Open Wounds

Stage Combat

Y is for Yielding Parry

"Look at his form!" "Look at his style." "Is that an Armani?"

“Look at his form!”
“Look at his style.”
“Is that an Armani?”

A yielding or ceding parry is a parry executed against a flowing attack without separating the blades.

For example. You lunge and your opponent parries. As he counter attacks you remain in contact with his blade as you slide his foible into your forte and parry him in return. This is a move for point work (small-sword, foil, épée) and is a nice contrast to the sound of tick-tacking blades (if you were choreographing a fight…).

X is for Xiphoid

A xiphoid? Ooo, Ooo, I want one!

A xiphoid? Ooo, Ooo, I want one!

What the hell is a xiphoid? Let me tell you. Even my spell check doesn’t recognize it as a word… but it is. I had to dig deep for this one. Because really, there are not a lot of X-words out there and how many could really have anything to do with fencing?

Xiphoid, (Urban Dictionary) also known as a Retractable Forearm Dagger, is a class of weapons with a blade that is retractable into a forearm worn wristband or bracer sheath.Designed for swift and quick surprise attacks. Xiphoid is used with other wrist-mounted weapons: claw xiphoid, gun xiphoid, spike xiphoid
Weapons known as Xiphoids include wrist-blades, forearm-swords, wrist-spikes, wrist-crossbow, wrist-flamethrower,hidden sleeve gun rigs, etc.
Can you imagine a fight between sword and xiphoids (rather than sword and dagger?)? The xiphoid acts as both defense and secondary attacking weapon. Or two xiphoids drawn silently in a large crowd. They appear as if by magic in combatants hands and the violence is swift (as knife fights tend to be), leaving a space in the crowd for one body to be seen amidst an expanding pool of blood.
Now tell me the idea of a xiphoid wrist-flamethrower didn’t get your morning off to a good start.

W is for Window Parry

Fencer with Rapier

All parries have numbers whether they’re in English, French, Spanish, or Italian. The numbers start low left (1) low right (2), upper right (3), upper left (4), head (5), head (6), middle left (7), middle right (8). Depending on whether you’re fencing or involved in stage combat they numbers may mean slightly different parries and have different positioning. Some parries have cool names too.

If someone strikes at your head the 5 parry, or head protect, is the most natural of parrys. It’s a classic automatic response parry. You raise your hand and your sword creates a line/barrier above your head so you don’t get hit. Now reverse the tip of your blade and your hand positioning (hand goes to the left of your face, palm now facing towards you rather than away from you) and you have a “window” (6 parry) to look out from and a slightly weaker and more awkward parry but an effective one none-the-less.  It also sets up a nice back-hand riposte.

Now… take the window (or 6 ) parry and move your hand back to the right, letting the blade “hang” down protecting your right side and back. This is a hanging parry – taken from a cavalry parry (while on horseback). Look for this parry in the fight (link below) from The Count of Monte Cristo. The fight choreographer is the famous William Hobbs. It’s got elements of realism and entertainment – who could ask for more? The movie is pretty good too. Spoiler alert – this is from the ending so if you haven’t seen the movie or don’t know the story… you’ve been warned.

U is for Under Stop-thrust

If your opponent knows you like to stop thrust and they expect you to counter in the high line (for their head or wrist) you  under stop-thrust (really a reverse lunge or pasata soto) and go for the low line or hip or under his arm which if they’re parrying or attacking high goes under their defense. You’ve got to have good flexibility in your groin (okay just think about it – a reverse lunge that is deeper than your regular lunge and supported by your left hand on the ground – I’m thinking groin pull) or it’s gonna hurt. I’ve had a number of friends do this in a stage fight and get up very slowly afterwards. Just saying.

Can you use this in competition? Sure. Is it used often? No. Could it be effective in a real fight? You betcha, but it’s a move you use only once and it either works or you’re probably dead.

Now for a special treat watch this video – The Speed of Fencing. Look for the attacks to the toes, the duck and stop-thrust, the slow  motion hits on the wrist and chest, and the graceful beautty of the dance. This is épée.

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.