D is for Defensive Box
An imaginary box that encloses the combatant theoretically leaving no portion of the combatant unprotected, its walls being created by the placement of the blade when parrying. In theory, eight parries are needed to protect every portion of the combatant’s body, creating a defensive box. – Actor’s On Guard, Dale Anthony Girard
Fencing has been called contact chess and is a wonder of mathematical angles and forces in motion – a combination of geometry and physics. The exact parries will come later in the month but know that there are only so many places you can attack (the body is in a finite space) and for every attack there is a defense (parry). When it comes to defense, all parries, whether the attacks are cuts with the edge or thrusts with the point – push, hit (called a beat), or slide the blade away from your body and outside your defensive box.
A good defense is essential to staying alive.
A good offense allows you to end the duel in a positive (for you) fashion.
Imagine your protagonist is not aggressive but has learned to defend herself well. What if her opponent is of the same character make-up. Both fencers will stare at each other, make tentative moves forward and quickly back. The audience (if there was one) might egg them on. To be aggressive in attacking your opponent’s defensive box and especially the mortal wound areas – head, heart, lung, liver – requires the desire and capability to try to kill someone. How does your character get to that point? How much can training prepare someone for this moment? Killing someone with a sword is a personal, face-to-face event. It is visceral. It is immediate. It has sound, texture, smell. Don’t ask my how I know this. Let’s just say I have a good imagination.
Use these things to make each sword fight, big or small, come to life.