Monday, 23 November 2009
The counter riposte in fencing refers to a continuation of an attack after the first riposte has been parried. The first attack has been defended and the attacker presses on his or her attack.
This made me think of something we worked on in boxing a week ago and that is to continue the attack even when your opponent is attacking. In other words parry and attack (in this case punch) a the same time. This tactic can of course yield great results but often in our kata work and one step techniques we can overlook this by assuming: block, punch, block, punch in sequence. If we don't understand the forms we can step through them in quite a linear fashion. The boxing counter punch is almost simultaneous.
This isn't to say that traditional Asian striking arts don't advocate this quick counter riposte, it's just something we need to bear in mind.
Some karateka often churn out the old chestnut, "Ah yes but any block can also be an attack". This is certainly true but I think there's more to it than simply banging in a block hard and claiming that the force would have hurt your opponent's arm/leg. This is too simplistic. Of course bunkai or the attitude of seeing and practising applications within kata is now more and more popular and we can use this within our visualisations during training. It's in these applications that we can unlock many of the more sophisticated block ripostes. for example see the following video outlining one of the very first moves many karateka make from Pyung Ahn Cho Dan (peinan or heian shodan). Here the actors show first the moves as they exist within the hyung then the interpretation. Here you will see a fierce multiple counter riposte sequence.
My fencing teacher made a point which might clarify the issue here. We were happily trying out the riposte and counter riposte over and over again with application and quiet dedication and thought we were doing a good job of it. When he came over he said that it was ok but we needed to spend less time on the blade when blocking. Parry and counter were quickly executed almost like one flowing technique.
It's easy to think of the blocks and counters within hyung to be linear and sequential. No matter how quickly you execute them they still seem like a block and punch combination whereas we should be mindful of the idea of a counter riposte without spending so much time "on the blade".