a correct On Guard position, affecting motion of lead shoulder.
Student shortens the cut, tightening the bicep Tie fabric gently around the elbow, providing the student tactile feedback.

Sabre: Counter-cutting

Once your opponent has come to close quarters and both of you are attempting to gain advantage over the other, it is very common for beginning fencers to lapse into a pattern of “take an action, return to guard, take an action, return to guard.”  This “act then reset then act” pattern is unavoidable when one is first learning how to put the various pieces of fencing together, but it’s hugely counterproductive when actually fencing. We want to take an action, and then continue taking action until we win the encounter.

A solution to this is counter-cutting, using attack as offense. We counter-cut specifically because many times our opponent will launch an attack when we are not on guard, and our blade is positioned somewhere else.    The point to counter-cutting isn’t simply not to get hit – we do not counter-cut simply to ward off the opponent’s blade!  Instead, just like our basic parries, our counter-cuts are intended help us achieve a point of advantage.

Counter-cutting achieves one of two things:

  1. Stopping the attack by striking the opponent
  2. Redirecting the opponent’s attack so that the attacker is left vulnerable

Here are various examples of ways which we can counter-cut:

Opponent: Fencer:
Cuts 1 Cuts 1 at opponent’s hand
Cuts 2 Cuts 2 at opponent’s forearm
Cuts 3 Cuts 2 at opponent’s wrist
Cuts 4 Cuts 4 at opponent’s wrist
Cuts 1 Cuts 2 and thrusts
Cuts 2 Cuts 1 and thrusts
Cuts 3 Cuts 4 and thrusts
Cuts 4 Cuts 3 and thrusts

And so on.  This is by no means exhaustive – for a fully-developed list of examples, see the synoptic tables at the end of the manual.

In the first examples, we are not simply standing still while attempting to cut the opponent. We are moving our body so that we redefine the geometry of the engagement (just like we do with basic parries), while cutting in such a way that even if we do not stop the blow outright, we deflect it onto an angle where it will not hurt us.

In the second four examples, we use the curve of the sabre to our advantage by cutting into the side of the opponent’s blade and pushing it past us.  To finish the action by thrusting into the opponent, all we need to do is return to On Guard, and the fighting geometry places the thrust for us.

What our system will never do is to assume that a counter-cut will stop the opponent.  For instance, our method explicitly defends the legs, whereas most systems either ignore the legs, or treat it as an invitation, “refusing the leg” by stepping backwards while striking at the opponent’s head.  This is fine for a sporting bout where the action is stopped on a hit. But what if the blow does not stop the opponent?  What if it misses, or the blow simply lands flat out of sheer bad luck?  What if fighting has dulled our blade, or his hat stops the blow?  Numerous historical cases exist where an opponent was struck several times in the head without being stopped.  In this case, nothing stops the opponent from simply continuing his attack with a thrust into our torso.  By actively protecting the leg, we ensure that this doesn’t happen.

Sabre: Basic Defenses against Attack

Nota Bene: experienced fencers will see many holes in what is presented here. This is unavoidable – the following blog post is for the benefit of neophyte students at Great Plains Sword and BBQ who are still learning what a cut is (that is not a joke) and how to perform a basic block correctly.

Cuts are always numbered from the point of view of the person making the cut, not the point of view of the defender.

For the most basic exercise, we consider attacks like this:

  1. Descending forehand cut (to upper-body target)
  2. Descending backhand cut (to upper-body target)
  3. Rising forehand cut (to lower-body target)
  4. Rising backhand cut (to lower-body target)

The system considers “horizontal” cuts ( those which are neither rising nor falling) to be crude attacks which are easily defended against, and will be treated as a forehand or backhand blow more or less depending on the height at which the blow is thrown.  Thus, a high horizontal forehand cut will be considered semantically equal to a Cut 1.  (Note that this assumes similar “handedness.” A right-hander fencing a left-hander must treat forehand as backhand, and vice versa)

The system not having its origins in English, it does not distinguish between “blocks” and “parries,” though for convenience I will usually refer to a “block” collectively as defenses which stops the blade, whereas the word “parry” will not carry connotations of either “hardness” or “softness.” The word in this context is simply synonymous with “defense.”

Basic Defenses

Attack Defense
Cut 1 Parry 1
Cut 2 Parry 2
Cut 3 Parry 3
Cut 4 Parry 4

There are numerous subtleties to making the blocks which need to be explained:

  1. The body turns, typically no more than a maximum of thirty degrees from the centerline, in order to get the blade lined up with the angle of the attack.
  2. The hand turns the blade to create a 90 degree angle between the incoming blade and the parrying blade, while the arm rises or falls as needed to create contact. (Against a horizontal cut, the defender will not bother to ensure a 90-degree cut, because the attack angle does not require it – in this case the defender will simply ensure that the defense locks the incoming cut to the outside where it cannot be readily converted into either a thrust or a continued cut on a different angle).
  3. The blade is held in the center of the body, and the arm never drifts left or right of the defender’s center line in order to block or parry. For parries 1 and 2 the point is up, for parries 3 and 4 the point is down. In parries 1 and 2 the forward point of the blade forms a ramp which deflects incoming blades.
  4. The shock of the incoming blow is received on the blade and absorbed by the weight of the body, rather than using grip or shoulder strength to keep the parrying blade stable on impact.

Parries such as this are used in order to help the defender dictate a fighting geometry where the location of the opponent’s weapon is known. By doing this, the defender does two very important things:

  1. Removes the “guessing-game”
  2. Establishes superior positioning so that a riposte is always successful

The basic riposte will usually be whatever cut, thrust, or other action is required in order to return to guard, with the fighting geometry altered so that doing so puts the weapon through the opponent. There are edge cases.  What if the blow is thrown at the midsection?  In this case, we parry depending on the origin and angle of the cut.  For the “Basic Model” here, most rising cuts will still be met with parries 3 and 4, and most descending cuts will still be met with parries 1 and 2.

This is the first, base level that a student of the sabre should master.  This is not sophisticated fencing. That said, if the student is able ONLY to reliably parry incoming blows while setting up favorable fight geometry, mastering this basic skill will make the fencer a credible opponent who can hold his or her own against a more experienced opponent — and have a decided advantage over a peer-level opponent who has wasted time building castles of elaborate parries and athleticism on a foundation of sand.

How to Moulinet with the Sabre

So we’ve seen in class that in this lineage, we cut on an X pattern, targeting the base of the neck, the flank, and the inner thigh.

Cuts 1 and 2 are falling cuts. Cuts 3 and 4 are rising cuts. Odd numbered cuts are always fore-hand cuts, and even cuts are always backhand cuts. We practice lateral cuts forehand and backhand during warm-ups, but we don’t make extensive use of them in solo drills. The basic practice, then, is to begin to combine them in ways which are efficient and elegant.

Elegant: a movement is “elegant” when it produces the greatest possible motion for the least possible strain. Whether an elegant motion is restrained and delicate, or bone-crushingly powerful, it feels effortless. Strain or “muscling” is always a sign of bad technique or improper practice.

How does one elegantly cut 1,2: 1,2: 1,2 over and over? We make this happen by making Cut 1, and then inserting a “connector” movement. This connector-piece, in combination with the originating and following cut, is traditionally called a moulinet or molinello.  We will break this down into discrete parts, rather than relying on “hope” for you to magically possess enough body awareness that you do it correctly by accident, and then recognize that accidental victory as correct.

Most students get told to do many, many repetitions of their cuts and moulinets, but without being told explicitly what it is they are supposed to be repeating.  And then we, as instructors, have the gall to actually be surprised when students stop practicing because it’s harder than it needs to be and the perceived cost/benefit ratio of training goes pear-shaped for the now hopelessly-frustrated student who has just picked up a repetitive strain injury “efforting” like mad in order to try to learn.

And then we blame the student, rather than ourselves for having provided shit-quality instruction.

The Stupid, It Burns

It’s also tragic, because one of the truly glorious things about the system which we’ve inherited is that unlike other systems of fencing, every single advanced technique we use can be expressed as a variation on our basic cutting practice and moulinets. The only difference between those who develop great skill in this lineage, and those who don’t is a willingness to perform these drills while exploring what the movements are and how they can be turned into applied geometry while fencing. I have not been back to Hungary in ten years, but on my last visit I routinely out-fenced students with far greater athleticism, and I did so precisely because I paid very close attention to the basic drills of the lineage rather than cranking them out mechanically and then “looking for the sexy stuff.”  Csaba was already teaching us the sexy stuff — most of us just hadn’t realized it for lack of mindfulness when practicing.

Most students instinctively know how to cut 3,4: 3,4: 3,4. The turn of the blade required from forehand rising cut to backhand rising cut is immediately intuitive because the elbow drops at the end of the cut, and we like living in gravity where dropping our elbows isn’t actually work.

Students regularly have trouble with the “connector-piece” transitional movement of 1 and 2, however.

  1. To moulinet from cut 1 to cut 2, you do the following:
    Make Cut 1.
  2. Flip the blade over so that instead of having the cutting edge leading the motion, the blade is now reversed, and the point is furthest from the body. When this is done, you should feel the movement in your shoulder, and you should feel the muscles and skin in your arm move as the forearm bones flip over. You should not, however, feel strain in your shoulder, or feel your elbow “jump” upwards. If this happen, your shoulders and arms are too tight, and you need to pay extra attention to your limbering-up exercises.
  3. Your elbow is now in a low position, and depending on your body shape and the precise angle of the cut, it should be somewhere vaguely as high as your navel or lower stomach. Raise the elbow until it is higher than your head. As your elbow came up, your hand went along for the ride, too, and your weapon is now raised from its previously lowered position.
  4. Allow the point to fall behind the plane of your shoulder as your elbow lifts.
  5. Make Cut 2.

The process for transitioning from Cut 2 to Cut 1 is precisely the same. Some notes:

All blade movements come from the torso and shoulders, and the many large muscles surrounding the shoulders.
Remember, beginning practice requires BIG movements. Later on, you will likely not need to raise the elbow anywhere near so high while making the cut transitions — but nothing can replace having gradually molded your body so that you can do so.

  • You are holding your weapon in either your left or your right hand. Therefore, the experience of moving your weapon through the moulinet/molinello is asymmetric — you should expect this, and pay attention to this.
  • The connector-piece of the moulinet is movement.  It takes time. In fact, it takes about as much time as is required to make the cut itself. Pay attention to the timing of that — it will become very important once we actually practice cutting and moving our feet at the same time.  You cannot speed up your cuts by taking short-cuts with the quality of this transitional movement.
  • Minor creaking and cracking in the shoulder is normal, as the joint is taken through ranges of motion that ordinarily don’t get used driving a desk. PAIN in the shoulder is not, and needs to be addressed.
  • “Work through” bruising and muscle fatigue. Never work through joint pain. We are not professional soldiers or warriors who require these skills in combat and for whom a debilitating injury in the long term is an acceptable trade-off for immediate or short-term survival.
  • Practice will convert this from a very clunky, angular set of motions, into something that is fluid, elegant, and even fun to perform. It will also improve the health of your joints while providing very mild aerobic exercise.
  • The transitional movements unlock a thousand dirty tricks, many of which your opponents will never have seen before, and against which they have no real defense so long as the rest of your techniques are performed correctly.
  • If it hurts, walk away. Do something else. Come back to it a half-hour later.
  • Ten really attentive, playful, mindful repetitions done carefully over the course of a week creates greater skill than a thousand repetitions done mechanically while resenting the need to practice, with the brain off in lala-land of “I hate this can we stop soon.”

Once you have the movement fluid, you can start to really play with this and turn it into something you own. Once you actually own it, you’ll get the ability to start doing amazing and wonderful things with a blade.  ANY blade, long, short, straight, or curved.

Hungarian Military Sabre Calisthenics

This is very lightly altered from what I was taught by Hidan Csaba. Though the exercises seem rather fuddy-duddy and unfashionable, if one pays careful attention to them mechanically, one sees that they’re actually very intelligently designed for helping to liberate and protect the joints. If a person who is a total physical wreck were to do these twice a week, and then gradually shift to doing them daily, they will do wonders to liberate the body.

  1. Standing in (roughly a) horse stance, twist body to swing the arms behind you. As taught to me, palms are down in mid-air, and go back and forth as though zipping along the top of a table – no twisting the arms or flapping them upwards or downwards.
  2. Raise knee into air as high as comfortably manageable. With sole of foot pointing to ground (“foot flat”), rotate foot in circle clockwise 20x, counter-clockwise 20x. Repeat with other knee.
  3. Holding the arms out to the sides and held straight, circle the shoulders in clockwise, then counter-clockwise circles. This is sometimes done ten times, sometimes twenty.
  4. This is my addition, because unlike students, most older adults are cubicle-farmers and are predictably over-tight in the chest (many times, what people cite as back pain, is back pain — happening because the problem is in the chest).  Variations of it are all over the martial arts world.  Raise the hands up your center-line, and then fan them out like wings as far behind the plane of your body as you can go.  Feel free to round the back during the arm raise, and round open and lift up the chest during the “wing spread.”  Ladies, the chest raise corresponds exactly to “sticking your tits out,” and do not be afraid to do so.  This exercise will loosen the chest in general and eventually help to loosen the ribs around the sternum, which is frequently tight on strong men and on women with large chests, due to the simple amount of weight hanging on the front of the torso.
  5. Keeping your elbow to your side by having your opposite hand hold your bicep, make a circle in front of you with your body.  If you pay close attention to your shoulder, you will feel it moving in the socket, which we want.  Most of us who work on keyboards have our palms turned down during much of the day, tightening the tendons connecting the front of our shoulders and our chests (this is not quite anatomically accurate, but is easily felt by having a partner hold soft hands on the front of your shoulder while doing the exercise).
  6. In the same position, make circles with the wrists.  I tend to do this one sparingly, since it can tire the fore-arm and can be a real problem for those with tennis elbow, but the lion’s share of your focus should not be on strengthening your wrist, but rather on loosening it, so that it will be supple enough to perform false-edge techniques later.
  7. Supplemental to this, would be taking your hands palm up, and extending them as far to the side as your shoulder rotates without shrugging, while the elbows remain pinned to your side, and then extending the hands outward, the elbows moving as if on a track.  Hold the hands as it stretching out from the fingers, which should otherwise be straight but not stiff.  This is a variation on a well-known ballet exercise and has parallels in the internal martial arts. The first part of it is a stretch strongly recommended by my colleague Jim Fesler, who is a highly-skilled body-worker; the latter is my own variation.  it is not part of the traditional exercises as I learned them.
  8. From a rough horse-stance, rock the pelvis forward and back several times, as if hula-hooping, and then in circles in either direction, as if hula-hooping badly.  Teenage males may insert their own commentary.
  9. Either rotate the head in circles, or else shift it side to side.  The shoulders and spine should not move in an exaggerated way, but should be allowed to rearrange itself so that the motion happens inside the entire body rather than being focused on any one vertebra. I tend to do this as a side-to-side exercise.  Hidan Csaba did it both ways, sometimes in the same practice, sometimes apparently as a variation.
  10. Holding the hands together, palms and forearms together and fingertips forward, flap the wrists so that the hands go from side to side.

But it’s just folk dance!

You couldn’t actually hurt anybody with this…

I is loose.

Class got cancelled today, so when the ladies kidnapped me to go to the Y, I did my baguazhang there.  Did a longer session than I’ve done in a long time, and though I’m still unsure about the proper alignments in the “base walking mode” for my current system (and with internal martial arts, you never try to simply ape your instructor’s movements when you’re clueless, because God only knows what bizarre internal linkages he happens to be working on), I’m trying to put in a much more constant practice than I have in some time, since I’m going to be out of the country for a month and then have to miss a crapload of classes.

So it was really nice when I finished up today, and my forearms had some of their old softness back.  I can’t feel all the way around my forearm bones yet, as those deep inner muscles are still too tight, but loosening is definitely starting to happen.  No idea if I can actually hit again yet, but that’ll come.

I used to do about two hours every single day… and missing something intellectually is one thing.  Getting a taste of one’s old physical state back, even if I now have a half-dozen training-related injuries I didn’t have back then, is a real treat.

No more DivArty?

Read this on StrategyPage.  Over-lightening the divisions on the presumption that we can avoid WWIV by playing Russia and China via Great-Power politics, or a flexibility issue, on the presumption that Boot & Co. are right, and the Army’s going to be doing a lot more small wars?

The Anchoress on Pacifism

Moments after having given some pretty decent combat knife advice… 

Buster’s initial reaction was that Mom was kind of a scary broad, but a few minutes later he said, “teach me that stuff…”

No, I don’t intend to train my son to the blade, nor do I recommend anyone else do it.

Well, the Anchoress’ site won’t let me log in or comment, but the up and down of the matter is, she should teach her son these kinds of things.  People who have gone “sproing” upstairs may be having “27 ninjas” fantasies (hat tip: Marc MacYoung, whose self-defense books I thoroughly recommend, especially for teenagers), or even “I’m going up into the clock tower” fantasies, but they’re guaranteed not having fantasies about trying to draw down on a totally harmless substitute school teacher, only to get disarmed and knocked through a wall… or killed outright by a 105-lb stick-thin gal who’s literature instructor.

And maybe “Nutbag of the week” would have been protected against that initial stab by his bulletproof vest.  Heck, I know my pocketknife’s not as sharp as it should be… because I use it for everything under the sun, rather than keeping it as a reserved weapon. 

But if you have a clue, you have options, and if that option is to take one man’s life in order to save 30 others, well, that sucks, but I think God will understand.

Death Bugs!

You will never stand before the might of our wily robo-insects!

I’m neutral on Israel in general: I don’t care for them, but I don’t care for their neighbors even worse.  But if I were thinking about whether to open relations, knowing that I could get nailed in the night with some horrible poison by some tiny flying robot would make me think real hard about whether I wanted to be these peoples’ enemies.

Isoceles fanatics jumping all over a small boy

Listen up:  just because you twerps still “shoot isoceles” doesn’t mean a boy can’t go for a head shot at point-blank range.

Sheesh.  Lay off the kid, will ya?  He took the shot, it was clean and done with.  You may not have been keeping track of current events lately, but it’s not just cops and soldiers who have access to high-speed body armor nowadays.

Another Putin opponent assassinated.

Clean professional hit: one in the chest, one in the head, pistol left at scene.  Nobody’s going to try to call this a random crime.

Anna Politkovskaya, Andrei Kozlov, plus Khodorkovsky, the insane anti-Georgian fervor being whipped up in Russian media… the writing is on the wall in ten-foot neon letters:  the borderline between Putin’s government and Stalin’s is looking pretty thin.

Geekery: hidden practice.

In Chris Holzman’s quick debunking of the absurd notion that there’s anything delicate in a classical Radaellian moulinet, one finds this little gem:

In the complex practices of the molinelli, the practical application of every blow and every parry is found because in the execution of various molinelli the sabre passes exactly through all the movements and positions that belong to the various blows and parries. 

Well, there’s MY sabre system in a nutshell…

Seriously.  If I talk to a real competitive fencer, and show him my system’s parries, he’ll giggle at me.  Because for said fencer, the parries constitute the techniques.  (This actually happened less than a month ago, with a fencer who’s higher-speed and lower-drag than I’ll ever be on the sport side.)  In mine, the cuts constitute the techniques, and while one is taught the parries on a static basis, one frequently is NOT taught the deep and dirty secret that makes the whole system work (and work well, to boot).

But if you had me teach you sabre for a day, and didn’t know where I was coming from in terms of background, you’d think that I’d watched too much Highlander… because I’d teach you four basic cuts, and the basic four parries, and then have you do moulinets until your eyes bled from boredom.  The second day, I’d let you walk around while doing them, in various patterns if you were learning quickly.  At the end of each day I’d step in and beat the hell out of you until you started being able to actually block incoming shots.

And then, magically, if you did exactly what I told you to do, in the space of about a week’s hard training or a semester’s club-based training (roughly 30 hrs), you’d be able to handle a sabre well enough that anything else I had to show you would be nothing other than a refinement or a dirty trick or two.  Well before that time, we’d be able to play without either you being overwhelmed or me getting bored.  What’s more, *if* you did that, and didn’t have anything else fighting over your fencing skills (say, a different system that keeps an alternate body position), you could pick it up and put it down just like riding a bicycle.  Now, if you wanted to actually get scary with it, you could keep doing those moulinets until you started to make them more and more complex, and your footwork more and more intricate with it.  There was a Polish hero in the Jagiellonian era whose name I can’t remember, who could cut a coin off of a random boy’s head without messing up his hair.  You could get THAT scary.  But the fact is, you *could* treat it like a bicycle if you just wanted to be respectable with it and occasionally have fun fencing.

IF you’d done the work.  Everything comes out of the raw basics.  My grandfather can pick up almost any band instrument and play it cold, and he can conduct a full orchestra without a score.  Me, with my deformed eardrums, I’m happy if I can so much as get an instrument in tune (and eventually hope to pick up an instrument again now that tools to help you do that cost five dollars, rather than five hundred).

He can do that because when he was young, he did his scales.  Sure, he studied theory.  But first and foremost, he did scales, scales until his eyes bled from boredom, and scales until could “vary the footwork” by literally changing scales back and forth on the instrument without so much as slowing down.

I like theory.  I learn a lot from theory, and it interests me on an intellectual level.  But if I want to learn to fence… no amount of theory is going to replace six hours standing under a tree repeating the same moulinet.

Banged up again

Sometimes I get the impression that I’m a much better trainer than I’ll ever be a fighter.  About the time I found myself really making flexibility headway, BAM!  A weird injury between the knee and shin, deep internal, that’s keeping me from doing much except hobble.

It’s getting better, but geez, it’s frustrating.  On the other hand, I’ve managed to get Coulibri past her difficulty generating power towards the vertical, and WhistlePig is sick, so he couldn’t do much, but he’s starting to fix his weighting problem.

Yeesh.

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