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Fencing Tactics: Thoughts on Countertime

October 23, 2011 | Comments: 0 | Views: 169

Countertime actions are what their name implies - actions against time actions employed by your opponent on the fencing strip.Traditional views of countertime often define these actions in terms of parry and riposte sequences.However, the options are richer and more complex, and can form a key part of your tactical repertoire.

To understand countertime, we need to go back to the start, with the attack.In all weapons an attack is an action commenced by the weapon moving forward to threaten the opponent's target (see rule t.7 in the current edition of the Federation Internationale d'Escrime's rules for fencing).Because the hit is not simultaneous with its initiation, there is the possibility of counteroffensive action to land before the attack does.This counteroffensive action aims to steal the time of the initial attack, in terms of right of way in foil and sabre, and actually in terms of time in sabre and epee by locking out the attack by arriving well ahead of the hit (110-130 milliseconds in sabre and 40-50 milliseconds in epee).Thus these counteroffensive actions are fundamentally actions rooted in time.And thus countertime actions are actions intended to defeat the time action.

As mentioned above, the most common understanding of a countertime action is the sequence (1)attack, (2) stop thrust or cut on the attack, and (3)parry of the stop thrust or cut and riposte.Classifying this sequence by the commonly accepted types of actions, this sequence is (1) offense (the attack), (2) counteroffense (the stop), (3) defense (parry) followed by offense (riposte).The key element is the parry of the stop thrust or cut.As a result, it makes sense to call this sequence defensive countertime.

However, this is not all there is to countertime.If you initiate your attack in a right of way weapon and the opponent counterattacks without closing the line of your original attack in some way, you can simply continue the attack to land with the right of way.Although it is tempting to think of this as "I just do my simple action," and it will certainly appear that way to the referee, that is not what is happening if you have planned the action to deal with an opponent's propensity to stop hit.In reality you are stop hitting the stop hit deliberately, and exploiting right of way to ensure your success.This is counteroffensive countertime.Some have called this offensive countertime (for example, William Gaugler), but I prefer the Australian Academy of Arms' terminology as a better description of the sequence (1) offense (the attack), (2) counteroffense (the stop action), and (3) counter offense (the stop hit on the stop action).

Finally, there is offensive countertime, the use of an attacking action that captures or deflects the stop hit to score.Attacks on the blade (a beat against the stop) or takings of the blade (probably most usefully with the bind or liement or the croise or flanconnade)defeat the stop's opportunity to hit target, gain control, and allow the attack to attack through the stop.The sequence now looks like (1) offense (the initial attack), (2) counteroffense (the stop), and (3) offense (with the action on the blade of the stop hit).

These are planned actions - you know the opponent stop hits, and so you prepare a course of action in advance to defeat the stop hit.If they seem similar to second intention actions, they are in that they depend on the opponent committing the blade and forward movement to the counteroffense.The key difference is that your attack is a real attack, intended to hit, with a countertime option programmed in your mind to deal with the time action that may, or may not, happen.

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 2011 by Walter G. Green III. All rights reserved.

Source: EzineArticles
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