Chapter 8: On Steps

Comment/Interpretation:

Chapter VIII is about how to move in this system. Don Manuel describes steps that allow the fencer to move backwards and forwards, sideways and in a circle. Lateral and circular movements are important in the system and in later chapters, we see how these movements can help the fencer to close, move out of distance and find an angle with which to attack or to defend from an attack.

The text appears academic with its descriptions of circles and lines. This comes from the Euclidian tradition of geometry as part of the science of fencing, which is described by earlier writers. The Martial Traveller blog describes this well, ’the circle is a very practical training tool. It is simply a diagram, drawn out on the ground, of various possible movements, attacks, and defences that one might execute’.

Don Manuel is trying to help his readers and pupils to move effectively and efficiently towards, away from and around an opponent. In this way, we can move offline when an opponent attacks. This forces the opponent to turn and adjust his position to face the fencer. The moment that this takes will create an advantage. This can even be seen in the positions of the feet. Unlike some systems, the feet can be at greater or less than a ninety-degree angle. This, again serves to increase or decrease the direction that the sword is pointing at and a slight change in angle can create an opening.

Plate 4

Translation:

There are seven steps and they are all very necessary to master the True Art and they should not be ignored. The seven steps are: forwards, reverse, sideways, circular, crossing, reverse crossing and circular crossing.

In order to understand this, you have to imagine two circles on the ground (one inside the other[1]). We will call these the common circles. If both fencers are in first position, their heels should touch the outside circle and their front feet should be two feet in front, which corresponds to first position.

These circles are bisected by a straight line on which the front foot of each fencer is placed, the line passing through heel to toe and so the two fencers are exactly opposite each other. There are two other parallel lines behind each fencer, which run perpendicular to the bisecting line. These are called the infinite lines as they run parallel to each other and, in theory, go on forever. They are one foot apart and in first position, the rear foot is placed along the outmost line with the line running through heel to toe and at right angles to the bisecting line.

If this is clear, we can now define each type of step.

The forwards step is made when one advances along the bisecting line towards the opponent. The fencer leads with his right foot and follows with the left foot and ending up in first position.

The reverse step is when you retire, leading with the left foot and following with the right. The sideways steps are when you move along the infinite lines with a foot touching each line. The circular step is when you move along the circumference of the circle with feet aligned along each circle. The crossing step is when you move forwards obliquely and cross over the diameter of the circle. The reverse crossing step is when you move backwards obliquely and cross over the diameter of the circle. When you only move your right foot forward and cross the diameter of the circle and follow this by lifting your left foot and whilst your left foot is in the air you turn your right foot so that as the left foot lands and is on one of the infinite lines – or very close to it – your right foot has turned at right angles to it so that your feet end up in fifth position, then you have made a circular crossing step.

I believe that this is enough to learn about the steps and this can be seen in plate number four.

These steps are useful in the following ways:

The forwards step helps the fencer move into measure. The reverse step helps him to move away out of measure. The sideways step helps the fencer defend himself from an opponent’s attempts to cut or thrust and he will see that this step allows him to remove his body from danger whilst maintaining a good position. The circular step will help the fencer to find an opening onto the body of his opponent and control his weapon. The crossing step helps to control the opponent’s weapon and close measure as a mixed angle is formed relative to the opponent’s body. The reverse crossing step helps the fencer to free both himself and his weapon from his opponent’s pressure, no matter how fierce this might be. The circular crossing step can help to finalise movements. This step can only be on one side, which is where the weapon is, on the inside line. All the other steps can be made left and right i.e. on both sides. All the steps can be made, even if the body is bent. It is important, however to make sure that you do not expose any more than one side of your body at any time.

[1] Translator’s note

Original Text:

CAPITULO VIII.

De  los compas.

 

Los tompases  son siete, y todos muy necesarios  p:m1.  l Illanejo de la verdadera  destreza , los  que no se deben ignorar , y son rt,to , 1::rtrano , trepidant,, rur’Vo , tra,,s.1Jtrsal , r1tr11f,dmt# tk.Jranni,r.ral ,1muto di trdff s’fltr 1al y cur’V o. Para su conocimiento se han de suponer dos &irculos en el suelo , que llamamos comunes , de maocra, que estando los  dos  combatientes  en  su  prirnera  planta  han de tocar con los talones en  las  mismas  circuuforen­ cias , y  ha  de  tener  el  uno  dos  pies  mas que  el  otro, quees  la  disrancja  6 hueco que  le  corresponde  a  la  primera planta,   A  estos  ,ir,ulos  los  di,..id.e  por   medio  una  linea recta , que se llama del didmetro : por cada pie se consi­ dera pasar  una  lmea  recta , que toca  en  los extremos  de los drculos :estas se Haman i1!Jini’tas por  sec  paralelas , y nunca tener union por estar apartada una de otra un pie. Con este conocimiento se puede pasar a definir cada es­pecie de compa.r. El compas recto se executa siempre que se  comience por  la  linea  del ..diametro a dar  pasos  de  aumento  con el pie derecho,  siguiend-0le  el  izquierdo,  y .quedandose  en su prim era posicion y ·planta. Quando se retrocede con el pie  izquierdo , y le sigue  el derecho   por  la  misma   linea recta , se hace el extraiio Quando por las infinitas si­ guiendo cada pie por su linea , sea por dentro o por fuera, se executa el trepida11tt. QuaoJo se camina por la ,-ir,u,,-. fertnda , tocando cada pie en el c1rculo que le correspon­ de , se executa el cur’V o. Quando se atraviesa la linea  del diametro ‘.caminando hacia ad.elante’..de u n  lado a otro , se hace el transwrsal. Quando se vuelve hacia atras ,atrave­ sando la misma linea , se executa el mixto de  t,·answrsal y extrano ; y quando solo se aumenta con el pie derecho, atravesando. la linea del diametro, y  despues se levanta  et izquietdo formando en el ayre una porion de  circulo para sentarle .en la hnea  inliuita , i, .muy poco .distante, liguieodole  el dero,.de;modo, ‘lue  venga .i qucd.arse despues de sentados ,los dos pi en la.quinta posiciq11, 6 tercera ph:mta hccha al reves , se habra executado cl tr,1nn.:ersal y eut”()O. Esta me parece suficiente noticia para el conocimiento de todos los compases , como se ma· nifi.esta en la siguiente estampa senalada con el nC1m. 4.

Estos compases sin,en : el recto para degir med io de proporcjon : el txtra,1o 6 retrocedf ntr para quitar la dis­ tancia : el  trepidantr  para   defenderse  del  rigor  del con­trario quaudo quiere exe.:utar  herida  punzante 6 cortante; Y se  verificara  sin duda  la defensa  por  quitar  el cuerpo del lugar peligroso , y an le q_uedara  buena  disposicion : el ur’Vo para descubrir las profundidades del cuerpo con­ trario, y tomar  ventajas sobre su arma : el tranrversal para sujetar el arma , y estrechar a su  contrario I con el qual se forma angulo mixto : el mixto de trans’Versal y extrano para salir de la opresion en que uno se: halle , y poner el :uma en libertad , defendiendose de SU contra”. rjo PQr riguroso que sea : el mixto dt transwrsal y curvo pari;l los movimientos de conclusion. E!.te no puede haccr­ se  mas  que por  un  ladv , ljUt:   :.             tura  del arma y par· te de adentro: lo§ demas por los dos lados. Estos mismos compases  se  pucden  executar   aunque  sea  con  el   cuerpo haxo, procurando ir bien perfilado para no descubrir mas que  el costado.

 

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s