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New Beginnings, part 4

Week 4 and we are half way through the course. We ran through a normal warm-up, including kicking squats, knuckle push-ups and falling. Then I had them remember as much as they could of the four guards drill, with minimal demonstration. A few of the attendees had missed last week’s class, and this really highlighted what they had missed. I made the point that we run the class for those who have been attending more regularly, but provide as much help in catching up as we can. We then reviewed the three turns, which string together nicely into a little drill (yes, I really do need to catch up with the wiki updates!).

They then had some free practice of the four steps (note, only a superficial demo, so they practice remembering), with the four guards and the three turns. And out with the stick- it was carnage! They had all forgotten how to get out of the way, so we reviewed the exercise. Then I made the point again that these steps and turns are natural actions, that you will do without thought when someone swings a stick at your head- but by classifying them, ordering them into a system, they can be studied and taught. And while the stick was in play, they had naturally done a particular combination, stepping the front foot offline, then passing across. So then we studied the accrescere fora di strada, passare ala traversa combination in isolation.

This brought us on to the third master disarm (PD MS), which we studied for a while, then the first and second plays of the first master (disarm, counter), then the third (ligadura mezana, aka wrap). So, a complete review of the dagger material they have covered so far. We broke for a moment for an intelligence test— I had them hit the ground with their fists. Sure enough, almost all used a hammer fist: but most had been doing the hand strike after the ligadura by straight-punching their partner’s mask. I made the point that striking hard targets with the knuckles of a closed fist is a high level skill, which they have not been taught. I may also have gone on a bit about how boxing gloves have degenerated the noble science into a sport, but heigh-ho.

Then the disarm of the ninth master. They don’t know it, unless they read this blog (as they should!) but the flowdrill is coming next week. All the pieces are now in place. We looked at the technique in the book, then they got to practice whatever dagger material they liked.

Thence to swords and the cutting drill. First just mandritto fendente from donna destra to longa to zenghiaro, and roverso sottano back up; then as a separate drill roverso fendente from donna la sinestra to longa to tutta porta di ferro, and mandritto sottano back up; then we strung together part one of the cutting drill. I also spent some time having them distinguish between tutta porta di ferro and coda longa.

Then to first drill, steps one and two, from last week; then we did step three, the only actually new longsword material this week. At the end I challenged them to find step three (yield to the parry and enter with a pommel strike) in the manuscript for next week.

All in all, good progress!

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