Guards, or postes, are present in every attack and defence we learn. While they don’t construct these attacks, they’re an important part of them. What are these guards, then? How many are there? Plenty. More than five, anyhow. But so far we’ve only ever encountered five, four of which are based on the unarmed guards I’ve already introduced (the unarmed guards can be taken with virtually any weapon).
Unarmed, posta longa is the ending position of the action “crush his throat”. With a sword it looks similar, the only real difference being that you’ve got both arms stretched out – and that you’re wielding a steel blade over three feet long, of course. This is the middle position of a cleaving or rising blow (fendenti or sottani blow).
Dente di cinghiaro unarmed, on first glance, looks quite different from the same guard with a sword, but upon closer inspection they do resemble one another. In the picture above, the left arm is in the same position, as are the feet. The “jaw-breaking” raised hand, however, is lowered to the sword’s grip in the second picture. Dente di cinghiaro with a sword is one of the two “resting” guards we were taught, appropriate for awaiting the enemy’s actions. Mandritto fendente ends, and riverso sottani begins in it.
Posta frontale, also known as “I’m going to crush your head like a melon”, translates to a sort of salute with a sword. It’s going to be an important part of the exercise we’ll move on to shortly.
The other “resting guard” is porta di ferro. Here it’s not difficult to see the similarities between the unarmed and armed versions of the guard. Riverso fendente ends, and mandritto sottani begins in porta di ferro.
So, that’s four guards. But doesn’t the title say five?
Last but not least there’s posta di donna, the beginning position of the cleaving (fendenti) blows. In this guard the sword is placed on or above your shoulder, left or right.
Why are these guards important? The teacher stresses again that they’re parts of an attack or defence. The attack or defence always came first, but that doesn’t change the fact that guards are included in them. Therefore, if you attack with a mandritto fendente (a basic cleaving blow starting from your right shoulder) and don’t end the attack in dente di cinghiaro, you can be fairly certain that there’s something wrong with your technique. By observing your attacks and defences and checking that the proper guards are visible in them you make sure that you’re doing each exercise correctly.
Finally, with all that theory and repetition behind us, it’s time for some action. We get back into a line to hear the teacher’s instructions.
They’re simple: pairs, swords, mandritto fendente. No masks.