Spadone – Lesson 2

Revision of Lesson 1

The lesson started with a revision of the core concepts from Lesson 1.

  1. Revise the basic guards, to reinforce the naming convention we will be using.
  2. Revise the naming of the 8 basic cuts.
  3. Passing forward drill, working through the 8 basic cuts.
  4. Pass and turn drill, working through the 8 basic cuts.

Extended Footwork

The footwork from week 1 was almost all performed on a forward step, with a right foot step for cuts from the right, and a left foot step for cuts from the left.

This week we add in the step back. The key to the step back is that the hips and shoulders must turn in alignment. Thus a cut from the right is made in conjunction with as left foot step back, and a cut from the right is made in conjunction with the right foot step back.

We also added the passing step followed by volta stabile, which allows us to throw a cut and then rapidly recover to the defence of Hanging Guard, whilst withdrawing the body from possible harm.

Eight cuts drill

  1. From Right Guard, Point Behind pass forward throwing mandritto, followed by a left step forward throwing a riverso.
  2. Continue forward throwing a rising mandritto on a right step and a rising riverso on a left step.
  3. Pass back with the left foot throwing a mandritto, followed by a riverso on a right step back.
  4. Continue back throwing rising mandritto on a left step back and a rising riverso on a right step back.
  5. Repeat the footwork sequence forward and back this time throwing mandritto falso, riverso falso, falso dritto and falso manco.

Pass and recover to Hanging Guard drill

  1. From Right Guard, Point Behind pass forward throwing mandritto, and as the cut reaches the ground pivot anti-clockwise on the balls of the feet (volta stabile) lifting into Left Hanging Guard.
  2. Pass forward with the left foot throwing riverso, and as the cut reaches the ground volta stabile clockwise lifting into Right Hanging Guard.
  3. Repeat the sequence throwing rising mandritto and rising riverso.

 Thrusts

The thrust can be delivered either with one hand or two hands. The important aspect of the thrust with the spadone is to ensure that it is done such that you can immediately recover to a defensive position.

Single Handed Thrust

The single handed thrust is performed by releasing the leading hand on the sword, to give maximum reach possible. To support the weight of the thrust the rear hand is extended with the hand in 3rd, ie palm to the inside.

spadone-thrust-single
I
mage 1 – Single handed thrust with spadone

The recovery is done by stepping back with the leading foot pulling the spadone back into a hanging guard.

  1. From Left Guard, Point Forward, passing forward with the left foot throw a thrust by letting go with the leading hand to deliver the thrust with one hand.
  2. Recover the left foot backwards lifting the hand into Left Hanging Guard, bringing the leading hand back onto the sword hilt.
  3. Repeat from Right Guard, Point Forward this time recovering to Right Hanging Guard.

Double Handed Thrust

The single handed thrust is effective yet risky attack due to the lack of control with the rear single handed grip. Thus the double handed thrust is the preferred method due to the greater control in the recovery. The key to the action is to deliver the thrust as an imbrocatta, keeping the leading hand underneath the grip to support the weight of the sword.

Marozzo1568_Guardia-di-Croce Image 2 – Two handed thrust with spadone

  1. From Right Guard, Point Forward, on a pass with the right foot throw imbrocatta and the volta stabile anti-clockwise pulling back into Left Hanging Guard.
  2. Pass forward with the left foot throwing imbrocatta, and volta stabile clockwise recovering back into Right Hanging Guard.

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Spadone – Lesson 1

Introduction

SpadoneCollageImage 1 – The Spadone

This is the lesson notes for the first class at Stoccata on the use of Spadone, ie Italian Greatsword.

The actual weapon being studied came to prominence at the end of the 15th Century, and became a mainstay of European infantry throughout the 16th Century and into the 17th Century. It averaged in length from 150 cm to 180 cm. As described by Alfieri, it was typically as long as a man is tall.

Our course is based on the work of Francesco Alfieri’s treatise Lo Spadone. We’ll be working from Ken Mondshein’s translation.

4 Basic Guards

alfieri-guards
Image 2 – The 4 basic guards according to Alfielri

From top to bottom we have the 4 basic guards:

  1. Head Guard – which can be either on the left (shown) or right
  2. Right Guard – which can be either point forward (shown) and point behind
  3. Left Guard – which can be point forward and point behind (shown)
  4. Hanging Guard – which can be on the left (shown) or the right

In this first lesson we predominately worked from either Right or Left Guard.

8 Basic Cuts

Cutting-diagram

Our  basic cuts are made with either the true edge or the false edge of the sword, and are as follows:

True Edge Cuts:

  1. mandritto – along the line A – B
  2. riverso – along the line C – D
  3. rising mandritto – along the line D – C
  4. rising riverso – along the line B – A

False Edge Cuts:

  1. mandritto falso – along the line A – B
  2. riverso falso – along the line C – D
  3. falso dritto – along the line D – C
  4. falso manco – along the line B – A

Cuts must be made with extended arms otherwise the weight of the weapon will cripple you! Let the momentum of the sword make the cut for you, as the length of the sword gives you all the leverage you need to power the weapon. You don’t need to muscle it!

Primary footwork concept

Mandritto cuts are made on a step forward with the right foot. Riverso cuts are made on a step forward with the left foot.

Reason: The hips and shoulders MUST stay in alignment otherwise you damage your lower back when the hips and shoulders turn in opposition to each other whilst wielding a 2-handed weapon.

Basic footwork exercises

In all of the exercises the cuts practiced were made in the order listed above, first with the true edge then with the false edge.

  1. Passing forward
    Starting from Right Guard, Point Behind, pass forward with the right foot, throw a mandritto ending in Left Guard, Point Behind. Continue with a left pass throwing a riverso that ends in Right Guard, Point Behind . Repeat, throwing a rising mandritto and rising riverso. Repeat the entire sequence, throwing the false edge cuts.
  2. Pass and turn
    Starting from Right Guard, Point Behind, pass forward with the right foot, throw a mandritto that ends low and point forward. Immediately pivot on the balls of the feet to face behind, lifting the sword into the Left Hanging Guard. Repeat 2 times. Repeat the sequence throwing a riverso on a left pass, ending in Right Hanging Guard. Continue the drill working through each cut in sequence.
  3. 90 degree stepping
    Starting from Right Guard, Point Forward, lift to the Right Hanging Guard turning to face right and of a step to the right with the right foot throw a mandritto that ends in the right hanger. Turn left and repeat the right step throwing mandritto that ends in Right Hanging Guard. Continue making the 90° steps until you have made a complete 360° circuit, with the back foot in place. Repeat the sequence for all the cuts, using the Left Guard and a left foot step for the left side cuts and the Right Guard and a right foot step for the right side cuts.
  4. 120° stepping
    Starting from Right Guard, Point Forward, lift to the Right Hanging Guard and on a pass forward at 45° throwing a mandritto that ends in Right Hanging Guard. Pass back with the left foot throwing a mandritto that cuts at 120° to the left ending in Right Hanging Guard. Complete the sequence with a pass forward with the right foot throwing another cut at 120°. Repeat the sequence for all the cuts, using the Left Guard for the left side cuts and the Right Guard for the right side cuts.

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Bolognese Sword & Buckler Curriculum – Lesson 2

It’s Bolognese – everything must be chopped finely!

This lesson builds on the previous lesson where instead of making one cut per set of steps, we start making one cut per foot step. This is a crucial part of the Bolognese system and reflects the energy conserving nature of the system. We continue working from Guardia Alta as our starting guard.

Revision

Line drills practicing the 4 main cuts on the pass

  • Mandritto
  • Rising Riverso
  • Riverso
  • Fendente

Note how the cuts move from one guardia to the next, and the rising cut travels back up the previous descending cutting line.

Concept 1 – Offensive Combinations Using Mandritto and Riverso

This is one of the primary combinations of the system, and is our first look at the concept of one step one hand action.

Offensive Combination Using Mandritto, Rivero And Falso

Pass with the right foot, throwing a mandritto ending in Sopra il Bracchio with the right shoulder pointed at the breast of your enemy. Redouble with a riverso fendente ending in Coda Lunga Stretta and with a falso to the sword hand ending in Sopra il Bracchio.
(Libro 2, 3rd Assault)

By the numbers

  1. From Guardia Alta, make a passing step to the right with the right foot, cutting mandritto to the head, ending with the sword hand in Sopra il Braccio. Remember to turn the buckler forearm to create the gap for the sword hand to pass through.
  2. Let the momentum of the sword continue the rotation of the sword, so that it swings through and then cuts riverso to hit the other side of the head, as you make the corrective (backwards) step with the left foot.
  3. Allow the cut to finish, ending in Coda Lunga Stretta as the corrective step finishes.

Class notes

From Guardia Alta we cut a mandritto down onto the head, pulling the sword hand through to over our buckler arm wrist and finishing at about our elbow. (This over arm guard is the guard we call Sopra il Braccio) This cut is made on the first step with the right foot as we pass to the right. When we first practiced this we did it by cutting the mandritto to over our arm crossing the arms at the wrists, turning the thumb of our buckler hand from 2 o’clock to 10 o’clock to make space for the sword hand. We then throw the riverso, which travels in a circular fashion hitting the head on the other side in a descending direction, bringing the sword through on the corrective step of the left foot, which is back behind the right foot. The cut finishes in an outside guard position, edge turned out with sword hand just outside the line of the right leg. (This right foot forward outside guard is the guard we call Coda Lunga Stretta.)

Concept 2

Offensive Combination Using Two Mandritti

Throw a mandritto to the head that ends in Sopra il Braccio. Slip the right foot back to the left, then pass right with the right foot, lifting the hand into Guardia d’Alicorno and then throwing a mandritto to the face, ending in Sotto il Braccio.
[Manciolino Libro 2, 1st Assault]

Actual drill practiced:
Throw a mandritto to the head that ends in Sopra il Braccio on a passing step. On the corrective step throw a mandritto to the face as a circular cut, ending in Sotto il Braccio.

By the numbers

  1. From Guardia Alta, make a passing step to the right with the right foot, cutting mandritto to the head, ending with the sword hand in Sopra il Braccio. Remember to turn the buckler forearm to create the gap for the sword hand to pass through.
  2. Let the momentum of the sword continue the rotation of the sword, so that it swings through and then cuts mandritto to hit the same side of the head, as you make the corrective (backwards) step with the left foot.
  3. Allow the cut to finish, ending in Sotto il Braccio as the corrective step finishes.

Class notes

This cut begins the similar way as the Concept 1. From Guardia Alta, on a step right, we cut a mandritto down onto the head, with the sword hand cutting to just on the outside of our buckler arm wrist. (Don’t forget to turn the buckler thumb to 10 o’clock!) We then allowed the momentum of the sword to continue the cut into a circular one, and hitting to the head with a redoubled mandritto on the corrective step, finishing in the Sotto il Braccio (ie sword under the arm).

Note how the actual drill practiced is different to the specified drill. We’ll be looking at this action next week when we start to look at the basic defences against the attacks, and show why the specified action by Manciolino is better than the sequence we actually practiced.

Concept 3

Offensive Combination using Mandritto and Rising Riverso

From Guardia Alta, throw a mandritto at the head or sword arm that goes to Sotto il Bracchio. Redouble with a rising riverso also to the sword hand or face, returning to Guardia Alta.

By the numbers

  1. From Guardia Alta, make a passing step to the right with the right foot, cutting mandritto to the head, ending with the sword hand in Sotto il Braccio. Remember to turn the buckler forearm to create the gap for the sword hand to pass through.
  2. Redouble with a rising riverso, beginning the corrective step as the sword hand reaches the buckler. (This would be when the blade makes contact with the opponent’s sword arm or face).
  3. Allow the cut to finish, ending in Guardia Alta as the corrective step finishes.

Class notes:

Unlike the other 2 concepts from this lesson this exercise was about redoubling cuts when we don’t have the momentum to work with. It should also be noted that the combination isn’t explicitly described by Manciolino, but is a combination of the various mandritti from Guardia Alta, which is referenced in several places, and one of the basic offences from Sotto il Braccio described by Manciolino in Libro 2, Assault 2.

The whole purpose of this drill was to show how to continue an action from a point of rest when there is no momentum to continue the combination. It also reinforces the primary principle that if we cut between the guardie, we end in a position from which we know how to move out of. For as Manciolino states:

As strikes without shieldings are not done sensibly, so shieldings without a following of a strike should not be made, waiting for the tempos nonetheless.

Bolognese Sword & Buckler Curriculum – Lesson 1

Concept 1 – The Death Bubble

This is the area within which we can make an attack, which is roughly a bubble shape centred on the shoulder of the sword arm.

Close Distance = area inside the Death Bubble

Wide Distance = area just outside the Death Bubble

Controlling the centre space means the opponent is denied the full use of their Death Bubble, and they will generally have to move to hit us.

Marozzo actually demonstrated this concept in his manual:

Marozzo1536_Cap144-SegnoPasseggiare
Figure 1 – Marozzo’s Segno Passegiare

Concept 2 – The Basic Wide Stance (Passo Largo)

  • Feet are a shoulder’s width apart, with back leg mostly straight (knee unlocked!) and heel off the ground and the front leg also mostly straight and relaxed.
  • Torso is folded at the waist forming a straight line with the rear leg. This should centre the weight over your ball of your leading foot. (Swing the leg at hip!)
  • Minimises our own target area available to opponent’s death bubble. Just the head becomes vulnerable, and this is protected by the extended buckler.
  • Extended buckler is a defensive cone collapsing part of the opponent’s death bubble.

Bolognese-stance
Figure 2 – The basic Bolognese stance, showing spine and leg alignment

Concept 3 – The Bolognese Pass aka the triangle step

How it works

  • Rear foot steps forward at ~45° to just in front of the line of the leading foot
  • Front foot steps backwards behind to come onto guard and the now leading foot will pivot slightly on the ball of the foot, realigning back towards the opponent.
  • See image:

footwork-the-pass-pt1
Figure 3 – The first step of the pass

footwork-the-pass-pt2
Figure 4 – The second step of the pass, slope pass or traverse

Relationship to the death bubble.

  • The pass allows us to attack our opponent without stepping into their death bubble. This is best illustrated by the pass right from a left foot forward stance.

pass-into-death-bubble
Figure 5 – How the pass changes the relationship with the fencers’ death bubbles

Concept 4 – Full Cuts

Full cuts are any cuts that start from or finish in an open guardia. The open guardie are the ones where the sword is not in presence.

Cut must be made from behind the buckler, to keep the sword hand out of the opponent’s death bubble. The cuts are made on an almost vertical line which traverses the line from ear to opposite knee. This keeps the hand within the span of the shoulders which utilises the strong lifting muscles in the shoulder. Letting the hand drift outside the shoulder span shifts the weight bearing to the weaker stabiliser muscles in the shoulder, making a weaker cut and creating a muscle strain situation.

Descending cuts lead with the elbow to keep the hand behind the buckler, making the threat first as well as protecting the forearm. The effect of this action is that is creates a cut where the tip of the sword travels in a straight line directly to the target, not the arc you would get if you cut with a straight arm.

Rising cuts start with the wrist to bring the sword, and its subsequent protection, into play first. This again brings the sword into presence protecting the sword hand from a direct attack.

The primary cuts practised are all full cuts, cutting through the opponent to an open position either high or low. To begin with we start with the 2 big descending cuts of mandritto and riverso, followed by the 2 main rising cuts of rising riverso and falso dritto. In all cases the cuts are practised on the pass.

Cutting-diagram
Figure 6 – The Bolognese cutting lines

  • Mandritto (A to B) – true edge cut ending with sword hand just behind the buckler elbow
  • Rising Riverso (B to A) – true edge cut back up to Guardia Alta
  • Riverso (C to D) – true edge cut ending by the hip
  • Falso Dritto (D to C) – false edge cut back up to Guardia Alta

These cuts are actually done as a transition from one Guardia to another. The basic methods for throwing these cuts is described below.

Throwing Mandritto

  • From Guardia Alta to Sopra il Braccio or Sotto il Braccio
  • From Guardia Testa to Porta di Ferro Stretta / Larga
  • From Sopra il Braccio to Porta di Ferro or Sotto il Braccio (direct & via d’Alicorno)
  • From Porta di Ferro to Sopra il Braccio or Cingiara Porta di Ferro (charging to Guardia di Testa or Coda Lunga Stretta)
  • From Guardia Faccia to Guardia Faccia / Porta di Ferro (This charging action can be performed either as a transition to Sopra il Braccio, Guardia Testa or Coda Lunga Stretta / Alta)

 Throwing Riverso

  • From Sopra il Braccio to Coda Lunga Stretta / Alta
  • From Sotto il Braccio to Coda Lunga Stretta / Alta
  • From Porta di Ferro Larga to Guardia Faccia
  • From Guardia Faccia to the face (circular cut to Guardia Faccia)
  • From Guardia Faccia, rising riverso to Guardia Alta

Throwing Fendente

  • From Guardia Alta to Porta di Ferro Stretta (pull)
  • From Guardia Alta to Guardia Faccia (push)
  • From Guardia Testa to Porta di Ferro Stretta
  • From Guardia di Faccia, charge to Guardia Alta then to Porta di Ferro Stretta
  • From Coda Lunga Alta to Porta di Ferro Stretta

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Welcome to the new Renaissance Fence website

Well first post on the new WordPress platform. I’ve decided to not use gpEasy for the site moving forward, as I realised I wanted to use the site more for blogging content than I did want to use it for maintaining static pages. Don’t get me wrong, gpEasy was a fantastic tool and I highly recommend it. It’s just not the right CMS tool for what will be primarily a blogging platform.

The biggest difference I get is I can categorise and tag the blog posts, which will make searching a lot easier. This functionality was missing in gpEasy.

In the move, I’ve also made the decision to not reinstate the SCA teaching curriculum for Italian Rapier. It’s no where near complete, and we haven’t done any work on it in years. Most of the old content will return, and I’m working on getting it all in place.

So what’s prompting the move to more blogging? In a nutshell, I’m trying to write up and publish my Bolognese Swordsmanship material as how-to instruction guides for people, as well as setting up my own branch of Stoccata for concentrating on the Italian Swordsmanship teaching. Blogging will be large part of the communication strategy.

Well that’s enough from me, I’m going to get back to finishing the site migration.

Richard