This stuff isn’t going to work if you’re flinging your blade around with your whole arm, so keep your grip light and your fingers nimble. A sabre is a precision instrument.
Previously on Competitive, we covered the concept of using pre-determined blade trajectories or arcs in the classic ‘short/long’ tactic. These arcs reduce the complexity of winning the 4m box at the start of the bout. We expanded the concept last week with the addition of opposition arcs to the ‘short measure’ component to win the simultaneous situation with single light. We worked through some of the possible attack arcs including the infamous Hartung special.
In week 3 we explore the other side of the situation: using the same concepts for defence. See, most people launch most of their attacks from only one or two hand positions regardless of the target. This means that their blade arcs tend radiate out from visible origin points. The arcs are clustered together near the origin, so it is possible to a) predict where in space most of the possible arcs will go through and b) intercept most arcs with a single action like a parry or a stop cut.
If you’ve ever wondered how to defend against a strong attacker, this is the equalizer.
We start with a review of good blade positions for different parries in the 4m, and how late to parry after the initial check (answer: as late as possible). We then cover the pros and cons of common parries for intercepting multiple potential attack arcs, and why parry 5 and parry 2 are used so much more often in the 4m than outside it. Then onto the fun stuff, two variants of the classic draw cut from opposite sides of the world: K-style, which tends to leave a mark; and the Teutonic version. The latter hurts less, physically, but is more emotionally damaging. You’ll see why.
Previously in Advanced, we introduced the technique of ‘sweep’ as a defensive action used to clear an Attacker’s blade. Sweeps clear an entire plane in space of the Attacker’s blade, terminate in a parry position for safety, and can be chained together to trick the attacker into placing their blade in a position where you can hit it. Last week, we also introduced fake sweeps to efficiently fool the attacker into being vulnerable to beats and attacks-on-preparation. This combination of real and fake sweeps forms a potent defensive ‘wall’ which can be used to blunt most attackers.
The efficacy of sweeps is highly dependent on the threat of the attack-on-preparation to make the attacker present their blade (for the beat) or finish their attack (for the parry). With the new 180ms timing this threat has been greatly reduced. Attackers are now more able to launch attacks from close-range with wide arcs which are difficult to parry or avoid. Defenders must be able to combine both the threat of the attack-on-preparation and the protective parry to defeat such Attackers.
This week, we introduce stop cuts to wrist with opposition as an additional defensive finish to the check or sweep. We cover stop cuts to each of the main wrist targets, the recommended opposition positions to block the attack, and how to safely absorb the impact of large/aggressive/heavy Attackers. As a bonus we will also over two flashy variants which are massively overused at the A-grade: “fade-away” under-wrist cuts, and “draw” or “skyhook” cuts.
This week, we’ll continuing our exploration of feint cuts with a new, more brutal cutover and an introduction to disengages.
Previously on Intermediate, we introduced feint attacks as a class of actions used to deceive a Defender into becoming more vulnerable to the cut by fooling them into parrying into the wrong line, freezing in place, or counterattacking out of distance. Good feint attacks are able to deal with any one of these three options.
In Week 2, we introduced the cutover as a sub-class of feint attacks where you avoid the anticipated parry over the tip of their blade. We covered the cutovers against parry 3 and 4 with emphasis on getting the right distance and arcs to handle parries and counterattacks in the same action – though many of you would have noticed that cutovers work better against parries than counterattacks.
In Week 3, we continue with feint attacks by moving onto head cut feints. There are two common variants: a feint head cutover to chest with a through cut (aka the barrel-roll, aka the bunderoll, aka the pain train); and the less painful feint disengage to underarm. On the surface these moves appear to be big slow actions, but we will go over the subtle details of what makes these moves work, particularly how they deal with counterattacks via either disengagement or bind, respectively.
There also some nasty angulation stuff we will cover on special request for disarming people who counter-attack too much. I dislike counter-attackers.
Over the first two weeks of Novice, we’ve been working on building a fast lunge and accelerated advance lunge to allow you to quickly close distance and finish your attacks against an opponent at relatively close range. Tonight, we’re going to build some more range with an additional advance, allowing you to catch an opponent who is trying to flee.
Double advance lunge comes into play when the defender is trying so hard to get away that they’ve ended up off-balance. This represents both a bit of a challenge and a wonderful opportunity for the attacker. Your target is outside the range of your standard attack, but your opponent is also in a compromised position where they will struggle to mount an effective defense.
The good news is that this vulnerability allows you to luxury of an extra step without being at much risk of being hit with a counterattack. We’ll be working on how to make a relatively slow preparation step, allowing you to gauge the distance, then launch an accelerated finish with a direct hit to any of the main targets. Hunt them down.
Welcome back to Beginner week 3! Beginner comprises weeks 1 to 10 of the Sydney Sabre syllabus and about learning the fundamental rules and movements in sabre. You’ve now learned most of the basic footwork in sabre and how to use rhythm in your actions. This week we are going to start your training in the fundamental bladework actions, or simply, how to hit and parry.
Hits in sabre are made with the edge, and more specifically, the edge of the blade tip or top 2-3 inches of the blade. (As an aside, you can also hit with the back edge, but that is a topic for another day). As a result, it is vitally important that the you maintain full control of where their blade tip is at any given point in the cut – otherwise you risk overshooting or missing your opponent. Good control enables you to trace the most efficient arc between whether your blade starts in the on-guard position to the nearest open target. Good control also enables you to block the arc of an anticipated cut (or if you are lucky, to block the visible arc of a poor cut) with the strong part of your blade. This latter action is what we call a parry, and more specifically a static parry.
This week, we’re going to show you how to hit straight to the three main targets. Once you’ve got that down, we’re going to show you how to block straight hits to the three main targets. Then comes the best bit: we’re going to show you that a good straight hit at the right distance should already be at its target before the defender can block, even if they already know where you are going to hit. If that isn’t motivation to control your blade well, we don’t know what is.
Previously on Competitive, we covered the concept of using pre-determined blade trajectories to reduce the complexity of winning the ‘box of death’ at the start of the bout. We focused on the application of a classic ‘short/long’ tactic to win the immediate attack *and* the long attack against the opponent’s fall short. In a nutshell, we pre-determined blade trajectories that would hit the opponent at both short and long measure, and avoid an intervening parry. All a sabreur had to do was to track the distance to the opponent during the initial part of the bout and make minor adjustments to their flight path and impact speed, instead of making a more difficult ‘A/B’ choice on whether to attack short or long.
Confused? It’s easier said than done, but when it works it’s devastating.
But it gets better. See, it you can also pre-determine blade trajectories that act as attacks with opposition while also fulfilling all of the conditions above for the ‘short/long’ tactic. This means that you’re not stuck with a ‘draw’ with your opponent if you both attack short. You can also win. With single light.
This week, we expand on the use of pre-determined blade trajectories with the addition of opposition arcs. We revisit the cheeky cutovers from the last class, but now we’ll make them less cheeky and closer to outright cruelty. We will (carefully!) go over the modifications to the initial arcs to cause an opposition clash with your opponent’s blade if they select your desired line for the short attack while still enabling you to finish with simultaneous attacks if they pick a different line or disengage. We will also introduce Max Hartung’s totally-not-cool special and its sinister variant (aka, the left hand version) on special request. No cameras though: it’s top secret until after the Tokyo Olympics.
Students will be required to wear breeches in this class.
This week on Intermediate, we’ll be looking at feint hits, and how you can use them to trick a defender into making themselves more vulnerable.
To do this, you need to make a feint cut to one target but an actual cut to another target. In between, the feint attack traces an arc which evades the anticipated motion of the defender’s blade. Done right, this can induce vulnerabilities in the defender by 1. fooling them into parrying against the wrong cut arc, or 2.inducing sufficient uncertainty to make them ‘freeze’ their blade in position, or 3. drawing them into counterattacking at the wrong time and/or distance.
People are unpredictable though, so a good feint attack has to be able to deal with any one of the three possibilities above – though not to the same degree of effectiveness.
There are broadly two types of feint attacks: cutovers, which evade by going over the tip of the defender’s blade; and disengages, which evade under the guard. In Week 2, we start with basic cutovers to deceive parry 3 and parry 4. We cover why it is important that both the feint and true targets for a feint attack are open at the time of the attack, and how to work out the unique cutover arcs for different opponents.
Then we’ll move on to execution, starting with the basic feint attacks at the end of an attack sequence, then adding tempo variations to deceive defenders who have cottoned onto your basic version. We may even cover the ‘back-line bitch slap’ on special request, but please be warned the defender won’t be your friend afterwards.