The Cutting Drill – Part 4

Last time I ended up in the weird guard pictured below. I don’t actually have any idea of what it’s called, but I suppose it might be related to dente di cinghiaro. You’ll notice that this time we’re holding the sword in our right hand only. That’s because this next part of the cutting drill – and indeed another big theme of this lesson – is sword in one hand.

Once again I’m defending. The attack is a simple mandritto fendente, a cut down from right to left. The defendant blocks it by swinging his sword up and to the right, while at the same time shifting his weight to his front foot (volta stabile) and taking a small step (accressere) to his off-right (off the strada). The way of defending here is similar to the second drill, only it feels a lot cooler. The huge smooth sweep of the sword is quite something to experience – I really felt in charge of the action, but at the same time could feel the sword doing the work. Continue reading

Back to Training Again


First class of this autumn’s beginner’s course yesterday. Tons of beginners – so many, in fact, that the salle was too full for me and dad to join in. It’s really awesome that so many people are interested in sword fighting (though it did make things a little scary once the swords were off the rack). :)

It felt odd to just sit and observe, especially since I still remembered pretty well what it was like to be a first-timer. Was itching to hold a sword by the time the class was done, so we did some free training with dad. Turns out I still have the bad habit of blocking and stepping at the same time in the first drill. I’m tempted to call it a stupid mistake, but on second thought I’m not sure that’s the right attitude to take. I should see these type of situations not as failings, but opportunities to learn and improve. A correction is not a rebuke: it’s a friendly piece of advice intended to help you. I feel a bit silly writing about something so obvious, but I’m still struggling to really get it through to myself.

(A note: there was an error in one of my illustrations for the previous post. It’s too late for me to change it today, but it should be fixed by tomorrow. EDIT: Fixed the image and the description in the 8th paragraph. :) )

The Cutting Drill – Part 3

Right, on to the next part of the drill. This is a challenging but fun one: it starts familiar, but ends up doing a bunch of crazy things I haven’t had much experience with before.

Last time we ended up in porta di ferro (left leg forward, pommel at the left hip, sword pointing to the right and down) after having broken the opponent’s thrust and defeated him.

Now a new attacker emerges: he’s a traditionalist, so he chooses to come in with a madritto fendente (cut down from right to left) from the posta di donna guard. The defendant (me again) parries, just like in the first drill.

(In the first picture: the defendant. In the second picture, left to right: the defendant and the attacker.)

All safe so far – even I know the first drill. But now, instead of cutting the attacker above the arms, the defendant chooses to feint. He starts a strong mezzano strike to the right. It’s very unlike the usual cuts we’ve done: it’s more horizontal and feels a little German-style-esque (although I really don’t know enough about the difference between the two schools to be sure). The attacker, of course, attempts to defend himself with a parry.

Continue reading

The Cutting Drill – Part 2

As said in part 1, it’s time to go beyond the old “cut-cut-cut-cutting drill”. Since we happen to be three beginners and three experienced students, each beginner gets a sort-of personal instructor for this class. The first exercise we do is described below.

The defendant (me) takes the posta di finestra guard. It literally means “window guard”, and I guess I can see why.

This is a funny sort of guard. Instead of having your weight on your front foot you shift it on to your back foot (the right), but you keep facing forward. Your arms are crossed on the right side of your head and are holding the sword up in a horizontal position, so that the tip of your sword stares your opponent in the face. I’ve seen others use this guard, but this is the first time I try it. It takes a few moments to get used to. Continue reading

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

First Drill Counter-Counter-Remedy, Full First Sword Drill

Once we’re done with examining the unarmed guards we move to the dagger exercises (more specifically, the dagger flowdrill). After that comes solo sword cutting practice and then our new sword exercise: the fourth step of the first drill.

It’s been a while, so I better quickly go through the steps that we’ve learned so far: First, the attacker comes forward with the mandritto fendente. Second, the defendant parries the attacker’s blow and attempts to cut him. Third, the attacker shields himself from the defendant’s cut and comes in with a pommel strike.

The attacker might now think: “Ha! I’ve used my sword as a shield and my pommel is a split second away from my opponent’s face! There’s no way I can lose now.” He’d be wrong. The fourth, final step of the first drill lets the defendant get the last word.

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