Lessons 3 & 4

This lesson covers the direct attack and the various guard positions (invitations).

The Invitation

The invitation is a starting (guard) position that invites your opponent to attack in specifuc lines.  As discuseed in class these lines are high outside, high inside, low outside and low inside.  Each of the invitations will close one of these lines of attack.  For example, our starting (standard) on-guard position is an invitation in third (terza) which closes off the high outside line of attack making a direct attack to the high outside imptobable.

The folloing are pictures showing the invitations with descriptions.  As a note, reading material for this an subsequent lessons may be found in William Gaugler's Science of Fencing or Luigi Barbasetti's Art of the Foil.

1stPrima (first) is used to close off the low inside line.  Please note that the hand is at shoulder height. The picture to the right shows first from the side. Note - for the guard pictures if you click on the images to the left you will see a view from the front.  All of the invitations at this point will be made with the hand in supination (palm up).  In the Italian system the hand will be in fourth or third-in-fourth, For prima I would suggest the hand being in third-in-fourth.
2ndSeconda (second) is used to close the low outside line.  The hand should be in fourth.

3rdTerza (third) closes the high outside line.  The hand may be in fourth or third-in-fourth.  This is the standard starting guard for the class.

4thQuarta (fourth) closes the high inside line.  The hand should be in third-in-fourth.

The Parry

The invitations will also be similar to the parry positions.  A parry may be defined as follows:

A parry is a defensive move that deflects an incoming attack.

The parry is a controlled technique used for defense that may or may not be combined with footwork (to be discussed later).  Barbasetti said this of the parry: "Any movement that renders an opponent's attack harmless is called a parry.  In the fullest sense, the stepping back, the dodging aside, the bending or turning of the body away from your adversary's point could also be termed a parry. In the present case, however, we shall discuss only the parry proper - that is, such blade movements as serve the first purpose." (p. 40)  In the class only those defenses effected with the blade will be called parries.  To watch a video clip of a parry in quarta click here.  In class you will learn to parry not only in quarta but also in prima, seconda and terza.

The Riposte

The riposte is an attack made after a parry.  In the French school the riposte is a definite second action while in the Italian school the parry and riposte are blended together making it harder to parry the riposte.  Click here to view a video clip of a parry riposte.


Now you have techniques that will allow you to attack your opponent and defend when they attack you.  This is just the proverbial tip of the iceberg.  However, you must learn these first techniques to be able to master more advanced techniques.  Practice is the key.  The more often you are able to practice the drills given in class the better you will become.  The next set of lessons will introduce you to footwork.  Foot work will be used to place yourself in an advantageous  position so that you may attack.