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Fencing Tactics: Second Intention Examined

October 16, 2011 | Comments: 0 | Views: 204

Second intention actions in fencing are intended to create the impression that they are first intention, and then to hit on second intention. So what is first and what is second intention? First intention is any action intended to score in the first execution of the technique. A straight thrust, a one-two, a beat disengage, a double envelopment, and a riposte are all first intention actions; the underlying assumption is that the action will hit without the opponent taking an effective intervening action. Second intention, however, not only assumes an intervening action by the opponent, it requires it to set up the second offensive action that will hit.

The classic second intention is the false attack as the feint of first intention, followed by the opponent's parry and riposte, and then by the original attacker's parry and counterriposte. The attacker's intent all along was to hit with the counterriposte delivered in second intention. Even though this is widely enough taught to almost be a cliché, it still works. That means that the action is doing something more than just two techniques in order, and it suggests that it is important to understand why it works.

The false attack is the first key. As noted the purpose is not to hit. Rather it is to create the impression that you wanted to hit, but got the timing, distance, or delivery wrong. And it is not just wrong. Instead it is wrong enough that the opponent realizes that no retreat, or at most a short retreat, is needed before employing the parry to unleash the riposte. This is the first key principle of second intention - you fix the opponent in place by creating conditions that seem to make staying in range for a fast riposte overwhelmingly attractive. Note that the example I am using is the standard one, but this could be just as easily be a false attack, stop hit, defensive or offensive countertime sequence.

The second key is the opponent's counteraction. Now you need the opponent to commit to offensive action with the blade coming forward so that you can easily parry and counterriposte to hit. If the blade does not come forward, you either have to abandon the attack or execute some form of renewed attack. But when the opponent does commit to the riposte, the blade followed by the body enters the hitting zone, and the body and blade do so moving forward. You have pulled the opponent into your optimal range for a programmed fast parry and riposte. This is the second key principle of second intention - pull the opponent into your hitting zone.

This is what makes second intention effective. You fix the opponent in place so that they do not open the range, and you draw them into your hitting zone so that you can hit them. Second intention is not a specific attack-counterriposte sequence, rather it is an exploitation of distance and movement to create the fix and pull sequence. And that fix and pull sequence is a core tactical principle for fencers.

Walter Green is a Maitre d'Armes (Fencing Master) certified by the Academie d'Armes Internationale. He teaches modern competitive and classical fencing, historical swordplay, bayonet fencing, and Asian martial arts swords at Salle Green ( http://www.sallegreen.com ), the fencing school he operates in Glen Allen, Virginia. Maitre Green also trains fencing coaches through the Pan American Fencing Academy ( http://panamfencing.com ). He serves as a Head Examiner for the certification of professional fencing coaches for the United States Fencing Coaches Association, and chairs the USFCA's Club Committee.

Copyright 2010 by Walter G. Green III. All rights reserved.

Source: EzineArticles
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