We’re just going to step back from the progression of the plates today. Before he starts talking about how to stick the other guy, the Wolf Lord of Blades spends a great deal of time explaining his basic principles of martial arts. Lots of great stuff. Wordy, but good. Sandwiched between the wordy bit and the neat pictures he squeezes in a little more information. The one we are going to look at today talks about choosing lines of approach to your enemy. More specifically, he talks about how you should point your sword so you don’t get stabbed.
So you’ve got your sword in hand, and you start to come close to your opponent. Like most people, you feel more comfortable coming in to the inside of their guard. You want to try and figure out how to get them in the space between their sword and their chest. That’s the inside line. The outside line is a bit more wiggly for some people, coming in on the space outside the sword and chest. It’s a less common line, so we deal with the more likely approach first.
That said, we have two lines to initially consider. The first line is the more usual one, and that is the line against the enemies sword. We chose that one because we have to. We’ve moved and are thinking about attacking our opponent on their gooey inside, and they don’t like that. They do the smart thing, and put a piece of steel between us and their gooey bits. Fair enough. It’s the right thing to do. Not so good for us, and now we have to do something about it if we want the gooey bits.
We have to consider two things as we approach: Time and Distance. We have to construct a line of approach to the sword that takes the least time and distance compared to the time and distance it takes our opponent to reach us, or react to our attack. Looking at our opponent, we must predict the path we want to travel on with our sword…and to be an ideal path, it should be a straight line. Our opponent doesn’t want us to have this chance, and will do everything he can to maintain his own line to us, and foul our line. We need to choose a line that accounts for this, and will give us an advantage of time.
If our opponent, for whatever reason, doesn’t bother to stick his sword up somewhere useful, then all we have to worry about is distance. We are free to approach and pay the most attention the getting to the correct distance to launch our attack. Obviously, we need to still consider our opponents potential lines and move our sword accordingly, but our trigger to go will come from us just arriving at the right distance, as opposed to arriving at the right distance with the opponent doing the right action.
With all this considered, the Wolf Lord of Blades reminds us to aim appropriately. If the enemies tip is in our face, then his face is the best target. If his tip is aimed at our gooshy bits, then we can aim at his face or his chest. It’s a minor but important detail, and worth keeping in mind. It pays to choose the right level of attack, and as he points out…keeping this in mind will also let us keep the correct height to safely disengage when it’s needed. It’s not uncommon for people to let their hands drift low in the middle of a bout. Professional boxers do it, and so do fencers. Keep your hands up!
The final advice is key. The Wolf Lord of Blades tell us we shouldn’t disengage to attack, but instead disengage to place the strong of our blade on the weak of the opponents. The common flaw in the lessons we’ve already covered can be clearly seen now: Death comes when we take chances. We see a chance to rescue ourselves from a dominating opponent, and we leap in order to grab that brass ring. The Wolf Lord of Blades tells us differently…when your are in a weak position, and have the chance to recover yourself, move to a strong position before you attempt to win. The science and art lies in the positioning. When that is forgotten, you die.