Giganti Warm Up Drills

The following warm up drills are designed to develop specific skills and attributes in the students, which will allow them to more effectively learn the system.

Most of these exercises should be performed every week.

Back and shoulder weight exercises

A large part of any Italian Rapier fencing system involves holding the sword with an extended arm. This will quickly tire any student, and they will allow the sword to drop from a chest height position to a waist height position, which is unacceptable for good form. These exercises are designed to strengthen the back and shoulder muscles, which are the ones responsible for holding the weight of the sword.

The exercises should initially be done with a hand weight of 500 g. A standard 450 -600 mL soft drink bottle filled with water is ideal. the exercises must be repeated for both the right and left hand.

  1. Hold the hand weight in front of you parallel to the ground, at full arm extension, palm down. Keep the shoulder down. (No hunching!) Turn the hand palm up and stop. Return the hand to palm down and stop. Repeat this sequence 10 times.
  2. Hold the hand weight out to the side parallel to the ground, at full arm extension, palm down. Keep the shoulder down.  (No hunching!) Turn the hand palm up and stop. Return the hand to palm down and stop. Repeat this sequence 10 times.
  3. Hold the hand weight in front of you parallel to the ground, at full arm extension, palm up. Keep the shoulder down. (No hunching!) Keeping the upper arm parallel to the ground, bring the hand up to the head and stop. Return the hand to full extension and stop. Repeat this sequence 10 times.
  4. Hold the hand weight to the side parallel to the ground, at full arm extension, palm up. Keep the shoulder down. (No hunching!) Keeping the upper arm parallel to the ground, bring the hand up to the head and stop. Return the hand to full extension and stop. Repeat this sequence 10 times.
  5. Hold the hand weight in front of you parallel to the ground, at full arm extension, palm down. Keep the shoulder down. (No hunching!) Keeping the upper arm parallel to the ground, bring the hand in to the body and stop. Return the hand to full extension and stop. Repeat this sequence 10 times.
  6. Hold the hand weight to the side parallel to the ground, at full arm extension, palm down. Keep the shoulder down. (No hunching!) Keeping the upper arm parallel to the ground, bring the hand in to the body and stop. Return the hand to full extension and stop. Repeat this sequence 10 times.

Lunge with resistance

A critical failing of any newbie’s lunge is to rely on gravity and body lean to generate the forward movement of the lunge. Correct form in the lunge dictates that the explosive forward power is generated by the rapidly straightening back leg. Through the use of an elastic resistance band, it is possible to isolate the quad muscles in the rear leg, so that the student can feel the  difference between a gravity lunge and a correct lunge. In a gravity lunge, the band will create hang time that unbalances the student, but the correct use of the back leg gives a controlled balanced lunge.

Medium to heavy weight therabands, or standard 26″ bicycle inner tubes make ideal resistance bands for the exercise.

  1. Working in pairs, the trainee should have the resistance band around their hips, and held behind them by their training partner.
  2. The trainee will them push off with the back leg as per a lunge, to help target the correct pushing muscles. Repeat 10 times. (Poor gravity lunges don’t count.)
  3. Repeat from the extended lunge position, but this time recover into position using the rear leg to pull you back into guard. The partner should also be in front, to provide the required resistance to the recovery. Repeat 10 times.

Distance Drill

  1. With sword in hand, have the drill pairs come to wide measure. One of the partners will be designated as the leader, the other as the follower.
  2. The leader will move linearly with forward or backwards steps, and the follower shall endeavour to maintain the distance.
  3. As the competency progresses, passing steps shall be added, and the lunge shall be added. The call to lunge shall be called by the drill instructor, or as an invitation by the leader.

Dynamic Lunge Stretch

  1. Hold a wide lunge stance with you hip tucked under to neutral. Keep your back straight, back foot parallel to the front, with the back heel raised.
  2. Bend both knees to lower straight down until the back knee is just above the floor.
  3. Rise and lower to get a moving stretch.
  4. Ten lunges on each leg warm the body enough for more stretching, and use muscles together in functional ways

Source: Healthy Martial Arts, Jolie Bookspan

Translate & Turn

  1. Start from the Terza Guard position without the sword, with the feet at the wide lunge distance.
  2. Slowly extend the leading hand forward and translate forward pushing smoothly into the lunge position.
  3. Pivot on the feet to turn 180° into the Terza Guardia with the other foot leading.
  4. Repeat the extension into the lunge, with the turn to the opposite direction.
  5. Repeat the sequence for a total of 5 times on each side.
  6. The aim is to stretch the quads and groin, as well as open up the hips. The slower speed also helps strengthen the stabilizer muscles in and around the hips and groin.

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