To reiterate, edged weapons, like swords, have ...... edges, and they also have points. These features drive how they are used, as does the context in which the weapon was made and the opposition it was designed to be used against.
The time taken on a committed line of attack is dangerous, whether you succeed or whether you miss, because the sword is busy cutting, and not able to protect you. You must rely on footwork, body angle and timing to stay safe.
Pulling the blade, retracting it, or recycling the cut to something else, is a very important part of the game.
Getting stuck through inaccurate targeting or technique is bad, as is getting trapped or disarmed.
Committing without a plan for a fail is bad.
Throwing strikes that will not connect is often a dangerous waste of time and energy (unless you baiting).
One can hack and chop, stab or slice, but it is important to combine the entry with thoughts of the exit - Slices and power swings need to be recycled, pokes may need to contain twists to enables the blade to be pulled out easier. Some systems have weapon forms that include kicks, some of these are for push kicking away the opponent to extract the sword.
Whichever way you do it, getting the blade back into play after a hit - to make the next strike, to move to the next assailant, or to defend yourself - is key.
It should be noted that many people like to follow a retraction back towards their opponent to create safe passage for an attack of their own. .... Which means, of course, that a retraction can work as a bait also .... to pull your opponent closer .... if you know how to play it.
So the question becomes .... If the retraction is a key part of the cut, if the retraction itself can be used as a bait, and an insert should only attempted if there is safety .... where does defense end and offense begin?
With regards to the concluding question, my answer is - in the mind!
The experience shows (in my case and with teaching others, at least) that for most people it takes more time to switch mentally between "offensive" and "defensive" roles, than in actual action.
In early stages of people's training (especially those drills we do in Homo Ludens Systema in attempt to dissolve the boundaries between offense and defense) it is pretty easy to see who has got what kind of natural inclination in view of those two aspects. Normally, I then use that information to modify the drills for individuals to better address their needs.
Thanks for the comment Dragan, interesting to hear how your style sees this question.
I suspect I am a naturally defensive fighter ... but now I pretty much only see the goal, the win, the exit, and do not separate the 2 'sides' any more. They are both constants in my mind :-)
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