180923 Preparation and the Remise

The remise?  Surely there is no argument that you can make that involves a remise and preparation.  A remise is the antithesis of preparation, after all it comes after the attack has been parried, not a something that prepares the attack.  The definition of a remise makes that clear: a renewal of a failed attack in the same line without additional footwork.

And that is just the point.  The remise is executed by replacing the blade in the same line as the initial attack (and in this context replacing includes angulation).  It is executed after the attack is either parried by blade action, parried by distance, falls short, is evaded, or just plain misses.  It is successful when the opponent holds the parry or fails to riposte, commits a technical error in the execution of the riposte (a hesitation, a lateral movement before starting the forward movement, and in epee detaching from the blade). or misses with his or her riposte.

Think about it – what comes before a remise?  Yes … an attack that commits the blade deeply enough for a replacement to land on the target.  The attack creates the conditions for employment of the remise.  Thus the attack is preparation for the renewal of the attack.

But that is the simplistic view, and it is not entirely accurate.  Preparation is a discrete and intentional activity.  The remise can be completely opportunistic and instinctive.  I will not argue that the opportunistic and instinctive remise has a preparation.

However, the preplanned tactical employment of the remise is an entirely different matter.  Every attack carries with it some risk of failure.  With great technique, superb understanding of distance and timing, fast and precise execution, and the seized initiative against an opponent who has been enticed into a footwork trap, that risk may approach 0%.  But even with tactical mastery of the situation there is some risk.  That means that the attack always needs full commitment AND a back-up plan (with the exception of the last ditch sprint to hit when your score is one touch down and 5 seconds remain on the command “Fence”).

There are three obvious categories of back-ups: (1) immediate recovery/movement out of distance so that a riposte cannot reach or so that sufficient time exists for a reply, (2) parry and counterriposte, and (3) renewal of the attack.  Renewal of the attack depends upon the tactical employment of remise or redouble as a stop hit or time hit against the riposte.

Stop hitting the riposte with the remise depends upon the same factors that any stop hit requires, fast and precise action that results in either seizing the right of way or timing out the opponent.  Addition of opposition to the stop hit results in the time hit, with the opposition eliminating the possibility that the riposte will hit.

So where does the preparation part fit in?  First, is the training and mental preparation.  The fencer must be able to execute the remise accurately, with or without opposition, with or without angulation, immediately upon blade contact that results in a parrying solution for the opponent.  This requires extensive practice against a variety of training partners using a variety of parries and ripostes.  With it the fencer must develop the ability to plan the attack and the back-up as a pair on the strip.

Second, for each attack in your preferred set of actions develop three responses – the “get out of Dodge” backward recovery, parry and counterriposte, and remise.

Third, develop the ability to assess what the opponent is doing, to win the reconnaissance battle.  A remise is a good choice against an opponent whose actions create the conditions that are favorable to the counterattack against the riposte or the renewal against a lack of timely action.  Perfect parries, excellent blade control, and fast ripostes are not naturally good remise targets.

Fourth, when you decide on your attack, understand that the attack may create the conditions for a successful remise.  Your plan becomes “disengage into six, remise with angulation over the arm.”  Your attack triggers a learned reaction by the opponent.  The reaction that has within it a fault creates the conditions for the success of the remise.  Your attack and their reaction together are the preparation for the remise.  Into the middle of the tempo of the learned reaction, after the parry initial contact but before the riposte starts to develop, you insert the remise, with or without opposition or angulation as needed.



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