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Thread: Controlling your opponent (Silver question)

  1. #51
    We'll rather have to put up multiple FAQs for all the different points of view, methinks

    Greg,

    Once again you're explaining what the other fencing texts describe, and I don't disagree with that, and I don't think Oz's or Jon's or mine views on Silver's time are at odd with that. But if you include Viggiani in the references for explanations of time, then you're not in agreement with Aristotle, you're in agreement with Aristotle as applied to fencing by the Bolognese school (well, Viggiani really), which may not be what Silver taught. The basic argument made by Oz (and I agree on that) is that this interpretation makes the text less clear than it could be. For example, you have to say that 'time of the foot' takes a different meaning depending on the sections, becoming either a true time or false time.

    So let's go back to Aristotle. Time is a motion between two rests. But then Silver tells us that the hand is faster than the foot, and names his times according to the body parts. That means that he subdivides his times into parts, just like the full and half blows as you point out, presumably according to the rests of each of the parts.

    What you're saying is that the names of the times are given according to what moves first. What I think (and perhaps Jon agrees) is that they are named according to what completes its action first (or by the slowest part moving if completion is simultaneous). Both seem sensible as far as Aristotle is concerned. Actually other fencing texts don't name times like that, so both are fine from this point of view too.

    So Time of the hand is moving just the hand. Time of the hand, body and foot is moving hand, body and foot at full speed such that the hand is done with its motion (in the case of an attack, strikes the target) before the body or foot have finished. So the effect happens in time of the hand, even though the total motion (hence, the time) is longer. Indeed T:H < T:HB < T:HBF but this is for the total motion, not the time when the effect happens. Still, the hierarchy is also there.

    Similarly the false times all take at least the time of a foot motion, and the effect happen after the foot has stopped. Hence they are slower and more dangerous, irrespective of whether the hand is in front or not (a detail that Silver does not mention in his description of time, and which would be better described by a concept of space).

    Now, I believe Oz is convinced that all true times happen at the same distance, while I think that T:H covers less distance than T:HBF. But contrary to you, I don't think T:HBF covers a full step either... Time is still related to distance but you can't make a true time at any range, and certainly not from a full step away from your intended target.

    The full-range lunge, where the foot and sword strike at the same time, is a time of the foot by that interpretation (simultaneous ends of the motions, named by the slowest mover). So what? Silver had every right to dislike first-intention attacks over a full step (and this is an opinion shared by Thibault). Jon has given options to attack that are all viable and never strike a target or act on the opponent's weapon from one step away, or within a longer time than that of the hand's motion. Well except when the opponent is not looking The good part is that you don't have to detail which true time beats which, just as you wouldn't detail which false time beats which. You defeat false times with true times, full stop. Black and white, maybe, but that wouldn't surprise me from Silver's part And that in no way contradicts what other masters said... At worst, restricts it. Just like saying "thrust rather than cut" restricts your options.

    Regards,

  2. #52
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jon Pellett View Post
    Because he said that times of the foot are false! It can't get any more straightforward than that.
    But Jon, he also says that whenever the hand leads it is a true time, and that the time of hand+body+foot or feet is a true time - Paradox 14 and 18 respectively. Are you disregarding those two Paradoxes?

    Matt

  3. #53
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jon Pellett View Post
    I see absolutely nothing to suggest that the times descend from truest to most false
    Paradox 18:

    "The names and numbers of times appertaining unto fight(ing)
    both true and false

    There are eight times, whereof four are true, and four are false.

    The true times are these:
    the time of the hand,
    The time of the hand and body,
    The time of the hand, body, and foot, (and)
    the time of the hand, body, and feet.

    The false times are these:
    The time of the foot,
    the time of the foot and body,
    the time of the foot, body, and hand, (and)
    the time of the feet, body, and hand."

    Matt

  4. #54
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jon Pellett View Post
    the Agent must step forward to reach you, which gives you a time to respond.
    I'm sorry Jon, but I see that as irrelevant.
    He cuts, you parry. You are now both with crossed swords, both in The Place, and both in distance to hit each other in time of the hand. Neither person has an advantage due to time OR distance. The only advantage that may be had by one person over the other, in the halfsword, is through line, angle, pressure in the blade. At the point of crossing swords you are equal with each other, unless some other factor is in play. See Fiore for further details. :P

    To answer Occam, well, Silver says the Italians are doing it wrong. Hence, we should expect him to do something different than the Italians. We conclude that he is, in fact, doing something different from the Italians, though using the same general philosophical framework.
    This, IMHO, is actually one of the strongest arguments in the whole matter. Yes I agree he must have been doing, or at least explaining, something different. But what?

    The only supportable argument that I can see so far is that Silver tells us not to attack, but only to counterattack. This is supported by his conclusion and referring to the Italian masters of OFFENCE.
    It is possible that this was the only (but very important!) difference.

    Matt

  5. #55
    As Matt, Greg and I have said have said, there are True times that include include the foot. How can they be True if they include the foot, which is False? In which case Silver would list only one True time, the Time of the Hand.

    Anyway we are arguing over the meanings. Its becoming one of those arguments where people argue about what the Bible means.

    Perhaps in future when discussions like this come up we should post clips on youtube, SHOWING what we mean rather than writing what we THINK someone else MEANT and then someone can read it and then THINK they KNOW WHAT we meant BUT thats NOT WHAT the MASTER MEANT....? It may save some of the wear and tear on the typing fingers!
    It has been fun!
    Best
    Above all Honour

    Jonathan Waller
    Secretary, EHCG
    www.ehcg.net
    secretary@ehcg.net

  6. #56
    Quote Originally Posted by Jonathan Waller View Post
    As Matt, Greg and I have said, there are True times that include include the foot. How can they be True if they include the foot, which is False? In which case Silver would list only one True time, the Time of the Hand.
    A contradiction that does not exist if you consider that times are sorted as true or false depending on how much time it takes to have the intended effect, as I've said. And then sorted according to how much time it takes to end the motion.
    T:HBF has the effect happening at time of the hand, but the overall motion happens over the time of the foot. T:H has the effect and overall motion happening in time of the hand...
    It all boils down to this idea that "hand before the foot" refers to the start of the motion, when it could just as well refer to its end.

    Regards,

  7. #57
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  8. #58
    Quote Originally Posted by Matt Easton View Post
    So you agree with Greg and Jonathan then?
    On the fact that we're wasting more time on this topic than it's worth, yes

    Regards,

  9. #59
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    Vincent,

    Quote Originally Posted by Vincent Le Chevalier View Post
    Once again you're explaining what the other fencing texts describe, and I don't disagree with that, and I don't think Oz's or Jon's or mine views on Silver's time are at odd with that. But if you include Viggiani in the references for explanations of time, then you're not in agreement with Aristotle, you're in agreement with Aristotle as applied to fencing by the Bolognese school (well, Viggiani really), which may not be what Silver taught.
    Except that is not what I said. What I told you Vincent was to read Aristotle's "the Physics" and draw your own conclusions. I asked you to read Viggiani, simply because a) he gives the most detailed description of the concept in relation to fencing, b) the ideas that he articulates are the principles of how to sequence and break measure specifically taught in European fencing circles for the next four-hundred years and c) to compare his advantages of the step to Silver's times, which specifically discusses how to attack in T:HBF and why T:H beats it.

    I also would suggest that if you want to see if Viggiani is alone in how he conceptualizes this, then once you understand how Aristotle's concept is laid out in detail, you take a look at the Anonymous Bolognese, Meyer, "von Danzig", di Grassi and Fabris - all of who draw on Aristotelian thought *explicitly*, several specifically mentioning him by name.

    Again, I've explained why my reasons have developed and evolved as they have since I first started working with Silver in 1993. I summarized that position and provided you sources to follow my research, and also explained why I feel that Silver's theoretical framework is a very clear example of 16th c thought, and why it includes hiearchy and how we clearly see that applied in technique within his work and others, and in concept, via his words. Unless you want to investigate those sources at length, so that we can discuss them at length, there's not much more that we can do to debate this on a forum, without it just becoming two sides insisting upon their position, which just leads to progressively more tense arguments, which serves nothing.

    Best,

    Greg
    Greg Mele
    Chicago Swordplay Guild

    Freelance Academy Press: Books on Western Martial Arts and Historical Swordsmanship

    Chivalric Fighting Arts Association

    "If the tongue could cut
    as the sword can do,
    the dead would be infinite."

    Filippo Vadi, "Arte Dimicandi Gladiatoria" (c.1482 - 87)

  10. #60
    Quote Originally Posted by Vincent Le Chevalier View Post
    A contradiction that does not exist if you consider that times are sorted as true or false depending on how much time it takes to have the intended effect, as I've said. And then sorted according to how much time it takes to end the motion.
    T:HBF has the effect happening at time of the hand, but the overall motion happens over the time of the foot. T:H has the effect and overall motion happening in time of the hand...
    It all boils down to this idea that "hand before the foot" refers to the start of the motion, when it could just as well refer to its end.

    Regards,
    Which is what I was saying as well. In the original quote b keeping distance from the rapier, at best he could be doing T-HBF(True Time) while you are using T-H (True Time)

    and yes hand before foot could refer to the end as well and still not change my point and maybe yours either??
    Above all Honour

    Jonathan Waller
    Secretary, EHCG
    www.ehcg.net
    secretary@ehcg.net

  11. #61
    Silver definitely did not advocate only defending. Paradox 8, partially quoted earlier, ridicules the idea that the defender has the advantage. Similarly, 7 suggests that a skillful man would be making attacks. With regards to rapier against sword, Silver wrote that the former does no better as the patient than as the agent. Brief Instructions occasionally gives advice on or recommends attacking. For example, Silver suggested striking and thrusting continuously at openings against anyone who would stand only in gardant. His often-repeated rule that two men who have perfection with their weapons cannot hurt one another requires a secure method of attacking.

  12. #62
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    Or simply that neither attacks the other.

    Where does Silver instruct you to attack a person of equal skill?

    Matt

  13. #63
    Quote Originally Posted by Matt Easton View Post
    Or simply that neither attacks the other.
    That's exactly the scenario Paradox 4 mocks. I'm certain Silver didn't envision his men of perfect skill fighting the same way as the rapier-men he criticizes. Consider, for example, how he wanted foreign fencing instructors to be tested. He judged them successful if they could defend themselves from the best English masters of defense over the course of many bouts. That's a clear case of skillful players initiating attacks. While his instructions focus much more on defending than attacking, Silver does give some basic and important advice for the latter. Governors 3 & 4 relate to the launching of a blow or thrust. Various places in Brief Instructions provide Silver's method for pressing the attack: Do it upon guard and be ready to fly out immediately. By my reading, Silver expected you to be making such attacks as a matter of course. That's why his writings identify the special circumstances where you can false and double, both of which involve making more than one attack before flying out. I think it's a gross misreading of the system to believe Silver wanted students only to play the patient.

  14. #64
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    Right.
    But if you close into distance of the time of the hand behind a guard then you are basically counterattacking. If you make a cut from out of distance without a step then you will never be able to hit anything. If you attack with a step into distance then you are, according to some people here, using a false time, because you are stepping with the attack..

    Either (as Paradox 18 suggests) stepping and attacking is a true time (and therefore a lunge or any other regular fencing attack is a true time), or Silver only attacks by counterattacking and using false times.

    Which is it?

    Matt

  15. #65
    Certainly the former. While I see the ambiguity in the text, the practical implications of not being able to step while attacking are just too problematic.

  16. #66
    Note that (in my understanding) you could still be attacking forward and making a step at the same time in true times, it's just that your attack would have to land at about mid-step, otherwise you've slowed your hand to time it with your foot, regardless of when you say you started to move it. Many people do that, actually all the videos showing so-called non-telegraphic strikes show just that. The step ends after the strike connected (or has to be dramatically shortened).

    A full-range lunge does not do that.

    Regards,

  17. #67
    Quote Originally Posted by Vincent Le Chevalier View Post
    Note that (in my understanding) you could still be attacking forward and making a step at the same time in true times, it's just that your attack would have to land at about mid-step, otherwise you've slowed your hand to time it with your foot, regardless of when you say you started to move it. Many people do that, actually all the videos showing so-called non-telegraphic strikes show just that. The step ends after the strike connected (or has to be dramatically shortened).

    A full-range lunge does not do that.

    Regards,
    In a properly executed lunge, the sword point connects either at the same time as the foot lands, or before (Or, I suppose, not at all). The arm is fully extended first, and so the movement of foot and body is providing any further forward motion.

    Think of it this way - if you've completed the step portion of the lunge and still have not hit the opponent, what are you going to do next, extend your arm? Not if you've lunged correctly, you're not.
    -Bradley L'Herrou

    Finding Swetnam

  18. #68
    Quote Originally Posted by Bradley D. L. View Post
    In a properly executed lunge, the sword point connects either at the same time as the foot lands, or before (Or, I suppose, not at all). The arm is fully extended first, and so the movement of foot and body is providing any further forward motion.
    Exactly, which is why I'd be inclined to call that a (false) time of the foot.
    With a guard position that already has the arm extended, the arm does not even have to move. How can it be tied tighter to the motion of the foot?

    Regards,

  19. #69
    Just an outsiders opinion here…

    In Rapier (thrust) the importance of extension first in your attack is to gain and maintain a mechanical advantage of your opponents blade, more specifically put his weak on your strong so that when you move with the lunge you control his blade and he has to first regain control before he can threaten you. It also seems to me that the importance of landing your hit about the time your foot lands is proper distance as well as balance, as if my blow lands well before my foot (assuming linear movement,) that means I will be extending into my opponent more than the few inches I need, forcing a longer time to withdrawal, my weapon and coming closer to the opponent than I need to and thus would not have a quick recovery or I will be within grappling or dagger distance. Cutting mechanics are slightly different and I don’t know them enough yet to say why the extension is importance first in a cut.

    After reading through all of this it really seems that you are just arguing over the definition of false time, as Matt quoted, Silver states exactly what the true times are, so you would then have to argue over what T:H is to T:FBH. To my mind they all involve extension first, which makes complete sense when considering the Rapier. The speed of attacks make complete sense as well as when I stand in front of my target at extension range, I just extend to hit, this is the fastest hit I can land. Half a step back I need to extend and lean forward, this took a little bit longer, moving back to a lunge distance, this takes longer to hit and the pass takes the longest. This is a simple concept and the reason we all understand our own distance we can hit at and work to figure out our opponents distance as well. Considering what takes longer as an action to do without relation to what you are trying to hit seems irrelevant.

    If your arm has not extended and taken the weak of your opponent’s blade before you lunge, he merely has to extend and you eat his blade. If you move your body first before the blade your blade will slide around between weak and strong and the first to find the weak with their strong will control the action. The advantage at this point goes to the person not moving as they can concentrate only on the arm and not have to deal with what is going on with the foot and body in relation to where the blade is going. Thus my thought that false time refers more to an action when you do not extend the arm first to take the advantage.

  20. #70
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    I think the problem with this discussion is that it began with an implicit interpretation about true/false times that was imposed on the quote before the initial question was ever asked. If you look at Silver's actual words, he is not discussing true vs. false times at all (as many of you have pointed out). He is discussing the concept of PROPOTION. That is, the relationship between any two actions (as measured by distance and time). This concept, whether it is named explicitly or not, has been an integral part of every discussion of fencing actions that I have ever read through or heard. In this instance (regardless of true vs. false), Silver, like many other knowledgeable fencers, suggests working in the time of your opponent and executing a proportionally smaller action than him/her in order to be successful in your defense.

  21. #71
    Quote Originally Posted by Peter Nelson View Post
    If you look at Silver's actual words, he is not discussing true vs. false times at all (as many of you have pointed out).
    At the very least he is discussing "the slow time of his feet" and "the swift time of your hand", which seems relevant to the times he describes. Now some seem to think that "time of the feet" here refers to a true time involving the feet... But given that speed difference between hand and foot is presented as the foundation of true vs. false times, I'd be inclined to agree with Oz that interpreting that as a false time makes more sense.

    Another question I'm wondering about is this: if a lunge is a (true) time HBF, what move is an example of a (false) time of the foot?

    Regards,

  22. #72
    Quote Originally Posted by Vincent Le Chevalier View Post

    Another question I'm wondering about is this: if a lunge is a (true) time HBF, what move is an example of a (false) time of the foot?
    I think this is exactly the problem we're running into. A false time is a time in which the slower body part moves first. If you put the sword in the hands of a complete novice you will often see this. In fact, I spend a lot of time making sure students are extending their hands before a lunge.

    It is not unusual in human combat to move the foot/body first - think of 'power chaining' in boxing. The difference is, with sharp bits and effective levers, we're more concerned with getting there safely than massive power generation. I can take a punch, but I can't take a blow from a sword.

    This was kind of rambling, but basically, if a person makes a lunge with the hand still withdrawn, extending the hand only after the step is made, that is a false time. Same goes for stepping or leaning.
    -Bradley L'Herrou

    Finding Swetnam

  23. #73
    I’ll agree with Brad on this but I’ll put it a different way. True time lunge being, in order of movement, hand moves first then body and foot. False time lunge body or foot moves first then hand/extension. It is an ‘effective lever’ when you take the extension first, when you move the body first you loose that effectiveness.

    Every new student we have now, extends during the body movement, this is why we recommend to take a lunge in multiple steps not one movement until it is engrained into their mind to extend first. The best solution is to pair them with a more advanced student who will just extend during their lunge. If they went with the arm first they will hit, if they moved the body first they will get hit.

  24. #74
    Agreed, the hand leads, it is by His definition of the a True time, if the feet and/or body move before the hand then it is a False time.
    In the orignal quote, it spoke of "slow time of their foot" and "fast time of your hand" as because of the distance you have made, you force him to have to move his foot/feet to get to you. Whether he is moving his feet in True Time, after his hand is moving, or in any of the False Times, you have the advantage beacuse the Time of the hand is faster than the Time of the foot/feet.

    A lunge is in effect a position you end up in, it can be done in either True or False Time, is how one goes about getting to your lunge that makes it a TT or FT.
    Above all Honour

    Jonathan Waller
    Secretary, EHCG
    www.ehcg.net
    secretary@ehcg.net

  25. #75
    Quote Originally Posted by Johnny H View Post
    I’ll agree with Brad on this but I’ll put it a different way. True time lunge being, in order of movement, hand moves first then body and foot. False time lunge body or foot moves first then hand/extension. It is an ‘effective lever’ when you take the extension first, when you move the body first you loose that effectiveness.

    Every new student we have now, extends during the body movement, this is why we recommend to take a lunge in multiple steps not one movement until it is engrained into their mind to extend first. The best solution is to pair them with a more advanced student who will just extend during their lunge. If they went with the arm first they will hit, if they moved the body first they will get hit.
    Thanks, Johnny - you nicely distilled what I was trying to say.
    -Bradley L'Herrou

    Finding Swetnam

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