Open Wounds

V is for Varvarinski

What happens to the Lefty's?

What happens to the Lefty’s?

Today could be about the volte (evasion from opponents blade by moving the back foot to the right (for righty) or left (for lefty) displacing the body away from the line of attack and creating a new attack line for yourself)… but it’s not. Voltes are cool. But so is Varvarinski.

Nikolai Varvarinski is a fencing master in my book, Open Wounds. Here’s how he describes his philosophy of fencing to the protagonist, Cid Wymann:

->—-
“Before I become master,” Nikolai said, “I go to Italy in 1908 and study in Rome. When I return to Russian court I can fence like no other. Russian nobles like devils to fight in duel. Want to be like French. Like devils to be French. Everything French. I call French fencing master coward and kill him in duel. His students come to me.”
“How many men have you killed?” I asked.
“Quiet! I not finished. I bring them fencing book, La Spada e la Sua Applicazione. Book by Greco. I show them to speak with sword must speak Italian. ‘First to be Italian!’ I say. My students live—opponents die.”
“But, how many men have you killed?”
“In war I lose count. It is what happen in war.”
“How many in duels?”
“In first duel I place my point in other boy’s chest”— he pointed to the center of his chest—“here. Into heart, I think. Blade go into body—go into body far. I let go of blade—stare at boy. He stare back at me but does not die. I think, why does boy not die? While I think, he put blade in my side and almost kill me.” He lifted up his shirt and showed me a thick puckered scar above his hip.
“How many did you kill in duels?”
“Six or seven.”
“You don’t remember?”
“There are many things I not remember.”
“What happened to your fencing school?”
He did not answer for a while, then his hand trembled a moment and he clenched it into a fist. “Enough talk. Now back to work!”
->—-
Nikolai is based on my mentor, Joe Daly’s description of a sabre teacher he had when he was a young man who had him take off his shirt for every lesson. “You will parry faster when you know a miss will hit your flesh.” I used this with Nikolai, whose teaching cry in Open Wounds is, “Too take off shirt!”
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3 responses

  1. God I forgot how good that book was. This takes me right back.

    April 25, 2013 at 10:02 am

  2. Like the title of the book and fencing I’ll be back for some “pointers”

    moondustwriter

    April 25, 2013 at 7:44 pm

    • Glad you liked the post and thanks for stopping by!

      April 25, 2013 at 8:03 pm

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