Fourth Lesson: Drills and Glossaries

I did okay. This is a new thing to feel when walking home from training. I’m not sad or disappointed in myself (I managed to keep to the rules quite well), but not ecstatic either. Hm. Perhaps I’m just getting more used to this. Continue reading

Second Drill Attack and Remedy

There’s not much more time left before this lesson ends, but we’re told to line up and observe one final exercise. So far we’ve been working on the first sword fighting drill in pairs: we have learned how to strike a mandritto fendente, block it by going from the porta di ferro position to posta frontale, and how to push through said block. Now it’s time to set that drill aside for a while: we’re moving on to the first two steps of the second drill.

A drill begins with the opponents taking their starting guards: in this case (just like in the first drill) the attacker is in posta di donna.

Making things a little different this time is the fact that the defendant takes the dente di cinghiaro guard instead of porta di ferro.

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Countering the Block to a Mandritto Fendente (Sword)

Here’s the scenario: you attack with a mandritto fendente, a forehand cleaving blow. Your opponent, the villain that his is, is not content with standing there and letting you cut through him, so he takes the posta frontale position to block you. Since you’ve been reading this blog, you know that he now intends to step off the strada, slice your arm off and poke a hole through your face. We’ve been through this.

But does the fact that someone has decided to hit your sword away mean that you should meekly submit to defeat? No! You’re still standing firmly on two feet, free from any lock, not to mention that you’ve got a perfectly good sword in your hand. It takes more than a block to stop a medieval swordsman in his tracks – literally. Continue reading

Dagger Disarm Flowdrill

We now know how to defend against three dagger attacks: one targeting the right side of the head (from the attacker’s perspective), another targeting the left side, and a third aiming for the stomach. So, we’ve learned most of the basic dagger defences (a.k.a. disarms)… or have we? Just knowing isn’t necessarily enough. Defences like these have to be instinctual on some level to be practical. How do we achieve that? Practice, practice, practice. Or, in other words, the dagger disarm flowdrill. Continue reading

Defence Against Sotto Dagger Attack

I’m not feeling very well as we’re riding the bus to class. Were it an extra lesson or some other hobby I would’ve stayed home, but I don’t want to fall behind on the beginner’s course. I find myself wondering what would happen if the teacher got ill. I don’t suppose the class would be cancelled…

As it turns out, the teacher is sick. The assistant teacher takes over after the salute, and the class starts normally. We have our warm-up and footwork repetition, then move on to daggers. We’ve already learned defences against the mandritto and riverso attacks, so it’s time to complete the triangle: what do you do when the dagger is heading for your liver instead of the sides of your head?

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Revisiting the Third Remedy Master of the Dagger

The week has gone by quickly and it’s time to go to sword school again. Because of heavy snowfall we take care to leave early, and arrive well before the lesson starts. This gives us a perfect opportunity to ask the assistant teacher to clarify last lesson’s dagger exercise. How come the opponent doesn’t seem to be under our control?

He agrees with us that the version we learned does not bring the opponent out of balance (although apparently there’s another version that does so, but which is not as faithful to Fiore’s illustrations). We also don’t have a strong lock in place on the opponent, so he can get out of our grip pretty easily.

From this one might think (indeed, I did) that the technique is ineffective. That turns out to be untrue: there’s a trick to the exercise that we weren’t explained. Distraction.

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