Ripostes are the counter attacks in a fencing challenge. A strong fencer will be able to riposte after an opponent’s attack to not only win points but to keep their attacker with lower confidence in the risk versus reward of their moves. A riposte occurs when an attacker attempts to strike, is parried, and then is struck by the defender. In the heat of the game this movement can be very quick and there may be multiple parries, counter parries and ripostes.
Ripostes are generally direct but also may be indirect. A direct riposte is a quick parry and strike to the opponent’s body leaving little time to react. An indirect riposte would mean adding a change of line or adding another movement before striking the opponent. This has benefits in terms of confusing the opponent but also risks being struck as you are engaging in these extra tactics.
Practice in done in both shadow and live opponent form. In shadow form the student should practice making a parry to the center of the blade and immediately lunging and/or extending the arm for a riposte strike to the area of the center of the chest (or practice target). In live form one opponent will make a slow forward strike and the defender will parry the center of blade and make a strike riposte to the opponent’s chest.
The practice of direct and indirect parries is beneficial. You may consider a change of line, angled riposte, or any number of distracting tactics. These practices should occur only once the proper direct riposte with appropriate distance has been already mastered. It is important to use the basics as a foundation for building higher levels of movement and options in the game.
-Follow the Blade: The quickest point to target is a few inches from the blade. It also allows for better defense.
-Don’t leave your arm and head open during a riposte.
-Mix up riposte angles and movements to keep your opponent unsure of your next actions.
-Riposte is about speed.
-Know your potential target area before moving.
-Continue going over it to embed it in your skills bank.