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Thread: Applying Silver's principles to safely parry, riposte, and avoid mutual injury

  1. #1

    Applying Silver's principles to safely parry, riposte, and avoid mutual injury

    Silver often speaks of warding, striking/thrusting, and flying out after the agent has gained the patient the place.

    However, after a patient wards an agent's blow, how can the patient safely counterattack and fly out without being hit by another time of hand attack from the agent? For example, in 5.2 of Silver's Brief Instructions...
    2. If you lie upon your true guardant ward, & he strikes at the left side of your head, you have the choice from your ward to strike him from it, on the right or left side of the head, or to turn down your point, & thrust him in the body, or you may strike him on the outside of the right or left thigh, for the reason above said in the last rule, except he flies out instantly upon his blow.
    What prevents the agent from attacking in the Time of Hand during the patient's riposte, resulting in mutual injury?

    My limited understanding is that the patient would have time to safely ward the agent's initial attack by maintaining a proper distance (via judgement), forcing the agent to take a step. However, after warding the blow (with a true cross at 90 degrees) or putting aside the thrust, I am uncertain what allows the patient to safely counter since both patient and agent are now within distance. In some of the techniques in described in Silver's Brief Instructions, the off hand/weapon assists in preventing the agent's sword from attacking while the patient counters, or the opponent is fairly widespaced prior to the patient countering, but this does not always seem to be the case (esp. in single sword).

    Although (to my understanding), the patient agent's first step backward is faster than the agent's first step forward, and thus a patient can safely escape after warding, but merely warding and flying back out of reach without riposting seems far too passive.

    Any thoughts/insights would be appreciated!

    -Vincent

    P.S. Although perhaps not strictly from Silver, another easily visualized example (esp. if you have the book and can view the photos ) can also be found in Terry Brown's "English Martial Arts." In Technique 6 and 8 in the Broadsword chapter of book, the patient wards St. George against a vertical overhead blow and then vaults off line to deliver a blow at the agent's wrist. In these examples, my worry is that the agent could attack in Time of Hand during the patient's vault + counter, resulting in mutual injury.
    Last edited by Vincent K; 07-11-2013 at 05:04 AM. Reason: Typo fixes

  2. #2
    Hi,

    Quote Originally Posted by Vincent K View Post
    What prevents the agent from attacking in the Time of Hand during the patient's riposte, resulting in mutual injury?
    Nothing does, per se, prevent the agent to double his strike, however, that in itself is a tempo and the counter of the patient agent does happen in TotH, provided the patient is already expecting the agent´s strike in true guardant(!). While the agent is recovering from his strike, the patient can deliver in Time of the Hand and thereby hits "safely".

    Thats Silver´s reasoning there. There are numerous occasions where this reasoning doesn´t work at all, like double attacks, feints etc, strike & fly out.

    The same reasoning applies to several techniques in the Liechtenauer tradition. Thing is, there is no technically safe way to hit the other guy, only more or less decisive methods and usually the most direct is the most decisive.

    Regards, Thomas
    Erschrickstu gern /
    Keyn Fechten lern.

  3. #3
    One thing that make it work is that the parry "chambers" the riposte so that the defender only has to strike, while the attacker would have to first bring back his weapon and then strike. In a way, although the distance between the opponents would indicate that both can strike in the same time, with the difference of positions the defender can strike faster than the attacker (with any significant force, anyway).

    Regards,

  4. #4
    If you look at it only in terms of "time" then nothing prevents it, however "space" essentially modifies time providing the opportunity to act within distance safely. Pretty much exactly as Vincent describes.
    Learn English Martial Arts

    "I have declaired in my prdoxes of defence of the false teachinge of the noble scyence of defence used here by the Italyon fencers."

    "The time of the foot is when you step forward to strike"

  5. #5
    Thank you Thomas, Vincent, and Oz It sounds like that if the patient is more "bent" than the agent during parry/stop, then he will be able to riposte more quickly than the agent can attack again since the patient's arm was more "bent"/chambered during the parry.

    1. Do you think that this concept would also allow the agent to benefit from this shortened recovery time by endeavoring to have his arm more "bent" during the patient's parry (ithereby neutralizing the patient's advantage/safety? For example, in the case of a vertical blow, the elbow could be kept slightly chambered instead of extending fully. This sort of attack also seems like it would be difficult to for the patient to notice since it's just a matter of not fully extending during a blow.

    2. Additionally, although I'm not sure, it seems that the patient may also benefit from the advantage of not having his feet in motion while all this is happening if his time of hand parry occurs before the agent's feet have settled (if the agent timed his blow to land as step completed, the patient's parry could "choke up" the blow and thus the agent's hand would have been stopped while his feet are still in motion). However, in this case, I don't know if the agent's hand would still be considered tied to the time of the feet.

    Then again, I may simply be overthinking things Esp. in the case of (1), which sounds like it'd also be difficult to apply in the heat of combat.

    @Oz: Thanks for pointing out that "space" can also modify time. It's nice to have it described so succinctly.
    Last edited by Vincent K; 07-16-2013 at 07:32 AM.

  6. #6
    Additionally, as somewhat of an interesting aside, Silver also mentions in several places that unless the agent immediately flies out after the patient wards, he will be hurt by the patient's time of hand riposte. Could this possibly be implying that the first movement backwards can be faster than a time of hand riposte?

  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by Vincent K View Post
    Thank you Thomas, Vincent, and Oz It sounds like that if the patient is more "bent" than the agent during parry/stop, then he will be able to riposte more quickly than the agent can attack again since the patient's arm was more "bent"/chambered during the parry.
    I like to split positioning into lying (bent, spent etc) which is how the arm is positioned, and also space (true, wide, narrow) which is where the point is located. In this instance I would say the ability of the patient to respond when both are essentialy in "the place" ("Know that the place is, when one may strike or thrust home without putting in of his foot.") is more due to space than lying, however both clearly play a part and knowledge of the concepts and how to manipulate them is part of Governor 2 - Measure.

    1. Do you think that this concept would also allow the agent to benefit from this shortened recovery time by endeavoring to have his arm more "bent" during the patient's parry (ithereby neutralizing the patient's advantage/safety? For example, in the case of a vertical blow, the elbow could be kept slightly chambered instead of extending fully. This sort of attack also seems like it would be difficult to for the patient to notice since it's just a matter of not fully extending during a blow.
    I would be very wary of a tactic such as this one as it effectively reduces the range of "place" for you at the same time as commiting you to a specific set of actions. If your opponent spots this you could be in trouble, even if they don't then you have reduced your range and not theirs giving them the advantages of a "tall man".

    2. Additionally, although I'm not sure, it seems that the patient may also benefit from the advantage of not having his feet in motion while all this is happening if his time of hand parry occurs before the agent's feet have settled (if the agent timed his blow to land as step completed, the patient's parry could "choke up" the blow and thus the agent's hand would have been stopped while his feet are still in motion). However, in this case, I don't know if the agent's hand would still be considered tied to the time of the feet.
    I have an interpretation of Silver that differs from the accepted consensus here at SFI, to me this question is irrelevant, so rather than restart ages old flamewars about something that doesn't really matter I will just say that if you are interested email me and I'll happily explain my thinking. (oz AT englishmartialarts DOT com).

    Then again, I may simply be overthinking things Esp. in the case of (1), which sounds like it'd also be difficult to apply in the heat of combat.

    @Oz: Thanks for pointing out that "space" can also modify time. It's nice to have it described so succinctly.
    It's easy to over-think things with regard to SIlver. I tend to find that if we start from a position of not assuming anything and simply look at what he says and take it at face value most stuff is simple enough.

    I don't mean this to sound patronising, so apologies if it comes across that way. It's always nice to find someone interested in Silver. Most folk write it of as either xenophobic ranting, or simplistic waffle. I like to think it is neither.

    Oz
    Learn English Martial Arts

    "I have declaired in my prdoxes of defence of the false teachinge of the noble scyence of defence used here by the Italyon fencers."

    "The time of the foot is when you step forward to strike"

  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by Vincent K View Post
    Additionally, as somewhat of an interesting aside, Silver also mentions in several places that unless the agent immediately flies out after the patient wards, he will be hurt by the patient's time of hand riposte. Could this possibly be implying that the first movement backwards can be faster than a time of hand riposte?
    Again I think you have it slightly wrong, if only in terminology. If we assume that we only attack from "the place" (what most folk here refer to as a time of the hand attack) and fly out as we do so then we are already out of distance by the time the patient has parried and attempts to riposte. I would describe this as a time of the hand, body, and feet action on the part of the agent, as I don't believe that Silver's true times refer to different ranges, I think they refer to different ways of acting from "the place".

    I see after claiming not to want to get into this I have gone right ahead and done so. Sorry...
    Learn English Martial Arts

    "I have declaired in my prdoxes of defence of the false teachinge of the noble scyence of defence used here by the Italyon fencers."

    "The time of the foot is when you step forward to strike"

  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by M J Austwick View Post
    ...and also space (true, wide, narrow) which is where the point is located.
    I enjoyed your description of how you analyze position very much, thanks for sharing!

    In this instance I would say the ability of the patient to respond when both are essentialy in "the place" ("Know that the place is, when one may strike or thrust home without putting in of his foot.") is more due to space than lying, however both clearly play a part and knowledge of the concepts and how to manipulate them is part of Governor 2 - Measure.
    I'm sorry, but would you be able to help me understand how space would play a greater part than lying? For example, in the case of defending against a vertical blow down the centerline. I feel that this may be a particularly troublesome case as opposed to a defending against a blow that comes at the patient's centerline from an angle since the patient cannot benefit from being "inside" the arc and having a shorter distance to travel when riposting. But even in the case of being "inside the arc," the patient not only needs to complete his riposte before the agent's remise but also needs enough time to "fly out safely."

    I would be very wary of a tactic such as this one as it effectively reduces the range of "place" for you at the same time as commiting you to a specific set of actions. If your opponent spots this you could be in trouble, even if they don't then you have reduced your range and not theirs giving them the advantages of a "tall man".
    I agree: the tradeoff for such a theoretically quicker uncrossing via a partially bent arm blow is reduced range, and if the patient notices this, it would be as if he had the advantages of being a "tall man." I am concerned though that it may be difficult for the patient to notice this.

    I have an interpretation of Silver that differs from the accepted consensus here at SFI, to me this question is irrelevant, so rather than restart ages old flamewars about something that doesn't really matter I will just say that if you are interested email me and I'll happily explain my thinking. (oz AT englishmartialarts DOT com).
    I may take you up on that offer!

    I don't mean this to sound patronising, so apologies if it comes across that way. It's always nice to find someone interested in Silver.
    Not at all. I appreciate you taking the time to share your thoughts!

    Best wishes,
    Vincent

  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by Vincent K View Post
    I enjoyed your description of how you analyze position very much, thanks for sharing!
    My pleasure, any time.

    I'm sorry, but would you be able to help me understand how space would play a greater part than lying? For example, in the case of defending against a vertical blow down the centerline. I feel that this may be a particularly troublesome case as opposed to a defending against a blow that comes at the patient's centerline from an angle since the patient cannot benefit from being "inside" the arc and having a shorter distance to travel when riposting. But even in the case of being "inside the arc," the patient not only needs to complete his riposte before the agent's remise but also needs enough time to "fly out safely."
    I'll certainly try to make my thoughts clearer, but I may have to go into some detail, so apologies if this becomes an essay.

    On a general level I tend to find that against a true vertical blow the patient can essentially pick either the left or right sided response and either works well enough, however if there is any doubt about whether it is a true vertical blow then the response to an attack to the right side is safer. However that is not connected to lying or space...

    If we accept my suggestion that lying is simply refering to the position of the elbow (bent is obviously bent, spent is straight) and space is the position of the point (narrow is in front as in forehand, true is approximately level with the body as in Guardant, wide is behind) then an action carried out from a spent position is carried out either by first bending and then moving, or by some other method of moving the point such as moving a straight arm with the muscles of the shoulder, or inclining the body, or a combination of these. This second option obviously presents a very limited set of responses, but they are there and should be relatively quick to carry out. If we have been wide-spaced then our point is now behind us and we first have to bring it back to at least level (true) before we can have a chance of using either the point or edge successfully. This effectively increases the duration of the action, even if it is a simple time of the hand cut. This is what I mean when I say that space modifies time. If I am wide-spaced when I carry out an action of the sword then it doesn't matter if I am in the place using only my hand, as it has been made slow by my opponents knowledge and utilisation of the governors.

    So here is the example. I am stood in True Guardant and you step in to me with a downright blow that is perfectly vertical. I choose to use the right sided defence as described above and cut from my ward into your oncoming blow at the same time as I gather slightly to my left. The action of my sword deflects your sword to my right (your left) as I move slightly to my left (your right). I am now in a position where I am roughly in forehand ward and you are wide-spaced to your left. I am able to carry on to my left whilst either cutting or thrusting at you as I do so and your sword is unable to make up the space needed to effect a defence. Your space has effectively negated your ability to use true times. If you were to have made the cut with your arm bent the wide-spacing would be less significant as you would already be countering it, but the cut would have a smaller range, and if my judgement is good then I would be positioning myself at the limits of your reach, and so the cut would never actualy threaten me. It would essentially be a feint that doesn't create a clear danger, and therefore needs no evasive action allowing me the luxury of simply attacking you as you gain me the place by your coming in.

    However this relies on me knowing exactly what is happening. Diagnosing the oncoming attack accurately if you will. This is not always easy and so this is unlikely to be the action I would take the first time you attacked like this. The first time I would simply slip back as you attacked thereby disappointing you of your distance. It doesn't gain me a hit on you, but it does keep me safe whilst allowing me to analyse the way you are fighting. It gives me some data on which to base my judgement. If I slip back, I don't care whether your cut is committed, or remains bent for a second action, I am out of distance either way.

    I agree: the tradeoff for such a theoretically quicker uncrossing via a partially bent arm blow is reduced range, and if the patient notices this, it would be as if he had the advantages of being a "tall man." I am concerned though that it may be difficult for the patient to notice this.
    I find that the most important aspects of SIlver's system (or at least my interpretation of it) is the difference between those actions that can be effected without having to step, and those actions that require a step to be carried out. I spend a lot of time teaching my students how to effectively judge distance, and how to use measure to their advantage. This to me is what Silver is about. This is what separates true times from false, what makes place and distance relevant concepts, and it is what differentiates his system from the contemporary systems he took such great pains to distance himself from. If we do this, then those actions that take place in the grey area at the edge of place and distance are the dangerous ones. If we reduce the size of place, we simply reduce our ability to fight effectively without putting any such restriction on our opponent.

    I may take you up on that offer!
    Please do, it was a genuine offer.

    Oz
    Learn English Martial Arts

    "I have declaired in my prdoxes of defence of the false teachinge of the noble scyence of defence used here by the Italyon fencers."

    "The time of the foot is when you step forward to strike"

  11. #11
    Hi Oz,

    Sorry for the delayed reply! (Life suddenly caught up to me), and wow, thank you for being so generous with your time and writing such a detailed response to my question!

    If I understand correctly, a deflecting defense against a truly vertical blow could widespace the agent enough such that the patient can safely riposte without being hit by the agent's remise. (And now that I think about it, I may have seen a video of your defense on another forum =) )

    On the other hand, how would the patient wide-space the agent when utilizing a hard "stop"/block (say against a purely horizontal blow aimed at the patient's waist)? Would it simply be a matter of being "inside" the arc of the blow (via "choking" up the blow) so that space would sufficiently modify time to allow for the patient to safely riposte without being hit by the agent's remise?

    Once again, thanks for sharing your thoughts!

    Best wishes,
    Vincent

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