Companion class 31/05/2010

As promised, I cleaned things up slightly.  I was very happy with tonight’s class, and in fact if all classes went that well I would have no reason to gripe.  Ever.

We began with our regular circuit-training warm-up.  After recovering, I set them to a drill derived from the second master of giocco largo.  The goals were several, not the least of which was maintaining distance and not collapsing.  It became obvious in free play that folks were attacking directly in rather than attempting to move around the centerline to an open or opening line.  When both players attack simultaneously in this manner (which happens relatively often), distance is collapsed rapidly and the players get all bound up, moving directly to giocco stretto.  The problem with that is simply not using the weapon’s length to its fullest advantage.

So, to remedy, the drill had two focii: maintain distance and use proper leverage against the opposing sword – i.e. forte versus foible to gain a mechanical advantage (aka leverage).  The Players had to step through the drill, repeating each step several times before moving to the next step, taking care that form was alright.  Once assimilated, speed it up to almost full speed (about 3/4) so that you can pull this off in freeplay.

For posterity’s sake, here it is:

  1. Both cut fendente mandritto simultaneously, passing out and diagonally to the right.  The result is a crossing at mezza spada, since Player and Companion are pretty much back to square one, in a bind, but *right foot forward*, unlike the canonical play.  This could technically be a giocco stretto crossing, but the measure is off.
  2. The Player performs the second master of giocco largo and captures the weak(er) part of the Companion’s sword, thrusting through to the face or chest and/or slicing along the hands in the process.  use an acressere to do this, keeping the right foot forward.
  3. Whether or not the Companion parries the thrust, perform a tutta volta of the sword and cut to the head fendente roverso.  The next part of the drill calls for the Companion to at least try to move the point aside.  Of course a proper response would be an exchange of the thrust or a breaking, but we’re working off of an “oh shit” premise here.
  4. In response to the fendente roverso, the Companion performs a rebatter, setting aside the roverso cut and returns with his own cut, fendente mandritto using a traverse with the left foot to the left, again maintaining distance.  Remember to always adopt a guard as you exit measure.
  5. Lastly, the Player raises his hands into posta di finestra destra, covering against the incoming blow.  Follow up by uncrossing the blades, doing a meza volta of the blade behind the Companion’s and strike fendente mandritto of your own before retreating out of distance.
We ran out of time to film, so I’ll try and do that wednesday.
After this, we had again our “guest judges” come to practice for the pas d’armes on Saturday.  We did some “a plaisance” freeplay, including thrusts this time and some limited grappling (to control, not takedown).  controlled pommel strikes are also allowed.
It went well, and I saw a better level of fencing with people being careful and actually trying to make techniques work.  The hits were cleaner, defence was omnipresent, and I’m satisfied with the progression for now.
See.  It ain’t always bad…!