Sainct Didier’s Transitions

The Six Strikes of Henri de Sainct Didier are a simple set of exercises which teach more than just how to cut and thrust at an opponent. Also encoded within the sequences are a range of parrying techniques; some simple, some more complex. One aspect which puzzles is how he suggests the Lieutenant change safely from attacking from the right to attack from the left and vice versa. Here’s our interpretation.

In the description of the Third Strike, the Lieutenant cuts from the right (maindroit) to the Provost’s left shoulder who counters with a simple parry in fourth position and thrusts. Then Sainct Didier uses an interesting phrase to allow the Lieutenant to counter the thrust and cut at the Provost from the left (renvers).

“ledit Lieutenant desrobe son espee en passant un avant-main par dessoubs la garde de l’espee du Prevost, et luy tirer un renvers ou bien arriere-main d’hault sur l’espaule gauche du Prevost”

This technique appears to be used in all six sequences and from both the left and the right. When passing the attack from right to left, the Lieutenant uses a forehand “avant-main” action and when passing the attack from left to right he uses a backhand “arriere-main” action.

It needs to accomplish two goals. First, it needs to defend against the Provost’s thrust. Second, it needs to prime the Lieutenant to cut from the opposite side. Thus it can’t be a simple cavare or cavazzione. To my mind, it seems like it’s straight out of Meyer rapier.

Joachim Meyer, in similar circumstances, advocates transitioning through the Left Ox posture when changing the attack from right to left and transitioning through the Right Ox posture when changing in the opposite direction. Used here, the Ox posture meets both criteria. It effectively parries the Provost’s thrust and readies the Lieutenant to attack on the opposite side.