Time for another installment of material. I HAD hoped to have recovered enough from this bug to be able to post a video this week, but that's going to have to wait.. Instead enjoy this material on parrying to go with the first portion of the striking material I posted last week! Note to self. I need to reshoot these with an attacking sword and make sure to get EACH of them. But note here that all parries are made with the sword blade vertical or nearly so. If you tilt the blade, you need to tilt it toward the side the striking sword is coming FROM. This is different from parrying with sword alone.
All parries in Lashkroba are made with the closed guards. You could, I suppose, execute each parry with the open guards using nothing but the buckler, but this is not described in the literature that we have, and must therfore remain suppositional. These parries also primarily are intended to defend against cuts, not thrusts, as Elashvili attempts to excise the thrust from the system and describe only a sportified variant of the friendly Parikaoba and it is from Elashvili that we draw most of our system. (though this is supplemented with other sources everywhere possible) Despite the absence of a described parry against the thrust, it can be inferred from the construction of the buckler and then supplemented with techniques taken from other systems that were likely related (such as the Persian shamshir and separ described by Dr Khorasani in his text Persian Archery and Swordsmanship: Historical Martial Arts of Iran) It is worth noting that key characteristics shared by all of these parries are:
- The parry is made with full extension of the arms (as far from the body as possible)
- Parries against cuts are to be made with the EDGE of the buckler, not the face.
- Parries are intended to immediately set up a riposte and thus often rely strongly on the buckler to intercept and drive aside a blade to create the opening for the counter.
- The base form of all parries is made with the blade in Guard A and pointed nearly vertical.
Sometimes in addition to the buckler the fencers will grip a short stick in their buckler hand (of up to one meter in length and 3-3.5cm in diameter) projecting downward below the buckler. Generally in these cases 2/3 of the stick projects below the buckler. Sometimes a knife is used here in place of the buckler. This can cause some issues when attempting to transition to Guards F and G (in the case of F you likely will take it with the right hand over the left instead of under), but compensates by providing a much stronger defense against low strikes.
Parry A (or head)
To defend against a vertical or near vertical cut to the head, quickly raise the joined sword and buckler together above the forehead, keeping the elbows slightly bent. Ideally, the upper rim of the buckler is positioned to intercept the incoming strike rather than the face or the sword blade.
To defend against strikes to the left hand side of your face extend your arms forward and to the left, raising the arms slightly. Nearly straightening the elbows. Don't raise them too much, as that opens you up to a change of direction on the attack and makes your arms a target for a rising cut. The blade remains nearly vertical and the edge of the buckler should intercept the incoming blow. The sword serves mostly to prevent the strike from slipping off the buckler or splitting the hands to strike the forearm.
In Parry F, like Parry E, you develop the arms forward and left, straightening the elbows. This time however, the hands do not raise and the buckler will typically catch the incoming strike on its upper left quadrant. Here the sword remaining vertical helps close off the upper line and prevent the blow from reaching you if the buckler misses.
In Parry G, the arms develop as before, only you will turn more strongly toward that side and bring your hands lower. The bottom edge of the buckler should reach about knee height in order to close off the low line. (in classical terms, we're going to close off attacks into 1st) The body may take on a slight lean to the left. If the strike is targeted VERY low (below the knee) you may need to quickly drop into the low stance variant to defend the target.
Parry B is developed as Parry E only with the hands shifting to the right.
Parry C is developed as Parry F only with the hands shifting to the right side.
Parry D is developed like Parry G, only with the hands going right as in Parries B and C.
Parries against the Thrust
Because of Elashvili's omission of thrusting; and thus of any parries against the thrust (the variant of the system he describes after all is exclusively cut focused) we must look at other evidence to show how to parry a thrust within the Khevsur system. The parries described in this section are either derived from other Georgian evidence (one from an article by one of Elashvili's students) and from physical evidence of the buckler and the described psychology of the system.
There are a few clues in the construction of the buckler. The buckler has several layers which overlap strongly in the center, and may have a slight boss mound in the center as well. Behind this there is a pad against which sit the fingers of the buckler hand gripping the straps in a fist. One defense against a thrust in this position, to be made with the buckler rather than via setting it aside with the sword, is to punch into the opponents sword tip. Catching the thrust and jarring the sword arm. This is viable against level thrusts to the midsection, but not to the high or low targets.
Another, more effective defense against the thrust that we have evidence for in the Khevsur system is to parry with the blade of your sword (or the dagger/stick that is in the buckler hand if using one) and immediately seek to transfer control of the opponent's blade to the buckler itself, thus freeing the sword to make a riposte. While the riposte can be made either with the buckler or via separation of the hands, it is often more efficacious to separate them in this case, provided that control of the opponent's sword is maintained. (this goes towards what I term the 3 Ss of Georgian swordplay. Seek, Suppress, Strike. But that is a topic for another time.)