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.
Sword fighting is totally awesome.
I returned from my first class on medieval swordsmanship alive, happy and totally overwhelmed. My head was bursting at the seams, overflowing with information. Let’s get right down to it. What did my first lesson include?
The answer: enough things for them to be way too much for a single post.
Why Should You Care About How to Fall?
After all, the main point is not to fall, right? Well, yes, that’s true. In a real fight falling would equal death. Thankfully we’re not really in the Middle Ages, so that’s not the case, but we will be floored in more advanced exercises. Because of that, it’s important to learn how to land safely and how to get up.
That’s easier said than done, of course. The teacher’s assistant is thrown down a few times to show us that learning this is possible, but I’m still doubtful. Landing safely from a standing position? Eek. Can’t we at least do this on a soft surface?
No. Falling in real life is not going to happen on a comfortably padded surface, so there’s little point in us learning how to fall on anything but concrete. This makes sense, but it does nothing to cheer me up.
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.