Coach Dan’s right arm thrust forward from the right of The Bird’s head. “So what you have, are four different areas you can attack” — his index finger pointed to the areas of Rune’s body as he spoke — “high right, high left, low left, low right. And for each of those areas, there are two different defenses, two parries.”

“And that’s why there’s eight parries.” Rune stood up from his crouch, but when Coach Dan widened his eyes and pursed his lips, the greasy-haired teen obeyed the silent command to resume his stance.

The Bird asked why he only taught them two of the eight parries, and the arm thrust forward at Rune again. “Look at his low line. You remember the target area in foil?” The petite teen nodded. “Not much to hit down there, is there? I don’t teach the low-line parries in beginner foil, because you’re not likely to get attacked down there. You start rising, get to face stronger opponents, then we can start taking low-line.”

The Bird said she understood, but that only eliminated four parries. He felt her coach’s hand on the back of her neck. “You need a little more experience, blade control before learning the other two high-line parries. Rune, show me four!”

Startled, Rune swung his right arm across his body, turning his wrist over. “Elbow in, don’t bend your wrist!” Rune looked down at his arm, corrected his parry. “Now six!” Rune swung his arm back across his body, dipped his wrist down, then back up. “Fingers! And get your arm out, and up!” Looking desperate, Rune complied.

The arm shot forward again. “My friend, if you can perfect just those two parries, you can do a lot of damage in beginner foil.”

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