This topic is a tad difficult to write about – I only just understand it myself – but I’ll do my best. Our sixth lesson starts, as the lessons usually do, with practicing the unarmed guards. Easy enough. This time, however, we don’t move straight on to the dagger exercises. Instead, we’re told to continue practicing the unarmed guards, steps and turns, and to pay special attention to how we “lead” each attack.
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.
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.
The time for battle has come. Your opponent’s eyes glint with murderous rage as he begins to charge. You brace yourself for the crash that will break bones and end a life.
Um… You know you can just get out of the way, right?