Third Lesson: Don’t Get Stuck With the Pointy End

The third lesson was a huge success. Not because I succeeded at everything (I didn’t), or because it was less difficult than what I’d feared it to be (it wasn’t), but because I managed to keep to the rules. I did my best not to focus so much on myself, which helped a ton in not being embarrassed about fumbling at exercises. Because I wasn’t thinking “oh noes, whatever do people think of me for that blunder”, I could concentrate on how to correct my mistakes. As far as the self-confidence issue is concerned, this lesson was a triumph.

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Blocking a Mandritto Fendente with a Sword

This is what we have to do: one of us will stand in place, while the other steps forward and attacks with a mandritto fendente, stopping it just above the pair’s shoulder (in the posta longa position). No masks are necessary.

It takes a while to digest this. The class is silent.

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Five Sword Guards

“The blows create the guards.”

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).

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Fendenti and Sottani Blows

Alright, enough about footwork and daggers! It’s been far too long since I wrote about swords. This third lesson introduced an awesome but scary exercise, which I’ll get to in a post or two. Before describing it, however, I thought it useful to recap in a bit more detail what we learned about sword attacks during the first and second lesson. It’s going to be a bit terminology-heavy, I’m afraid, but I think it’s useful to have all this info in one place.

The first thing we were introduced to was what I called a “downwards slash”, but which Fiore calls the mandritto fendente. From the last dagger-themed post you’ll know that mandritto is the victim’s left side, and riverso is his right side.

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Third Remedy Master of the Dagger

I wrote last week about the dagger defence exercise against a blow to the mandritto (left) side of your head. This week we started working on another exercise against a similar attack, only that this time it’s the one to your riverso (right) side.

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Swordsmanship Terminology

It’s useless to start thinking about passares and dicresseres in the middle of a fight. The part of our brain that handles terminology is just rubbish at dodging blows. But why do we learn it then? Why do I keep bringing up weird Italian terms? If no-one thinks of which poste to take when in combat, why have them at all?

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Getting Out of the Way

The time for battle has come. Your opponent’s eyes glint with murderous rage as he begins to charge. You brace yourself for the crash that will break bones and end a life.

Um… You know you can just get out of the way, right?

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