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Thursday, April 4, 2013

The Counter Parry: Contre de Quarte and Sixte


Fencing is a game of skill that is refined within a certain radius of the body. In foil fencing the overall radius is even smaller making the movements more about subtle skill than overpowering your opponent. It is these attacks and counter attacks that make the game interesting to bystanders. Whenever there is an attack there are a number of moves that can be made ranging from moving out of the way to counter attacks. The counter parry is a tactic designed to stop an attack and regain momentum.

The counter parry is considered a more advanced move than the standard parry and riposte. The purpose of the counter parry is to remove the opponent’s blade from blocking an attack or to disrupt a negative rhythm in the game. By using a contre de quarte or contre de sixte it is possible to not only remove the blade but also put oneself in the position of an attack.  This occurs when you have removed the opponent’s momentum and then placed it with yourself by controlling the nature of the effort to the end of the bout.

As the shinny piece of steel wraps itself around its opponents it can either move for narrow or larger parries that have a different impact on the challenger. A large swirl can be unwieldy causing both persons to lose some level of control. It should be attempted when you’re trying to break apart your opponent’s body rhythm. The smaller counter parry is best used to loosen the control of an opponent’s constant attack and try and regain the momentum. 

Contre de quarte moves counter clockwise and the contre de sixte is clockwise. The contre de quarte is generally an awkward move based on the muscles and ligament designs of the wrist. It is suggested that this move be practiced in case of occasional use, but is not part of the standard moves. Contre de sixte is a more natural tactic and generally aligns with body mechanics making it a powerful part of the game. 

The counter parry is designed to be in conjunction with the riposte. Together they are called the counter parry-riposte that is designed to ensure that you are not only stopping the opponents attack but that you have the capacity to also claim the right-of-way and attack again. Together the combination can be deadly to new fencing partners until they have found ways of avoiding the movements.

The counter-parry is something that should be learned once the basics like the lunge, parry and riposte have been mastered. It is these methods that dominate the game and are used by everyone from beginners to masters. However, once the game gets going and people have learned the basics using a counter-parry can change the overall approach and momentum.

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