This was our second class in the abrazare rotation. As per usual, we began with a warm up, followed by some partnered falling exercises for back falls and moderately high forward breakfalls.
We then reviewed the remedy master and its play – the arm bar and takedown. Prior to the play, and in keeping with my new approach to teaching falling (for which I really should write a blog post – suffice to say that I want to aproach falling skills with specificity, in other words teach a falling technique specific to each technique), we practised a forward breakfall technique from the arm bar takedown. If the technique is applied improperly, there is a window in which the Companion can roll out, but if it is properly applied, no such window exists. The breakfall isn’t a complicated one – it consists of placing your hand down on the floor to catch your fall, but placing it in such a way as to prevent breaking your wrist or arm or shoulder or… you get the gist. In short, rather than straight-arming it when you are taking down (resulting in possible injury), you should turn your fingers toward your sternum, making your arm form an arc and acting as a shock absorber. As you approach the ground, turn your head away to prevent getting kicked in the teeth and complete the fall. I didn’t invent it, but you can see a breakfall from a similar technique in Aikido below. Also pay particular attention to the way uke (the victim) has his weight shifted to one leg before being drawn to his balance point.
The setup for the first dill is simple – the Companion grips the Player at the base of the neck. The Player shifts his weight slightly back to help straighten the Companion’s arm, then strikes upward from the outside into the outstretched arm, just behind the elbow, locking it up. Please take care, elbows are difficult to replace. Using your hips to drive the takedown, turn to your left and pass with your right foot, posting the Companion onto his rear leg as you bring your left hand to bear (employing the concept of pui forteza to make a reticent opponent go to ground. Keeping the elbow locked, drive the shoulder into the ground to retain complete control. Variants of this would include throwing the Companion over your leg, as well as employing a tutta volta to make a more circular takedown. Complete the takedown by kneeling, keeping your back straight, and driving the locked arm, shoulder first, into the ground. Grab a dagger and get to work.
The third play occurs from several tactical setups, but for our purposes, we can assume the Companion has flinched, removing his arm when the Player tried to strike his elbow. This is our introduction to one of the fundamental precepts on the system: pressure. In the absence of pressure, press forward and flow with the Companion by taking an acressere to the outside of his leading leg with your right leg. Using posta longa, strike/push along the chin, turning the Companion’s head and forcing his weight back along the line of his legs onto his rear leg. His front leg will come up, or at least no longer have any resistance to your lifting it with your left hand, and you can throw him over your right knee.
The next two plays are variants derived from whether he has stepped in rather than flinched back with the elbow strike. In this case, you take control of his waist by using his belt or uniform and pull him toward you. Simultaneously use your right arm, deploying posta longa along his jaw to create a neck crank. As you turn his neck, press back, creating a spine lock and drop the Companion on the back of his head (or rather, press him forcefully down). Of course, for our purposes, employ a somewhat wider circle and take him down to your right in a spiral. This last was taken from my friend Christian Eckert in his Aikido practise, where he advises large circles for beginners, and small circles or tight movements for advanced students. Thanks to Christian for this little tidbit – I picked up on it and decided to integrate it into our practise.
You’ll note that in all these techniques, when done from the right – as in the manuscript – the mechanics of the play isolate the right side of your opponent, preventing his deploying a weapon. Thank you, Fiore.