You stand in posta di donna, your sword resting above your right shoulder. I’m awaiting your attack in dente di cinghiaro, my right foot in front and my sword’s pommel at my left hip. You come in with a cleaving blow, but I strike it away by lifting my sword. Next I try to cleave you in two, but you turn your sword across my path and, so shielded, walk in close and wrap my sword arm into a lock.
The beginner’s course wouldn’t be complete without teaching us the full second drill. Back in the fifth week we learned the drill up to the point I’ve described above. Now it’s time for the last step, the counter-counter-remedy. After the dagger exercise we’ve just done it’s not going to be too difficult.
Locks work both ways. The second drill counter-remedy has the attacker wrapping the defendant’s sword arm into a lock, but now we know that it’s a risky move.
We’re told to reverse the lock at the right moment, just as we did in the dagger exercise. By grabbing the blade of your sword with your left hand and doing a stable turn (volta stabile) as you reverse the lock, you can wrench your opponent out of balance (pictured above). At that point he’s at your mercy.
Once again reversing the lock feels pretty easy, although it can be a bit hit-and-miss. Part of the trick seems to be using the opponent’s momentum to your advantage: it’s difficult (for me impossible) to get his arm moving if he freezes into place, but if you are quick with this counter it requires little strength.
If done right, the end of the second drill should see the original attacker crouching on the ground with his left arm stuck behind his back while he himself is the shield between his sword and the defendant. When training we stop here, but of course in the 14th century things would go a little further.
Soon it is time for the last lesson of our beginner’s course to end. The course took two months to experience and more than six to recount here. It’s been quite a journey, and it’s only the beginning.