Archive for April, 2012


 

Rad’s first exercise places the student in the center of the Maximum Orb facing an adversary (or instructor) in order to practice linear steps.  The direction of the steps is indicated by letters on the circle (Point A to Point K, From Point A to Point L, etc.) with footprints to show the location of the feet when the steps are completed.

Forward and Backward

Forward Step (Compas Accidental)

  • From Point A, step forward with the lead foot to Point K
  • Step forward with the rear foot to Point K to return to the stance
  • To return to center from Point K, step backward with the rear foot to Point A
  • Push off the front foot to step back  into the stance at Point A

Backward Step (Compas Estraño)

  • From Point A, step back with the rear foot to Point R
  • Push off the front foot to step back  into the stance at Point R
  • To return to center from Point R, step forward with the front foot to Point A
  • Step forward with the rear foot back into the stance at Point A

Lateral Steps

Lateral Step Left (Compas de Trepidacion a la Izquierda)

  • From Point A, step left with the left foot to Point N
  • Finish the step left by stepping to Point N with the right foot and returning to the stance
  • Step to Point A by stepping right with the right foot
  • Finish the step by stepping right with the left foot to Point A

Lateral Step Right (Compas de Trepidacion a la Derecha)

  • From Point A, step right with the right foot to Point O
  • Finish the step right by stepping to Point O with the left foot and returning to the stance
  • Step to Point A by stepping left with the left foot
  • Finish the step by stepping left with the right foot to Point A

 Transverse Steps

Transverse Left (Compas Transversal a la Izquierda)

  • From Point A step forward to the left at a 45 degree angle with the front foot to Point M pre-turning the foot back towards the adversary
  • Finish by stepping with the rear foot to return to stance at Point M

Transverse Right (Compas Transversal a la Derecha)

  • From Point A step forward to the right at a 45 degree angle with the front foot to Point L pre-turning the foot back towards the adversary
  • Finish by stepping with the rear foot to return to stance at Point L

Mixed Back & Lateral

Mixed Step Left & Back (Compas Mixto de Trepidacion a la Izquierda y Estraño)

  • From Point A step backward to the left at a 45 degree angle with the rear foot to Point P
  • Finish by stepping with the front foot to return to stance at Point P

Mixed Step Right & Back (Compas Mixto de Trepidacion a la Derecha y Estraño)

  • From Point A step backward to the right at a 45 degree angle with the rear foot to Point Q
  • Finish by stepping with the front foot to return to stance at Point Q

In the previous post we outlined the Measure of Proportion (Medio de Proporcion) which can be treated as the distance at which you can safely respond to an attack.  One simple way to think of this is to consider the Measure of Proportion a line between you and your adversary.  That neglects the possibility that you could be attacked by multiple adversaries.

A better idea would be to imagine your defensive space as a bubble that surrounds you.  If a threat enters the bubble, it must be addressed.  Likewise, you will not advance on an opponent without addressing their threat in some way.  Lorenz de Rada describes this very concept when he outlines his Maximum Orb.

Rada's Maximum Orb

The radius of the Maximum Orb is defined by the Measure of Proportion and it can change depending on the adversary’s weapon and body type.  For example an enemy carrying a spear will require a larger defensive distance than one with only a dagger.

Both you and your adversary have a personal Maximum Orb and it is a compelling concept that you and your opponent can walk the circumference without every getting closer.

Other Martial Traditions

In Aikido the term “Ma-ai” refers to the distance (or interval) between two adversaries.  Distance in Aikido is set by your adversary’s ability to strike you.  If the adversary holds a weapon like a knife, Ma-ai distance is increased to account for the greater range of the threat.

By contrast, in the Italian fencing tradition distance is typically understood as the distance your attack must travel to strike the adversary.

  • Close Distance or Narrow Measure: Without moving the feet the adversary may be struck by extending the weapon arm.
  • Correct Distance or Wide Measure: The adversary may be struck with a lunge.
  • Out of Distance: The adversary cannot be struck without moving forward.

The key difference between the Japanese measure and the Italian one is the emphasis it places on the conflict.  The practitioner of Aikido evaluates the distance needed to defend oneself and the Italian evaluates his own ability to strike.  Each martial artist will evaluate offensive and defensive measure, but the measure which is codified provides us an indication of the focus of the art.

The Spanish break distance down into two separate categories using both the concepts of defensive distance used in Aikido and offensive distance used in Italian fencing.  Like the Aikido practitioner, the first measure of concern to a Spanish fencer will be the defensive distance.

The Measure of Proportion (Defensive Distance or Place)

(En español – Medio de Proporcion )

This is the closest distance to the adversary in which you may still effectively observe and react to possible threats.  The Measure of Proportion should consider the weapon being used by the adversary and their physical stature.  It is very unlikely that two opponents will have exactly the same Measure of Proportion.

When Pacheco defined the Measure of Proportion he used the relationship between the two weapons as his guide.  He advocates setting the distance so that when the adversary extends his arm at full reach, the point of his weapon reaches no further than the cross of your own weapon.  If two opponents have equal bodies and equal swords, they will share the same Measure of Proportion.

Setting the Measure of Proportion for two swords of equal length

"Measure of proportion when the swords are of equal length - very important" - Pacheco

If the opponent has a longer weapon, how you set your own distance should change and your goal becomes to prevent the adversary from closing the distance so that their threat passes the cross of your weapon.  The physical size of the adversary is also considered when setting the distance.  For example, an opponent with long legs will have a long lunge and the Measure of Proportion will change to compensate.

Setting the Measure of Proportion against a weapon of greater length

"Measure of proportion for a shorter sword against a longer sword." - Pacheco

When your weapon is longer than the adversary’s your goal in setting distance is to close measure enough to maintain your own Measure of Proportion while violating the defensive distance of your adversary and continually keeping them threatened.

"Measure of proportion for a longer sword versus a shorter sword" - Pacehco

"Measure of proportion for a longer sword versus a shorter sword" - Pacehco

A Better Way to Set Distance

Rather than set a firm rule Ettenhard later provides a more nuanced description of this distance which is based on a principle rather than setting defensive measure based on the cross of the sword.

To choose the Measure of Proportion is to determine a proportionate and convenient distance from which the Swordsman can recognize the movements of his opponent, since for whatever determination of his, there should proceed, of body like of arm and Sword: Of body, by means of footwork: and of Sword, by means of the formation of the Technique.

Restated, the Measure of Proportion must be chosen so that the fencer can recognize a threat from the adversary.  You can anticipate the adversary’s actions if you provide yourself enough distance (and therefore time) to recognize motions of the sword or body.