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.
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.
There’s something with Fiore and the number 4. Don’t believe me? Take a look at what we learned during our first swordsmanship lesson.
Four Basic Steps
Once we finish the warm-up our teacher tells us to get in line. Take a step forward, he says. Now take one backward. Pass forward. Back. Pass. Pass. Back.
Fiore calls these steps “passare” and “tomare“. Sounds cooler than “pass forward” and “step back”, right? Good, because we’ll be using the Italian terms instead of English ones. After a few more passares and tomares two new words appear: “accressere” and “dicressere“. When doing the accressere you step forward without changing which foot is in front, so it’s a smaller step than passare. The same is true for discressere, it’s a small step backwards.