Tuesday, 13 June 2017

Radaelli's Low Parries

*** EDIT: New information has caused me to tweak my interpretation of the parry of low 3rd. Please refer to my amendment for this updated interpretation. ***

Whilst my previous post contained a discussion of an interpretation based almost entirely off its illustration in the plates, in this post I shall go in the opposite direction and even contradict the plates somewhat. Here I will outline my interpretations of Radaelli's parries of low 3rd and 4th and attempt to demonstrate some instances where I feel the illustrations fail to accurately portray the techniques as described in the text.

The two parries in question are illustrated in Del Frate's 1876 manual like so:


The plates in the '68 manual are also very similar:

Position of the Parry of Low 3rd
Position of the Parry of Low 4th
The only real noticeable difference between these plates is the seemingly more retracted arm in the parry of 4th low in the 1868 plate as opposed to the corresponding 1876 plate. Apart from that, the consistency that these plates show would normally be indicator to me that the depictions show are accurate. However, this does not seem to be the case when they are compared to Del Frate's textual descriptions of the parries. Here's the except from Holzman's translation of the 1876 text:
Parry of Low 4th

From the parry of 5th - Low Forth!
Carry the right foot backward one good pace to the rear of the left with the heel raised from the ground, bending the knee. Incline the body over the left leg, and at the same time, move the sabre nearly across the body with the grip at the height and direction of the right hip, about eight inches [20 cm] away from it. The blade tip should be shoulder high and in line with the left shoulder, with the edge turned toward the ground.
Parry of Low 3rd

From the parry of 6th - Low Third!
Assume the body position described in the parry of low 4th, and without changing the position of the sabre, lower the arm so that it is nearly in front of the body diagonally, with the point shoulder high and to the right of the right shoulder, with the edge turned toward the ground. The grip should be hip high and in the direction of the flank approximately eight inches [20 cm] ahead of it. The arm should be bent and supported by the flank, with the elbow somewhat behind the body.
And here's the descriptions of the parries from the 1868 text (my translation):
For the execution of the parries of low 3rd and 4th and 2nd, the student is placed in parry of 6th, since that is the position from which one passes more naturally and easily to these different parries, and then at the command:
Low-third - The right foot is brought a good pace behind the left with the heel lifted off the ground, both knees bent, the weight of the body on the left leg, the sabre with the grip at the height of the left flank about one palm away, the point turned outside, the edge turned towards the ground, the elbow supported by the flank, the sabre, in other words, is almost across the body.

For the parry of low 4th, the student will resume the position of parry of 6th, then at the command:
Low-fourth - After having brought the right foot behind the left as described for the parry of low 3rd, the sabre is carried almost across in front of the body so that the grip is in the direction and at the height of the right flank about a palm away, the point of the blade at the height of the head, slightly to the left, the edge towards the ground.
Apart from the slightly cleaner sentence structure in the 1876 version, the two texts describe these parries very similarly. If one is to perform these parries as described, the differences between the text and the illustrations start to become quite obvious.

The illustration of the parry of low 4th in the 1868 manual appears to be the only one that abides by its respective description. In the others, we can observe that:
  • The point is too high
  • The grip is too far forward
  • The grip is sometimes held too high

If we are to then attempt to perform these parries as the text describes, as opposed to what the plates show, we perhaps end up in positions similar to these:

 Parry of Low 3rd

Parry of Low 4th

As our handsome model shows, the hilt is much closer to the body than what the plates show, providing better coverage to the whole body. You may also notice that with the hilt being on the opposite side of the body as the direction in which the strike is coming, the body and arm are protected if the strike ends comes in vertically upwards as opposed to at an oblique angle. An interesting note about this parry of low 3rd is that it is the only parry in the Radaellian system that involves extension of the wrist (also observed by Jacopo Gelli in Resurrectio).

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