Wednesday, 11 May 2011

Spring goes out, footwork's in!

In my reply to Ben's comment on my last post I mentioned that one of the problems we have is that Ledall's use of language isn't consistent. For us trying to interpret his works today this is a major problem, not least when we are trying to explain our interpretations to others. It's also a bit of nightmare in class, and so I have standardised some of the terminology following what I believe to be Ledall's general use of the terms.

As I've stated previously, I see the term set[ing] to mean moving forward with the feet. If we're stood left foot forward and we 'set' with the right we make a right pass, if we 'set' right again, then we make a gather step with the right. I use these terms in the loosest possible way, which is much the same way as I see most of Ledall's terms. If I've already engaged my opponent (still left foot forward) and move to set in my right leg, but it would bring too close to make the strike, then I will ensure that the setting takes me further off-line so I maintain proper striking distance, a traverse if you will. To me, and I hope Ledall, it's a matter of the right foot passing the left and bringing one closer in, precisely where the right foot finishes is dictated by the dynamics of the fight, not the static script of a play.

The same applies to the 'voiding' footwork, with one major exception. Ledall doesn't always use the term "void" to mean moving backwards. He generally uses the term to mean finding space, enough to avoid being hit, or to make the strike work properly, but he also uses it to mean a form of faint. To keep things simple I use the term 'void[ing]' to relate to distance, and 'empty' to refer to fainting swings. I'll come to the 'empty' strikes in later posts.

So Ledall's basic footwork "translates" 'set' as; a full pass forward, a gather step forward, or a forward passing traverse. The 'void' as; a full pass back, a gather back or a backward passing traverse.

In addition to 'sets' and 'voids' we also have a 'spring'. Ledall directly mentions; a 'short spring', a 'spring' and a a 'full spring'. However, being the man he is, he doesn't always differentiate between these, so a 'spring' may be a 'short' or 'full' spring depending on the situation and to get the answer we have to look at each instance separately. On top of this Ledall will also tell us to make "a spring with a quarter" or "a spring with a quarter" and so we have to look at the footwork through the each play to decide whether the quarter is made on the spring, or is a separate quarter made after the spring, and I'll wait until we get to those plays before I try and describe the differences and how I came to my conclusions.

So, back to the 'springs'!

I suppose the easiest way to describe them is as a large traversing move, it's over simplifying matters but it's the best place to start.

The 'short spring' is made by the lead leg, invariably done when the blades are 'crossed' in close range, and is used to bring one to the opponent's lateral aspect while maintaining the same measure. It is in essence a leaping, or 'springing', gather step outward with the left leg trailing so that a new line of attack is created with shoulders, hips and feet square to your opponent. The 'short spring' is used to create a second attack to the same side. So, starting from a left leg lead; we set in the right foot with a quarter, we then make a 'short spring' to take us further forwards, to our right, making a second right quarter. The feet being square to the opponent facilitates the attack following the spring. "Setting in" either foot (with a half pass) allows quick, pressing, attacks to respective sides and "voiding back" either foot facilitates quarter voids or secure defences.

The un-prefixed 'spring' incorporates a full pass and is used in much the same way as the short spring. However, it is designed to strike to the other side of the opponent and is predominantly used to strike to the left. Again, starting with the left foot lead, we set in with the right foot and make a right quarter, we meet with crossed swords and then set in with a 'spring' to the left side, allowing the right foot to trail, and make a left quarter. Where the 'short spring' kept us at the same, close measure, the 'spring' is more versatile. It can keep us at the same measure or it can stretch that measure so that we can release the right hand and strike with the left holding the pommel (and I'll come back to this when we talk about the appropriate plays). If we keep the same measure our feet are square, like with the 'short spring'. However, if we 'spring' to the stretched measure our right foot is forward, facilitating and immediate right quarter, or we can 'void back the right' with another left quarter.

The 'full spring' in turn uses the full passing step of the 'spring', however, in stead of trailing the lead leg it sweeps, or arcs, the lead leg to rear. So, starting with the left foot forward, we set in the right with a quarter, then 'spring' out to the left with the left pass and the sweeping right leg moves to the rear to create a wide measure where we must release the right hand to strike with the left fully extended, holding the pommel. At this point we are two far away to be able to make repeated attacks from our left side, we can pass in with the right to close distance with a powerful attack or we can void back with the left should our opponent try to rush us.

Tactically one of the big issues is whether we will 'spring' or make a 'full spring'. Our opponent will be unable to tell which we go for until we are almost at the end of our timing. If he believes we are going for the 'spring' he may try to wind or rush us, however, if we've gone for 'full spring' his charge will be absorbed by our greater measure or his windings will fall short of their mark. If he believes we will make the 'full spring' he may attempt to void away and create distance, but if he has judge incorrectly, and we make the 'spring' we will be able to bombard him with attacks from either side.

To summarise; 'set' in, 'void' back, 'short spring' out with the leading leg, 'spring' out with the leading leg trailing, and 'full spring' out with the leading leg sweeping.

Remember! This is my standardisation of Ledall's terms, and hopefully it will all make sense in the end.

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