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New Beginnings, part 3

The third class of this beginner’s course was oddly attended, in that half the students present were not members of this course. Great for the true beginners, of course.

We started with the salute, of course, then the warm up, into which I incorporated the beginnings of knuckle push-ups— being able to create a stable platform on three (little, ring and middle) or two (first and middle) knuckles, then adding the actual push-up motion. We did not go the full Eurythmic push-up! We also reviewed falling, briefly.

Then review of the four steps, and three turns, done to command, then the four guards drill as a set sequence. This is by far the longest choreography they have been asked to memorise, so I incorporated some free practice of the drill so they could work on remembering it. While they were doing that, I then had them get to the ground and back up using no hands whenever I clapped (there is something magic about a room full of people falling down when you clap your hands!). Then out with the stick, again while they were working on remembering the four guards drill, or any of the other footwork drills they know. I made the point that in a room full of people training with weapons they must always retain awareness of their surroundings. The stick is great for that!

Then into the first master of dagger disarm, as revision. After which they had the choice to do a different technique against the same attack, or the same technique against an attack in a different line. They chose the latter, so I showed them the third master disarm from the flowdrill. I think it is vital that swordsmanship students are not trained to be passive consumers of a class— they must be taught to be actively engaged in their own training. After they were training that for a while, I took them to the Book— and lo! No such technique! So out with the Pisani Dossi MS, and sure enough proof that I was not making shit up. Having seen it in the book, they did it again.

Then I showed them all the dagger material that they had seen so far on the course: 1st, 2nd and 3rd plays of the first master, and now the 1st and 2nd plays of the third master in the PD. They then could choose the technique “that currently holds your interest” and train that.

This took us to 7pm, and we took up the swords. I had them do just mandritto fendente from donna destra through longa to dente di zenghiaro, and back up with roverso sottano. Then roverso fendente from donna la sinestra through longa to tutta porta di ferro, and mandritto sottano back up. We then put those together to make part one of the cutting drill.

From here they practiced cutting from donna to their partner’s mask, while the partner waits in tutta porta di ferro (aka step one of first drill).

And that brought us on to the parry from tutta porta di ferro, aka step two of first drill, or better yet, the second play of the master crossed at the middle of the swords in zogho largo.

We did it for a little while, looked at it in the book, then did it again. This brought us to time, where I showed them how to salute while holding their masks, and we were done. This course, like the last, is exemplary for the way they stay on to train after class, and for showing up also on Wednesdays. I have high hopes for them all!

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