Bolognese Sword & Buckler Curriculum – Lesson 11

Lesson 11 – The Falso Parry &  Riposte

Revision

  1. Stance
  2. Grip
  3. Footwork
  4. Cuts

Concept 1 – Falso Parry against the Thrust

From Porta di Ferro Stretta, when the enemy passes with the left foot extending the thrust, parry it with a falso…
[Manciolino – Libro 1, Capitolo 14 & Libro 4, Capitolo 9]

Class Note

There are 3 variants to this parry, and we explored all 3 of them, and looked at the problems with trying to parry the low outside line with a falso.

  1. When the opponent thrusts into our high inside line, the falso parry is performed by cutting a falso with the point up from Porta di Ferro Stretta to Sopra il Braccio.
  2. If the thrust drops to the low inside line, the transition is a point down falso to Sotto il Braccio.
  3. If the thrust is to our high outside line, the falso parry is made as an extension into Guardia di Faccia, whilst turning the hand into 4th in 3rd.
  4. If the thrust goes to the low outside line, you do not parry it with a falso, as it doesn’t close the line.

Concept 2 – Parry And Riposte Against The Thrust And Riverso

From Porta di Ferro Stretta, when the enemy passes with the left foot to throw the thrust, parry with the false edge without moving your feet. When the enemy throws the riverso, pass left parrying the riverso by turning your true edge towards his sword, and defending your head with your buckler. Riposte by checking the enemy's sword with your buckler and throwing a stocatta to the face or chest, and then jump backwards, ending in Porta di Ferro Stretta.
[Manciolino – Libro 4, Capitolo 9]

Class Note

This drill is to teach defence against a redoubled attack. Since the feet do not move for the falso parry, all you have to do is pick the correct parry for the line through which the attack is made. In this case, because the redoubled attack will be riverso, the initial thrust by the opponent must be a provocation thrust to the inside, since a provocation to the outside just closes the line through which we wish to attack. For the defender it becomes…

  1. Parry with falso sweeping sword to left
  2. Parry with true edge cutting to right
  3. Check their sword and stab them with a rising thrust.

This sequence actually shows how the falso parry sets you up to quickly parry an subsequent redoubled blow, which is the teaching aim of this drill.

Concept 3 – Parry Riposte Against Thrust & Riverso To The Leg Combination

From Porta di Ferro Stretta, when the enemy passes left to throw the punta, traverse with the left foot and parry with a falso, ending in Guardia di Faccia. When the enemy throws the riverso to the leg, pass right and parry with a rising mezzo riverso, and riposte with a mandritto traversale to the sword arm, defending the head with your buckler. Pass back with the right foot into Guardia di Faccia, and then pass back the left foot ending in Porta di Ferro Stretta.
[Manciolino – Libro 4, Capitolo 9]

Class Note

This time the enemy provokes with the thrust through the high outside line, so that they can redouble to the low outside line. The falso is done as the extension into Guardia di Faccia with a traversing step of the left foot. This helps reorient the extending sword into the incoming thrust, creating a good crosswise opposition to the incoming sword. We then follow this with the correct parry against any outside blow to the leg, which is the rising mezzo riverso cut into the blow, and should be recognisable to modern fencers as the parry of 2nd. The riposte to the sword arm is made on the corrective step, and we finish with another classic Bolognese defence, the retreat behind the extended sword. (Colloquially called the F$%# Off defence when I teach it!) It’s designed to stop the enemy chasing you down.


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Bolognese Sword & Buckler Curriculum – Lesson 12

Lesson 12 – Thrust Provocations

Warm Up Drills

  1. Mandritto to Sopra il Braccio & riverso to Coda Lunga from Guardia Alta on a pass left and a pass right.
  2. Mandritto to Sotto il Braccio & rising riverso to Guardia Alta from Guardi Alta on a pass left and right.
  3. Fendente & Tramazzoni from Guardia Alta on a pass left and right.

Revision

  1. If the thrust is to our high outside line, the falso parry is made as an extension into Guardia di Faccia, whilst turning the hand into 3rd in 4th.
  2. When the opponent thrusts into our high inside line, the falso parry is performed by cutting a falso with the point up from Porta di Ferro Stretta to Sopra il Braccio.
  3. If the thrust drops to the low inside line, the transition is a point down falso to Sotto il Braccio.

Concept 1 – Thrust Provocation to the High Inside

  1. From Porta di Ferro Stretta, attacker throws a thrust to the high inside line.
  2. Defender parries with a falso to Sopra il Braccio.
  3. Attacker redoubles with a riverso to the head on a left pass

Concept 2 – Thrust Provocation to the High Outside Line

  1. From Porta di Ferro, attacker throws a thrust to the high outside line on a left pass.
  2. Defender parries with falso extension to Guardia di Faccia
  3. Attacker redoubles with a mandritto to the head on a traverse right.

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Spadone – Lesson 13

Lesson 13 – Redoubled Actions Revision

This week we revised redoubled actions with the spadone. This is in response to the difficulty students had in the previous lesson with the bridge drill.

Redoubled Cuts

Mandritti

From Right Guard, Point Behind throw a mandritto to the head on a right step forward. Without moving the feet, allow the sword to continue in a descending circular path, returning for a 2nd mandritto to the head.

Riversi

From Left Guard, Point Behind throw a riverso to the head on a left step forward. Without moving the feet, allow the the sword to continue in a descending circular path returning for a 2nd riverso to the head.

Mandritto with Redoubled Tondo

  1. From Right Guard, Point Behind throw a mandritto to the head whist stepping forward with the right foot.
  2. Continue the cut as a circular and as the sword begins to travel upwards, lift up your hands and turn them such that the sword travels over your head finishing as mandritto tondo to the left temple of the opponent.
  3. The tondo cut should have a slight downwards angle to provide some cover to the head.
  4. After the tondo cut is complete, recover back into Left Hanging Guard with a volta stabile.

Riverso with Redoubled Tondo

  1. From Left Guard, Point Behind throw a riverso to the head whilst stepping forward with the left foot.
  2. Continue the cut as a circular cut and as the sword begins to travel upwards, lift up your hands and turn them such that the sword travels over your head finishing as riverso tondo to the right temple of the opponent. (Some people found this easier as the false edge cut.)
  3. The tondo cut should have a slight downwards angle to provide some cover to the head.
  4. After the tondo cut is complete, recover back into Right Hanging Guard.

Rising Mandritto with Redoubled Tondo

  1. From Right Guard, Point Forward throw a rising mandritto to the flank whilst stepping forward with the right foot.
  2. Lift the hands up to head height and allow the cut to continue as a circular cut, turning the hands so that travels over your head finishing as a mandritto tondo to the left temple of the opponent.
  3. After the tondo is complete, recover back into Left Hanging Guard.

Rising Riverso with Redoubled Tondo

  1. From Left Guard, Point Forward throw a rising riverso to the flank whilst stepping forward with the left foot.
  2. Lift the hands up to head height and allow the cut to continue as a circular cut, turning the hands so that travels over your head finishing as a riverso tondo to the right temple of the opponent.
  3. After the tondo is complete, recover back into Right Hanging Guard.

Redoubled Molinetti

  1. From Right Guard, Point Behind throw a mandritto on a right step to draw the parry.
  2. Redouble with a riverso on a left step.
  3. Repeat for the rising cuts.

3 on 1 drill

  1. Attacker with spadone, 3 defenders with broadswords.
  2. Attacker uses redoubled actions to hit the defenders. Defenders attempt to hit the attacker.
  3. Repeat changing the attacker after 30 seconds.

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Spadone – Lesson 12

Lesson 12 – More Molinelli Applications

This lesson builds on the work from the previous lesson with molinelli. In this one we look at the horizontal molinelli applications which provide different results than the vertical molinelli of the previous lesson.

Molinelli Revision

  1. From each guard descending true edge molinello on a pass
  2. From each guard rising true edge molinello on a pass
  3. From each forward guard true edge molinello on a crosswise pass
  4. From each rear guard false edge lead descending molinello on a pass

False Edge Molinelli Deflection

  1. From Right Guard, Point Forward against the mandritto cut falso dritto to Right Head Guard on a volta stabile and continue the horizontal molinetto into a mandritto on a right step forward.
  2. From Left Guard, Point Forward against the riverso cut falso manco to Left Head Guard on a vlota stabile and continue the horizontal molinetto into a riverso on a left step forward.

Expulsions

  1. From Right Guard, Point Forward against the riverso cut mezzo riverso to Right Head Guard, and then push the tip over the sword and down sweeping with the false edge to the left (mandritto tondo falso) to expel the sword and then return with a riverso tondo to the flank.
  2. From Right Guard, Point Forward against the mandritto cut mezzo mandritto falso and then push the tip over the sword and down sweeping the true edge to the right (riverso tondo) to expel the sword and then return with a mandritto tondo falso to the flank.
  3. From Left Guard, Point Forward against the mandritto cut mezzo mandritto to left Head Guard and then push the tip over the sword and down sweeping the false edge to the right to expel the sword and then return with a mandritto tondo to the flank.
  4. From Left Guard, Point Forward against the riverso cut mezzo riverso falso and then push the tip over and down sweeping the true edge to the left to expel the sword and then return with a riverso tondo falso to the flank.

Defence of the Bridge

  1. Two on one drill, the two using single handed swords at either end, with the spadone wielder in the centre.
  2. Spadone wielder uses pass and turn with molinelli to to keep the swordsmen from crossing.
  3. Swordsmen attempt to hit the spadone wielder with a good down right blow.

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Spadone – Lesson 11

Lesson 11 – Molinelli

Molinelli are full circular cuts that deliver one of the most powerful cuts possible with the great sword. The key to the cuts are gravity and momentum, however this is also the factor that can also lead to losing control of the weapon.

Learning the Mollinelli

The purpose of these drills is to learn the basics of the molinelli, and how to control the high levels of momentum they harness. In all case we are practicing the molinelli both as mandritti and as riversi.

  1. From each guard descending true edge molinello on a pass
  2. From each guard rising true edge molinello on a pass
  3. From each forward guard true edge molinello on a crosswise pass
  4. From each rear guard false edge lead descending molinello on a pass

Parries with Molinelli

The advantage of the molinello is that it will initially pass through the hanging guard position, which allows us to parry our opponent's attack safely and follow it with a powerful riposte, all in one continuous motion. The key to these drills is understanding that the transition into the hanging guard is not only our parry position, but the initial charging to allow gravity and momentum to allow us to smoothly continue the action to deliver the riposte.

  1. From Right Guard, Point Forward defend the mandritto with a molinello and mandritto on a right pass. The parry should be when the sword passes through Left Hanging Guard.
  2. From Right Guard, Point Forward defend the riverso with a molinello and riverso and crossing right pass to the left. The parry should be when the sword passes through Right Hanging Guard.
  3. From Left Guard, Point Forward defend the riverso with a molinello and riverso on a left pass. The parry should be when the sword passes through Right Hanging Guard.
  4. From Left Guard, Point Forward defend the mandritto with a molinello and mandritto and crossing right pass to the right. The parry should be when the sword passes through Left Hanging Guard.
  5. From Right Guard, Point Behind defend the mandritto with falso mandritto and mandritto (false edge led molinello) on a right pass.
  6. From Right Guard, Point Behind defend the riverso with a falso dritto and mandritto tondo on a right pass.
  7. From Left Guard, Point Behind defend the riverso with riverso falso and riverso on a left pass.
  8. From Left Guard, Point Behind defend the mandritto with falso manco and riverso tondo on a left pass.

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Italian Duelling Sword sources

I’m half way through the second term of classes in Italian Duelling Sword that I’ve been offering at Stoccata Drummoyne. I’m actually loving the chance to teach this material, because it’s me putting into practice my Instructor at Arms certification from Sonoma State University.

Italian Duelling sword is just a fancy description for Classical Fencing, which is not generally understood by the public. Rather than trying to explain what it is everytime, I’m finding people get it straight away when I call it Italian duelling sword! It also happens to be the description used by one of the 19th Century authors, so I feel like I’m on solid ground here. We’re working on the thrusting sword material to begin with (fioretto & spada) and I’m aiming to work into the sabre material in future terms.

So this post is mostly for my students who wanted to know the sources for what I teach. So here’s the list of text I’m working from.

Thrusting sword:

  • William M. Gaugler, The Science of Fencing: A Comprehensive Training Manual for Master and Student: Including Lesson Plans for Foil, Sabre and Epee Instruction, Laureate Press; Revised edition, June, 2004
    – this is the foundation text I use for planning lessons etc, and where most of the terminology comes from.
  • Masaniello Parise, The Roman-Neapolitan School of Fencing, (Christopher Holzman trans.) Lulu, June 2015 (http://www.lulu.com/shop/christopher-holzman/the-roman-neapolitan-school-of-fencing/paperback/product-22225765.html)
    – This is the source of the guard names I actually use in class, and the basis for the more extended guard I teach compared to Gaugler’s material.
  • Luigi Barbasetti, The Art of the Foil, E.P. Dutton & Co., Inc (reprinted 1998)

Sabre:

  • William M. Gaugler, The Science of Fencing: A Comprehensive Training Manual for Master and Student: Including Lesson Plans for Foil, Sabre and Epee Instruction, Laureate Press; Revised edition, June, 2004
  • Luigi Barbasetti, The Art of the Sabre and the Epee, 1936
  • Giuseppe Radaelli, The Art of the Dueling Sabre, (Christopher Holzman trans.), SKA Swordplay Books, 2011 (http://shop.swordplaybooks.com/product.sc?productId=12&categoryId=15)

So in summary, if you can find a copy, get Gaugler. Regardless, buy a copy of Chris’ translation of Parise and that will cover you for thrusting sword. For sabre, the Barbasetti manual is online, just have a dig for it. Again Chris’ translation of Radaelli is really good and well worth buying as well.

What Manciolino Leaves Unsaid When He Talks About Provocations

Introduction

I was recently chatting with people on the Bolognese swordsmanship group on Facebook, and came to the realisation that most people don't realise that the instructions Manciolino gives may not necessarily be complete instructions. This became especially apparent when we were discussing provocations.

The action in question that prompted this thought was one of the offensive plays from Guardia di Faccia…

Provoke him with a strong mandritto.
(Libro 1, Capitolo 7)

It's fairly innocuous as a play, but it leaves an awful lot unsaid. There's no discussion at all regarding how to throw the blow, what foot work to use, or what we are trying to achieve with the provocation. Since this can actually teach us a lot about the system, I think it's worth while to examine this play in some detail.

Blow Mechanics

The most obvious omission by Manciolino is that you have to charge the blow before you can deliver the mandritto. He does infer this when he discuses the defence of the mandritto from Guardia di Faccia…

As he lifts his hand to cut mandritto, stifle the blow with a thrust to the hand.
(Libro 1, Capitolo 8)

The key part here is the charging action, which appears to involve lifting the hand, but lifting the hand to where? For that clue we need to turn the instructions for throwing a mandritto from Guardia di Porta di Ferro Stretta…

Extend your sword into Guardia di Testa, and then throw a mandritto that ends in Sopra il Bracchio.
(Libro 2, 2nd Assault)

So that's probably what Manciolino is referring to in the defence, the extension of the hand into Guardia di Testa, which also works quite efficiently from Guardia di Faccia. We're now seeing how it should be quite possible to provoke a response from Guardia di Faccia. First we lift our hand into Guardia di Testa, and then we throw a mandritto on a step. The mandritto from Guardia di Testa is quite a strong one, so we now have the blocks to build a provocation with a strong mandritto from Guardia di Faccia. Well maybe a couple of foundation blocks.

Footwork

Notice that in all the above we never really talked about footwork, just that we will need to step to hit the opponent. Well the nature of Guardia di Faccia is defined by the extended arm, not the feet orientation, so we could have the feet in passo largo or passo stretto, and with either foot forward. This leaves us with the following footwork possibilities:

  • Pass left, which will occur from a right foot forward or passo stretto stance;
  • Pass right, which will occur from a left foot forward or passo stretto stance;
  • Slip on the charging action, which will then allow us to pass left or right from the intermediate passo stretto stance.

Lets look at the individual footwork cases in a bit more detail. Starting with the left pass scenario, we're going to charge the blow into Guardia di Testa, and then hit with a strong mandritto on the left passing step. From this mandritto we can finish in either the guards of Cingiaria Porta di Ferro or Sopra il Braccio or Sotto il Braccio, or redouble with a riverso or a rising riverso or a falso manco. All fairly conventional stuff as far as the system goes, but we do have to consider the very real vulnerability we have for being counterattacked on our outside line.

For the pass right scenario, we're going to charge the blow into Guardia di Testa, and then hit with a strong mandritto on the right passing step. From this mandritto we can end in either the guards of Porta di Ferro Stretta or Sopra il Braccio or Sotto il Braccio, or redouble with a riverso or a rising riverso or a falso manco or even a second mandritto. Again all fairly conventional, and slightly safer because we have the buckler covering the inside line against the direct counterattack.

For the slip on the charging action scenario, we are actually going to slip the front foot to our rear foot as we extend the sword into Guardia di Testa. This will pull our torso back a fraction, and place us in an unstable stance that allows us to pass either left or right depending on our preference or opportunity. The options that then follow remain the same as those listed above for the left or right passing steps.

Right, so we know our charging action, and the footwork we'll be using, but we haven't actually discussed how the mandritto should be thrown. Is it close to the opponent's sword or wide? Where do we position the buckler as we throw the blow? All of these details won't get resolved unless we understand what sort of response we want from the opponent with our provocation. Are we trying to provoke a parry from the opponent, or a counterattack? These are two very different scenarios which we'll need to look at in detail.

Provocations To Draw A Parry (2nd Intention)

If we are throwing the strong mandritto to draw a parry from our opponent, we are using the concept of attack by second intention. Our intention is to have the first blow parried by the opponent, leaving us safe to hit with a redoubled blow to a now exposed target. Let's look at the individual cases with a bit more detail to understand this concept.

We'll begin by examining the scenario where we will be passing left, starting from a right foot forward or passo stretto stance. Our charging action is to lift the hand into Guardia di Testa, and this can present some interesting opportunities for us. If our opponent is also in Guardia di Faccia, the charging action can also be used to pick up the debole (tip) of the opponent's sword preventing their direct thrusting attack. This then leaves us free to pass left throwing our mandritto which will turn outside their sword to hit them to the head as a grazing cut. We want to cut close to their sword, so that they have no space to counterattack us, forcing our desired parry of the mandritto. The parry in this case is typically either Guardia d'Alicorno as it's a quick convenient defence of the head, or the opponent may roll their hand into Guardia di Testa. If you haven't picked up the tip in the attack, an experienced opponent may also try to use a false edge parry ending in Guardia di Faccia (not recommended as it drags the mandritto in to the head), or they may even pass back into Coda Lunga Alta to void the blow. In all of the above, the defence is going to be in the high line, which is vulnerable to a redoubled riverso attack to the outside line, and especially to the flank or leading thigh. In all cases, we use the buckler to defend ourselves against the direct riposte that should follow the opponent's parry.

What about if we're set to make the attack on the right pass? This where we are starting from a left foot forward, or passo stretto stance, that allows us to pass right. The charging action remains the same with the extension into Guardia di Testa. However, due to the right shoulder being withdrawn in this stance we don't get the chance to collect the opponent's sword tip as we do so. Instead, we have to push our buckler forward towards the opponent's sword hand as we make this charging action to prevent them counterattacking our hand. Once charged, we can throw a strong mandritto on a right passing step, gliding down the opponent's sword with our buckler as we do so to keep ourselves safe. This is going to force our opponent to either extend their buckler into Guardia di Testa to defend their head from the mandritto, or to free their sword and parry with the false edge transitioning to Guardia Sopra il Braccio. Regardless of whether the opponent parries with their buckler or their sword, they will have exposed their abdomen and thigh to a redirected or redoubled mandritto cut below the parry, or a riverso to the right side of the head or neck again as a redirection or redoubled cut. The mandritto on the right step also gives us a third follow up action, which is to roll the hand upwards into Guardia d'Alicorno to deliver an imbrocatta thrust that turns around the opponent's defence.

In both scenarios, notice how we preformed an action that would deny the opponent a direct line through which they could counterattack, forcing them to commit to a parrying action to prevent themselves being hit. This is the crucial aspect of throwing actions in second intention as we must place the opponent into a position where they must parry. If we allow them freedom to counterattack instead of parrying we would now be now using a provocation in countertime, which is a completely different kettle of fish. Oh and it should go without saying that if the opponent doesn't parry the first intention attack, we really should be hitting them in the head with that strong mandritto!

Provocations To Draw A Counterattack (Countertime)

If we are throwing the strong mandritto to draw a counterattack from our opponent, we are using the concept of countertime. Our intention is to have the first blow counterattacked by the opponent, which we intend most probably to parry leaving us safe to riposte to a now exposed target. We could also be looking to counterattack into the opponent's counterattack, but for the strong provoking mandritto from Guardia di Faccia this is extremely difficult to set up. Again, let's look at the individual cases with a bit more detail to understand this concept.

As discussed above, we can be either left foot or right foot forward, or even in a passo stretto stance. In all cases we need to look at what is the most likely counterattack we can set up that will put us in a from which we can parry in safety. We already know this from our discussion of blow mechanics, as we are told to attack into the preparation with a thrust to the hand as the opponent lifts their hand to charge their mandritto. Thus we should expect our opponent as a sensible fencer to do just this, to thrust at our hand as we charge the blow. So let's look at how we can set up ourselves for success from each beginning stance.

When we begin with Guardia di Faccia in a left foot forward stance, our buckler is already fully extended, so as we lift our sword to charge the blow we can't really cover the sword hand against the counterattack because we have to lift the buckler into position by lifting the arm up from the shoulder. This defensive action is slow in comparison to the opponent's counterattack so it's vulnerable to being beaten. So we either need to slow down the opponent's counterattack by disguising our action, or extending the tempo of the counterattack. Since this is a provocation, we really don't want to disguise our action otherwise we will get a response different to the one we wish to propagate, which leaves us with the option of extending their tempo. We can best achieve this extension of the opponent's tempo through the use of footwork, or more precisely using the slip to extend the measure, and hence the tempo our opponent must use. So as we lift our hand into Guardia di Testa, we must also slip our left foot back to the right making a passo stretto stance. This now leaves us dealing with a thrust to the hand when we are in Guardia di Testa in a passo stretto stance.

Similarly, if we start in a right foot forward stance we are going to have difficulty covering the sword hand as it charges the blow, with our buckler. Admittedly, this covering action is faster because we can turn the left shoulder forward as we lift the sword hand to charge the blow, but again it's not as fast as the counterattack coming from our opponent. As before, we can use the slip to bring the right foot back to the left to bring us into Guardia di Testa in passo stretto. Functionally, this position is identical to when we slipped back from the left foot forward position, so the responses will be the same for both stances.

We should look at the slip footwork in a little more detail, as this will affect which response we use to defeat the opponent's counterattack. When we slip the front foot back, it can either move directly back parallel to the line of engagement, in effect squaring the body  up towards the opponent. In this case we have maintained the separation between the feet, which should be about the width of our feet, as per Manciolino's description of the passo stretto stance. This type of slip will shift the body towards the slipping foot in relation to the line of engagement, so left on a left foot slip and right on a right foot slip. However, it is also very common to bring the heels of the feet together during the slipping action, typically ending with the feet touching. In this type of slip the body will tend to move towards the stationary foot with respect to the line of engagement, that is to the right on a left foot slip and to the left on a right foot slip. For our purposes we shall just consider the direction the body will have shifted with respect to the line of engagement when looking at what our response should be to the counterattack.

Manciolino doesn't expressly tell us how to counter a thrust to the sword hand when we are in Guardia di Testa. He does however tell us how to counter the thrust to the face, and in a correctly formed Guardia di Testa the hand should be just above the head so we can extrapolate from the defence against the thrust to the face when in Guardia di Testa, which we are told is performed as follows…

Parry the enemy’s thrust with the sword.
(Libro 1, Capitolo 6)

OK so we've slipped back into Guardia di Testa in passo stretto, and the thrust is coming towards our sword hand. A part of our response to the counterattack should include some form of action to remove the sword hand from the direct attacking line. If our body has moved to the left during our slip, we are effectively on the outside of the opponent's blade. From here our safest parry is to roll the sword hand into a shallow Guardia d'Alicorno, which will lift the sword hand up and to the left of the incoming thrust, whilst turning the sword tip down to parry the thrust to our hand. Once the thrust is parried, we can riposte by driving a thrust into the flank of the opponent with an extension of the sword hand in the second hand position and passing with the left foot. As we do so, we push our buckler towards the opponent's sword hand to prevent them from making a redoubled blow, so that we can hit without being hit. It's a strong riposte that the opponent will have great difficulty avoiding.

If we moved to the right on our slipping action, we have effectively moved to the inside of the opponent's sword. In this case we parry the incoming thrust by dropping the hand and making a mezzo mandritto across the line of engagement. In other words we make an inside parry with the true edge. Once we have parried the blow we can now drop the tip to extend into Guardia di Faccia and thrust strongly to the face with a right passing step. Against a really good opponent they may drop the tip to their outside to parry this thrust, turning it into a molinetto to the head. We can also counter this with either dropping the thrust into a flaconade outside their sword, or if we're a little late catch the molinetto with a parry of Guardia di Testa followed by a counter-riposte with imbrocatta. If we were a little exuberant with the mezzo mandritto, and instead making a beat parry against the opponent's sword we should be free to instead turn a riverso to the head on the right passing step, ending in Coda Lunga Stretta. Again, the two ripostes we can make here are very difficult for the opponent to counter.

The situation is slightly different if we are starting from the passo stretto stance. We still have the problem of needing to extend the tempo of our opponent's counterattacking thrust to give us a safer reaction time, but don't have the option of slipping back as this will extend the measure of our riposte such that we have a low likely hood of being able to hit the opponent. In this case we need to use traversing footwork to expand the measure which will give us the extension of tempo that we require. Our choices become to either traverse left with the left foot or to traverse right with the left foot. Either of these traversing steps will be about the length of our foot, which will will move our torso just off the line of engagement, and the sword hand will turn towards the opponent withdrawing to just out of the extended measure of the opponent. The left foot traverse gives us the same options as when our body moved left with the slipping action, and the right foot traverse gives us the right body move response from the slipping action.

Just like with the attack in second intention, if the opponent doesn't respond to our charging action we must complete the strong mandritto and hit them. If the opponent reacts with a parry to this mandritto, use the actions from the attack by second intention as we are now in that scenario.

Summing It All Up

  1. Our strong provoking mandritto begins with a charging action, which is to extend the arm into Guardia di Testa.
  2. Our associated footwork is determined by the stance we start in, and our desired type of provocation.
  3. We can use the provocation as an attack in second intention, in which case the initial mandritto is thrown in such a manner that we deny the opponent a direct line for a counterattack, forcing them to respond with a parry.
  4. We can alternatively use the provocation as an attack in countertime, in which case we use our footwork to expand the measure to just outside the extended measure of our opponent during the charging action of the mandritto. This will give us the tempo we need to parry the counterattacking thrust made at our sword hand, leaving us safe to riposte with a strong blow.

The False Edge Attack From Coda Lunga Alta

Introduction

Tonight we continued our look at the actions out of Coda Lunga Alta, this time looking at the second most common opening action – the falso. There are 3 possible types of falso that can be thrown from Coda Lunga Alta, which are the falso dritto, the montante, and the falso manco that ends in Guardia di Faccia.

Falso Dritto Actions

The falso dritto actions are really a rising falso that passes partially into Sopra il Braccio. Rather than fully completing the transition into Sopra il Braccio with the sword hand crossing the buckler near the elbow, it only actually crosses near the wrist of the buckler arm.The first action shows us how it can be used to directly attack our opponent's sword hand, which can be reached if the fencers are at wide distance, even though we would have to pass to actually hit the head or body. The second action again uses this rising falso action, but instead is more gainfully employed as a back edge beat against the opponent's sword, which we can then turn into a mandritto to the opened target. The sword movement is best visualised as a path tracing a cone, with the apex centered on the sword hand. Whilst it's possible to still attack the sword hand, the falso has a tendency to catch on the opponent's sword furniture if they respond to the attack and thereby nullifying the posibility of making the redoubled mandritto. This doesn't occur if we attack their sword instead. The final action builds on this but teaches us to use the mandritto feint and riverso, which we can employ against faster or more experienced fencers who are capable of parrying the redoubled mandritto.

Offensive Action Using Falso
Throw a rising falso to the sword hand without moving your feet.
(Manciolino Libro 4, Capitolo 10)

Offensive Combination Using Falso And Mandritto
Pass right throwing a falso on the right step and a mandritto on the left step.
(Manciolino Libro 1, Capitolo 19)

Offensive Combination Using Falso, Mandritto Feint & Riverso
Pass right throwing a falso on the right step and a mandritto feint but hitting with a riverso on the left step.
(Manciolino Libro 1, Capitolo 19)

Montante Actions

The montante is a directly ascending false edge cut. Used from Coda Lunga Alta it really acts as a big clearing action, setting us  to follow with a powerful offensive action. The second drill teaches us the safest way to redouble from Guardia Alta, with the tramazzone. The descending false edge turn that starts the tramazzone can create either a powerful intimidating imbroccata-like thrust creating hesitation in our opponent, or deliver a ready made sweeping false edge parry outside our buckler arm. It helps when bringing the hand up to Guardia Alta on the first part to start turning the true edge behind us once we've cleared our opponent's furniture, before we completely enter Guardia Alta. This really accelerates the redouble action with the tramazzone.

Offensive Action Using Montante
Pass forward with your right foot, throwing a montante that goes into Guardia Alta, and then withdraw your right foot near to your left, and you will have furnished the play.
(Manciolino Libro 2, 3rd Assault)

Offensive Combination Using Montante & Tramazzone
Pass right and throw a montante that ends in Guardia Alta on the right step, and a tramazzone that ends in Porta di Ferro Larga on the left step.
(Manciolino Libro 2, 2nd Assault)

Falso into Guardia di Faccia

The falso extension into Guardia di Faccia clears the opponent's sword towards our outside, and pushing it across the face of our opponent. The extension should be more like we are pushing a thrust than as a false edge beat. This thrusting type extension gives us a powerful pressure deflection as we end up pushing our forte onto the opponent's debole, similar to the one we gain the sword in Italian rapier. We get a large lever arm with which to push their sword out of the way. This really pushes them into a position where the only way they can feel safe is to roll their sword hand into Guardia d'Alicorno, which we strongly encourage with our riverso feint. This feint then leaves the opponent's left flank or leg as a vulnerable target within easy reach of our mandritto. The pushing action also sets us up for the riverso feint, which becomes very difficult if we do the extension as a fals edge beat as we have overcommitted the falso action, and placed us in a poor biomechanical position for throwing the riverso feint. Credit goes to Gavin Fuller for noticing the deficiencies of the falso beat action vs the extension with sword pressure. (I never did the action as a beat, so I didn't notice the biomechanical problems it created.)

Offensive Combination Using Falso, Riverso Feint & Mandritto
Pass forward with your right foot, throwing a rising falso that ends in Guardia di Faccia. Immediately redouble with a riverso feint to this right temple, but strike his forward leg with a mandritto that ends in Sotto il Braccio, guarding your head with the buckler.
(Manciolino Libro 2, 3rd Assault)

 

The Bolognese Thrust Provocation from Coda Lunga Alta

We've spent the previous couple of weeks looking at attacking safely out of Porta di Ferro Stretta in sword and buckler and sword alone. Tonight (10 July 2016) we started looking at attacking safely out of Coda Lunga Alta. Where Porta di Ferro Stretta is our primary guardia with the sword foot forward, Coda Lunga Alta fills the same role when the buckler foot is forward.

A properly formed Coda Lunga Alta Guard should close the inside line with the buckler, and the outside line with the sword. As such it also has a very strong conterattacking potential, such that we have attack it with caution. Unlike Porta di Ferro Stretta, Coda Lunga Alta is already primed to deliver a strong cut and a strong thrust. For this reason the dominant attack out of Coda Lunga Alta is the thrust, which we use primarily as a provocation to draw a parry, allowing us to hit the now open line.

Offensive Combination Using Thrust And Riverso
From Coda Lunga Alta, pass right, throwing a thrust on the right step, and a riverso as the left foot comes behind.
(Libro 1, Capitolo 19)

This is the most obvious use of the thrust, which is to the inside line. This draws the parry to the inside, exposing the right side of the head and torso for the riverso. The thrust should be to the face, but don't allow the hand to drift too high (ie above the shoulder) otherwise the cut over action for the riverso has too much of the opponet's sword to avoid. Keeping the hand below the shoulder just requires the debole to avoid the opponent's parry, not the whole sword.

Offensive Combination Using Thrust And Mandritto
From Coda Lunga Alta, pass right, throwing a thrust on the right step, and a mandritto as the left foot comes behind.
(Libro 1, Capitolo 19)

The only real difference here is the line of the thrust, which is now to the outside of the opponent's sword. This draws a parry to the outside exposing the inside line to the redoubled attack. The mandritto typically is to the face or neck of the opponent.

Offensive Combination Using Slip, Thrust And Tramazzone
From Coda Lunga Alta, slip back the left foot, then pass right, throwing a thrust on the right step, and a tramazzone as the left foot comes behind.
(Libro 1, Capitolo 19)

The initial slip here creates an unstable position by bringing the feet into passo stretto. This instability allows us to accelerate the initial passing step, as well as lengthen the possible step we can make. It's useful for varying the speed and measure we use on our initial thrust. The thrust in this particular sequence can be to either the inside or outside of the opponent's sword. If it's to the outside the first part of the tramazzone allows us to pass under the opponent's sword using Guardia d'Alicorno as a transition position. If it's to the inside of the opponent's sword, the initial turn of the tramazzone clears the opponent's sword to out inside via the false edge beat.

In all of the three techniques above, it's vitally important that the provocation thrust is made close to the opponent's sword so that the only option they have is the parry. If we make our provocation thrust wide of their sword we typically won't provoke a parry, we will instead provoke a counterattack which at the very least will lead to a double hit, breaking rule one of any sensible fencing system! (Rule 1 = Don't Get Hit!) The idea of this provocation thrust is to move the opponent's sword of our choosing, removing their freedom of choice on where they should have their sword. This is the essence of rule 2 of any sensible fencing system, controlling the line or opponent's sword on the way in so that we can hit without being hit.

Spadone – Lesson 10

Lesson 10 – Reinforcing the Parry – Riposte response

This is a follow on of the most common error seen in the restricted bouting session at the end of Term 1, that being the delay in the riposte after a parry.

Warm ups

  • Attack and recover to Hanging Guard
  • Eight Cuts parry drill

Serpentines as Parry Riposte Partner Drill

  1. Paired drill, both starting in Right Guard, Point Behind
  2. Attacker steps in throwing mandritto to the head.
  3. Defender parries with Left Head Guard, and then ripostes with riverso to the head. This action makes the tip of the sword travel in an S-shape, and hence is called a serpentine.
  4. Repeat 5 times then switch roles.
  5. Repeat the sequence for riverso, rising mandritto and rising riverso with each blow being countered by serpentine parry riposte.

Note: The rising cut riposte is to the lower body.

Parry with Hanging Guard – Riposte with Thrust

  1. Paired drill, both starting in Right Guard, Point Behind.
  2. Attacker steps in throwing mandritto to the head.
  3. Defender parries with a rising mandritto to Hanging Guard on a traverse left with the left foot.
  4. Riposte with an imbroccata on the right step.
  5. Repeat 5 times each.
  6. Repeat from Left Guard, Point Behind throwing riversi.
  7. Repeat from start, this time the attacker parries the imbroccata with the defender taking the energy to turn a mollineto to the head.

Parry behind extended sword on a slip

  1. Paired drill, both starting in Left Head Guard.
  2. Attacker throws riverso to the head on a left step.
  3. Defender slips back the right foot, extending the point into Guardia di Croce. (Line closed to the right)
  4. Riposte with imbroccata on a right step forward.
  5. Repeat 5 times each.
  6. Repeat  from Right Head Guard, throwing mandritto and extending into Guardia di Faccia. (Line closed to the left)
  7. Repeat from start, this time the attacker parries the imbroccata with the defender taking the energy to turn a mollineto to the head.  

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