Blog post: Companion Class 17/08/2012

We have begun! After a well-deserved rest on my part (if I may say so), Companion classes began once again. Thanks to Jim Clark, Dan Sellars, Rachel Beauchamp and Jean-François Gagné for keeping things running smoothly in my absence. I am ready to retire now.

The Companion curriculum is really about 2 things: getting students to see the breadth of our core weapons (wrestling, dagger, longsword), adding in some depth (arming sword and spear) and making more technically proficient fencers, in contrast to the Novice/Apprentice curriculae that focus on basic techniques and mechanics – fundamentals, if you will.

In that vein, and with all the best intentions, I decided to set aside the breadth material for some weeks and do some tactical work, principally on entering measure safely – what the Bolognese would call “provocations.” To do so, I thought I’d lay some groundwork with some work on measure, using measure to provoke your opponent, and voiding using measure to set up a counter attack.

One of the ways to provoke your opponent is to attack is to entice him by making it irresistible for him to attack. By “teasing” the edge of measure and making yourself a tempting target, you provoke your opponent into making apredictableattack, or so you hope. You must not enter measure too deeply, otherwise you will be hard pressed to defend, and you must be prepared to accept his attack when it does come.

Begin by examining his guard – is the point in or out of presence? This will change the dynamic of the play to follow. We began with out of presence guards.

  1. From a static position, both players assume posta di donna.
  2. The Player attacks with a fendente mandritto.
  3. Using a simple volta stabile, void with measure.

This then progresses to having the defender enter measure linearly to tease out an attack from his opponent. When he attacks, void with a volta stabile and counter attack with your own fendente.

Progress the drills to having both players circle one another, each one gauging measure, with the defender trying to stay just on the edge of measure to entice an attack. When the attacker feels the measure is correct, he attacks, which the defender must void and counter, as above.

Finally, the drill progresses to having the players circle one another as above, except when the defender voids and counters with a fendente, the initial attacker also voids with a volta stabile, returning with a roverso fendente to the defender.

This drill helps students manage measure, employ voids, practise volte stabile, and bridge the gap to antagonistic fencing.