Memory is the key component of mastery. Being able to effortlessly recall and recombine elements held in long term memory is the essence of creativity and expertise. This is why I have deliberately crafted my School’s syllabus to be a memory palace. It is obvious when reading Fiore that his system has been organised for memorisation, which is especially apparent in his use of numbers: the 4 guards of abrazare; the “8 things you should know” for abrazare; the four blows of the dagger, and the “five things you should know” to do against the dagger… five plus four is nine, so is it any wonder that there are nine remedy masters of the dagger?
The basic level classes in Helsinki have been focussing on these aspects of the system for the last couple of weeks. Just as Fiore loves us and wants us to be happy, and so provides an answer to every sword-related problem, so too do I love my students, and want them to be happy, so have created all sorts of devices to help them remember the things they wish to learn. Among these efforts are a set of memory verses, published in 2010 as The Armizare Vade Mecum.
By way of a wishing you all a merry Christmas, here is the verse on the nine masters of the dagger. The full text is below the video.
See you next year!
Here we are, Nine masters we,
Teach you all to remedy,
Safe defence for any threat,
We have ne’er been beaten yet!
When the blows come from above,
From right or left, or with a shove,
Left hand, crossed hands, right hand then
Both hands high we win again!
When he comes to collar grab,
Fifth will cover any stab!
Dagger high, it’s sixth you see,
Disarm, stab him, done with glee!
Seventh has the dagger crossed
In armour he has never lost,
Dagger low, eighth of course,
Also done hands joined for force.
Then both hands down for number nine:
See that player wince and whine!
But watchful for the counters thus:
See he comes to elbow push,
Or trap your wrist, or feint you see,
Or see it not! Then one two three!
When he wants to give you strife,
Go fast against his dang’rous knife!
Hands arms and elbows, all must play
And surely you will win the day.
O scholar you must heed our call
Arms crossed armour; never fall;
Make your cover, make your strike,
Then to break him as you like.
The five things all go together:
Like sword and dagger, steel and leather:
Disarm locks breaks throw him down,
Strike to win the master’s crown!