The Cutting Drill – Part 3

Right, on to the next part of the drill. This is a challenging but fun one: it starts familiar, but ends up doing a bunch of crazy things I haven’t had much experience with before.

Last time we ended up in porta di ferro (left leg forward, pommel at the left hip, sword pointing to the right and down) after having broken the opponent’s thrust and defeated him.

Now a new attacker emerges: he’s a traditionalist, so he chooses to come in with a madritto fendente (cut down from right to left) from the posta di donna guard. The defendant (me again) parries, just like in the first drill.

(In the first picture: the defendant. In the second picture, left to right: the defendant and the attacker.)

All safe so far – even I know the first drill. But now, instead of cutting the attacker above the arms, the defendant chooses to feint. He starts a strong mezzano strike to the right. It’s very unlike the usual cuts we’ve done: it’s more horizontal and feels a little German-style-esque (although I really don’t know enough about the difference between the two schools to be sure). The attacker, of course, attempts to defend himself with a parry.

A-ha! He fell into the trap. The defendant quickly moves his sword to the wrong side of the parry and points it at the attacker’s face. Then he reaches up, grabs the blade of his own sword and takes a small step forward (accressere), driving the point of his sword into his opponent’s neck. Back in the day this was best done in armour for obvious reasons (fingers are nice to have).

(From left to right: attacker parrying in vain, defendant about to drive his sword into the attacker.)

In the case that the attacker tries to push the thrust away, the defendant proceeds to take a proper step forward (passare) and turns his sword around, landing a pommel-strike on the attacker’s head.

Here’s the full exercise recapped (the drawings aren’t perfect, but hopefully they get the point across):

The first part of this drill is easy, but the feint poses a challenge. Feints are tricky anyway, but the mezzano strike proves particularly weird. It’s difficult to make the movement fluid and changing the line of my attack also causes problems. Once I get past the feint things get easier again, and by the time I get to the pommel strike it’s really quite fun. I love how all of this makes such perfect sense once you’ve done it a couple of times. One might say that I should have expected that (these techniques were used in real combat after all), but it’s one thing to know that this works and another to experience that it does. It also makes remembering all of this a lot easier.

The drill has me (aka the defendant) ending in another new guard. Like posta di finestra, this one has the weight on the back foot instead of the front foot. This time the sword is held low by only one hand.

Once again, this pair drill turns into a part of the cutting drill simply by painting over the attacker.

I think we only have one more post to go. If this part of the cutting drill was new and fun, the last part is double that. Next time: sword in one hand.


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