Eighth Lesson: What “End”?

“Kiitos!” – thank you – rings through the salle after the final salute. And with that, it’s over. Phew. The end?

No, of course not! What “end”? It’s the end of the beginner’s course, yes, but it doesn’t really mean all that much. Most of us – including me – are going to continue attending the basic classes just as before.

While this might not be an end, it certainly is a beginning. We’ve officially left the baby pool and are moving on to the sea (though as beginners we’ll stay in shallow waters). But before rushing in there, it might be a good idea to glance back. What are the most important things I learned during this course? I’ve compiled a list of them below.

    – Overcoming my fears. By the time it came to the first lesson of the beginner’s course, I had already been “intending to start medieval sword fighting” for above two years. Every time a beginner’s course was held something would come up that conveniently prevented me from going. That is, until the February 2012 beginner’s course.
    – “Everybody ends training healthier than they started it.” The one thing we really had to learn during the first lesson, and the one thing that we aspiring swords(wo)men may never forget. First drill? Fourth master of the dagger? Cutting drill? If you forget those you can just ask someone to show them to you and that’s that. But safety, both yours and of others, always has to be kept in mind.
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Second Drill Counter-Counter-Remedy

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.

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Dagger Mandritto Fendente Remedy and Counter-Remedy

So, now that we do know all the basic attacks and defences we can move to the interesting stuff. Remember our very first dagger exercise? It’s time to add some variation to it.

The scenario goes as follows: the attacker comes in with a mandritto fendente (with a dagger). The defendant – that’s you – starts in porta di ferro. As usual, you stop the attack with your left hand. But that’s where the familiarity ends. Instead of disarming your opponent in the normal way, you slide into a lock (pictured above). Continue reading

Defending Against A Straight-On Dagger Attack

Our final lesson begins. Yay? It certainly doesn’t feel like it was only 8 weeks ago that I was still considering backing out of this whole thing.

After the usual warm-up it’s time to do the dagger exercises. Now, we all know the four basic attacks and defences, right? Turns out, no, we don’t. We’ve completely forgotten about the fourth dagger attack! And so before moving on to anything more advanced we have to learn the defence to the fendente dagger strike.

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