161106 Composed Parries

No, composed parries are not relaxed parries serenely waiting to spring into action.  The title would seem to come from the nature of these parries as being composed of two or more parts.  Another name for this type of defense is a compound parry.  Both choices add something to understanding how to deal with an opponent’s multi-part attack.

A previous blog post looked at how to deal with the compound attack.  The tactical wheel (either short or long) suggests that the counterattack is the answer, a solid choice in epee, viable in sabre, more difficult in foil.  That reality means that it is in our interest to have alternate approaches.  If a compound attack is formed from two simple attacks, and a viable answer to a simple attack in all three weapons is the parry, why should we not compose a two part parry, attempting to parry both the feint and the final?

The answer, of course, is that this is exactly what the opponent wants.  He has executed a feint of the simple attack to draw a response, thereby creating an opening line.  Our response makes our position unstable and vulnerable to the final attack into that opening line.

So let’s think about the term “compound attack.”  A compound attack consists of what … two or more simple actions, the first of which, and all subsequent actions until the final, is a feint.  Why then should we not have a compound parry, composed of two or more parries, the first of which, and all subsequent parries until the final, is a feint?

For example, my opponent feints into 6th (3rd in sabre), I feint a parry of 6 (or 3), she attacks into 4th, and I parry laterally into 4th, riposte, and score.  I have composed a compound parry of a feint lateral parry followed by the final lateral parry into her attacking line.

It sounds simple, but like everything else the devil is in the details:

  • My first lateral parry must stay within the margin of the target box – if I take it outside the box, I am expanding the box and exposing my arm gratuitously.
  • The feint parry has to convey movement without actually moving for an appreciable distance or amount of time.
  • My point and blade must remain in a position to offer a fast direct or indirect riposte with an achievable threat to the opponent’s target.
  • And the feint movement must stop the millisecond that the opponent takes the bait and starts the second part of his attack.
  • My final parry must be planned and executed in a controlled manner from a position of stability.

Like any simple parry, the selection of the two parries in a typical compound riposte should be made to set-up the riposte that you believe has the greatest chance of success.  For example, a one-two from 6 to 4 back to 6 in foil or epee can be met by:

  • Feint lateral parry to 4th, lateral parry to 6th, direct riposte in 6th.
  • Feint lateral parry to 4th, lateral parry to 6th, direct indirect riposte in 4th.
  • Feint lateral parry to 4th, circular parry to return to 4th, direct riposte in 4th.
  • Feint lateral parry to 4th, circular parry to return to 4th, indirect riposte in 6th.
  • Feint lateral parry to 4th, semicircular intercepting parry to 7th, indirect riposte to 4th.

Will the compound parry work against other prepared actions, a beat disengage or press counterdisengage?  Yes.  The answer is to treat the preparation the same way you treat a feint – feed the opponent the initial response she is expecting, maintain control of your response, parry his final action.

And yes, I am sure you are tired of reading this, but it requires practice, practice, practice with a training partner who will make a serious effort to hit, nit just serve up puff-balls.

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