This is a Bolognese footwork form, which is used to practice all the basic footwork used in sword and buckler, as well as passing through the guardia used by Manciolino. This form is one of the basic warm up exercises used in my classes at Stoccata Drummoyne.
Basic Footwork Form
- Start with the feet together and the hands by side. Step forward with the right foot into Porta di Ferro Stretta.
- Pass forward with the left foot into Cinghiara Porta di Ferro.
- Step back with the right foot into Coda Lunga Alta.
- Pass with the right foot into Coda Lunga Stretta.
- Gather the left foot forward into Guardia di Faccia.
- Step back with the left foot into Guardia di Testa.
- Throw a mandritto passing forward with the left foot into Sopra il Braccio.
- Volta stabile right, lifting the sword into Guardia d'Alicorno.
- Throw a mandritto passing right into Sotto il Braccio.
- Throw a rising riverso slipping the right foot back into Guardia Alta.
- Throw a mandritto on a pass right into Porta di Ferro Larga.
- Elsa e tira with a gather & step forward into Coda Lunga Larga.
- Elsa e tira with a gather step forward into Porta di Ferro Stretta.
- Slip back into Guardia di Faccia.
- Step back several paces and return to arms by the side
Explanation of the Basic Footwork Form
In steps 1-3, we are making the left pass, and showing how we transition between Porta di Ferro Stretta and Cingiaria Porta di Ferro, followed by the transition into Coda Lunga Alta on the corrective step. No actual cutting actions are made on this part of the basic footwork form.
Steps 4-5 are practicing our basic slope pass footwork, using the right passing step. The expansion into Coda Lunga Stretta shows how the difference between it and Coda Lunga Alta is just the placement of the feet. The gathering of the feet into Guardia di Faccia is one of the common preparation spoiling methods in the system, and is especially useful as a counterattack.
Step 6 is the pass back into Guardia di Testa, which is one of the most common head defences in the system, and this is teaching the simultaneous extension forward with the hand and behind with the foot that makes this action so successful as a parry.
Steps 7-9 is a variation of the redouble mandritto, using the volta stabile transition to link the two cuts together. The first mandritto teaches the basic mandritto cut to Sopra il Braccio, reinforcing the half turn of the buckler hand to allow this cut to be easily done. The transition to Guardia d'Alicorno teaches the use of coiling and uncoiling actions that can be initiated with the use of a volta stabile to enable powerful blow generation. We finish in Sotto il Braccio, emonstarting how these two guardie are achieved with the mandritto cut, and the choice of finish is just determined by whether you cut above or below your sword hand.
Steps 10-11 is teaching contract and expand footwork, as well as linking together two common full cuts, the rising riverso and the mandritto. The sequence is also teaching the idea that Guardia Alta is a position to transition through instead of using it as a starting point.
Steps 12 -13 practice the elsa e tira actions, first with the cuts to the right and then the cuts to the left, using the gathering step footwork. This footwork is the preferred method of closing in on an opponent, and coupled with the rising falso cut on the gathering step, followed by the descending cut on the forward step is an excellent inimidation tool. The second set finishes in Porta di Ferro Stretta as a method of teaching blade control, as it's important to be able to arrest the full cuts with the sword in presence.
Steps 14-15 is the most common retreating technique shown in the manual. The extended point in Guardia di Faccia is a deterrent to any opponent closing in on you, and coupled with the retreating steps is teaching the idea of getting out of measure before you relax. We don't want to relax in measure, as this is a sure way to get hit.