Basic Dagger Defence

A dagger’s heading towards your face. What do you do? Flinch, duck and run like hell? Not in the middle ages, and not if you listen to Fiore. Instead, you take the dagger.

But how do you do that? Well, this is how it’s supposed to go:

  1. Your opponent attempts to strike you with a fendente mandritto, a blow targeting the left side of your head (from your point of view). As he does this, he takes a step forward (passare).
  2. You extend your left arm before the blow lands to block his attack.
  3. You grab his wrist and twist his hand to your right.
  4. You pull his hand down and to your right. This brings him out of balance, as the line you’re pulling him in is perpendicular to the line formed by his feet.
  5. You take the dagger from his weakened grip and finish him off. (Or at least you would do the latter if it was a fight to the death in the medieval period. Today? Yeah, you better forget the last part.)

It doesn’t sound that tricky, and doesn’t look it either. But as it turns out, it is difficult.

We’re told to fetch fencing masks, find pairs and practice. It doesn’t go well. The guy I pair up with tries to help me out (he has no problems with the exercise), but the masks make it hard to hear what he’s saying, and it’s impossible to see his face. The blocking part doesn’t give me much trouble, but disarming certainly does. Taking the dagger is a clumsy struggle, far from the quick and effortless elegance I see others achieving. By the time we stop I feel defeated, frustrated and embarrassed.

This brings us to an important topic: self-confidence issues. I’ll talk about that in the next post.

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5 thoughts on “Basic Dagger Defence

  1. We do similar things in my kung-fu training; self defense against knives, bats, pipes etc. You never know when someone might attack you, with any kind of weapon. Great post and I look forward to sharing more with you:)

    • Thank you. :) I’m taking these classes mainly because I like history, but you’re right about self defence being an important skill. While one can’t take everything taught at swordsmanship lessons and apply them directly to a real attacker (the medieval justice system was quite a bit different from ours), knowing these things doesn’t hurt.

  2. That’s vaguely what happened to me the ONE day I tried a sport fencing course. You must understand it was an after class sort of thing taught by some bored looking students who were not very inspiring on initial inspection. We went through some warm ups, but no theories, and then did some sort of lunge and slap exercise with socks or something. I know I was getting slapped by my opponent (a guy larger than I of course) and was not getting any slaps in myself. This was pissing me off, and it was then that I decided my ego was not going to let me do this class. QUITTER! you shout, and yes I was. I don’t regret it though, as I think that was not the type of class for me. I wanted more structure and more respectable instructors. But I never did seek it out. Oh well, maybe another lifetime!

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