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Down under again!

The second day of the Sydney seminar began with revision and expansion on the first day’s work, taking some of the dagger plays into a freeplay-type context, then going over much of the sword material again. This established a base, upon which we built an understanding of how the material fits together, and how we can develop the skills needed to apply the art at speed: the bridge between set drills and freeplay. The focus throughout was on how our actions are dependent on those of the opponent. What he is doing determines what will work against him. This lead us in to thinking about avvisamento, foresight, learning to predict the likely blade relationship by manipulating what the opponent sees and can use. (I am working on a post about training methods for developing this skill.)

I try to leave plenty of time for students to ask questions: it is my job to lead them to the next level of their training, which is of course dependent on their current level, experience and interests. The stand-out question was “how do we prevent sniping at the hands in freeplay?” To which my answer is always “don’t expose them when you attack”. Turns out that this gang of Silver fans, like everyone else, was moving in false times. So we spent quite a bit of time working on the basic mechanics of striking without leaving an opening to your hands.

Time and again on this trip it was drummed into me that my best contributions to this Art, and to the students training in it are: the study of mechanics and the coherent organisation of my interpretations into syllabi. These far more than the specifics of those interpretations.

By the end of the weekend I think all the participants came away with a clear picture of the mechanical and tactical structure of Fiore’s system, and an idea of how to develop their skills in an efficient and effective manner. Well done to all!

Monday was spent mostly at the amazing Alexander the Great exhibition at the Australian Museum, then free fencing the Stoccata crew in the evening. This was great fun, and to stimulate their already keen desire to smack me about, I offered a prize of an SES patch for the best hit I received. This was won by Richard Cullinan with a tasty little one-two at single rapier. I didn’t even see it before it landed. Lovely!

This whole trip has been a delight: the students in my classes, their instructors my hosts, the company and the food- even the trips back and forth were not too bad. So, fingers crossed for a return in 2014!

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