Monday, August 17, 2009

Fabris: trusting the source

"My advice is this: follow the book, and trust its contents blindly."

How many students ever want to hear that from an instructor? Haven't we all been taught to be critical thinkers, to test everything we read, everything we learn? Double check the sources. Consider the translator. Look back over the language. Confer with colleagues about potential other meanings.

But that runs counter to Leoni's advice in his introduction to The Art of Dueling. We're asked to trust the source. Consider Fabris' mastery. We're asked to invoke a type of papal infallibility when it comes to Fabris' teaching. He's the master, we are the students. If we want to know how to fight like Fabris wants us to, then trust Fabris.

To do this, we have to forget how to be 21st century students. We have to trust the source. For the sake of learning this technique, this style of fighting, then we have to work in a pure manner. Fully immerse ourselves in his technique, and trust his work implicitly.

So, for the sake of this technique, I'm willing to take the translator's advice and to trust the author completely. I think back to what I wrote yesterday, about wanting to put away old notions and start new.

On to the technique: Guards and measure.

My plan is to just jot down some notes on what I've read or practiced each day. I'd like to at least write out whatever I've taken away from the text that day.

The manual starts with the four guards, and the division of the sword. I'm familiar with the guards, but there are some strong reminders about the importance of the guards in technique. "It must be clear that nothing is done that does not proceed from the essence of one of these guards (emphasis mine)." There's a flexibility implied, because of the motion the hand goes through between guards. Motions may go from the transitional state between guards (what he calls "bastard" guards). Here, we're immediately hit with an important part of the foundation: your sword motions aren't going to be executed from static positions. Shortly, Fabris will describe the dangers of fighting in dui tempi.

The divisions of the sword are mentioned. He divides the sword into a defensive portion, nearer the hand (which he divides into two), and the debile (half closer to the tip) is divided into two portions, as well. Any fencing student is already familiar with the strong and the weak parts of the blade. Strong for defense, weak for attack.

When taking posture is discussed, it can't be discussed without discussing measure and tempo. The two measures, misura larga (where one may attack by moving a foot), and misura stretta (one may attack by just moving the body forward) are described.

Tomorrow, on "flinging the sword," and "on cuts."

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