Swordsman & Geek

A Midsummer Night’s Blog

Spanish True School Timings

There are three prerequisites you will need to understand this article:

  1. Do you know LVD’s movement notation? (Link)
  2. Do you know how to classify movements as dispositive and executive and the tactical response to each of these two types of movements? (Link)
  3. Do you know the Defensive Medio (ideal defensive place) and the Offending Medio (ideal strike)? (Link)

The temptation on an article of this kind is to present the proof first so that I can explain my reasoning with citations from the texts and an extended discussion about theory.  Only after you have worked your way through the proofs do I present the theory.  In this case, I’m going to present the fencing theory first and if you want the academic argument and research, it’s included afterwards.

Likewise, this can be a bit much to wrap your head around so the next article will try to lay this out with a very simple (and hopefully amusing) example.  (Link)

Striking Times for the Offending Medio (Medio Proporcionado)

First, we need to know there are three times in La Verdadera Destreza:

  1. Before – The adversary has not moved
  2. During – The adversary is within a dispositive movement
  3. After – The adversary is within an executive movement or has just stopped moving

Because terms like “Before” and “After” are relative, they can also be used ambiguously in the same way that big and small are used.  This provides them more utility but can be confusing unless you know what they are specifically being related with.  For example, I am big compared to a mouse but small when compared to my car.  The terms gain meaning depending on what you compare them with and this is most often movements of the sword and footwork.

  • You may see Before, During, and After used in relation to a complete technique like a beat to the sword. (Before the beat, after the beat…)
  • You may see Before, During, and After used to describe movements inside a technique which has been decomposed into its pieces. (During the adversary’s offline movement which prepares the beat, before the final movement of the thrust which follows.)

Timings for the Offending Medio

Pacheco describes these timings as ways to describe your Offending Medio (Proportionate Medio or Medio Proporcionado [MPado]).  The Offending Medio is achieved when you offend successfully while defending.

  1. Propio – In the before tempo the deistro gets an opportunity for himself. (To strike in the adversary’s stillness.)
  2. Apropiado – In the during tempo the adversary gives, by movements of the sword or by footwork, an opportunity for the diestro. (The adversary gives, by their movement, an opportunity.)
  3. Transferido – In the after tempo, the adversary attempts to seize an opportunity, but it is taken from him and transferred to the diestro. (To take the outcome the adversary sought, and transfer it to yourself.)

Times and Timings in Spanish True School

Time Offending Timing Simple English Executive\Dispositive Fencing Context
Before (not in time) Propio Get First Intention Action
During (in time) Apropiado Give (Given) Dispositive Attacks into preparation,
Multi-Intention Attacks
After (possibly in time) Transferido Steal (Stolen) Executive Parry-Riposte,



Propio : The adversary is at rest.  Before he moves, the diestro strikes him in first intention.  The diestro gets the opportunity (disposition) to strike before any movement occurs.

  1. The diestro covers the blade with an atajo, moves forward and strikes with a thrust.
  2. Seeing the adversary’s resting guard places his blade is out of line, the diestro strikes immediately before the adversary can move.

Apropiado : The adversary is in motion carrying the weapon off the path to the target.  During the motion, the diestro stikes him in the same time.  The diestro was given an opportunity to strike by the adversary’s dispositive movement.

  1. The adversary attempts to elude an atajo by lifting the point. During the violent movement (rising) the diestro strikes with a thrust in the same time.  (in time)
  2. The adversary attempts to parry a thrust with an atajo on the inside line. During the offline movement of the atajo the diestro redirects the thrust to the chest into a clockwise circular thrust to the flank.  (half circular thrust in second intention)

Transferido: The adversary was attempting to strike and during the final movement of the attack was defeated and struck.  The diestro has stolen the enemy’s opportunity and transferred it to himself.

  1. The adversary executes a thrust. The diestro defeats the thrust with an atajo and responds with a thrust to the chest. (parry-riposte)
  2. The adversary executes a thrust. The diestro defeats the thrust by stepping offline, presenting the right angle, and the adversary is struck in the same time.  (counterattack)

But wait… there’s more!

Ettenhard expands the scope to more than just attacks.  He applies these relative timings to more contexts such as finding Medio de Proporcion (Defensive Medio) and gaining strength in the bind.  That liberates the concept of attack, attack in time, parry-riposte from solely the attacking realm into broader conceptual space.

  • We can speak now of taking good measure, being given good measure, and stealing good measure with counter-footwork.
  • We can take the bind, be given the bind, or steal the bind with counter-bladework.


All translations are the work of Dr. Mary Curtis.


Three considerations that they make, in agreement with the art, about the proportionate measure [MPado], which we call Propio, Apropiado, and Transferido.

Presupposing the knowledge that we have given about the proportionate measures [MPados] for all the species of techniques, it is advisable for he who wants to enjoy the perfection of skill, to know the three considerations (more important than extolled) that we make of them (without altering their essence) calling them Propio, Apropiado, and Transferido, and for its definition we said of the first, it is the one that the swordsman chooses for himself, without the opponent doing more than wait for him, which we call before time; of the second, it is the one that he offers him by means of his movements and steps, which we call in time; and the last, the one that when he goes to choose it or has chosen it, and the execution differs, it is taken from him, and chooses for himself; and this is characterized in time and after time;…

Pacheco’s New Science pp.287-288

Applied to striking in time (Medio Proporcionado):

And finally, if he wants to escape from the subjection, freeing the Sword, to strike with a Thrust, from the outside, it should be necessary for him to make a Circular action, that consists of four simple types of Movement, making a Mixed one of all four, by whose cause it is without a doubt the opposition of the Offline Lateral Movement, striking in reason of the Right Angle, with which it is undoubtable that in all these situations it is made, that by means of Atajo the opponent offers Apropiado Proportionate Measure; since taking advantage of the Movements that he forms, one takes advantage of the opportunity to strike,…

~Ettenhard’s Compendium folio 146-147

(The act of taking atajo requires taking your point off the line which is a dispositive movement that can grant the adversary the opportunity to strike.  Or restated, the Offline Lateral movement of the atajo can grant Medio Proporcionado Apropriado… the attack executed in a during time.)

Applied to footwork\place:

It should also be understood that if the two Combatants find themselves with equal Arms, the one who first chooses the Measure does it for both, and it is called the Propio and Apropiado Mean of Proportion because the Swordsman at the same time takes the Measure for himself and offers the same disposition to his opponent; but if either of the two brings a longer Sword and he chooses the Measure in the way that has been said it is called the Propio Measure of Proportion due to the Election being for him alone, the other being disproportionate: And if the one who brings the shorter Sword has his tip at the opposing guard it is called the Apropiado Measure of Proportion…

~Ettenhard’s Compendium folio 71

Applied to degrees of strength in the bind:

…and thus one should understand the same (in the execution of these Movements) that in the way of choosing the measure of Proportion, it is warned, making difference of when the Swordsman chooses it for himself, or when it is offered chosen to the opponent, saying to the one Propio and to the other Apropiado; since the Propio Movement of increase that the Swordsman makes, offers to the opponent the one of Apropiado decrease: and the one of Propio decrease, gives Apropiado to the opponent the one of increase.

~Ettenhard’s Compendium folio 120-121

By taking a degree of strength in the bind in first intention (Propio) you also give weakness to the adversary (Apropiado).  If you weaken yourself in the bind (Propio) you strengthen your adversary (Apropiado).

I'm sorry, but comments are closed.