Most of the more “interesting” exercises are the ones that focus on one scenario. For example, a dagger defence exercise teaches us what to do against a specific attack. There are, however, some exercises that are not tied to one situation. Take steps, for example. I wrote about the 4 steps last week: passare, tomare, accressere and dicressere. (Confused about the vocabulary? I’ve added a glossary for quick and easy reference.) Steps are not defences or attacks, but are usually a part of them. They serve as building blocks for exercises like a dagger defence.
We begin our second lesson with a “building block” exercise similar to the steps. It’s time to learn the three turns.
Once we’re done with the warm-up (and the falling exercise), the teacher asks us to get to one of the shorter sides of the hall. That seems sort of weird – we have never made a line of more than four people there. For a moment everyone hesitates, but once the teacher has to order us again, we all rush to form a crowded line.
“Now walk. Just walk, go on!” the teacher says. We all walk across the hall. Then we have to walk again, while paying attention to how we do it. One foot goes forward, the hand on the opposite side does the same. Easy enough, right? Our hands balance our movement so we keep looking straight ahead.
One more walk across the hall. This time we have to do it “kind of stupid”, putting our left foot and hand forward at the same time, and the same for the right side. If you stand up and do this, you’ll notice that you turn to look from one side to the other with each step. This brings us to the first turn, which I’ll explain below.
Look at the picture above. On the left, the creepy-eyed figure is turned towards you. “Ew!” you exclaim. “Stop staring at me!” The figure takes a step forward with his right foot (passare) and turns his head to look at the opposite direction. He has just performed a Meza Volta, a “half turn”. It’s essentially a passare with your upper body turned slightly to one side, or, put more simply, a step done in the “stupid” fashion that I described just before.
Volta Stabile, the “stable turn”, comes up next. It is indeed very stable: not once do you have to lift a foot from the ground. Instead, you shift your weight from one foot to the other. Doing this in the correct stance (pictured) will allow you to turn around by about 125 degrees, so more-or-less facing the opposite direction.
The last one of the three caused me some problems, even though it’s pretty simple. Keeping the foot with your weight on it in place, you spin your other foot around it in a circle. Ta-da! You’ve performed a Volta Tutta, “full turn”. This turn will allow you to face in any direction.
Once we have gone through all the different turns together, we are told to practice by ourselves. This turns out to be quite a bit more chaotic than any of the previous exercises: people are turning around and about, making steps in all directions. Each movement needs to be considered twice to avoid bumping into someone. But there’s another catch: there’s a teacher with a stick on the loose.