Companion Class 16/04/2012

Hello all,

I’ve been somewhat remiss in posting classes of late, partly due to life getting in the way of my hobbies and partly due to a conscious effort to scale back my projects. But, I promised the good people last night I’d post the exercises, and true to my word, I will do just that – so here goes.

The warm-up was followed by a simple flow drill, moving from cutting to thrusting.

  • Begin in posta di donna la soprana, back weighted.
  • Begin your cut, pivot your hips and pass forward, cutting to posta longa
  • Recover through dente di cinghiale, shifting your weight back into posta di donna soprana la sinestra
  • Continuing fluidly through the guard, bring your point online, pivot using your hips and push the thrust forward and o ver your head. Pass forward, ending in posta longa with a left foot lead.
  • Drop the point, passing through posta di coda longa and back up to posta di donna la soprana with a turn of the hips to shift your weight back.
  • Repeat.

We followed this with a dynamic targeting drill meant to work on transition fluidly between opportune targets. One partner is given a buckler, while the other performs the drill. The person sporting the buckler must orient it in the direction he wants the cut to originate from, so to the right upper diagonal indicates a fendente, lower left diagonal a sottani roverso, flat to the right a mezani, straight on indicates a thrust. After each blow, the partner re-orients his buckler, giving his partner a new target. For his part, the partner doing the cuts can choose to either cut *to* the target, retreating to a suitable guard, or *through* the target, usually in the form of a slice, before recovering to another guard with some flow. This represents, for all intents and purposes, the difference between half cuts and full cuts.

Taking the drill one step further, have the buckler wielding partner move about and offer a dynamically moving target. The cutting partner must then adjust his measure and use suitable footwork to attain the target. Remember, don’t overreach and don’t collapse – get into the proper measure for each cut, even if you miss a tempo. The buckler is not fighting back, so it’s not problematic.

Since we had few people and many bucklers, I added a degree of difficulty to it by having the partners hold two bucklers, presenting two targets, and the cutting partner must employ compound cuts.

A discussion of mezzo tempo actions followed, notably attacking into guard transitions and preparations for attack. In essence, whenever the point is moving out of presence and you are in a correct measure, take the tempo and strike. The person going through the guard transitions should attempt to minimise those tempi either by moving through transitory guards or by employing measure. For instance, moving from tutta porta di ferro to posta di donna, both front weighted can expose you to an attack. Moving through posta breve as you do so minimises the time an opponent has to attack, although there is still a tempo as you move from breve to di donna. The goal is to minimise that tempo. This can also be accomplished by moving from porta di ferro to posta di donna with a volta stabile into a back-weighted posta. Changing measure provides a measure of safety as you transition.

Now I’d like to say I set up the drill first by having the Companions transition through poste as they normally would, then giving the lesson on guard transitions and minimising those tempi, but I didn’t. So the exercise was simply one of having an attacker and someone transitioning and either attempting to minimise the tempi or purposely giving a tempo to see if the Player took the bait. Part of the goal is not to take every tempo offered, but to recognise when those tempi occur and when you may or may not take advantage of them due to whatever conditions are present.

Finally, we examined the bind, or more properly, the quality of the bind. Fiore gives us explicit instructions fo several types of crossing or bind, but there are a few more that can occur in a fight. Let’s look at them, as seen from the defender’s point of view:

  • punta vs. punta
  • punta vs. mezza
  • punta vs. tutta
  • mezza vs. punta
  • mezza vs. mezza
  • mezza vs tutta
  • tutta vs. punta
  • tutta vs. mezza
  • tutta vs. tutta

I will refrain here from explaining the dynamics and responses to each of these crossings, although they could easily form the basis for an article in themselves. Suffice to say the ensuing exercise had the Player cutting fendente to the Companion. The Companion had to give the Player varied crossings and pressure upon which the Player had to act. After a time, the drill was made antagonistic, in the sense that once in the bind, both partners had to seek to capitalise on the quality of the bind by employing the proper action. I should note here that students were encouraged to take a moment to feel out the bind before acting.