Tuesday, February 12, 2013

No Substitute

“To use wooden Rappiere (remember, Rappier in 18th- to 19th-century Germany means a practice weapon) to practice cut fencing—which usually are made of stout hazel sticks on which are affixed, instead of a guard (Stichblatt), two crossed wooden rods braided with willow, as well as a willow-braided knuckle guard—is not advisable for several reasons.
“Because of the complete protection of the fist, the fencer habituates himself to sloppy parries against cuts against the hand; he does not acquire the arm strength necessary required by the direction of the cut, and never learns to cut sharp. This is the reason why fencers used to wooden weapons usually hit flat with the proper Hieber, and open themselves up to dangerous time cuts of the opponent who notices this.” (Venturini, 152.)

(Thanks http://fencingclassics.wordpress.com for the quote.)

If you are not used to knowing where the edge of the blade is because you only train with sticks, you can get into real trouble once a sword is put in your hand in it's stead.
Stick fighting is a thing unto itself, and cannot be used to fully understand the sword.
The two are related ... but not the same.

Training only sword, and then fighting with a stick in your hand will get you into trouble also, different trouble than the other way around, but trouble all the same.

Conceptual ideas may stay constant through a variety of weapons - but what you can get away with against a stick is not the same as what you need to do against a sword.
Tip impact hits may work for both edged and impact weapons, but slicing with a round stick or the flat of a sword blade will definitely not have the same effect as slicing with a sharp edge, and you better understand that before stepping into range and delivering a tummy rub instead of the coup de grace :-)

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