Companion class 28/03/11

Continuing our focus on the stretto plays, we moved away from the “pommel” plays, and practised the various grapples that the manuscript details.

The first play is obviously the first scholar of stretto.  This play is the same setup as the follow-up (or counter to, depending on your particular interpretation) to the scambiar di punta.  From the bind, reach over your sword and either place your point in his face, or as is my preference, compass out to the left and strip if from him as you put your point online.  Fiore tells us this can be done from either an overhand or underhand crossing, so we practised the play form the roverso as a rising parry versus a fendente mandritto. The attacker, sensing what’s going down, turns his mandritto into a roverso, binding down on the sword. Yielding to the pressure, step through and do the play as advertised.

The next play we did was the 6th play of stretto, where you instead pass your left hand under the sword.  This frees up your blade, allowing you to suppress his hands and/or wrap his arms while you put the point in his face. The follow-up and alternative to this is the wonderful sword wrap/hilt grab.  The difference?  Measure.

This was followed with what should be a familiar concept by now, the 14th play of stretto – based off the dagger first master remedy bind and disarm.  Slip your hand between the companion’s hands and twist sharply to the left, bringing your hand back to your body and neatly slicing his face and putting your point in his face.  See a recurring theme here?

The counters to this are several.  The manuscript shows two – ostensibly based on the companion’s pressure.  If he presses in with the ligadura mezana, flow with it, pivot and put him into a ligadura chiave, using your sword as leverage in a half-sword grip.  It’s good form to use your guard to hook his neck and aid the takedown.

The second counter has you stepping in agressively, or him fleeing,or both. Placing your leading right leg to his outside, Fiore says to slice his throat. Place your blade to his neck pommel up, point down – again in a half sword grip to strengthen the action. Slice from left to right, inverting the position of the sword as you do so and effectively breaking the companion’s structure.  Either step through or step back to complete the takedown.

I assume Fiore doesn’t show the counter to the disarm, simply because he has shown it previously.  Why does he show us the same ligadura counter then? Ostensibly since we’re using a longer lever to effect the play, slightly changing the mechanics.

We briefly repeated the high, low and middle disarms from the right, and glossed over the sword grab and kick (technically a grapple of the sword, I guess.)

The pommel hook over the sword coupled with a hand suppression/control from the PD was our next play, although we only practised it briefly given its relative simplicity and familiarity.  Yes, I know it’s a pommel play – I just forgot it last time around and wanted to include it for completeness.

Last were the plays from the roverso cover.  The first is the cover followed by a yield and arm wrap.  We initially did it from dente di zenghiar, but it is equally doable from any roverso cover.  Its counter, which we did not practice, is a chiave forte – the regular counter to a ligadura mezana.

Finally, I wanted to see the dagger disarm from a roverso cover in the PD.  Following the cover, reach between the companion’s hands with your left (always keep your dominant hand on the sword) and torque it clockwise. While this is the canonical version of the play, and is reminiscent of the third remedy of dagger (at least in terms of being versus a roverso attack, with the caveat that the dominant hand remains on the sword, and so adjusted accordingly), it is meant to illustrate a principle – the disarms can be done from the reverse, keeping your point inline.  This is made possible since you’re on the outside of the blade with your sword, and so there is no need to volta with the pommel. We can thus perform the high, middle and low disarms from the roverso cover by grabbing the pommel, handle and wrapping the arms as the opportunity arises.

Next week will be an amalgam of the past weeks, using pressure and measure to build decision making drills.  If the Companion is hard, soft or neutral in the bind, different options become available – pommel, grapple, disarm, sword wrap, etc.  Fun fun fun…