I survived!

Phew! That went better than expected. I felt some awkwardness and confusion, sure, but also a lot of happiness afterwards. I’m glad I went!

Thankfully today we did a lot of going back to basics: different masters of the dagger, first drill, second drill, breaking of the thrust, exchanging of the thrust. I struggled with some of them, some I remembered, though I did none perfectly. By the end of the class I could barely think, much less lift a sword. But it was worth it.

The most interesting exercise to share is one we did in the first half of the lesson, which we spent training with daggers. After having gone through the four basic attacks and defences of the dagger, we were split into groups of three and told to practice. The goal was to have a continuous rotation of random attacks and appropriate defences; you were not supposed to stay stationary for one moment.

Needless to say, it was a chaotic experience! Lots of attacking the wrong person and messing up the defence. Though usually I’m pretty terrified of such exercises (uncertainty is not fun), this one was quite enjoyable as well as useful. Once you remove the rigid frame (or “scaffolding”, as our teacher called it) of the carefully set starting positions and instead put the fighters in a changing, more complex situation, you can see how much they really know. In my case, as it turns out, it’s not too much, but not nothing either. While a determined fighter would beat me every time, I was happy to see that it wasn’t that difficult for me to react appropriately to the different attacks. My defences weren’t worthless either. Recognizing an attack quickly and defending myself without conscious thought is still something I need to practice, but it’s nice to see that I haven’t forgotten everything.

The fact that I went to training with my father made things considerably less stressful. The presence of a friend helped me to laugh at myself more and relax a bit. I do hope that in the future I’ll be more comfortable going to training again. The only way to achieve that is to train more. I can’t promise that I’ll go or update every week, but I’d like to try.

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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How Not to Keep Your Balance

This lesson is all about balance again. After a warm-up we are paired up and told to do an exercise similar to the one we began our first ever lesson with. We face each other and try to get the other off-balance.

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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

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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