The Cutting Drill – Part 4

Last time I ended up in the weird guard pictured below. I don’t actually have any idea of what it’s called, but I suppose it might be related to dente di cinghiaro. You’ll notice that this time we’re holding the sword in our right hand only. That’s because this next part of the cutting drill – and indeed another big theme of this lesson – is sword in one hand.

Once again I’m defending. The attack is a simple mandritto fendente, a cut down from right to left. The defendant blocks it by swinging his sword up and to the right, while at the same time shifting his weight to his front foot (volta stabile) and taking a small step (accressere) to his off-right (off the strada). The way of defending here is similar to the second drill, only it feels a lot cooler. The huge smooth sweep of the sword is quite something to experience – I really felt in charge of the action, but at the same time could feel the sword doing the work.

As the defendant swings his sword up with one hand, the other follows close behind. This is mostly for safety (if your opponent tries anything funny it’s good to have both hands ready), but it can also help in the next step: finishing your opponent off. The attacker’s sword has gone wide, which gives the defendant plenty of time to lower his sword into a mandritto fendente cut (cut from right to left). Note that the defendant doesn’t make a step. The cut can be done with one hand as pictured, or with two.

After successfully cutting the attacker, the defendant returns to his starting position and then lifts his sword up to his shoulder. This is not really a new guard, just another form of posta di donna, but once again the weight is on the back foot instead of on the front one.

And now, finally, I can take up the role of the attacker. In the final part of the cutting drill you move the sword to your front (while taking care that the tip of the sword keeps pointing towards your enemy), take the bicorno guard pictured above and drive the sword into the opponent by taking a step (passare) forward.

We keep playing around with sword in one hand for quite a while, mostly practicing reacting to different situations (which is really tough!) It doesn’t take long for my hand to start seriously cramping. My sword is about as light as a longsword gets, but it’s still no joke to swing it around with one hand for twenty minutes, especially when you’re talking about a weakling like me.

But that’s that. Soon the lesson ends and, after going through the entire cutting drill a few more times, it’s time for the final salute. With this I leave to enjoy my summer vacation, but even as we tour museums and castles I occasionally think the cutting drill over. Once I came back to training, I still remembered it from start to finish. The few minutes of cutting practice in the middle of each lesson are no longer dull.

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