Sunday, December 13, 2015

This Week in 5 Minutes: Low and High

In our last post we worked on attacking to the low line from high line with a disengage from outside high to outside low. This week we will go from low to high. To do so we must first establish that an opponent has to lower the blade sufficiently to create a viable opening for the disengage into the high line prior to the start of the attack. The parameters for this threat are limited:

... in general the fencer's blade preparation to create the threat cannot overly expose her to an attack into preparation or a counterattack - thus an exaggerated lowering of the blade is to be avoided.
... in epee especially a blade presentation that appears to threaten the lower leg will draw a stop hit rather than an attempt to parry or to close the line.
... in sabre, the low line is limited to the underside of the weapon arm - the opponent will tend to react to threat by drawing the blade back, and opponents just do not fence from a guard of 2.

As a result in sabre, the low to high attack is probably only useful as a compound attack that feints low, drawing a parry of 2, and then disengages upward to cut the arm. In foil and epee the fencer has to create conditions in which the opponent feels a need to put his blade in a level or slightly down position in response to the fencer lowering the point to possibly threaten a thrust under the arm. The best way to do this is to attack under the arm from a lowered blade position, either a straight thrust attack or a dig with the hand lowered in pronation. This can either be an attack to hit, or a false attack that sensitizes the opponent to the threat.

Once the opponent's blade is lowered to match the fencer's lower presentation of the blade, and the opponent is concerned about the low line attack under the arm, the low to high disengage is mechanically very similar to that of the high-low attack - a progressive and tight disengage to come around the bell on the outside and hit in the high line on the arm or torso (epee), torso (foil), or arm (sabre). The ideal time to do this is as the opponent finally decides to move to a lower blade position, making use of the opening line possible.

And just as important is the preparation from previous actions - each attack is potentially the feint for the next action. Draw the opponent's attention to the low line, make him feel a threat he believes he must move his blade to be prepared to counter, and reward this preparation with a high line hit.

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