Open Wounds

T is for Traverse

"I thought you said re-verse." "Traverse, Traverse!"

“I thought you said re-verse.”
“I said, Traverse, Traverse!”


…is a defensive (mostly) move to the side. It’s an evasion of the blade by displacing your body left or right. In an advance you move forward. In a retreat you move back. In a traverse you move your front foot to the side while you parry. Then you keep going sideways and get the hell out-of-the-way.

Traverse left, parry two.

Traverse right, parry seven.

Attacks with the point tend to be direct, giving fencing a linear feel. The feet are lined up one behind the other and most movement is forward or back. Side-movements like traverses and voltes give transitional rapier and small-sword fighting more dimensions.

Broadsword and rapier fighting can be more circular. The stance is more squared off because it makes it easier to cut and move with a heavier weapon when your feet are both facing forward and your hips are squared to your opponent. Both feet advance.

6 responses

  1. Competitive fencing has a strip on the floor you can’t leave, right? A real fight would surely be different, I assume.

    April 23, 2013 at 7:55 pm

    • Yup. traverses and voltes (wait for V) aren’t used much because there’s not a lot of room to either side on the strip. On the other hand it can come as a real surprise if you can stay in bounds. But if you’re writing a fight and use the move it will sound like you know what you’re doing. I actually go through all the moves of my written fights to make sure they’re 1) possible and 2) doing what I want them to do. You should see me on airplanes when I’m choreographing in my head…

      April 23, 2013 at 8:28 pm

      • Hah! Now that’s an awesome image.

        April 23, 2013 at 8:46 pm

      • I forgot to say, my teacher, Joe Daley used to use the volte in competition just to feak his opponents out because no one practiced it anymore and it was always good for a touch. As he used to say, “Age and treachery always beat youth and enthusiasm.”

        April 23, 2013 at 10:20 pm

      • That’s brilliant.

        April 24, 2013 at 6:12 am

  2. dulzimordash

    Reblogged this on Spontaneous Creativity.

    May 19, 2013 at 3:46 pm

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