Category Archives: Spadone (Italian Greatsword)

Posts covering Italian Greatsword (Spadone) lessons and notes

Spadone – Lesson 8

Lesson 8 – Feints

Warm up exercise

8 Cuts Partner Drill

  1. Partner drill, attacker back to wall, defender facing wall.
  2. Attacker steps forward cutting the 4 true edge cuts (mandritto, riverso, rising mandritto, rising riverso) and then the 4 false edge cuts (mandritto falso, riverso falso, falso dritto, falso manco).
  3. Defender retreats parrying with the 4 true edge cuts.
  4. Switch roles at the end of the hall.

Redoubled attack, clear sword then hit forearms – alleyway drill

  1. Partner drill, attacker in Right Guard, Point Behind and Defender in Right Head Guard.
  2. Attacker steps forward throwing mandritto tondo to the Defender’s sword blade, and then mandritto to the now exposed forearms.
  3. Reset back into Left Guard, Point Behind for the Attacker and Left Head Guard for the Defender.
  4. Attacker steps forward throwing riverso tondo to the Defender’s sword blade, and then riverso to the now exposed forearms.
    Continue down the hall. When you reach the end of the hall, switch roles and work back down the hall to the start.

Teaching Note

The tondo cut to clear the sword can be either with the true edge or false edge. I encouraged the students to play with both to see which they found more effective / comfortable. During the course of the drill some students got mixed up and were cutting mandritto against the Left Head Guard or Riverso against the Right Head Guard. This of course does not allow you to hit the forearms as the Defender will automatically take the energy and role into the appropriate Hanging Guard. We talked about how this action should be made as a cut into the inside line, not the outside line because of the way it prevents the roll into the Hanging Guards.

Mandritto Feint – Riverso

  1. Partner drill, both in Right Guard, Point Behind.
  2. Attacker throws mandritto feint on a right step…
  3. Which the Defender moves to parry with Left Head Guard on a volta stabile…
  4. As the Defender moves to the parry, the Attacker redirects the cut into a riverso by pushing the pommel under their sword arm, hitting to head or forearm. The riverso lands as the right step forward is completed.

Teaching Note

The initial mandritto feint begins with the extension of the arms presenting the sword as if the mandritto will be a full committed attack. The point of redirection is when the sword has reached the vertical orientation at full arm extension. At this point, we push the back hand / pommel under the forearm of our leading hand which will turn the cut into a riverso. The leading hand does not deviate from it’s forward movement, as this hand delivers the forward drive to the sword. This vertical orientation is important as it allows the sword to turn around the sword tip of the Defender’s parrying sword.

The drill was broken into 2 phases. The first phase was done performing the drill exactly as described to cement the technical skill. The second phase involved varying the response from the Defender. The Defender randomly either responded to the threat, or didn’t response. If the Defender didn’t respond the Attacker would complete the mandritto hitting the Defender. If the Defender responded, the Attacker would then perform the riverso redirection. This second phase is designed to teach the Attacker to use the riverso redirection in response to the Defender’s parry, not relying on it as a preplanned attack.

Riverso Feint – Mandritto

  1. Partner drill, both in Left Guard, Point Behind.
  2. Attacker throws riverso feint on a left step…
  3. Which the Defender moves to parry with Right Head Guard on a volta stabile…
  4. As the Defender moves to the parry, the Attacker redirects the cut into a mandritto by pulling the pommel from under their sword arm to the outside line, hitting to head or forearm. The mandritto lands as the left step forward is completed.

Teaching Note

This is the mirror image of the previous drill. Like the previous drill we completed it in 2 phases to reinforce the message that the initial attack must be believable, and ready to become a real attack if required.

Mandritto Feint – Rising Mandritto

  1. Partner drill, both in Right Guard, Point Behind.
  2. Attacker throws mandritto feint on a right step…
  3. Which the Defender moves to parry with Left Head Guard on a volta stabile…
  4. As the Defender moves to the parry, the Attacker redirects the cut into a rising mandritto by rotating the pommel around the sword hand, hitting to underneath the forearms. The rising mandritto lands as the right step forward is completed.

Teaching Note

The circular rotation of the pommel around the sword hand provides all the leverage required to redirect the blade into the rising mandritto. The trick is to ensure you stabilise the leading hand in place so that you get the reverse molinetto action that is the redirection into the rising cut. Some people tried to do it the opposite way, fixing the pommel in space and using the lever arm to the leading hand to redirect, however this requires far too much brute force to make the redirection cleanly.

Riverso Feint – Rising Mandritto

  1. Partner drill, both in Left Guard, Point Behind.
  2. Attacker throws riverso on a left step…
  3. Which the Defender moves to parry with Right Head Guard on a volta stabile…
  4. As the Defender moves to the parry, the Attacker redirects the cut into a rising mandritto by rotating the pommel around the sword hand, hitting to underneath the forearms. The rising mandritto lands as the left step forward is completed.

Teaching Note

At first glance it might seem that the rising riverso is the proper blow to follow the riverso feint, however this necessitates the crossing of the hands to deliver the rising riverso which is extremely difficult to do on the fly. The rising mandritto however takes the hands from a crossed position to an uncrossed position which is a very easy action to make. Essentially we have a feint down the riverso line followed by the rising mandritto up the riverso line. The trick to this redirection is to imagine both hands are rotating around a central point between them. This double lever action really creates a quick powerful redirection.

It’s also important to note here that in practice, some people found the rising mandritto easier to throw if done with the false edge as a dritto falso.

90° stepping drill against opponents

  1. Attacker in the centre starting in Right Guard Point Behind. 4 defenders form a square around the attacker.
  2. Attacker turns 90° and throws mandritto at the first defender on a right step, cutting through to then turn 90 deg and cut to the second defender, working through all 4 defenders in turn.
  3. Defenders parry using Head Guard (or a rising cut to defend against the later low cuts).
  4. Repeat the sequence in turn, throwing 4 riversi on a left step, then 4 mandritto falsi on a right step, then 4 riverso falsi on a left step, then 4 rising mandritti on a right step, then 4 rising riversi on a left step, then 4 falso dritti on a right step, finishing with 4 falso manci on a left step.
  5. Swap roles with the next person taking the attackers role.
  6. Continue until all defenders have taken the role of attacker.

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Spadone – Lesson 7

Class Overview

This week we concentrated on turning the cut into a thrust, as a 2nd intention attack. We define this as 2nd intention, because we intend to complete the first offensive action. The intention of our first action is to draw the appropriate response, setting the opponent up for our second attack which will be the thrust.

For our revision drills, we worked on the tondi cuts, and our 3 direction cuts for controlling space. Where before all our drills have been repetition of the same cut, the 3 direction cutting drill this time works through 3 different cuts, teaching us to use them in combination.

Tondi (Helicopter) Cuts Line Drill

  1. Both start in Right Guard, Point Behind.
  2. Attacker throws a mandritto tondo to the temple on a right step.
  3. Defender parries by stepping back with the left foot into Left Head Guard.
  4. Attacker throws a riverso falso tondo to the temple on a left step.
    Defender parries by stepping back with the right foot into Right Head Guard.
  5. Continue down the hall throwing the mandritti and riversi cuts above. At the end of the hall switch roles and come back to the start.
  6. Repeat from the beginning but this time throwing mandritto falso tondi and riverso tondi.

Class Notes

The tondi cuts are thrown high with the hands above the head and with the sword angled downwards. The sword turns horizontally above the head during the steps hitting with the true edge on one side of the opponent’s head and then the false edge on the other side of the head. This horizontal turn of the sword over the head is why colloquially call it the helicopter cuts, as the sword blade turns like a rotating helicopter blade.

The mandritto falso tondo is slightly counterintuitive, but the trick is in understanding the leading hand position on the first cut from Right Guard, Point Behind. In the starting grip, the thumb of the leading (right) hand should be in line with the flat of the blade. As the hands lift up and forward, we turn the right hand anti-clockwise, so that the thumb is under the sword and the sword will now be cutting forward with the false edge. We then just keep the thumb underneath during the forward stepping, which delivers good supported tondi cuts on both sides

3 Step Cutting Group Drill, Part 2

  1. Begin in groups of 4, with one person in the center, and 3 people around them.
  2. The center person throws a rising mandritto, a mandritto tondo and a mandritto, each on a right step working around the circle.
  3. The 3 defenders parry as appropriate. (They are a focus target only)
  4. Attacker repeats with a rising riverso, a riverso tondo and a riverso, each on a left step.
  5. Repeat the sequence from 1.
  6. Change roles and repeat with each member of the group taking the place of the attacker.

Class Notes

The key to each of these cuts is to practice cutting through the target. After the initial cut we need to pull the sword through the opposing parry, turning the sword over the head to maintain our momentum, and as preparation for the next cut. Allowing the sword to be stopped during the 3 way cutting is a sure way to be killed off and unprepared for defending ourselves. As well as freeing the sword from the parry, pulling the cut through and turning the sword over the head is great intimidation of our opponents, who will fear closing in on the sole wielder as the sword is always in motion.

Thrust on 2nd Intention Partner Drill

(Alfieri Chapter 10)

  1. Both start in Right Guard, Point Behind.
  2. Attacker throws a mandritto on a right step to the head.
  3. Defender parries with Left Head Guard, turning the vita into the parry with a volta stabile.
  4. Attacker rolls the hands up anti-clockwise to deliver an imbroccata to the head, lengthening the right step into a lunge.
  5. Repeat 5 times then switch roles.
  6. Switch to Left Guard, Point Behind, throwing riverso and rolling up clockwise to deliver an imbroccata to the head on a left step.
  7. Repeat 5 times each.

Thrust in 2nd Intention on a Pass Partner Drill

  1. Both start in Right Guard, Point Behind.
  2. Attacker throws a mandritto on a right pass to the head.
  3. Defender parries with Left Head Guard, turning the vita into the parry with a volta stabile.
  4. Attacker rolls the hands up anti-clockwise to deliver an imbroccata to the head, whilst completing the corrective step.
    Repeat 5 times then switch roles.
  5. Switch to Left Guard, Point Behind, throwing riverso and rolling up clockwise to deliver an imbroccata to the head on a left pass.
  6. Repeat 5 times each.

Thrust in Low Line on 2nd Intention Partner Drill

  1. Both start in Right Guard, Point Behind.
  2. Attacker throws a rising mandritto on a right step to the flank.
  3. Defender parries with rising mandritto, turning the vita into the parry with a volta stabile.
  4. Attacker rolls the hands up anti-clockwise to deliver a stoccata to the belly, lengthening the right step into a lunge.
  5. Repeat 5 times then switch roles.
  6. Switch to Left Guard, Point Behind, throwing rising riverso and rolling up clockwise to deliver a stoccata to the belly on a left step.
  7. Repeat 5 times each.

Thrust in Low Line 2nd Intention on a Pass Partner Drill

  1. Both start in Right Guard, Point Behind.
  2. Attacker throws a rising mandritto on a right pass to the flank.
  3. Defender parries with a rising mandritto, turning the vita into the parry with a volta stabile.
  4. Attacker rolls the hands up anti-clockwise to deliver a stoccata to the belly, whilst completing the corrective step.
  5. Repeat 5 times then switch roles.
  6. Switch to Left Guard, Point Behind, throwing riverso and rolling up clockwise to deliver an stoccata to the belly on a left pass.
  7. Repeat 5 times each.

Class Notes

In each of the 4 drills above, the footwork facilitates a forward movement of our sword, providing us the space to turn around the opponent’s forte to deliver the thrust.

In the first drill variant using Alfieri’s actual footwork description, it’s best to think of the foot work as a forward step followed by a lunge. This incease in pace using the lunge is what provides us the space to turn our sword through for the lunge.

In the second drill variant, we use the geometry of the angled passing footwork to provide the space for use to turn the sword through on the thrust. That geometrical advantage comes from the corrective step of the passing footwork, which aligns us at an angle to the opponent, instead of face on.


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Spadone – Lesson 6

Cut and Recover to Hanging Guard Partner Drill

  1. Partner drill, both in Right Guard, Point Forward.
  2. Attacker throws mandritto without moving the feet.
  3. Defender parries with Right Hanging Guard, and ripostes with mandritto.
  4. Attacker parries with Right Hanging Guard, and ripostes with mandritto.
  5. Repeat from 1, 5 times each.
  6. Switch to Left Guard, point Forwards and repeat the sequence throwing riverso with recovery to Left Hanging Guard.

4 Cuts Line Partner Drill

  1. Partner drill, attacker back to wall, defender facing wall.
  2. Attacker steps forward cutting the 4 true edge cuts (mandritto, riverso, rising mandritto, rising riverso).
  3. Defender retreats parrying with the 4 true edge cuts.
  4. Switch roles at the end of the hall.

3 Step Cutting Group Drill

  1. Begin in groups of 4, with one person in the center, and 3 people around them.
  2. The center person throws 3 mandritti, each on a right step working around the circle.
  3. The 3 defenders parry with Left Head Guard. (They are a focus target only)
  4. Attacker repeats with 3 riversi, each on a left step, then 3 rising mandritti on a right step, finishing with 3 rising riversi on a left step.
  5. Change roles and repeat with each member of the group taking the place of the attacker.

Note: This is Alfieri’s instructions from Chapter 16 on how to wield a spadone in an open street,

Counterattacks to the hand / forearm

  1. Partner Drill, each in Right Guard Point Forward.
  2. Attacker throws a mandritto to the head on a right step.
  3. Defender counterattacks with a mandritto to the forearms on a pass right at 45°.
  4. Repeat 5 times each.
  5. Repeat the sequence, starting from Left Guard , Point Forward, and throwing riversi.

Counterattacks to the Head

  1. Partner Drill, each in Right Guard Point Forward.
  2. Attacker throws a mandritto to the head on a right step.
  3. Defender counterattacks with a mandritto tondo (helicopter cut)to the head on a pass right at 45°.
  4. Repeat 5 times each.
  5. Repeat the sequence, starting from Left Guard , Point Forward, and throwing riversi.

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Spadone – Lesson 5

Introduction

This was a consolidation lesson, to start putting a lot of the solo drills we have been doing into context, demonstrating how much space they actually control. The drills are all mostly actions done as solo drills, but now we’re performing them as partner drills

4 Cuts Partner Drill

  1. Partner drill, attacker back to wall, defender facing wall.
  2. Attacker steps forward cutting the 4 true edge cuts (mandritto, riverso, rising mandritto, rising riverso).
  3. Defender retreats parrying with the 4 true edge cuts
    Switch roles at the end of the hall

Note: The attacker is using Alfieri’s basic techniques on wielding the sword from Chapter 7, and the defender is using the Alfieri’s parrying technique from Chapter 20.

Pass & Turn Target Drill

  1. Drill in groups of 3, with attacker in centre.
  2. Attacker works through the pass and turn drill (see Spadone – Lesson 1), working through the 4 true edge cuts.
  3. Defenders at either end parry using Head Guard or rising cuts. Defender will have to correct the distance when the attacker switches which foot is stepping.
  4. Switch roles after the attacker has done all 4 cuts, and continue until all 3 partners have been the attacker.

Note: This is demonstrating Alfieri’s technique from Chapter 8, how to defend oneself in an ordinary street.

Redoubled Cut Drill with Partner

  1. Partner drill, attacker back to the wall, defender facing wall.
  2. Attacker steps forward with the right foot throwing redoubled mandritti (see Spadone – Lesson 3).
  3. Defender steps back with the left foot parrying with Head Guard then Hanging Guard.
  4. Repeat, using redoubled riversi on a left step forwards, and the defender stepping back with the right foot.
  5. Continue until you reach the end of the hall them switch roles moving back to the start.

Cut and Recover to Hanging Guard

  1. Partner drill, both in Right Guard, Point Forward.
  2. Attacker throws mandritto without moving the feet.
  3. Defender parries with Right Hanging Guard, and ripostes with mandritto.
  4. Attacker parries with Right Hanging Guard, and ripostes with mandritto.
  5. Repeat 5 times each.
  6. Switch to Left Guard, point Forwards and repeat the sequence throwing riverso with recovery to Left Hanging Guard.

Serpentine Cuts as Parry Riposte

  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.

REMINDER:
Next week everyone needs to bring vambraces


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Spadone – Lesson 4

A Discussion About Safety

You’ll notice this has taken more than a week after the lesson was given for me to actually post the lesson notes. A large part of this is I’ve been feeling very reluctant to do so after I found out one of the students ended up with concussion following the class, and a couple others have complained about headaches. Naturally this has left me quite despondent, and very very very annoyed. I don’t teach this sort of stuff so that people can be injured.

This class is the first time we actually start doing partner drills, where we actually make contact with the sword. For the classes at Stocatta we’ve been using wooden dowels and modified shinai as spadone simulators. Instructions for how to make a spadone simulator out of a shinai can be found on the Stocatta website. Regardless of whether it was stick or shinai, the blows were coming in very hard it seems.

The spadone is a massive power weapon, with a brutal lever action to amplify the power. As a consequence, training with this stuff needs to be done carefully and with good technique, not muscle and strength. When working with a partner in these drills the idea is to deliver the blow safely with controlled technique, not with force sufficient to hammer them into the ground. Also, forget about speed as that will come in time of it’s own accord. Trying to do everything quickly leads to mistakes in the drills and injury to yourself or your partner. The key to doing this safely is a light grip that allows you much better feedback on the impact strength. The other side of this is you need to communicate with your training partner, providing feedback on their blow strength, or asking about how your blows felt. Get this right with the lighter simulators and when it comes to using steel weapons you’ll find it much easier to manage, and ultimately much safer. We’re looking to harness the momentum of the weapon to deliver our cuts, not get a power lifting workout muscling the damn sword through the drills.

For the love of swordsmanship, keep it safe, respect the weapon and more importantly respect your partner.

Revision

  1. 8 cuts drill (see Spadone – Lesson 2)
  2. Pass and turn drill (see Spadone – Lesson 2)
  3. Thrust, Cut and recover to Hanging Guard
    (see Spadone – Lesson 3)

Cut and Recover to Hanging Guard Partner Drill

  1. Partner drill, both in Right Guard, Point Forward.
  2. Attacker throws mandritto without moving the feet.
  3. Defender parries with Right Hanging Guard, and ripostes with mandritto.
  4. Attacker parries with Right Hanging Guard, and ripostes with mandritto.
  5. Repeat 5 times each.
  6. Switch to Left Guard, Point Forwards and repeat the sequence throwing riverso with recovery to Left Hanging Guard.

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.

Thrust Feint and Circular Cut Partner Drill

  1. Partner drill both starting in Right Guard, Point Forward.
  2. Attacker leans forward extending imbrocatta.
  3. Defender parries with Left Head Guard.
  4. Attacker eludes the parry by dropping the tip and turning a circular mandritto to the head on a right step.
  5. Repeat 5 times then swap roles.
  6. Repeat sequence from Left Guard throwing imbrocatta and riverso.

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Spadone – Lesson 3

Review of Week 2

  1. Terminology refresh
  2. 8 cuts drill
  3. Pass and turn drill
  4. Thrust and recover to Hanging Guard

Redoubled Actions

This week we started on developing redoubled actions with the spadone. This is actually one of the strengths of the weapon due to the momentum it generates, allowing us to continue cutting smoothly.

The key redoubled cuts practised were double descending cuts, and the tondo cuts that turn over the head.

Redoubled Descending Cuts

Mandritti

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

Note:
The 2nd cut is made with extended arms and allowing the wrists to turn, which conserves the momentum of the sword.

Riversi

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

Redouble With Tondi

The redoubled cut can also easily be thrown as a tondo cut in the high line at the head, and are also called helicopter cuts because they resemble helicopter blades in the way they turn overhead. One of the chief advantages of the tondi is that they can be made either with the true edge or false edge, and you can pick the easiest variant depending on circumstance. The rapid change of line that this redoubled cut provides is also very difficult for the opponent to parry.

Cutting-diagram

Mandritto tondo = horizontal cut from H to G
Riverso tondo = horizontal cut from left to right G to H

Mandritto with Redoubled Tondo

  1. From Right Guard, Point Behind throw a mandritto to the head whilst stepping forward with the right 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 a 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 a 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 the sword 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.

Thrust & Cut

The imbrocatta thrust from either the point forward or hanging guards can be readily turned into a redoubled cut.

Thrust & Riverso

  1. From Left Hanging Guard, lean forwards and deliver imbrocatta to the chest.
  2. Drop the tip and using the momentum to turn the sword through a circular cut deliver a riverso to the head.

Thrust and Mandritto

  1. From Right Hanging Guard, lean forwards and deliver imbroccata to the chest.
  2. Drop the tip and using the momentum to turn the the sword through a circular cut to deliver a mandritto to the head.

Note:
These two static footwork drills allowed the students to learn how to turn the thrust into a cut.

Thrust and Redouble

  1. From Right Hanging Guard, make a volta stabile forwards and deliver imbrocatta to the chest.
  2. Drop the tip and using the momentum to turn a circular mandritto to the head on a right step forward. Make sure the step forward is performed in a true time with the forward motion of the mandritto.
  3. Redouble with mandritto tondo without moving the feet.
  4. Recover back with volta stabile to Left Hanging Guard.
  5. Make a volta stabile forwards and deliver imbrocatta to the chest.
  6. Drop the tip and using the momentum to turn a circular riverso to the head on the left step foward. Make sure the step forward is made in a true time with the forward motion of the riverso.
  7. Redouble with riverso tondo without moving the feet.
  8. Recover back to Right Hanging Guard.
  9. Repeat from 1. If space is limited turn to face the opposite direction in Left Guard, Point Forward and instead throw a riverso combination followed by a mandritto combination.

Note:
This drill teaches the student how to combine thrusts, cuts and footwork. Many different combinations can be developed with various varieties of footwork.


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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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