Chapter 10: On Attacks

Comment/Interpretation:

In Chapter 10, de Brea is at pains to correct the idea that there are many different types of attacks – as other Masters asserts. He describes cuts, made with the nails down; backhand cuts, made with nails up and thrusts. At the end of the chapter, he even reduces this to two main attacks, cuts with the edge of the sword and thrusts with the point.

He describes cuts and backhand cuts as being either vertical, horizontal or diagonal. I think this could be said to correspond to the seven main cuts described for sabre in Angelo and others.

He also mentions half-cuts. These are shorter, cutting movements to bring the sword back into the right-angled guard position.

I feel that these half-cuts can be looked at together with the oblique or angled guard positions in the previous chapter. If in response to a move, the fencer’s sword is held in one of the positions described in Chapter 9, then a half-cut can bring it back to right-angled guard position with the sword held at 90 degrees from the ground and pointing towards the opponent.

I think that half-cuts may also be an opportunistic movement caused by an opponent exposing a target area. This makes sense, if we think that the entire system is dynamic and based on movement and always seeking to break symmetry and create opportunities.

De Brea describes seven types of thrusts. These can be seen as:

  • Direct thrusts made straight at the opponent,
  • Thrusts made so that they come in at the opponent at an angle,
  • Thrusts made following a greater or lesser circular movement of the sword

Translation:

Chapter X

On Attacks

In the true art, there are three ways of making attacks: cut, backhand and thrust. There are no more and there cannot be any more as whatever attacks people might wish to invent must come from these three. Some authors assert that there is an infinite number of attacks. Others say that there are five and then add a ‘half-cut’ and ‘half backhand’. I do not think this is correct. If we start with the assumption that the cut and backhand are circular movements with three variations: vertical, diagonal and horizontal, then we begin the movement with fingernails down for the cut and fingernails upwards for the backhand and finish the movement in the intended direction and with the nails in the same position.

Cuts and backhands are controlled by three movements: moving the sword sideways, upwards or downwards. There could be two possible half movements: sideways or towards the centre at a right angle.  This proves my argument that so many of these supposed attacks and half movements do not exist as half a backwards cut would need to be one and a half movements. Not only has this never been seen to date but it cannot be done as one begins and finishes at the same point and within a maximum circumference of three hundred and sixty-five degrees. So I consider it sufficiently proved that these half movements do not really exist.

The attacks that we have seen can be implemented with the point or the edge of the weapon. There are three names for these: converted, reduced and continued. As we have spent time on cuts, we need to provide the same attention to thrusts. There are seven types of thrusting attacks to master. These are all named after the principal line in which they are implemented: quarter circle, half circle, complete circle, greater or lesser section of the circle, diagonal, advancing and an instant and fast attack, performed when the opponent is starting to form the cut or backhand.

In reality, despite of all that is said about attacks, there are really only two in the True Art – those with the point and those with the edge of the sword, in other words, thrusting and cutting.

Original Text:

CAPITU LO X.

D1 las tretas.

Las ttetas de la verdadera destreza son tres , tajo , r,­‘VU   utocada.  No  hay  mas, ni  puede  haberlas;  pues quantas el hombre quiera inventar han de  proceder  de estas rnismas. En el concepto de algunos autores son infi­ nitas ; y otros afirman ser cinco , afiadiendo  el medio tajo y medio. re·ws.  A  mf’ me  p:irece no ser  asf , en el supuesto de ser el tajo y r1res un movimiemo circular , que tiene tres especies -vertical , diagonal y horizontal : el principio de su formacion esta en el inovimiento de la mano , para el tajo las unas ;1baxo , y para el reve las unas arriba , sn fin segun en la linea que vaya dirigido. A estos tajos y re­ veses se les regulan · tres rnovimientos , que son r,mz’so, -violmto y natural para la execucion , y a los rnedios se les_ dan dos, el remiso y el de rtduuion : razones que realzan mis riii pr<5posidort , _y me dan m£s fundatnento para afir­ mar qu·e DO hay tales treras ni medics. Porque la mitad  del tajo y reves habia de ser movimiento y medio,  cosa que hasta  hoy no se ha visto , ni se puede  hacer:  ademas que su principio y fin le tienen en los mismos terminos y circu nferencia , quc segun consta , esta repartida en tres­ cientos y sesenta grados ; lnego solo se puede decir fixa­ mente , que es una evolucion de mas 6 mcnos grados; y que si  se ha  de executar  herida , sera  en  uno  de  los  tcr­minos dichos,  -vert fral , diagonal  u horizonlal : y asf  me parece queda  suficientemente  probado  no  haber  tales  tre­  tas ni medios. Estos ta jos y reveses , que hasta aqu1 han executado  de  corte,  tambien   pueden  executar de  punta , y se les da el nombre de con-vertido , reducido  y continuado : y pues hemos dado suficiente noticia del tajo y reves, es preciso  la  demos  de  la  estocada.  Esta  tiene  siete especies; a saber , quarta parte de cir,ulo , media drculo , drculo mtero ,porcion mayor y porcion me11or , la diagonal o as· cendiente , y la  sagita. Todas  estas  tretas  toman  el  nom· bre  de la  Hnea  donde  tienen   la execucion , como las  mis­ tnas operaciones lo iran manifestando . No obstante lo dicho ,  y quedar  definido  en  quanto a las tretas executivas , digo que en si no son mas de dos, que son las imicas , ,ortante y punzant,; y no hay mas ni puede haber en verdadera destreza , que es con el filo dl arma , 6 con  la punta , para  las  que hay  que  preve-­n1r la defensa.

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