Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Hand-Parry Drill

I used to do a simple hand parry drill for both hands that I adapted from my jeet kune do training. That was basically a repeating pattern of three attacks that you parry until the motions become automatic. Essentially the same thing works for fencing hand parries.

"Hopper" was my guinea pig at fencing practice yesterday. After seeing him spar a bit with Jaime, I could see that he needed to work on getting his off hand into play. We've done hand parry drills with completely empty hands before, but I wanted to try to make a slightly more practical drill.

We both went onto the field with a single rapier. He was in full armor, but I wasn't, since I wasn't going to be in any danger. With him on guard, I held onto the tip of his blade with my left hand. This was to simulate a situation in which his rapier was bound or otherwise engaged, leaving him no choice but to defend himself with his off hand. I then began a repeating series of thrusts, two to the head and neck followed by one to the body.The students task is to parry all of the thrusts with the free hand using consistent technique.

Assuming that it's your left hand that's free, you should parry the first thrust away to your left; you should also turn your hand so that you have an opportunity to grab the blade in the process.
Parry the second attack to your right, again turning your hand so you can potentially catch the blade. Make sure that you carry the tip clear of your body; you don't want to push it away from your head into your shoulder.

The for the final parry, you sweep your hand down and out to the left again.

Initially, you should practice the drill at a slow, steady pace and concentrate on developing good hand motions. In later sessions, you can vary the speed and rhythm of the attacks to force the student to actually react instead of just anticipating the thrusts. Finally, you should vary the actual order of the attacks, so the student learns to parry with the correct motion depending on the angle of the thrust.

We'll be doing more of this drill in future classes, and I'll try to remember to write an update on progress.

No comments: