The Cutting Drill – Part 1

Do you know what the cutting drill is? I’ve thrown the name around in my posts maybe once or twice, but have actually neglected to clearly define it. In fact, I wasn’t even sure if I had described it on this blog at all. Apparently I have – sort of, anyway: Week 1 – Swords Are Heavy. About half-way through that post I start to describe the first version of the cutting drill I learned. Further into the beginner’s course this was expanded on and named the cutting drill (although we still only knew the first half of it). It is an exercise that, as the name implies, is for practicing your cutting technique. We usually spend at least a few minutes on it in the middle of every class.

The first half of the cutting drill can be summed up like this: cut down from the right, cut up to the right, cut down half-way, cut up to the left, cut down from the left, cut up to the left, cut down half-way, cut up to the right, repeat. Exciting, right? Now granted, little things like medieval Italian terminology can make it sound more complicated (mandritto fendente from posta di donna on the right to dente di cinghiaro, riverso sottano to posta di donna on the right, mandritto fendente to posta longa, move to posta di donna on the left, riverso fendente to porta di ferro, mandritto sottano to posta di donna on the left, riverso fendente to posta longa, repeat) but at its heart it’s still cut, cut, cut.

Continue reading

Advertisements

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.

Continue reading

Second Drill Counter-Remedy

The second sword drill begins with a regular cleaving blow as the attack and a sottani blow from dente di cinghiaro (I’ve finally learned to spell that correctly!) as the parry. I’ve described this as “simple and understandable”. The rest of the drill is the opposite.

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

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

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.

Continue reading