Kartuli Parikaoba (ქართული ფარიკაობა)

Quarantine practice. Several different pell drills with sword and buckler.

A little solo pell work during shelter-in-place. My phone mirrored this and I still need to get it fixed. I'm very much NOT left handed.
Basic 3 cut drill
ups and downs drill
Buckler press drill
Drill to cut with hanging parries
cut to a low guard with a thrust
Straight cuts from the upper angles
power cuts to the level shift and thrust
parry of a thrust with transfer and counter cut (4 variations IIRC)
Cut combinations from the high profiled guard

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mP5-tA7GMJo

Parrying

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.

Parries

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:

  1. The parry is made with full extension of the arms (as far from the body as possible)
  2. Parries against cuts are to be made with the EDGE of the buckler, not the face.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.

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Parry E

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.


Parry F


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.


Parry G

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

Parry B is developed as Parry E only with the hands shifting to the right.

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Parry C

Parry C is developed as Parry F only with the hands shifting to the right side.


Parry D

Parry D is developed like Parry G, only with the hands going right as in Parries B and C.

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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.)

 

Striking (part 1)

Okay.  So this is one of the sections of the book I'm not really happy with.  As a result I'm going to break this up into sections and make liberal use of videos to explain it.  Today We'll cover the core mechanic section with hands joined or retreating behind the buckler.  This is the best documented cutting mechanic we have.  The cuts from the profiled guards are more complicated.  The thrusts we use and describe are almost entirely speculative, or reconstructed from other sources.  Elashvili does not show any thrusts, in fact he goes out of his way to ignore the use of thrusts.  He is trying to describe a "safe" sporting form of the art rather than the full battlefield art and being a classically trained fencer he sees the thrust as far deadlier.

The basic form of the cut are what I describe as a "joined" cut.  As Elashvili puts it:

Offensive operations using the shashka are characterized by the fact that the opponents use exceptionally light chopping blows, which strike at different places in the target zone and are executed using sharp motions of the hands in the plane of the strike. Both hands move forward simultaneously (right, holding the shashka and the left the buckler).

He also notes that Lunging is absent, the intensity of blows does not rise from Parikaoba to Chra-Chriloba (I'll do another bit on the three formal levels of fighting.  Parikaoba can be thought of as "we're showing off", Chra-Chriloba as "we're settling a dispute but don't want to start a feud."), and that the blows to him resemble those used in the French school of spadroon fencing.  

The goal of the joined cuts is to inflict a controlled wound.  According to Elashvili, this is accomplished by projecting the hands forward (both sword and buckler together) as the sword moves in the plane defined by it's age.  So from Guard A you would push your hands forward and snap your wrist downward to make a chopping strike downward.  This is very awkward feeling at first.  And I have found in my review old ethnographic footage, that this is only one of two main ways of striking in Khevsureti.  The other method is similar, only instead of keeping the hands together, the sword arm is allowed to flicker forward, returning immediately behind the buckler. 

In these videos you might notice that the swords seem to curve forward.  This is because to be "safe" for their demonstration on camera, they simply reverse the blade and fence with the unsharpened spine.  

The two methods here also present something else that we need to understand.  Khevsur fencing is not A style, but rather a family of styles with many common elements.  Each passed down through a family or within a village.  What Elashvili documented is only a slice of the rich art that existed.  We have done our best to fill in gaps from other (Mostly Georgian) sources alongside the bits he has preserved so diligently for us.

 

Guards

Sorry for the old pictures here.  I will reshoot these at some point, but for now, this gets the points across.

Guard positions

In Elashvili's text, he documents 9 guard positions for Parikaoba, and those are a good base on which to build our reconstruction of Lashkroba. However, coming from a classical base, he numbers these positions, and the numbering system clashes with that of classical Russian Sabre, which he uses to describe his attacks. For clarity we are accordingly abandoning Elashvili's numbering for the guards, and replacing it with a system using letters of the alphabet. We will however classify the guards into two groups, the Closed Guards, of which Elashvili talks a lot, and the Open or Profiled Guards, which he describes and tells us what they do well, then never talks of again.

Closed Guard positions

The Closed guards are the primary guards that we will be using in Lashkroba. These all share certain characteristics. Primarily that the hands are held together with the sword hand touching the buckler hand and hiding behind the buckler for protection. These are held while in the common or the kneeling stance and are the guards you will use when parrying an attack. If you are not wearing forearm and elbow protection then it is important to bring your elbows as close together as possible to take advantage of the protection offered by the buckler. If you are wearing bazubands or similar forearm protection, then you can relax them a bit more. At the same time you should keep your shoulders square and not pulled forward in your guard stance, though this is tempting. Keeping your shoulders square will help prevent shoulder stress and injury, it will also allow you to pull them forward to gain a few more inches of reach if needed.

Guard A

This is the primary guard of the system. The hands are held together with the right hand behind the buckler alongside the left (the thumbs may be linked for strength) and the blade pointed roughly straight up and slightly inclined back towards the wielder.

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Guard B

Like Guard A only the blade is inclined to the right roughly 45 degrees.

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Guard C

Here the blade is held roughly horizontal and pointing off to the right. The sword hand is palm up beneath the buckler hand which remains oriented thumb up.

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Guard D

Here the blade is oriented angled downward and to the right. The tip of the sword should be at the same height as the knee. As always, the buckler hand remains thumb up.

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Guard E

This is the left leaning guard analogous to Guard B. The blade is held tilted roughly 45 degrees with the palm above the buckler hand but still hidden by the buckler.

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Guard F

This is the left side equivalent of Guard C. The blade is held horizontally pointing to the left. This means palm down, but the right hand is held below the buckler hand. This and Guard G are rather like Prima custodia or underarm from M.S. I.33.

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Guard G

Here the blade is held angled down and left with the point at knee height. Right hand under the left.

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Open Guard Positions


The Open guards are held in the Profiled stance and have the hands separated. Here the buckler is extended and the body heavily profiled with the sword well withdrawn to protect the sword hand.


Guard H (high)

In the profiled stance, extend the buckler arm forward with the elbow slightly bent. The sword arm is either extended backwards or held slightly back from the shoulder at shoulder height. Think of this as chambering the sword arm for a very powerful blow.

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 Guard I (low)

The buckler here is held exactly as in Guard H, but the sword hand is held back and down, roughly waist height. This is chambering a powerful rising or low horizontal blow.

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Stance

Stance

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Understanding the WHY of the stance used


In most fencing, the stance used has two main purposes. It serves to provide a stable base from which to make strikes, and it attempts to minimize the target area presented to the attacker. In modern sport fencing for instance the body is held highly profiled with the legs bent and ready to move. This provides only a narrow target area for an opponent's blade to strike as seen in the photograph of Jim Emmons below.  

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Once you add in an offhand weapon however, profiling becomes less useful, as it leaves one shoulder much further back than the other and thus limits the reach with one arm. Many systems deal with this in different ways. For example, in Rapier and dagger, the body is often held in such a way that the different lengths of the two weapons help bring things back into balance while preserving the profile. Most relevantly perhaps, is the way that the body is held by the fighters depicted in the oldest known sword and buckler treatise, MS I.33. In this text, the fighters are shown with an interesting forward lean to their bodies.

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In this stance, the shoulders are held at the same distance from the opponent, and critically, the upper thigh is withheld from being an easy target for a strike. Experimentation has taught us that with Lashkroba, like with MS I.33 the torso MUST be hinged forward at the hips, or else you will get hit in the thigh a lot. However, unlike I.33, the Khevsur often take a much squarer stance with their feet. This allows for very quick sideways movements which are reported to have been favored by Khevsurs over the in and out movements we see in modern HEMA or sport fencing. They also tend to crouch somewhat, further reducing the available target area.

It is also fairly common to see the Khevsur drop to a very low crouch, or even to one knee while fighting, as seen in this photograph of two Khevsur in a Parikaoba-esque duelling setup. Here, the left hand fighter is in a typical, if somewhat more hunched than usual stance, and the right hand fighter has dropped nearly to one knee.

 

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The khevsur hold a stance like this for all guard where both hands are held forward of the body. Elashvili also records two guards positions where the sword arm is refused and held behind the body, with the buckler out in front. In these cases, the fighter adopts a stance more like a modern fencing stance and profiles the body sideways to allow the buckler to cover as much of their body as possible.

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Getting into stance

The common square stance

To begin, start with your feet square under your shoulders, bring one foot forward, but no more than about one half of a foot length to one foot length. From here, bend your knees and sink down, hinging forward at the waist. Bring your arms in front of your body with your hands together while keeping your shoulders square. It is a temptation to pinch your shoulders forward, but resist it. While it makes it easier to reach the correct forearm position, it opens you up to shoulder damage.

The kneeling stance

Begin by entering the common square stance as above. From there basically bend your knees and lower your weight straight down till you are nearly kneeling. Commonly, the heel of the back foot will raise off the ground, and the glute on that side will rest on the heel.  You may also squat onto your haunches in the stereotypical "slav squat" position of internet meme fame.  But the low stances are a place where many people struggle in my experience.  These stances, and movement within them require more mobility in the hamstrings than many American adults are comfortable with.


Practice taking each of these stances with both left and right foot forward, as well as dropping into the kneeling stance and standing up into the crouching stance first slowly, and then quickly. Remember, traditionally the Khesvur were a mountain dwelling people, and had lower body strength in proportion to the terrain they spent their lives traversing.

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The profiled stance

Here, stand left foot forward, in something akin to a fencing stance, but with the legs slightly less bent. The left (buckler) arm is held out ahead of you straight with the left hand a fist pointed at the opponent. The right hand for now hold back and slightly lowered, with a loosely bent elbow.

 

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