Offensive Second Intention

Once you have established either your ability to carry out a simple attack, defense or counter-offense, you will need to be able to “spin the wheel” to move to the next set of tactics. This, of course, assumes that your opponent is thinking of their actions in the bout and adjusting their tactics to counter what you are doing well.

Second intention actions are, by definition, your second option in an action and are set up so that your primary action serves as the “feint” or diversion from your true intentions.

In second intention offense, you are using your first attack as a cover for your real tactic.  While you need to make the attack look convincing, you don’t intend to score the point with the attack.  The attack is simply made in order to provoke the desired response from your opponent. 

Here are some examples of Offensive Second Intention tactics (L=Leader, P=Pupil):

  1. Attack/Remise

    P: Advance-Lunge attack to 4.  (Fall just short.)
    L: Parry 4, Begin Riposte
    P: Without withdrawing the arm, come to a forward enguard and hit in 4.  Move bellguard to 4 to close out the riposte (opposition hit – make it “one light”)


  2. Attack/Redoublement

    P: Advance-Lunge attack to 4 (Fall just short.)
    L: Parry 4, Begin Riposte
    P: Forward enguard, take the blade in Counter-6 and make a short lunge (Opposition lunge to make a “one-light” hit.)


  3. Attack/Counter-Riposte

    P: Advance-Lunge attack to 4 (Fall just short.)
    L: Parry 4, Begin Riposte
    P: Return Enguard, Counter-Parry 4, Immediate riposte to 4 or 6

While the most traditional use of counter-offensive tactics is the counter-riposte (which you could argue is a second intention defensive action), many modern fencers will use a remise or redoublement to get past a good defense.

Many fencers will, in fact, use a fast remise while closing distance to make it impossible for their opponent to get their riposte off.  These tactics require you to be able to make the actions into “one-light” actions where you make the hit but your opponent does not hit you.

If you are fencing someone who has a good parry-riposte or who depends on it in their bouts with you, then you should try out some counter-offensive actions.  Once you are able to score a counter-offensive point, then your opponent will be less confident in their ability to make the touch with a simple riposte and will be forced to adjust their game accordingly.

Remise and Redoublement:
remise: immediate replacement of an attack that missed or was parried, without withdrawing the arm.

redoublement: a new action that follows an attack that missed or was parried; renewal of a failed attack in the opposite line; alternatively see reprise.

That’s all of our time for this edition of the Tactical Wheel overview. If there is a section of drills that you want to see more of, just send an email to “[email protected]” and we’ll try to set aside an email for it. 

Once you are comfortable with the execution of the individual drills, you can have the leader choose which set of actions to go with and mix up the drills as you go. After using these drills, you can create more along the same theme to use for different situations. This keeps you alert to what your opponent is doing rather than going into autopilot with a move.