Giganti Lesson 6 – The Contracavazione

Warm ups

  1. Hand Weight Exercise
  2. Dynamic Lunge Stretch (5 times for the lunge & 5 times for the recovery)
  3. Translate & Turn

Review Lesson 5

  1. Repeat the drills from lesson 5 with a recovery after the action.
  2. Cavazione in response to the gain to the inside.
  3. Cavazione in response to the gain to the outside.
  4. Cavazione in response to the gain to the low inside.
  5. Cavazione in response to the gain to the low outside.
  6. Attacking the enemy through the cavazione.

Contracavazione to the Inside


The contracavazione is a surer way of hitting the opponent, and is less timing dependent than the last drill in Lesson 5.

  1. Gain the opponent’s sword on the inside so that they must cavazione.
  2. As the opponent makes a cavazione, do one of your own. (Follow their disengage direction)
  3. You should have returned to the same starting position, and can complete the thrust to his opening in the same tempo as your cavazione. Ensure the arm stays extended, so that the opponent impales themselves on your sword.
  4. Recover out of distance after the hit.

Teaching Note

Tactically, the initial gain is being used to place the opponent into obedience. We are forcing the opponent to attempt regaining the dominant position in the engagement, and the contracavazione denies them this dominant position.

A common mistake in this drill is for the fencer to bring their torso forward during the initial gain, which typically results in a double hit, or the fencer not having enough time to complete the contracavazione. It can also place the fencer’s sword in a position where the debole is controlled by the forte of the opponent’s sword, which is contrary to the intended aim of the initial gain. In all these cases it should be pointed out to the fencer that they have broken the Prime Directive of good fencing, because giving control of the engagement to the opponent is by definition a stupid action.

Contracavazione to the outside

This is similar to above, except the gain is done more with the counter guard than it is with a proper gain to the outside.

  1. Gain the opponent’s sword so that they must cavazione.
  2. As the opponent makes a cavazione, do one of your own. (Follow their disengage direction)
  3. You should have returned to the same starting position, and can complete the thrust to his opening in the same tempo as your cavazione. Ensure the arm stays extended, so that the opponent impales themselves on your sword.
  4. Recover out of distance after the hit.

Note: If the enemy’s attack is forceful, you need to keep the body back, otherwise he will hit you.

Teaching Note

This drill is more dependent on keeping the torso in the withdrawn position, and can be used to introduce the concept of leaning back slightly whilst you make the contracavazione.

Leaning back during the cavazione is recommended by Giganti, which will achieve a longer distance for the opponent to cover to hit the fencer, as well as a longer tempo for the fencer to complete the contracavazione. The lean should be such that it does not overbalance the fencer backwards, and is effectively only about 10-15 cm of distance – just enough to exhaust the lunge from the opponent but not not actually hitting the fencer.


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