The shortest distance between two opponents is a straight line. The straightest line is often not the most ideal. It is the easiest to predict and the easiest to defend against. Unfortunately it is also the most instinctual path to take. Historically most instructors in swordplay have focused training in a less direct way. Often times you have to go a little into subtext but most Masters preferred a more circular path of attack. Even the act of the lunge, though it seems a linear attack, is often best performed at an angle.
Perhaps the system that best exemplifies this circular motion is Destreza. This quintessential Spanish rapier system is the most mathematical style of fencing I am aware of. The art of it lies in the fact that a lesson in Destreza is a lesson in geometry. I’ve heard tell that at the time Spanish fencers were thought of as practitioners of black magic in their time. Whether or not that is true, the key to their success was in in moving circularly when many of the rival systems were very much more linear.
Going back a ways, we see the same thing with the longsword. Though footwork is more in the context than written clearly, we see that very basic attacks are so simple to defeat when delivered in a straight line and become a sudden challenge when delivered with the intent of circling your opponent.
So, on to the crux of things. My own personal training goal for this month shall be to focus on the circle. Lessons I teach will be focus on this type of movement and my own solo training will focus in footwork as well. My research goals will be met by working on that Destreza manual I’ve been meaning to get to and experimenting with the principles therein. Now, off to the books with me.