Premise 6: If the opponent’s blade is occupying the line you wish to attack (including the riposte) or counterattack, you have two choices. The first is to get to critical distance, the distance at which you can hit before the opponent can react, and then attack with a one-tempo action. The chances of success in this endeavor are increased by anything that you can do to hamper the response including use of surprise, exploitation of lapses in attention or judgment, unpredictable movement, acceleration, angulation in the attack, footwork push or pull, etc.
The second choice is to attack with preparation when the distance is outside critical distance. In this discussion I am using preparation as primarily blade preparation (assuming that the footwork will be appropriate for the distance), the use of one or more tempos of bladework to create the conditions in which the final attack in the final tempo succeeds. There are three essential first intention groups of actions that can be used in this way: compound attacks with the feint, attacks on the blade, and takings of the blade.
First, the attack may be prepared by inducing the opponent to voluntarily open the desired line of offense. It is possible that an opponent will do so on their own due to fatigue, distraction, miscalculation of the tactical situation, etc. However, the opponent opening the line you wish to use should be viewed with some caution because the odds are good that it is an invitation.
In the majority of cases inducing the opening is achieved by one or more feints. These include the full range of compound attacks, with the feints making way for the final attack by straight thrust, disengage, counterdisengage, coupe, and countercoupe. However, there are at least two related cases that are not the traditional compound attack. Renewals of the attack have an opening of actual time and fencing tempo in the line of offense when the opponent makes an incorrect choice in the response to a delivered attack. And the attack on the point-in-line creates the opening for the disengage in tempo (what is commonly termed derobement of the attack is actually a stop hit by disengage into the failed tempo of the attempt to deflect the point in line). In each of these cases the opponent’s action creates the opportunity to score.
The remaining two cases, attacks on the blade, and takings of the blade, require the fencer to remove the opponent’s blade physically from the desired line of offense. Attacks on the blade remove the blade by percussion, and takings of the blade remove the blade by leverage. These stand on their own merits enabling the attacker to attack in the line from which the blade has been removed.
However, they can also be employed as feints. For example, a beat can be used to draw a return beat which is derobed by a disengage to hit. Similarly, a glide can be used to trigger opposition which likewise is deceived by the disengage to hit.
In considering the creation of an opening for the final action, we must also consider the full range second, third, and fourth intention actions. Yes, the common argument is that no one does third and fourth intention; that argument has been around since the 1880s. But the fact that no one does something does not negate the potential of the action at the right time, distance, and flow of the phrase.
These actions change how we look at opening a line into how do we create an opportunity? All of them have the premise of getting the opponent to give the fencer their blade at the right time to create the opportunity for a parry-riposte or a counterattack.